Following are a few stories behind the characters of the area back in the mining days. Complete stories can be found in Inn and Around Nederland and Excursions from Peak to Peak Then and Now by Silvia Pettem, available in The Mining Museum Gift Shop.
Among the first settlers to Nederland, then called Dayton, was Nathan Brown, described as sinewy and tall, with a slight stoop. A farmer by trade and nicknamed "Bolly," some say for his balding head, Nathan filed a 40-acre agricultural homestead and built one of the first hotels, the Mountain House Hotel, around 1870. A fierce entrepreneur with visions of prosperity and fortune, Nathan owned much of the land and buildings around Nederland. Nathan's fate fell with the harshness of the times, however, as shortly after his arrival, during an epidemic, three of his four children perished of diphtheria within one week. Soon thereafter, his wife of nearly 20 years, Caroline, filed for divorce. With debt mounting, Nathan Brown was hounded by creditors and at times could be found in court for disturbing the peace. An ironic turn of events, Nathan Brown was the original owner of the Nederland Cemetary. He lost his land to foreclosure from a $1,000 debt, as well as the hotel. While Nathan Brown eventually moved to Boulder, the town became known as Brown's Crossing. Nathan, his three children, and second wife, Virginia, are all buried in the Nederland Cemetary.
Just a girl of 13, Alvaretta Ray was murdered in 1881 by Nettie Still, who thought Alvaretta was having an affair with her husband, the town constable. In jail for one year awaiting trial, Nettie was eventually acquitted for reasons of insanity. Alvaretta Ray is buried in the Nederland Cemetary.
The same year the train arrived in Eldora and around the time of the "wildflower specials" flower viewing trips, Sarah "Ma" Martin became the manager of the Goldminer Hotel in Eldora. Ma was said to be "rather plump" in build, with a sharp tongue, especially if you found yourself on her bad side. While miners and tourists were the lifeblood of the hotel, the hapless newcomers annoyed Ma more often than not. At a moments notice, Ma would erupt with picturesque and foul stream of colorful adjectives. While her husband, James, spent most of his time running the Belvidere Hotel in Boulder in the early 1890's, Sarah divorced him, stating that he "cruelly misused" her. Despite her explosive nature, Sarah Martin, and her three sons, were involved and well liked within the community. While considered an astute businesswoman, Sarah lost the hotel in foreclosure in 1912. Walking in to the Goldminer today, you may think you're back in the 1800s. With much of the original character still in place, the Goldminer is run as a bed and breakfast in Eldora and some even say it's haunted by its characters of the past.