RANGELY I A special celebration will be part of this year’s Septemberfest festivities: the 75th anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of Rangely on Aug. 15, 1946. The vote to incorporate was 101 in favor, to seven against.
Incorporation came during a boom in development and expansion. In 1946, county officials estimated that 6,000 people lived within the area of the Rangely oil field. That year, the Rangely business district added a drive-in theater, telephone, Rangely Power and Light, Trading Post, Ace High Club and many others to its list of existing businesses like Nichols Store.
Rangely’s history extends much further back than the town’s incorporation, beginning with the mention of the Rangely area by Franciscan priests Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante in 1776. Their expedition was seeking an overland route from the Catholic mission in Santa Fe, New Mexico to the mission in Monterrey, California.
In 1881, settlers C.P. Hill, along with Mr. Joseph Studer and his family, stopped in the area to camp on their way through from Vernal and Salt Lake City. They reportedly liked the area so much they decided to stay. Hill set up the first store and with family members who came in over the next few years, fixed the first road over Douglas Pass. Hill was also the first postmaster when the first Rangely post office was established in 1885.
By 1888, the government officially opened the area to settlement. The original town site was north of the current town limits in a grove of trees on the river bank and suffered flooding every year.
The arrival of Ms. Carrie E. Blakelee, who later married pioneer C.P. Hill, was the first schoolteacher in Rangely, with 26 students in 1888.
The first oil well in Rangely was drilled in the early 1900s, but the promise of oil prosperity didn’t manifest until demand for oil increased dramatically during and immediately after World War II.
(From the Rangely Times 1996 commemorative 50th edition)
By NIKI TURNER – email@example.com