In 1881, Hiram Sawyer built a one-story sandstone structure with a basement. That building housed the McAllister Saloon for five years. Saloons were a common business in mining towns. “On the western mining frontier, the saloon was ‘the poor man’s club,’ functioning to provide a social sphere for a man far from friends and family.” Many men were moving to the St. Vrain Valley area at the time to work in the quarries. After the Denver, Utah, and Pacific Railroad built a narrow-gauge line to the quarries, business boomed. The quarries drew hordes of workers, even though the jobs came with major health risks. Historian Elliot West referred to saloons in the American West as “the social heart-center of the camp.”
Single men who worked in the quarry would have gone to the McAllister Saloon for a drink and for camaraderie. They may have been far from their homes and without any family nearby. They would have been able to share information and news while sipping on a whiskey or a beer at the end of the workday.
Sawyer eventually lost interest in maintaining a business in Lyons, and in 1886 the building and lot were sold to Thomas G. Putnam for $4.50 in back taxes. In 1890, Nicholas Frank purchased the building and turned it into a meat market. N. Frank & Bros. Meat Market offered a variety of dressed meats from animals slaughtered at Frank’s homestead. Frank also owned and operated the Lyons Club Room, which sold wine, liquor, and cigars.
In 1891, Charles Bradford purchased the property and opened the Bradford Saloon. On December 20, 1892, John Kearney and Thomas Walen finished a day’s work at the Hugh Murphy Quarries in Noland and headed into Lyons with their pay. After drinking and gambling in town, they headed to the Bradford Saloon in the early hours of the morning. Kearney sat down for a game of poker.
At about four o’clock in the morning, William C. Watt arrived. It was reported that Kearney drank seven hot whiskeys in less than twenty minutes. Kearney and Watt played a game of poker, though both men were so drunk that they had to have another man deal the cards for them. Kearney was winning. After Kearney won yet another hand, Watt, frustrated, drew his .38 Smith & Wesson and pointed it at Kearney. The gun went off but missed Kearney. Watt shot two more times while others tried to stop him. Kearney was taken to the local doctor with a bullet wound in his left groin. The doctor removed the bullet, but Kearney died on December 28 from an infection. Watt was arrested, charged, and convicted of voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to eight years in the State Penitentiary at Cañon City. You can still see the bullet hole in the Newton Thomas painting of the two men on horseback.
In 1901, Bradford sold the building and lot to Nicholas Frank’s brothers, Charles and William Frank. After some legal wrangling over the land, Charles and William Frank claimed full rights to the building and the lot in 1909.
In 1927, the building was converted into a pool hall, which had several different owners over the years. The building was eventually renovated into a restaurant in the 1960s and has remained a restaurant since. It currently houses The Fork and maintains its historic character.
Spude, Catherine Holder. “Brothels and Saloons: An Archaeology of Gender in the American West.” Historical Archaeology 39, no. 1 (2005): 89-106. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25617238. 90
Benedict, Diane Goode Birth of a Quarry Town: 1800s Lyons, Colorado 2002. 75
Benedict, Diane Goode Birth of a Quarry Town: 1800s Lyons, Colorado 2002. 97-102
Benedict, Diane Goode Birth of a Quarry Town: 1800s Lyons, Colorado 2002. 76