This Week in Colorado History October 4 – October 10: Road Work and Criminal Intrigue

Road Work Ahead
Littleton, Colorado sought federal funding for one of its first experiences with road construction this week in 1916, as reported in the article “Federal Aid Asked in Paving Highway.” J.E. Maloney of the state highway commission submitted a “formal request for federal aid in the construction of a concrete highway from Denver city limits to Littleton… under the federal aids roads appropriation act.” Since the US Department of Transportation was not founded until the 1960’s, this request was routed through the US Department of Agriculture. The request outlined the importance and specifications of the proposed road. It was to connect paved roads in Denver with a new paved main street in Littleton. Physically, it was to consist of, “A concrete roadbed sixteen feet wide, with four-foot shoulders of gravel and dirt on each side.” Arapahoe county and the state of Colorado planned to pay for half of the $62,000 cost and requested that the federal government pay the rest. As of October 6, 1916, the outcome of this petition was unknown, but the Littleton Independent was certain of the project’s approval and speedy completion.

To Catch a Blackmailer
Colorado policemen were hopeful that a long search for justice would come to end in October 1916, according to the Littleton Independent article “Wilson in Sanatorium: Alleged blackmailer reported cancer victim.” Samuel W. Johnson, Jefferson County district attorney, announced that authorities believed they had found C.E. Wilson, a suspected murderer and blackmailer. On June 23, 1916, Frank Hughes Turner was shot and killed in Gillis, Colorado, allegedly by Wilson, who was also believed to be a member of a Chicago blackmail ring. The authorities initially assumed that Wilson had fled Colorado and believed he might be in Chicago, but some of his associates have shed doubt on this theory, “They believe that after killing Turner Wilson went in an automobile to Brighton, over the Nighthawk hill road, and took a train for a sanatorium,” where he was pursuing treatment for cancer. An arrest was expected soon, and it was “further believed there are other members of the blackmail gang in the state.” The authorities hoped to eliminate the whole criminal organization.

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