The “Frost” of Frost Creek
Wilbur Eugene “Webb” Frost
1856 – 1920
By Janice Tonz
Although deposits of small white ice crystals form on its waters when the temperature falls below freezing, Frost Creek, a tributary to Eagle County’s Brush Creek, was not given that title due to this natural phenomena.
Wilbur Eugene “Webb” Frost was the first man of European descent to homestead the land along the tiny creek that now bears his name. Frost was one of Eagle County’s most adventurous pioneers.
In November of 1880, when 24 year old, Webb Frost and fellow cowboy George Wilkinson herded the first domestic cattle into Brush Creek from Park County, there were no roads into the area, just trails. The two men spent the winter of 1880-81 snowbound in a rough cabin. Later, Wilkinson and Frost cut a wagon road through aspens on Bellyache Mountain and dug the side hill grade at the head of Trail Gulch.
Frost and another early settler, Henry Hernage, apparently controlled vast amounts of land in Brush Creek before other settlers arrived and formal claims were recorded. Archives indicate that Hernage and Frost initially satisfied their ownership requirements by stretching a wire between two Cottonwood trees onto which they hung a sign. On one side it read, “I own all the land above this fence. Webb Frost.” The other side stated just as simply, “I own all the land below this fence. H.J. Hernage.”
His first two Brush Creek homesteads included what is now the Frost Creek golf and mountain resort community, and part of Salt Creek. It was here that Webb and his wife Abigail raised their three children, who attended school in Fulford and Brush Creek. After Abigail died in 1910, Webb moved up East Brush Creek, where the remains of one wall still stand today, below the switchbacks leading to Yeoman Park. That property at one time had a five room log and frame house, a 2 story barn, and hay shed, as well as 10 acres planted in potatoes, and hay cultivated on 70 acres.
In addition to ranching, raising cattle, and growing crops, Frost was also involved in mining and horses. From at least 1892 to 1902, he owned, along with various business partners, interests in at least three mines in Fulford. He once dug out his mining partner from a snow slide in which the man was carried 100 feet down a mountain side.
Mining was flourishing in Fulford during the early 1890s. Frost owned a horse stable in Fulford’s upper town and was known for raising horses, both for work and racing, on his ranch. In 1896, he used his team of horses to cut and clear the right-of-way for the Yeoman Park road.
At age 62, in 1918, Webb sold out all his holdings, and headed west with his personal belongings in a wagon. However, after crossing the Utah desert, he was so homesick for Brush Creek that he returned within a few months. The Eagle Valley Enterprise reported, “We are all glad to see him permanently located here again for what would Brush Creek be without Webb Frost?”
He then bought an unimproved ranch on West Brush Creek, near what is now Sylvan Lake. It was there, two years later, that he was stricken with paralysis. Upon his death, a few days later, he was laid to rest in Newcomer Cemetery in Brush Creek, near his sister and his first wife.
W.E. Frost was one, if not the very earliest, actual settlers on Brush Creek. He helped to clear its rough meadows of dead timber, and bones of buffalo, elk, and deer. Along with Abigail, he “lived to see a wilderness transformed into a garden”.
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The Eagle County Historical Society does not have photos of Webb Frost in its collection. We have selected photos related to Webb Frost to accompany this blog. If your family albums include a photo of Webb Frost that you would be willing to share, contact the Eagle County Historical Society at [email protected].
Photos used courtesy of ECHS/EVLD and Kathy Heicher.