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Fatal Accident for Captain Berthoud

portrait of a bearded man in a Civil War officer's uniform
Edward Berthoud, Soldier, Engineer, Scientist (1828-1908)

116 Years Ago
The April 9, 1908 Colorado Transcript announced that Edward Berthoud had been seriously injured in a fall at his residence. Berthoud was one of Golden’s most remarkable and accomplished citizens. He came to Golden before the Civil War, then served with Union forces during the War. In the years that followed, he surveyed many of the early railroads in Colorado, including the Colorado Central that served Golden. He helped found the Colorado School of Mines and was the School’s first civil engineering and geology professor.

black and white photo of pioneer-era buildings on Golden's Washington Avenue.  The 1878 county courthouse appears at top of hill.
Excerpt from an early photo of Washington Avenue, Denver Public Library Collection, with the Overland Hotel highlighted.

In 1884, Berthoud purchased the former Overland Hotel on Washington Avenue.  He kept his office on the second floor of the building, and rented out store spaces on the street level.  After his wife's death in 1887, he used the second floor as his place of residence and lived there alone for twenty years.

grainy black and white photographic portrait of a man with a beard, wearing a coat and tie
Edward Berthoud (1828-1908)

In April, 1908, he fell down the stairs while holding a lighted lamp.  The building caught fire and Berthoud lay unconscious at the foot of the stairs.

Passers-by saw a flickering light in the building, and unable to arouse the captain, whom they supposed to be up stairs asleep, they broke open the door, finding the aged engineer lying unconscious in a pool of blood and flames rapidly gaining headway a short distance above him. The fire was extinguished in short order and the injured man was removed to an adjoining building, where Dr. Kelly dressed his wounds. It was found that he was suffering from concussion of the brain, a terrible wound on his head, a broken nose, a badly contused leg and numerous other severe bruises. Five stitches were taken in his head and three in his nose.
Colorado Transcript
– April 9, 1908

Large gray headstone saying "BERTHOUD" with two smaller white stones in front.  Cemetery in the background with leaves starting to change.
Graves of Helen and Edward Berthoud in the Golden Cemetery

Berthoud never recovered from his injuries. He died two months later and is buried in the Golden cemetery. Berthoud Pass, the town of Berthoud (map), and Berthoud Hall on the School of Mines Campus are all named after him.

Thanks to the Golden History Museum for providing the online cache of historic Transcripts, and to the Golden Transcript for documenting our history since 1866!