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Dossier: Brighton First Named "Hughes Station" by Bela M. Hughes

Updated: Mar 27

Sleuthing Brighton Colorado, with a full Investigative Report by the Brighton History Detective® (aka Robin Kring)

Case Number: 00007, Identify Mural Subject

Mural Location: “Historic Brighton at Founders Plaza” by Hans Joseph Geist

Subject Identified: Area first named for Denver Pacific Railway president

BELA M. HUGHES (1817-1902), Area First Named “Hughes Station,” after Denver Pacific RWY Pres. Brighton was previously known as Hughes Station. The railway station, at the junction of Denver Pacific Railroad (later Union Pacific) and the Denver and Boulder Valley Railroads, was named “Hughes Station” (when grading for Denver Pacific Railway began) on about June 5, 1868. It was named for its president, Bela M. Hughes, as was the practice of the company.

Born in Carlisle, Kentucky, Hughes opened a law practice in Missouri and served in the Missouri State Senate. Hughes came to Colorado in 1861, as president of the Overland stagecoach line and played an important role in connecting the American West to the rest of the country with stagecoach lines. He later participated in the reorganization of the Denver Pacific Railway Co., of which he was the first president.

        The Denver Pacific Railway was formed in 1867 in the Colorado Territory to create a link between Denver and the transcontinental railroad at Cheyenne. The company operated lines in Colorado and present-day southeastern Wyoming in the 1870s until merging with the Kansas Pacific and Union Pacific railroads in 1880.

Will the real "Hughes Station" namesake please stand up

(l) Bela M. Hughes, Railway Station president (r) John Hughes, Hughes Stage Coach Line owner

This story should end here. But, why did so many early Brighton-locals credit

John Hughes, and not Bela Hughes, as the namesake for “Hughes Station?” The most revealing clue to the confusion can be tracked back to two men who shared the same last name “Hughes” — although no relation to each other.

The next clue can be found to reveal how more confusion was created by history’s inter-changeable reference to the term “station,” used during an over-lapping timeframe when the Stage Coach Station was exiting and the Railway Station was arriving. Consequently, many locals through the years have mis-credited John Hughes, the one-time owner of Hughes Station (a Stage Coach stop) instead of Bela Hughes, the namesake of the Hughes Station (a Train Station), for the naming the first train station/area name. Thus, the credit of which man was behind the “Hughes Station” name printed on the area’s earliest maps has also often been mis-interpreted.

What about that Hughes Stagecoach Station?

Hughes Stagecoach Station was located just west of Old Brighton Road and approx. 3.7 miles south of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) monument (standing on the S. Main & Bush St. point). The stagecoach station was previously known as Pierson station, before John Hughes & Co. purchased the old Wells Fargo stage line (running from Cheyenne to Denver) in early 1869 . . . but that is another story.

©2023 Robin Kring, including excerpts from The Mystery of Brighton’s Name and A Postcard History of Brighton

Discover More About the Artist and the Detective

Learn more about the Artist, Hans Joseph Geist, behind the Historic Brighton at Founders Plaza mural, in the Brighton History Detective® dossier, The Case of the New Mural and its Artist (Hans Joseph Geist). See more of Hans art at: Art by Hans Geist on Facebook.

Find more Investigative Case Reports, by Brighton History Detective®, each revealing the identity of one of the 20 intriguing Brighton characters and places, painted on the mural. Investigate the sleuthing and writing stories of yesteryear, mystery, and intrigue on the Clear Creek Publishing Authors Blog site, including: New Fiction, Victoriana, Event Planning Extraordinaire, Colorado History, and Cemetery Chats.

The Historic Brighton at Founders Plaza mural is located on the southwest corner of Main St. and Bridge St., in Brighton, Colorado. The mural is a project of the Brighton Cultural Arts Commission, whose mission is to increase arts and culture awareness and promote cultural and scientific opportunities in our community. It has been made possible with funding from the SCFD and Brighton Lodging Tax Grants.

®Brighton History Detective is a registered trademark of Clear Creek Publishing.

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