Happy Birthday to "Moo"!

“Every cow that comes in the barn is a ‘lady’, treat her as such.”

That was Olen Nichols’ motto when it came to running his dairy farm at the east end of the Lincoln Park area. According to him, his cows were the bosses and were never forced to do anything they didn’t want to do, which made them produce better and more milk. This practice paid off for him in 1959 when he was ranked the highest herd average for butterfat by the Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA).

Olen Nichols was born on January 23, 1917 in Oklahoma. He worked at a dairy farm in California which inspired him to open his own business. He served as a merchant marine in World War II and married his wife Minnie in 1944. When he moved to Fremont County in 1945 he worked as a coal miner and at the cement plant in Portland to raise money to purchase cows and buildings as time and finances permitted according to a Pueblo Star-Journal and Sunday Chieftain article on August 21, 1960. Eventually, he built up enough that it could support his family and he became a full-time dairyman in 1953. Nichols’ hard work paid off making him the owner of the top-producing herd in the state. He was involved in the Fremont County 4-H Foundation, the Colorado Dairy Herd Improvement Association, the Central Colorado Dairy Herd Improvement Association, and the Colorado Milk Producers Association among others. He passed in 2011 and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery.

According to Nichols in an interview on May 14, 1960, the Cañon City area has a “cow climate”; cool summers, mild and dry winters, and little wind. This was believed to be a contributing factor towards higher production for the Nichols Dairy and their Holstein cows. Holstein cows are a large breed of dairy cow that are valued for the good milk production and lower butterfat content. Running the dairy farm required everyone to pitch in and help but that teamwork allowed the dairy to meet with success.

Happy Birthday Olen Nichols!

Olen Nichols family, March 25, 1965; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center
Olen Nichols family, March 25, 1965; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

Do you have any objects or photos from the Nichols Dairy you’d like to donate? Please contact us at (719) 269-9036, email us at historycenter@canoncity.org, or visit us at 612 Royal Gorge Blvd., Monday-Saturday from 10 AM- 4 PM.

The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

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