Cañon City at one time was a city of doctors. With the combination of tuberculosis sufferers, mining towns, and a prison, there was never a shortage of work for doctors. Dr. R.E. Holmes arrived in Fremont County as a company physician for the Colorado Fuel & Iron (CF&I) Company and never left, deciding to make his home in Cañon City.
Raynor E. Holmes was born in Joliet, Illinois on November 2, 1871 and was the oldest of 13 children. He received his medical degree from Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois. He moved to Brookside in 1901 as a company physician for the CF&I. In 1904, Dr. Homes made his home in Cañon City to take up a general practice although he continued to serve as a company physician for the coal mines in the area. Dr. Holmes was appointed as the physician and surgeon for the Colorado State Penitentiary in 1916, 1917, and then again in 1920 until his death in 1940. In this position he oversaw all executions, a job he disliked but felt was his duty. He also served as the surgeon for the Santa Fe Railroad and the Southern Colorado Power Company and was the county physician for four years between 1908 and 1912. The role of a county physician was likely a role in which a physician was in charge of public health information.
Dr. Holmes ran the Holmes Hospital from 1917 to 1938 and was considered an expert on respiratory diseases. He sold the building to the Sacred Heart Convent in 1938 for continued use as a hospital. It was located at 428 Greenwood Ave. and initially run as a hospital by Dr. Hart Goodloe before he left to serve in World War I. The building had originally been built by Maria M. Sheetz and was a boarding house before becoming a hospital. Today the building is used as apartments.
Dr. Holmes was married to Estella Ashbury in 1905 who he later divorced. The two had a son named Raynor E. Holmes, Jr. who followed in his father’s footsteps and became a doctor. Dr. Holmes married Pearline S. Gill in 1927 and lived at 215 N. 5th St. which would have been a short commute to his office just one house over!
Dr. Holmes passed away on August 29, 1940 and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery.
Happy Birthday Dr. R. E. Holmes!
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.