Saturday, November 11, 2017

Heartstrong, Colorado

Happyville, Colorado
            Scattered across the plains of Eastern Colorado, were a variety of Post Offices.  Most of the early ones were located in a farmhouse, that served a small community.  A general store would open and the Post Office would move but the town would keep the original name of the Post Office.  So when I saw the name Happyville on the map, all my assumptions went away.  During one of my trips across the prairie, I went looking for this village of happy folks.

            Didn’t find anything that looked like a town, It was more like a spot on the corner.  There was an abandoned church and nearby was a crumbling home and a few foundations.  The happy folks of Happyville had left.
            On a ridge nearby was another abandoned farmhouse where Heartstrong Post Office had been.  This area of southern Yuma County was pretty empty.  On distant horizon could be seen other dwellings.  Here at Happyville was empty building a memory of other times. 
            Heartstrong shows up on some weather maps, so it will be a spot on the map for times a coming. 


            Bouncing along CR 26, the dust boils up behind the pickup and reminders of yesteryear are few and far.  Yet during the early 1900’s, this was the promised land.  Here the settlers could have a piece of the dream and raise their family.  Here they could be happy.  

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Joliet, CO





Arlington, Colorado
           
            Arlington, began its life as a railroad camp on the Missouri Pacific RR, in Eastern Colorado.  The trains have stopped running and the rails collect rust.  No longer is there the clicking of wheels flashing over the tracks.  Cars and trucks can be heard rumbling along the highway that followed the rails to Pueblo. 
            There a couple of hardy ranchers that still call this little prairie burg home.  The Post Office closed and moved to Hasewell a few years back.  The roadside businesses are gone and the few store fronts are now silent.  The roadside park has a caretaker and the occasional traveler will stop for a moment.  Silence is the main companion for the few that pause.



            The main feature of the town is the schoolhouse that sits in far corner of the town.  The two story building dominates the land, yet years of neglect is showing.  Number of years ago some locals wanted to buy the school but the scrapper that owned it would not sell.  Today the junk that had littered the yard is gone except the tires left in the weeds.  The winds whistle through broken windows, the bell tower is sliest for the few birds and it appears that the school may be doomed. 

            The town has set vacant for so many years that the weeds dominate.  The few streets are overgrown and the remains of houses and building rise above them.  Street signs mark where the roads had once been.  Rooflines are barely visible in the overgrown town. 
            Yet someday the tracks may hear the clicking of wheels again.  A group wants to buy the rails but the transaction is held up in court and government agencies.  Arlington has no farming, most of that is to the east.  Trains would just pass through the remains of what once was on their way to Pueblo. 

            Nearby is a WWII auxiliary airstrip and little further is Adobe reservoir.  The canals today carry dust of yesteryear when the sugar beet ruled the country.  


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Vernon



Vernon, Colorado
            Located on the north central plains of Eastern Colorado, the little village has more memories on Main Street then pedestrians.  It is a country settler’s village that has hung on.  There are no major highways through town or a railroad.  Yet the town has maintained a small population of around 30 souls.  Main Street is empty, boarded up and the sidewalks are rolled up.  Down at the end of the road is the Post Office, there are enough residents in the area to keep it going. 


            For one weekend a year, Vernon comes to life, people stroll the town park, tractors pop and sputter and horses have the right of way.  Vernon Days is celebrated just before Labor Day.  It is a day to remember when their forefathers came into the area and homesteaded.  The few town folks roll out the old time carpet to celebrate yesteryears. 
            Otherwise the other 51 weekends are pretty noiseless as the sleepy little goes about life.  Surrounded by farmland, the whirr of farm equipment is more common the laughter of school children, from the now shuttered school house.  The little country church is well kept and hears the word on occasion.  The shops of Main Street remind one of when they could stop in and pick up supplies.  Across the street is the town park square, well groomed and cared for.



            Off in the distance on a ridge can be seen the community cemetery.  Looking at it one could see that the area was populous at one time.  Yet like so many prairie towns, the people left to try and find greener fields in the city. 



            Those that remain have different pace of life, the nearest towns with shops are miles away.  Sometimes the bus ride to school can be over 100 miles.  Yet the people take it in stride and live out a life from the land.  


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Carr Crossing, Colorado


Carr Crossing

Situated in the southern end of Lincoln County, Colorado, Carr Crossing was a community/rural Post Office during the early 1900’s.  For the visitor of today, it is some of the most empty land in the state.  Lincoln County is called a Frontier area, there aren’t enough people to qualify as rural.  Population density is less than one person per two square miles.  In the areas of Carr Crossing the density is probably 1 person per 10 square miles. 

Yet during the early 1900’s scores of people came out to this area to settle and homestead.  Scattered through the area are the sites of numerous empty and abandoned homes.  Moisture is extremely sparse and farming is almost impossible.  Today it is mostly range land with a few cattle grazing on the rolling hills.
The Car Crossing Post Office was located on a wagon road that overlooked the valley of Horse Creek.  Today there are no roads that go past it and way out there in the pasture is where it used to be.

The same is for the school, way out there in another pasture is where the school was located.  As the crow flies, it is about 5 miles from the PO to the school.  First time I visited the area, I had no idea there was a school because it was way off any road. 
When talking to some local people, they mentioned that the merry go round still sat out in the pasture form when the Carr Crossing School was teaching the children of the settlers.  So when I went through the area, I made it point to go looking a little closer to try and see the merry go round.

Driving down the road, I spotted a dead tree off in the distance sitting on a ridge and an outline next to it.   Pointing the camera off that direction and zooming way out, I snapped a couple of pics.  Sure enough there was the merry go round.  I tried finding a road to get closer but no luck.  So I have an ethereal picture of school playground out in the middle of a pasture, I would of never found if not for idle conversation. 
Carr Crossing is one of those places that will probably stay unexplored for decades because of their locations.  Then that is okay, I don’t know many people that like folks walking across their backyard. 


Here is an open area that has not changed much over the eons.  


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Song on the Land.

Heartsong, Colorado
            The name of a said, it would make a good song title.  Yet it is the name of a little village in Eastern Colorado that is no more.  Heartsong shows up on weather maps, so it had to of been a place at one time.  Doing some map searching, it showed up on satellite view as a collection of buildings.  Doing more searching an interesting story for the town came to light.

            Heartsong had its beginning in 1909 as Happyville.  1908 a settler homesteaded in the area and decided there should be a Post Office for the surrounding settlers.  Awarded the contract for mail service, Happyville was on its way to becoming a growing prairie town.  Stores and shops were built and when the auto showed up a gas station was added to the town. 
            Conflict arose between the founder and other settlers over the stores and various other arguments.  So the founding father got upset and threaded to move his stores to another location.  Sure enough, later that year, the stores and his house were loaded up and teams of 8 horses hauled the building down the road a few miles. 
            Leaving Happyville to a new location, called for a new name and Heartsong was chosen. The new town thrived, business was good.   Happyville became a ghost of itself and faded into not much.  The “Dirty Thirties” arrived, farmers were blown out and lost their farms.  With people moving out, Heartsong was in decline.  Then in 1940, fire struck the little village, burning up most of the town.  Heartsong disappeared into the ashes to be no more. 

            Today, there is a ranch where Heartsong once stood and at Happyville is an abandoned farm and nearby sits an empty church. The memories of the Prairie towns linger on with the people that survived the hardship of the land.  Farms dot the land, fields wave in the breeze and cattle watch the passing truck.



Saturday, June 24, 2017

River Bend, Colo


River Bend
            Situated on a bend in the river, the RR stop had a logical name of River Bend.  Today River Bend is a vacant spot in a pasture next to the railroad tracks.  The Interstate has an exit sign for the village that sat on the bend in the river.  Old River Bend, Colorado is back west from the Interstate exit a few miles behind the ridge.  Old highway 40 outline can still be seen following along the Interstate.  South of the exit are a few ranch houses, which is considered River Bend.  To the north on the hill is the town cemetery, a Boot Hill. 

            Outside of the exit sigh and cemetery, River Bend is a paragraph in most history books and sometimes only a sentence.  Yet in the 1870’s it was an important RR town on the plains of eastern Colorado.  Here the buffalo hunters arrived by railcar to safari into the nearby hills to hunt.  Colonel Reno used River Bend for his headquarters when General Custer’s 7th Calvary was assigned to protect the new railroad building across the plains. 
            As a result, River Bend was a pretty tumultuous town of saloons, brothels, and assorted characters.  With the various early day conflicts, boot hill had a good assortment of customers.  One of the locals at the museum talking about the cemeterary grimaced when describing some the evil folks buried up there on the hill. 

            In the area are remains of the stage stop, a military fort, ruts of the Smoky Hill Trail and assorted artifacts.  Metal Calvary buttons, Indian arrowheads, spent shell casings, wagon parts and rusted tin cans.  During the mid 1860’s, it was a crossroads for various trails/wagon roads going to the gold fields.  It also was great buffalo hunting grounds for the local Indians. 

            Flying down Interstate 70, River Bend exit doesn’t get much more than a glance.  The lone tree on Boot Hill, goes unnoticed.  Cattle dot the land, drifting along munching grass as cars and trucks whiz by.  It is a pretty quiet scene.  No more buffalo to hunt, no more Indians to do battle with and the gun fighters RIP. 


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Schoolhouse

Country School
Edison


            Driving across the plains of eastern Colorado, there is lots of empty land and one can see forever.  Building and trees on the horizon, generally mark farm houses or ranches.   This time the long empty road went past a schoolhouse.  For miles any direction, there were no tows, yet here there was a school complex.  Elementary, middle/jr high and high school and nice auditorium/gym, neatly groomed next to the gravel road in the middle of somewhere. 
            Farms and ranches have consolidated as more and more people leave the land and move to the city.  The few towns left behind, dry up and become memories of earlier days.  So the local families get together and consolidate their school districts into one.  There are still long bus rides, as much as 30-40-50 miles to school.  For some, it is better than a 100mile trip to the big town. 

            Edison school district is way out at the eastern end of El Paso county crossing into Lincoln County.  It is listed as being in Yoder, which is up the road about 15 miles.  Nearby is the town of Truckton and all around is lots of land to farm and ranch. 
            When towns disappear the folks get things worked out to educate their children.  Consolidated districts usually a variety of ghost towns/communities and the school house becomes a reminder of what once used to be.  What’s amazing, is the education in these little schools is just as good as it is in the big city. 
            The students in the country school don’t have the gangs to deal with or the noise of city life.  In the country classes are smaller, giving the students more personal attention.  There are sports programs, music, plays etc.  The school becomes a social center for all types of activities.


            Some homes are hauled in to provide housing for some of the teachers and small town kind of builds up.  Some of the locals will rent out to new teachers.  Sometimes the local are teachers and doing their farm and ranch work in the morning and evenings, through the summer.  The one room schoolhouse has been replaced by a sleek modern schoolhouse.  It has become a ghost town in reverse.