Sunday, December 16, 2018

Woodrow School

Woodrow Schoolhouse

            The Woodrow schoolhouse is located to the south and west of the town of Woodrow.  A true country school, surrounded by prairie and farmland.  The land is now pretty empty, most of the farmhouse are gone.  There are a couple of farm homes nearby and the home of the folks that bought the old schoolhouse. 
            The building has set neglected for years and shows the wear.  Trees have sprouted up next to the foundation, windows are broken and the roof is crumbling. 
            In the late 40’s, oil was discovered in NE Colorado, the Julesburg Basin, that stretched into southern Washington County.  This oil boom provided some taxes for the local school districts and the folks of Woodrow got together with the people of Lindon.  They agreed to consolidate their schools and a new school was built in the pasture.  Woodrow School would be no more.  It would become a part of Woodlin School. 
            At the time the new Woodlin School was built, it was a state of the art facility.  Best equipment, school labs, classrooms, cafeteria and sports facility.  But the rural population decline did not halt.  The new consolidated school lost students and today it is a country struggle to keep things going.  Yet the country folks do not give up, their school is still their home pride and Woodlin is one of many schools out east that roll along, turning out some of the best students in the state. 
            The old Woodrow school building still stands, for how many more years is a question.  Like a waning beacon it stands on the prairie. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Community of Flat Top

Flat Top, Colorado

The community of Flat Top was located near the four corners of Lincoln, Arapahoe, Elbert and Washington counties meet.  Situated at the base of the mountain that it took its name from, it was a Post Office, General Store combination.  The first Flat Top Post Office was located in a ranch house about 4 miles north.  With the opening of the store the PO was moved. 
Way back in the early 1900’s there was a good collection of homesteaders in the area to support the little sore and the other businesses that popped up.  Like so many little communities on the High Plains, the Dust Bowl blew many off their land and today it is pretty empty country. 
Today there are a few ranches in the area and the bovines keep the prairie grass mown.  Traffic on the highway flies past going down hill and the south bounders begin climbing up the hill.  On the high plains the 7500 foot hill is just a big hill, not a small mountain.  Because over that a way are the snow capped peaks of the Rockies.  The big mound of dirt called Flat Top is just that, a big hill, an elevation of around 6000 feet.

To the south was the Railroad and many of the local farmers went to Genoa, rather then going over the hill to Limon.  Going around the hill was easier then going over it.  One of the farmers, when he hauled his grain to town, would stop and fill up with coal for the home trip.  That winter he had coal to sell to his neighbors. 
Short distance away was Walks Camp and the Churches that many attended.  To the West were the Breaks.  Here were cool woods, small streams and plentiful wildlife.  The site of many summer family outings.  It was also the hiding grounds of a small band of Indians that did not want to go the Reservation.  By estimates, they were able to avoid the government until WWII. 
It was a land of many faces that held a great allure until the drought of the 30’s reared its ugly head.  Many did cling to their land and survived the dust storms and today their ancestors still live in the area working the land. 

The old highway winds across the face of the hill.  

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Gary School

          Gary was a community situated in the SE corner of Morgan County. The schoolhouse is about the only reminder that there once was a community.  There are no buildings in the area that look like they could have been stores.  The Post Office, more then like;y was operated out of a private residence..
          The schoolhouse has been neglected for years and is overgrown that is has almost disappeared.  The small gym/auditorium sits high enough to be visible. 

          The landscaping out front has gone un tended and has covered over the front of the school.  In the back it is overgrown with weeds and assorted rubble.  The driveway around the school is maintained and appears to used to park equipment on occasion.  The back of the gym had double doors and may have been a garage at one time.  Now it house a fox and other critter. 
          Not a one room school but an interesting school to find and ponder as I walk around it.  Back in the day it was probably a primetime school for the country kids that went to school there.  From the classrooms and size I would guess it schooled 40-60 students, grades one thorough twelve.  Kindergarten was a city thing years ago. 
          The roof has caved in, windows are broken, doors stand ajar and mother nature continues reclamation work. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

River Bend Graveyard

Cemetery on the Hill

            For years and years, I have driven past the graveyard that sits on the hill just north of I-70.  It was one of the “One Day, I’m gonna go up there.”  Well that one day arrived a while back.  I got permission from the rancher to travel across his pasture and visit the cemetery. 
            So a blustery cold day I went down the highway to the exit off the Interstate.  Bouncing along the gravel roads to the pasture ruts.  Up the hill I went, following the ruts, bouncing over the pot holes, to the old graveyard on the hill.  The River Bend Cemetery has a tremendous view across the Big Sandy Valley. 
            Here I stood, gazing across the land.  On far ridge to the west is where the town of River Bend had once been.  Like its name says, the town sat on a bend in the river.  Over that ridge down to the tracks is where the village once was. 
            Talking with a local museum docent, she told me that there had once been evil people living there and they are now buried up on the hill.  She was probably right about the residents of the town, for it had been built by the railroad.  Then the spring of 1879, Colonel Reno garrisoned his troops here to protect the railroad workers. 
            This mixture of people would have attracted the saloon keeps, painted ladies, gamblers and other notorious folks.  I’m sure there would have been all types of conflicts and few resulting in the exchange of bullets. 
            The cemetery is over two miles to the east, would they of carted these folks that far or just planted in a hole down by the creek.  One thing the River Bend Cemetery has, is lots of unmarked graves.  There are slight depressions or flowers growing where the grave had been. 
            There are also the grandiose family plots with the towering markers and wrought iron fences.  There is one surrounded by a corral fence and no grave markers.  Some have elaborate stone work in the graves.  A few headstones have toppled and there the fading wreaths. 
            A lone tree has survived on the ridge, the other is but a barren, scoured trunk, standing nearby.  There is little moisture and the wind easily scoops the dirt out and carries it off. 
            It is a forsaken bleak land, until the spring showers arrive and the grasses greens up.  The graveyard on the hill becomes and emerald beaming out across the land, a green carpet. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Green Knoll, Colorado

Green Knoll

Green Knoll was a settler’s community.  Located in the southern part of Lincoln County, CO.  It is one of the most sparsely populated areas of Colorado, about one person for every 10 square miles.  During the early 1900’s it was homestead land where one could pursue their dreams. 

When there is moisture in the land, it looks bountiful and productive ground.  Then it forgets to rain and the land becomes parched.  Yet the knoll the school house was located on was green.  The rolling land would stretch out like a green carpet after it rained.  For the early settler it was enticing.

Homes were built, there were families with children.  Times were plentiful, with optima a school was built and a Post Office was located in the farm home across the road.  Then the Dust Bowl struck, dreams were dashed and blown away. 

People fled the land that was no longer productive and today there are a few that hung on still work the land.  The few ranch homes in the area are miles apart.  Yet on the Knoll that was Green, the remains of the school house can be seen and across the road is where the Post Office had been. 

For the few people that venture into the area, consider it lonely.  The few that remain, this is home.  The wide open vacant land that stretches to the horizon is where they make their living.  The rolling pastures are their offices. 

The occasional critter dies and their bleached bones are laid out across the prairie.  Over on far horizon can been seen a windmill.  Sitting in silence, a monument to man to make a living on the land. 

Years ago before the Dirty Thirties, this was the land of hopes and dreams and people traveled out here to live.  Today, people would ask why.   Well one has to understand the conditions the people in Europe were living in at that time. 

So my little pickup goes bouncing down the dusty country road looking for more lost dreams. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Time Control

Passing Time

For eons, Man has tried to control his environment, let nature he was in control.  One of the hardest aspects to control was time, it cannot be saved, nor can it be predicted let alone stopped.  Time marches at its own pace.   Some of the earlier attempts at control were sundials, very nice ornate ones, to a simple stick in the dirt.  All these tools did was measure the passage of time. 

For centuries, writers have created all types of devices to travel in time and slow down time to the point of stopping time.  The library is full of books about time machines.  The flights of fancy of the writer knows no limits when it comes to manipulating time.  Over the centuries man has invented machines to measure time.  Simple devices such as an hour glass to a more sophisticated devices called clocks.  Today there are atomic clocks that measure time in milli-seconds. 

All this is based on fast our planet rotates, which is erratic.  So man made a thing called leap day to balance out time and create the illusion that they can control time. 

Towns built clock towers so all of the townspeople could see the time.  Others had town criers that walked about the time shouting out the time.  An artificial regimen for doing jobs was created by these ways of measuring time.  Then as smaller clocks were made, one could have their own personal timepiece in their home.  With the addition of the alarm, the time machine began to control people lives, rather than people controlling time. 

Soon these timepieces were shrunk even more, where a person could carry it with them.  The pocket watch became a status symbol and the richer one was, the more ornate the watch became.  Pocket watches were jewel encrusted, gold or silver plated and many had very detailed engravings on them.  The pocket watch would be attached to fobs of all types, again a status symbol or membership in an organization indication. 

The watch would be retrieved from its pocket and flashed about in a ritual.  Many had flip covers for the glass and the process of opening the cover became very stylized.  The personal timepiece had arrived and for the few that could afford one, this status symbol was flaunted by many. 

Isn’t that a human flaw of one upmanship or want to be separate as an individual.  To be outstanding and in control. 

With the oncoming industrial world, the time piece became more numerous.  The boss flicking out his watch, making sure his employees arrived on time.  The boat captain making sure his ship was on schedule.  The shopkeeper making sure he opened his store on time.  Then with the coming of the railroad, clocks were essential to keep the trains on schedule.  The railroad watch became an icon, couple of centuries ago.

It was also the railroad that standardized time and developed time zones.  Until that era, towns set their own times.  A train could leave town two bucks short at 10:45 am going west and arrive at bucks two town at 10;30 am.  With all the different times, it became very confusing on train schedules.  So the railroads set their own times to operate their trains on.  Eventually the towns followed, adopting the RR standard time. 

The time on the railroaders pocket watch soon became the measure of time.  One would set their watches to schedule of the trains passing by.  The train engineer would keep his watch in the small pocket on his bib overalls and the RR conductor had the vest pocket to store his pocket watch in.  For the read of folks a small pocket was sewn in the pants and here the pocket watch could be stored out of harm’s way.  Pocket watches were attached to fobs of all types.  Long cords or strings or small metal fobs embossed to indicate their profession or decorative fobs. 

With the advent of the wristwatch, the pocket watch remained king of status symbols.  The gold chain stretching across the vest, the chain looping into the watch pocket.  At times of retirement, the pocet watch was still a symbol to treasure. 

Eventually the wristwatch came to rule the timepieces, displacing the pocket watch.  Today the watch is close to extinction as digital time keepers are replacing watches.  Pull the phone out check the time, look up on the health monitor an see the time. I suppose someday a person carrying a watch of any type could become a fossilized status symbol.  There are so many digital devices out there, it is hard to see any of them becoming a status symbol. 

The three piece suit with the gold watch chain, was probably the last great symbol of status.  Even the multimillion dollar watches could not rival the pocket watch for status and measuring time. 

There was a touch of character, to ride the train and watch the railroaders monitor their pocket watches at the train sped down the rails.  Ride the street trolley and watch the driver keep his schedule watching his pocket watch at the stops to keep his route on schedule.  Pulling out the phone to see the time is way lacking. 

Oh well, that era is bygone and much like my pocket watches, time has stopped. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Life's Stories

The Devils of Spring

Every spring thru summer, the weather brings us the massive thunder storms and many times the tornadoes.  Life magazine did a short article on the captivating pictures of these massive storms.  Soaring thunderheads are spectacular and fearsome.  They roar a bellow with lightening cracking the thunderbolts’. 
Skin crawls, eyes bulge and the wonderment rivals the fear.  The crashing of hail, pounding on roof, beating venation to its knees.  Lightening flashing across, striking the tree, fire erupting to be extinguished by the drops of water.  Huddling in the cellar, listening to the roar slashing overhead, waiting for the quiet. 
The fearsome beautiful monster passes on by.  Trees twisted, homes in pieces and shambles, dreams to be rebuilt. 

Storms will always be with us and a few will always be in harm’s way.  Then there are those who go storm chasing.  Wanting to watch the brute power form, hear the effects of the monster scream across the land.  Cameras in hand, recording the beasts.
Weather has been recorded in literature and myths throughout the eons.  The thunder god of the Norse and his Hammer, the lightning bolts being hurled down off the mountain by Zeus and the list goes on. 
Harness the energy of the weather, has been a quest for centuries.  The sails on the boats, one of the earliest.  Then the windmills to grind grains and then to pump water and do other chores.  Yet all the energy of the fierce storms goes untapped because of its strength.  Just way to much there for man to tame, so they record it and take pictures. 
The beauty of nature in its many forms.