Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kutch… A place where the ghosts live


On the high plains of eastern Colorado is a variety of small ghost towns.  Most have disappeared back to nature.  A few have a building or two, maybe foundations otherwise a vacant spot.  Yet these places at one time were vibrant little communities.  There were schools, stores, shops, churches and homes.

With the changes in transportation, many of these places became a second thought.  Instead of a days trip to the big towns, it took and hour or so by pick up. 

Kutch was one of those places.  It had its beginnings as a post office on a sheep ranch to the south.  Late 1800’s a gentleman by the name of Ira Kutch got the mail contract.  the last name is pronounced cootch, like a pigeon coo not like a clutch.   It gets mispronounced so often.   Mr. Kutch built a dug out in the banks of Horse Creek for his Post Office.  It was along the Goodnight cattle trail heading to Denver. 

A few years later the Post Office was moved a few miles north into a small building.  This was the beginning of small town that almost made it. 

Next to the post office another building was attached for a general store.  Soon there was a gas station, repair shop and a blacksmith shop.  On the other end, living quarters were added.

Here was an early day pioneer convenience store.  One stop shopping.  Pick up some beer on Friday night, go down the road a piece for the dance at the barn.  Across the road was the baseball field. Here at the junction of country roads was a burgeoning country community.  After the dust bowl of the dirty thirties, many farmers left the land and headed to the city looking for work.  The drought returned in the 50’s, forcing more people off the land.  Yet Kutch did not die.  The Post Office and store lasted until 1971.  It was closed and shuttered for a number of years. 

It was purchased by a young woman who grew up in the area.  Here she made her home and cleaned up the old Kutch store and Post Office.  Lots of things were still on the shelves as when it was closed.  The dirt and dust was removed and things were left as they were.  Oh a few old things have been placed in the store, otherwise it is the same as it was 50 years ago or earlier.

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On the shelves were canned goods, can of spinach, 17cents…. etc.  The old hand crank phone had the local phone numbers written on wall next to the names of the locals.  The post still had the sorting table and mail hutches, the original safe was still there. 

Stories of yesteryear resound off the walls.  One can hear the wedding bells ring as the people celebrate.  The cheers from across the road at the ball park.  The rowdy drunks at the barn dance down the road.  The somber funeral when one of the neighbors passes on.  The sputter of the horseless carriage pulling up for gas at the station.  Hop in the sore for a couple of quick items.  Bring a harness in to be repaired,  Now occupied by a shell reloading machine. 

Life grew up at this now empty intersection.  The little roadside building still stands, housing the memories from generations gone by.  Donna is so happy to share her life growing up here and the stories she heard from her parents.  The store and Post Office her pride and joy.  A window into the past that has been preserved, not recreated.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Golden Belt Route ………………… A Tale of Ghosts


VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

Floating across the Prairie is the remains of a once important thoroughfare.  The Golden Belt Route was the shortest distance between St Louis and Denver.  US Highway 40 had it beginnings following the railroad across the land.  A person needs to back up further to understand why this once thriving route now sits empty and destitute. 

Government policy created the route but it was also the policy changes of the government that created the ghost towns and the ghostly remains of stage stops, a highway, trails and other long forgotten incidents.

In this area, there are three ghost towns, four stage stations abandoned, stage robberies, buried treasure, numerous Indian attacks, a band of outlaws, Indian sweat lodge and other lost tales.  When the government rerouted the highway, this small portion was left intact and over the years it has been weathered out to trails of ghosts and their towns.

In the mid 1500’s the Spanish roamed through the area in their search for gold.  Later it was the French in the search for fur.  The land was Indian, Spanish, Mexican, French, Texas and finally US.  The government sent military detachments across the land to explore and report back to the politicos in Washington DC. 

With the discovery of gold in California, the politicians wanted to expand the US to the Pacific Ocean.  A military expedition was sent from Ft Leavenworth to map out a trail to the Rocky Mountains, in hopes they could find a path over their barrier. 

In 1859 gold was discovered in the Colorado and another gold rush was on.  The trail the government had laid out became a freeway for the gold seekers.  The Smoky Hill Trail followed the Smoky Hill River across Kansas to its headwaters in eastern Colorado.  Soon stage lines were roaring over this road as gold fever struck hundreds.

To expand the country west the politicians in Washington DC passed the Pacific Railroad Act.  This brought out all types of get rich schemers.  Government money was being dangled.  All types of railroad companies were formed and a few chartered.  One was successful in that they revitalized a defunct railroad.  They began operations at Wyandotte, Kansas.  Their goal was the Pacific Ocean.  They adopted the name Kansas Pacific to avoid conflict with the other railroad to the north. 

West across Kansas they headed, wanting to beat that railway to the north and get on the Overland Trail to the Pacific.  There was a conflict among the key members and one got the boot from the boardroom.  Some loyal employees took umbrage with this and in a confrontation with the owner he let him know.  They employee was pretty upset, he shot the president of the railroad and killed him.  This ended the advantage the Kansas Pacific had so the Overland route was scrapped.  They chose the Smoky Hill route to Denver.

The Kansas pacific followed the Smoky Hill River westward, building towns as they laid rail westward.  Abilene, Kansas became one of their more famous towns because of all the shootings with the cowboys off the cattle trail.  There were other towns along the way that had cattle loading and the gunfights but Abilene got the notoriety. 

The Civil War slowed things down but westward they went on government sponsored money.  They arrived in Denver the summer of 1870. 

Small towns dotted the railroad right of way, small oasis for the settlers that began showing up.  Wagons were following along the tracks and more homes were built.  Then the Homestead act was changed and more settlers began to show upsetting down stakes for their new homes.  Communities were built and the railroad brought mail out to these homesteaders.  Government polity was building more towns in the once empty prairie, where the buffalo roamed. 

Soon the horseless carriage was bouncing over the prairie.  Again the government got involved.  A highway department was formed by congress and highways were built to accommodate the new machines.  These new highways followed the rails.  Like snake paths the roadway wound over the grasslands. 

The towns all the rails were thriving with all of this new business.  The outlying communities were growing.  Supplies were easy to come by, there was mail and materials to build with sat in the towns. 

1920 was the roaring 20’s, spirits were high and people were prosperous. 

To make travel easier, the government looked at the highway maps.  They decided to straighten out lots of the curves that the roads had from following the railroad.  Cross country the new highway went.  Leaving the towns high and dry.  No longer were motorists traveling through their towns.  Filling stations closed up, stores shuttered.  Ghosts were hovering overhead, waiting to move in. 

In the 1950’s the Interstate Highway system began, isolating more towns and changing peoples driving habits.

Along the backloads of the high plains one can find numerous ghost towns that have disappeared because of the changes in government policies.  Towns that were once thriving, boasting populations over 500 people, banks, movie theaters, car dealers, multiple grocery stores and gas stations.  Now they have a few barren foundations to mark where some buildings had been. 

This short stretch of the Golden Belt route is like traveling back in time.  There are a few building standing, the streets are visible and few souls still live in them.  The Indians roamed here, arrowheads have been found.  Their sweat lodge is near a stage station.  The buried treasure from the payroll robbery is supposedly still buried in the ravine near by.  General Custer and Col. Reno patrolled through here after all of the Indian attacks.

Here one can see the dreams of many, the follies of a few, the impact of poorly planned government polies and the trail of outlaws.  Like many things, Mother Nature wants to reclaim.  Some of the old building have collapsed, the roads are covered with weeds and the schoolhouse is now shade for the bulls of the rancher. 

For one willing to bounce over a dirt road it is an adventure awaiting. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Third World …. Why?


With all the stuff going on at the border, with Mexico and Central America, made me wonder, why is there still such abject poverty in the world. Then I ask, why do these countries oppress their people?  Why has their political system failed the people?

For years, missionary groups have been going to these places.  The appeals from church groups resonate across the globe.  Yet after all these centuries of missionary work, the Christians have not been able to alleviate the poverty of the Third World.  Why have they failed, what is wrong. 

Are they providing a hand out rather then a hand up.  Is it their attitude, what are they doing wrong.  One would think they could be more successful in helping the poverty of the Third World to change.  Next, are all the pleas for donations bogus, do these people in the Third World really need a hand out, what’s missing. 

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Some of the answers can be seen in our own country.  Government relief versus church relief.  After the gulf hurricane, few years back, the Christian relief efforts were in position to help the victims of the hurricane immediately.  The government showed up later, usually weeks later.  Within weeks and months the Christian relief workers had aided the families and many were moving back in their homes.  The government was still working on helping over a year later.  Big difference. 

Then look at the Haiti earthquake.  The Christian relief effort was there the following day.  The government later that month.  Then when the food was being passed out, local gangs were stealing from the people, the marines had to be brought in to protect the workers and people from the gangs.  The local government did nothing. 

So what is really need to put abject poverty to rest?  Next are we willing to do what is necessary?  Or can we even do it, will we just have to learn to accept it as a part of life?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Day


There is the usual fireworks of July Fourth, a day to celebrate explosions.  Maybe referring to the national anthem, bombs exploding in air.   However it got started celebrating with fireworks, it is a good way to end the day.


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As I watch the aerial display I wonder why some can not grasp the concept of freedom. 

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Every law that the politicians pass, someone’s freedom is restricted. This how freedom is lost, it comes from the politicians, not other people.  Oh people go crying to the politicians and then a law is passed to shut the cry baby's up.  This is a fact of life, from republican and democrat.  Both sides any more think the government is the solver of our problems.

So the next time you want a law passed…… Whose freedom are you treading on?