Sunday, August 17, 2014

Elbert…. A reviving ghost



Out on the prairie is the little town of Elbert.  Nestled on the valley of an interment creek, surrounded by towering pines. It has a nice setting on the wooded plains but it faded into almost oblivion. 

Its beginnings were as a lumber camp in the 1840’s.  A man by the name of Gomer had numerous sawmills in the area and a Post Office was established for the woodsmen. 

In the late 1880’s a railroad was pushed through the area.  The goal was the lumber mills and further south was some coal mines.  The town of Elbert was established and a stop for the Denver and New Orleans Railroad.  During this time the town grew and prospered.

The trains brought in goods and supplies and lumber was shipped out.  There was good commerce and Elbert became a weekend tourist town.  On weekends there were special excursion trains from Denver to the cool hills around the area.  A pavilion was built for the city people escaping the heat of the city.  There were concerts, games and picnics.

Life was good in the little country town.  Then the railroad went into receivership and some of the commerce was dropped but the town kept going.

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An early chain store, was located in numerous towns in Eastern Colorado.  It is still used today as a community center and monthly Pancake breakfast.

It took Mother Nature to bring the little town down.  The summer of 1935 the clouds opened up and washed the parries clean.  Small streams were raging torrents and Elbert was washed away.  The railroad tracks were gone.  On the higher banks some of the building survived.  Yet many had water damage. 

The railroad did not rebuild the ruined tracks.  Instead they shifted their trains to the west on other rails they owned.  The ghosts were knocking at the town gates.  No longer was the whistle of the trains echoing down the valley.  The saw mills were silent and the tumbleweeds rolled down main street.

There was some ranching in the area that helped to keep Elbert going but most of the businesses were gone.  For a few it was still a weekend destination.  The roar of motorcycles' livened up the city on Weekends.  There was a watering hole for them. 

As time marched on the fingers of urban life stretched out and people moved to the area and commuted to the big city.  Couple more businesses opened and a new school was built. 

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The ghosts of the town now had company.  No longer was the tumbleweed the only traveler on main street.  Some of the old homes were fixed up.  New homes were built and a new town is emerging.

The General Store gas station now has customers.  The nearby scout camp has more neighbors.  A new life ambles along the streets.  There are no longer the clacking of railroad wheels bringing city folks in for the weekend.  It is now the noisy silence of the burbs.  In between the screech of tires, the flying wheels to the whispering pines. 

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On Boot Hill, the early settlers and pioneers look down on the silent creek that washed their town away. 


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