Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bovina, CO

 

Interstate seventy slices through the middle of eastern Colorado, making a raceway for truckers and others in a hurry.  When the super slab was built, lots of the little towns dried up and for the moist part blew away.  Bovina was one of little burgs on the prairie.  It boasted a population of over 500 souls in the early 1880’s and was a watering stop for the railroad and earlier the cattle on the Texas Montana Cattle Trail.  It was the passing bovines that gave Bovina its name. 

Today the town is an exit sign on the freeway.  Some people some years ago bot some lots there and built a home so it no longer sits empty.  On the ridge to the east is the cemetery overlooking the abandoned village.  A boot hill of sorts. 

When the longhorns were chased out of western Kansas in the 1880’s. The trail moved west across eastern Colorado.  Watering holes were mapped out and Bovina became an important stop on the trail.  There were large ponds in the area for the cattle to get a drink and there was good grass.

Drive trough today and one would see plowed farmlands and no signs of water.  In 1935 Noah and his rains showed up dumping barrels of water on the high plains.  Creeks flooded, river rose and bridges were washed out all the way into Nebraska and Kansas.  As the rains fell the ponds filled.  Soon they were full and breached, draining the ponds.  The flood of 1935 wiped out the ponds and only small lagoons survive today. 

Bovina was a railroad town and because of the water the railroad made the town a watering stop.  1888 the town was platted out, the railroad put in sidings, a depot, corrals and other facilities.  Homes were built, stores and shops opened, bovina was a booming town. 

1920’s was peak population.  There were two factories in town, two banks, numerous stores, shops and a moving picture house.  The railroad was shipping cattle and grain from the farmers, business was booming. 

Electricity was slow in getting out to the prairie and many began leaving and going to towns that had their own power plants.  1920 signaled the beginning of the end for the town.  Factories leaving then the crash of 1929 began the death knell.  The 1930’s brought the drought and the dust bowl.  A natural havoc few could deal with.  The exodus from the land of promise was in full swing. 

The little red brick schoolhouse would close at the end of the decade.  Later the Post Office would close and only a few hardy souls would be left after the war. 

The dance hall no longer heard the piano and shuffle of feet.  The saloon was gone, homes were empty.  Dreams floated overhead with the clouds. the ghost rider passed by slowly looking for water now lost.  The winds flowed over the land unhindered.

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The farm machines that represented prosperity were now weed collectors.  For years they sat next to the railroad, visible from the Interstate.  Gone are the monuments from a past time.  Tumbleweeds roll on by, pausing not to remember other days. 

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Mounds of dirt cover the snow fence along the railroad.  The top part of the telegraph poles stand above the blow dirt a mute sentential to the powers of nature.  Most of these blow dirt mounds have been leveled.  here and there are drifts of dirt stacked up, 4, 4, 5 feet deep, smothering life. 

The letter carries would talk about delivering the mail in a dust storm.  Follow along the ditch line for the road was not visible.  Pause at the mail box, roll the window down, collect the letters, put in new letters.  Travel on down the country road, keeping the windows up in the heat of summer to keep the dust out.  Delivering mail to a neighboring country Post Office.  Meeting with another letter carrier and sorting the mail.  Returning to Bovina that evening, drop off a cream can or two at the depot she had picked up.  Go to the local post office, drop off the mail and get ready for another day. 

Get home and clear the dust off her window sills and and furniture, prepare the evening meal.  She lived to be 96, passing away 5 years ago. 

Listen to her and the old building would talk.  A time of another era came to life. 

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