Interstate 70 sliced through the heart of east central Colorado. In the process it sliced the life out of many of the small towns that dot the high plains of eastern Colorado. The high speed slab was built over there and the old highway the main street of many a small town was amputated. No longer much traffic, the little town businesses would fail and soon main street sidewalks were rolled up. Empty stores dotted the once heart of the town and ghosts from the past were the only visitors.
Deertrail was of those little towns that struggled to keep a business district going. Very little success. Numerous businesses have opened, only to close a short time later.
Deertrail was a railroad town built in the 1870’s and it prospered for a number of years. Near by was a stage station and it was on the North Branch of the Smoky Hill Trail. Its claim to fame, is the world’s first rodeo. The town has a nice arena and they still have the rodeo.
Set on the banks of the East Fork of the Bijou River, it is well wooded and a scenic location. Deer roam the woods, hence its name and it great wildlife habitat. Although the river flooded in 1935 and washed part of the town away. The south side of the old highway is vacant and a parkway today.
The north side of Main Street is a classic western town, brick store fronts, elevated walkway and the store front porches. Here was the newspaper office, the dry goods store, hardware, grocery,a hotel and a saloon. All the fineries a person could want in the late 1800’s. One of the vacant stores caught fire a few years back and was gutted. The store front still stands and the broken windows reveal charred timbers.
Out on the Interstate, a couple of convenience gas stations have been built that catch an occasional traveler. Few venture down to the old part of town. Here the old saloon and restaurant are undergoing renovation and a few of the stores have been fixed up. The junk dealers are pretty organized, there is a pizza place and a nice museum park with the old train depot, schoolhouse and log house. Yet the old buildings on the old highway are the attraction.
Whoever is fixing up the old Brown Derby appears to have a bit of money and it make take this time. Have not been through here since last year when I took these pics. Yet when I drive the old highway, it is a fun place to pass through and ponder what it was like at the turn of the past century.