Friday, July 31, 2015

Kirk, CO



            Out there somewhere is one of the coolest little towns from a century and then some more years ago.  During the late 1800’s, towns would spring up around a community.  A Post Office would start and soon there would be stores and shops.  Occasionally the commercial buildings would be a few miles from the Post Office and this became the town.  It appears this is what happened with Kirk. 

            The map shows a previous Kirk Post Office couple of miles north of the present day Kirk.  A Post Office would start in a farmhouse but the town would spring up at another location and eventually the Post Office would move to the town.


            Here on the central plains of Eastern Colorado the little town of Kirk still survives.  Located on a secondary state highway and junction with a country road lies the little village of Kirk.  It is pretty much what a pioneer community would have looked like a couple of centuries ago.  On the corners are the stores.  A grocery store, a bank, meat processing and an empty shop, all that missing is the livery stable and a lumber yard.  The grain elevator and feed store stand at the south entrance to town on the north is a CO-OP. 




            The little village is about three blocks long and two blocks wide.  There are a few residents that live there. Populations was unknown but in the vicinity of 50 people live there.  There are a couple of churches, town park with playground and ball filed.  The school is long gone, consolidated with some neighboring towns. 

The occasional car passes through and there are shoppers in town on occasion.  The Post Office stays busy.  The newspaper has rolled up the mat.  The big farm truck rumbles trough more than cars.  Road crews pass through checking on roads and signs, a sheriff’s deputy cruises town and stops at the grocery for coffee n a roll. 

Here time has stood still and a small village has survived the bigness of the big box mind set. 

There empty stores that still stand on main street.  Showing when Kirk was a busier town and there were more people in the area. 



            The bank is a fairly non discreet building and fairly new.  With the blink of an eye, one could drive right past and not notice. 


            Across the corner from the bank is the meat processing locker.  The meat locker used to be an icon in small town America.  Today they are fading into the sunset of memories.


            There are a variety of homes scattered around the little burg.  For whatever reason, these little wide spots have junkyards.  Kirk is no different, the house surrounded by junk cars sits on the edge of town.  



            Out on HWY 36 is a sign indicating there is a little town back down the road a ways.  For those that turn, be ready for a short trip back in time.  For here, is what a lots of the little ghost town on the plains used to be like. 





Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Corporal Baatz

One of those little puzzling quirks in History.  A German POW is still buried in a National Cemetery.

A ll types of questions rose of the mire of my grey matter.  When I first found out about the POW, I had to have answers. 

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Being less then a detective, I went looking for answers.  Bottom line was, after the war ended, no body claimed the remains.  Even the country did not claim him.  So in Ft Logan national Cemetery the remains of one German POW rests in peace. 

During the research I found ot that Colorado had over 30 POW camps scattered around the state and across the country there were numerous POW.  Most were in farm areas and the POW’s were expected to do farm wok while in captivity.  This led to minor conflicts here and there and other stories.  Most of these camps are now gone and only memories are left. 

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Baatz was not the only German to die while in custody of the US.  There were others who died, Baatz was the only one not claimed.  Not next of kin could be located.  The cause of death, I did not ask, yet there a few that passed on from lead poisoning from a farmers shot gun. 

A few of the German soldiers refused to work in the fields and the local farmer would get upset with them.  One such farmer told the POW when he came to work the next day if he did not work the soldier would be at the end of the shot gen barrel. 

Next day the POWE shows up, again he refuses to work.  Farmer goes off and retrieves his shotgun.  Different type casualty of war. 

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Then there was the POW that was an affair with one of the local gals.  She was 2nd generation German and brought baked goods to the POW’s.  She fell for one of the troopers and he found a way to get out of camp.   A night he would leave camp for the evening to spend it with the lady that was just a ways down the road. 

this went on for sometime before it was discovered.  There also various types of escapes and manhunts.  Yet the mystery of Karl Baatz is still a mystery. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wheat Harvest

Once a year, people get a little frantic in the prairie bread basket, when the wheat ripens.

One eye furtively watching the sky, other watching the wheat turn.  A ritual the farmer has perfected.  The weather is not to hos liking nor is the whet ripening fast enough. 

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Then the day arrives.  The big monster machines show and start gobbling up the wheat. 

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Field after field they shorn off.  With a wet spring there are bumper crops sitting in the ground.  The frenzy is rising to a pitch as they rush to get the wheat cut before any nasty weather. 

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The railroads are hopping to get rail cars in for them to ship the wheat out.  Stacks of gold glisten in the distance. 

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Trucks hauling the harvest into town.  The grain elevators busy getting them unloaded so then can hustle back out for another load. 

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Time is of the essence, for the weatherman has forecast afternoon thunder storms. 

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On through the heat of day, the combines march on.  The traffic on the Interstate whizzes by as the big machines gobble up the plenty of the land.

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Into the afternoon they grind on, clouds building.  Hurrying to beat the weather.  The harvest waits for not one.  It is on God’s schedule and one has to make do with that. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Spring Valley, CO


Sitting on the banks of the West Cherry Creek River Branch, just north of the Palmer Divide is the little village of Spring Valley.  The school is still standing with a couple of out buildings and on north a ways is the cemetery and church. 

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The Cherokee Trail passed through the area in the 1850’s and the Military had mapped out the area for travelers.  Trade from Mexico went through this area and the Mountain Man had been trapping in the area for decades.  With the numerous springs and the stream to follow it was a well traveled route. 

When the Cherokee Indians passed through they were on their way to the gold fields of California.  They were quite the gold miners in their home country of Georgia and they wanted to see what the west coast had to offer.  As they traveled they would pan in the streams looking for the shinny flakes.  Along the cherry Creek river the Indians found lots of teasers.  When got to where the river met they Platte River they found good flakes of gold.  Here they set up a camp at the confluence of the Cherry Creek and the Platte River, calling it Auraria, after their home in Georgia. 

The Indians searched the other streams nearby and where Ralston Creek meets Clear Creek they found their first good gold deposit in the river.  Returning to their camp, it was decided that small group would return to Oklahoma where they had been moved to and tell other members.  The rest would go onto California and the following year they would meet the other members from the tribe at Auraria Camp with their equipment. 

Soon the news of the gold finds in the rivers of Colorado was spreading and people were heading into the new frontier to seek out their fortune. 

The military built a fort in the Spring Valley to protect the travelers from attacks, Fort Iron.  A short distance to the north is where the Smoky Hill Trail joined Cherry Creek to go north.  Soon Cherry Creek was bustling trail of fortune seekers.  There were wagon trains of freight moving northward to supply the miners. 

More and more people began to move in and settle in the area.  The late 1800’s the community of Spring valley was established.  Stores were built, a schoolhouse, homes, a Post Office and other shops.  It was a rich ground for farming and raising cattle.  Potatoes, beans and hay were the major crops grown in the fertile area. 

As civilization expanded, highways were built and none went near the little farming/ranching community.  Soon the shops and stores were moving and the Post Office closed.  The window of history was closing on the once busy little town. 

Here is a link to the Douglas County Historical Society web page about little town.  It appears the Society had a lease on the property but lost it for some reason.


This area along the County line is some of the most spectacular ranching land in Colorado.  Sadly developers are acquiring some land and planting 2X6’s with roofs in the area, putting blotches on the rolling vistas. 

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The school had been cared for but now appears to being neglected and at the whims of nature.  It is believed to of been built in the mid 1870’s.  For an old wooden building to have survived that long is a testimony to the care it had received.  The out building show signs of neglect yet they still stand after all those years.  On a hillside overlooking the valley resides the little country school. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Greenland, Colorado


The last great open lands between Denver and Colorado Springs is how the Greenland Ranch was referred to.  200,000 acres of grass stretched along the Palmer Divide.  Fertile tall grass waved in the meadows as cattle grazed along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  The last Ice Age, 800 years ago had left the land rich and fertile.  Springs dotted the land, giving rise to small streams coursing down off the hills.  Here cattle could roam across a five course land. 

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Yet Greenland did not have its start as a ranching community.  In the late 1870’s the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was pushing southward.  They platted out a small town here on 20 acres.  There was ample water in the stream and a good stop before the last push up the hill to cross the Palmer Divide. 

Homes were built, there was a depot, section houses and shops were opening.  Soon the railroad would be shipping carloads of potatoes.  The area was the potato capital of Colorado.  Nearby was Palmer Lake, here the railroad would harvest ice from the lake to use as refrigeration to keep the produce cool. 

As the potato farming grew, so did the ranching.  The chutes for loading of cattle on to stock cars still stands in Greenland.  Cattle could be gathered in for shipment to market or other pastures.  It was a thriving little village into the early 1900’s. 

The highway route was shifted and longer did travelers go through the village.  Greenland was on its way to becoming a memory.  The railroads continued to pass through but that was changing.  Passengers were no longer and the potato farming had changed.  Then the Interstate was built, going on the edge of town.  An exit on I-25 was built and some developers discovered the area.  Soon the land was growing 2X4’s and there were ranchettes. 

The Greenland Ranch did not sell to developers and for years one could go flying down the Interstate on see a couple of cowboys driving cattle across the pasture. 

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There was continued pressure by developers to sell.  People got together to try and preserve some of the ranch to prevent development.  Using Open Space tax money, the county was able to purchase portions of the ranch and some other parcels in the area. The newly acquired county land was developed into Open Space Parks.  Today there are trails and parking lots on the former ranch ;land.  Cattle still graze the pastures and share with wildlife. 

One of the largest hers of Elk in Colorado migrate through the area.  The mountain lion can be seen on the nearby rocky ledges, back bears wander the land searching out food, the coyotes shares his howl and the foxes bound over the grasses.  It is still a wild area, loaded with birds, the Eagle soars over head, along with hawks and vultures.  The ravens send out their racket as they pass by and the turkeys peck among the fields. The birds of the meadow sing out their melody. 

The little ghost town has shown some new life as a few people have bought some old properties and built new homes. The ranch homes are still there and some of the old buildings still stand. DSCN1233 (1024x710)DSCN1237 (1024x761)


It is the big red barn that is the icon for the exit.  As traffic flies by on the Interstate the massive old barn stands out very prominently.

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Hard to imagine that all of this was under ice at one time.  The mesas in the area are called pediments by geologists, for the ice carved the hill off flat.  These mesas stretch from south Denver to the Palmer divide and go out east a number of miles.  It was this massive slab of ice that created a lush area of small streams and springs.  The ice boiled up rocks, ground them up leaving behind voids, nutriments and varied landscape. 

The winters are harsh, dumping snow by the foot, staying below freezing for weeks.  The spring brings the hail, stacking up into 2 n 3 foot drifts, collapsing roofs and tearing up buildings.  It takes a hardy person to deal with the harshness.  Yet the summer brings a warm green land. 

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sagaus …… Shortest lived town ever …. probably


During the late 1800’s, the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, CRIP, decided to build a line to the gold fields of Colorado from Omaha, Nebraska. Their destination was Pikes Peak. 

The railroad also liked to build towns along their routes.  For little towns meant customers of them.  Passenger revenue was as important back then as was the revenue from freight.  It also gave them reference points along the line where the trains were and stops where the train crews could be given orders along the line.  These little stops were on average about 6 miles apart. 

The railroad would set up a depot, sometimes, no more then a boxcar.  Couple of houses would be built for the workers and then hopes that a speculator would come along and plat a town.  Sometimes the speculator was already there waiting for the railroad to show up.  Lots were being sold on the promise that this would become a train stop.  Things did not always go as planned. 

Rolling across the prairie of eastern Colorado things changed.  The further west they went, the drier the land became and the elevation was gaining.  The land was over 5000 feet above sea level and climbing.

In 1888 the CRIP reached Flagler, CO.  Having bypassed other little villages that wanted the railroad for their site.  Continuing westward they stopped at a place they named Sagaus.  Here they put in a siding, depot, couple of section houses and a store was built.  All the ingredients for a town was in place. 

Westward the railroad continued, at Arriba a speculator was waiting for them.   A town was laid out and their were residents in this new town on the high plains. 

Being sandwiched between to growing little towns the the fate of Sagaus was doomed.  The following year, the store had closed, the depot was gone and the people had moved to one of the neighboring towns. 

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Today the remains of the little burg are but a wide spot next to the railroad tracks.  Nearby the traffic of Interstate 70 roars by.