Friday, April 8, 2016

Aroya, CO

Aroya Cemetery

            Aroya is a small town that faded out of existence few decades ago.  A few years ago it had a population boom.  A family hauled a trailer out to a vacant lot and set up.  Somebody else hauled another trailer out and joined and just in a short time the population doubled.  The boom did not last long, today the trailers sit abandoned on the north end of town.  The ghosts of the other building still there no longer have company except for the occasional tourist that visits. 
            The cemetery I never really got clear directions on where it was and it was not visible from any of the roads.  I finally found some people in Kit Carson, CO that told me how to get to it.  Park on the roadside they said and walk up the hill across the rancher’s pasture.  On the top of the hill you’ll see it.  Well I parked my car along the road and began hoofing across the pasture.  It was with care as I placed my steps for I did not want to make friends with the cacti that dotted the grassland. 

            Sure enough, up on the hilltop was the small cemetery.  The rancher had put a fence around it because the cattle were knocking over the headstones.  There is no caretaker so the little patch of land was overgrown with weeds and the north fence was buried in tumble weeds.  This time of year, snakes are not a major concern, otherwise make steps very carefully. 
            The ranch that owns the cemetery placed a monument at the cemeteries edge, listing all the people that are buried in the plot.  Well the ones that they knew of.  The JOD ranch, that owns the surrounding land, is one of the oldest continuing ranches in the state and still calls Aroya their home although I believe their mail comes from Wild Horse. 

Most of the graves there are unmarked and only the smaller stones are still standing.  But it opened more questions.  For the date on the graveyard is 1907.  Aroya was established as a railroad stop in 1870.  That leaves a number of years vacant.  My guess is, the hill had been used as a burial grounds but not much record was kept.  The other thing is, Aroya has been part of three different counties, causing record keeping problems.  Back then, there was also the tendency to just go dig a hole in the prairie, say a few words and place a small cross of sorts and life went on. 

Being along a stage route, The Smoky Hill Trail, there were numerous Indian attacks in the area.  Also being a railroad town, there would have been the occasional wild times on the frontier.  So scattered here and there are probably a variety of grave sites.  
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