Friday, August 19, 2016

Republican River Road

Hale Colorado

            Like so many little burgs off the main highway, the community of Hale has disappeared into the dim reaches of memory.  Situated on the Republican River in Eastern Colorado, almost to the Kansas border, Hale had been a busy little place back in the late 1800’s.  The Republican River was a busy route to the Colorado gold fields in late 1800’s.  Freighters used this route for a number of years hauling to the mountains, Wagon trains of 100 wagons or so were quiet common.  For brief time a stage line operated through the area in 1859-60.  This is the stage route Horace Greeley rode to Colorado, of “Go West young man, Go West.” 
            The French had been in this area since the 1600’s trapping and exploring, they had established outposts along the river.  The Spanish traveled through the area also, looking to see what the French were up to.  It was an area of intrigue between the European rivals until the French sold it to the United States in 1802, The Louisiana Purchase.  This brought more explorers and curious people to the New West.  Zebulon Pike traveled the area in 1812, exploring and charting the newly purchased land of the United States.  At the time the early Europeans had gotten along with the native Indian tribes, using some Indians as their guides and trading with them.  The history of the French and Spanish in the area is pretty slim and a lots has to do with the interest lying in US history, not other countries. 
            So when gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains, lots of the trails West had been laid out and mapped.  With large wagon trains rolling through, small trading posts were built by the road and a few settlers settled in.  The bottom land was rich for crops and grazing cattle.  Dotted along the Republican River from the Kansas border to its headwaters were numerous communities, mostly no more then a dozen souls living there.  With the homesteaders, the area became a bit more civilized and Post Offices came into being along the river. 
            The Hale Post Office was established in 1887 until 1945 when it was moved to another location a few miles away.  On the map from the early 1900’s, there are several other communities listed as being in the area.  One of these communities was Bonny, which lent its name to the new dam/reservoir being built in the 1950’s.  Bonny Dam gave some new life to the general store at Hale.  The store became a bait and tackle shop also selling items to the visitors of the lake and there were gas pumps. 

            Things change and Hale lost lots of its clientele as people changed the way they lived and then Bonny Lake was forced to be drained by the state of Kansas and that sealed the fate of the little country store. 
            What had been a nice flowing river had trickled into a tiny stream, the drought dried up lots of springs and tilling changed the run off.  There is still plenty of water but it is way down in the ground.  When Bonny was drained, lots of the close to surface water disappeared also.  The woods are thick offering forage and protection for the abundant wildlife in the area. 

            Hale still has its road sign, the old store still stands and there are a couple houses in the area.  For now it is the occasional rancher going through the area checking on the cattle.  The stagecoach that stopped nearby is no more.  The boaters and fisherman now go other places.  High overhead floats the Eagle, a reminder that some things do not change. 

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