Friday, December 30, 2016

Ark Valley RR .... Cornelia, CO.

Cornelia Colorado
            A wide spot along the rails and a huge warehouse is the extent of the little village of Cornelia. 
            When sugar beets dominated farming in the Arkansas Valley, the farmers built a railroad on the north side the river to serve the sugar beet farmers.  The east end of the rails were Holly Colorado and the west end was at Swink. 
            As the railroad prospered, other businesses were served and small towns popped next to the rails.  Most were not much more then a store and the rail terminal.  A few grew into little town with all the amenities of a prosperous country town. 

            Cornelia was one of the stops along the rails and like the sugar towns is faded into memory banks in the 60’s when federal sugar tariffs changed.  One of the little towns on the rail line was Hasty, the gateway to the John martin reservoir and Hasty Lake.  Here one can see the old rail bed next to the highway.  To the north along county roads there are other little burgs that have reminders of other days. 

            Cornelia is to the west and is on one of those county roads going to over there.  There is a huge warehouse still standing and a processing shed and a couple of homes.  It appears a farmer now operates, the old community remains.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ruxton, Colorado

Railroad Town

            Ruxton, Colorado was a small town built for railroad service.  Here there would have been maintenance of way crews and equipment, A depot of some type and few homes for the workers to live in.  The local train would stop here, dropping off supplies and people and picking up.  It was a wide spot out on the mesas of eastern Colorado. 

            Ruxton is located in one of Colorado’s more unique landscapes.  It is a dry land of cacti, mesas, gullies and canyons.  Scrub trees dot the land and along the springs and small creeks, there are groves of trees.  There are small oasis’s that are scattered across the empty land.  Cattle roam over the land and the occasional ranch house next to a spring. 
            Cattle shipping would have been handled by the railroad or sheep.  Early 1900’s, lots of sheep roamed the land but the land could not sustain the sheep.  Today it is mostly cattle roaming the land in search of sparse tufts of grass. 

            Along the dusty road there are old railroad cars, marking where corrals and pens are.  Here the rancher could drive his cattle in for shipment on the rails.
            There is the old stone house, now is state of falling apart.  Yet years ago it would have been a family’s dream home.  The first room was built, with door and window.  Later years, rooms were added on to the house, probably as the family grew.  The little stone house is the only sign there had been a village here. 

            The trains still roar by and MOW crews still work on the rails.  It is a vast land that has a song of silence, one can listen, for those that pause.  It is broken by the occasional pick up or train.  The grasses sway with the few trees as an easy breeze whispers through.  Clouds roll across the horizon keeping their moisture.  In silence, Ruxton sits.  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Broom Factory

            Pritchett, situated in the far southeastern corner of Colorado was at one time considered the capitol of broomcorn.  There was a factory there to manufacture brooms for shipment across the corner.  Broomcorn became an important cash product for the farmers.  The flat land was excellent production ground for growing crops and the farmers grew and grew. 

            Drive through Pritchett today and one would not even consider its importance to the region.  There are numerous empty building on Main Street and lots of vacant lots where there had been stores and shops.  There are a few businesses that operate, the grain elevator, a saloon and the Post Office, the school still teaches.   But life is much slower in the little country village that survived the “Dirty 30’s.”   
            The east/west highway sees the occasional traffic as it bends through town.  No longer are there brooms to be shipped around the country, today it is grain products.  Yet for the person that wanders through town, all kinds of past moments ripple through the imagination.  The workers that worked in the rural factory, going to an from work, pausing in the saloon, the few cars cruising main.  It would make a great Hollywood backdrop for a movie. 

            Neat old gas station on the corner, classic movie house, the saloon and a park on the corner to hang out in, the flappers from the 20’s or the Hot Rodders of the 50’s.  Any of these would fit right into the fabric of Pritchett.  Cruise down the street to where it turns, flip a U and cruise back to the other end of town.  Music rolling out of the saloon.  It is a western town on the eastern plains of Colorado. 
            Today the farming and ranching in the area keep the little town school open insuring the town has some life.  The tumbleweed can roll down the street not bothered but by the light breeze. 

The link takes one to the Baca County History, stories about broomcorn.