A small village, located in the far southeastern corner of Colorado, near the Oklahoma Panhandle and Kansas border. It has survived the Dust Bowl and the other farming downturns over the past century. Founded in 1888, Vilas began life as a ranching community but with the flat rolling land, it soon became farm land. Today it has a population of just over 100 hardy souls. The school is still active and that is probably what keeps the little town going.
Main Street is vacant, lined with vacant stores from another era. Even the garage and café appear to be closed. The Post Office still flies the flag and the sounds of children echo across the village at recess time. Otherwise one could hear a pin drop on the pavement leading into to town, it is that quiet and peaceful.
The town sits a good distance off the highway and out there is where the grain elevators are located. No longer do the rails get polished by trains. The railroad stopped service some years ago.
Vilas has become one of the wide spots on the highway from somewhere to over there. Cars and trucks zoom past with the occasional local slowing down to go home.
Vilas is becoming a classic ghost town, with a few residents. Most of the store fronts along main are still standing, most overgrown with trees and weeds. One of the stores has 1886 marked on its roofline. It appears that most of the other stores lining the street were also built during the late 1800’s. They are small, functional buildings and most around 400-600 square feet.
In other towns, the old buildings on main street were burned down during a town fire. Making the new stores bigger and usually made of brick. In Vilas it appears there was not a major fire in downtown that burned up half of the town. Here is a throwback to what many little towns on the prairie looked like during their early days.