School in the Country

Country School

Edison

 

            Driving across the plains of eastern Colorado, theDSC01798 (640x480)e is lots of empty land and one can see forever.  Building and trees on the horizon, generally mark farm houses or ranches.   This time the long empty road went past a schoolhouse.  For miles any direction, there were no tows, yet here there was a school complex.  Elementary, middle/jr high and high school and nice auditorium/gym, neatly groomed next to the gravel road in the middle of somewhere. 

            Farms and ranches have consolidated as more and more people leave the land and move to the city.  The few towns left behind, dry up and become memories of earlier days.  So the local families get together and consolidate their school districts into one.  There are still long bus rides, as much as 30-40-50 miles to school.  For some, it is better than a 100mile trip to the big town. 

DSC01796 (640x480)

            Edison school district is way out at the eastern end of El Paso county crossing into Lincoln County.  It is listed as being in Yoder, which is up the road about 15 miles.  Nearby is the town of Truckton and all around is lots of land to farm and ranch. 

            When towns disappear the folks get things worked out to educate their children.  Consolidated districts usually a variety of ghost towns/communities and the school house becomes a reminder of what once used to be.  What’s amazing, is the education in these little schools is just as good as it is in the big city. 

            The students in the country school don’t have the gangs to deal with or the noise of city life.  In the country classes are smaller, giving the students more personal attention.  There are sports programs, music, plays etc.  The school becomes a social center for all types of activities.

DSC01804 (640x480)

            Some homes are hauled in to provide housing for some of the teachers and small town kind of builds up.  Some of the locals will rent out to new teachers.  Sometimes the local are teachers and doing their farm and ranch work in the morning and evenings, through the summer.  The one room schoolhouse has been replaced by a sleek modern schoolhouse.  It has become a ghost town in reverse. 

Resolis

Resolis Colorado

Resolis was a small town in Eastern Colorado, located on the banks of the Big Sandy Creek.  Today there is a road that winds through the area where the village once stood.  Its exact location is under debate and where the people say it was located is not a sure thing.  So Resolis may have been located there or maybe over there, one sure thing though, is, it did exist.

Resolis had its beginnings during the Colorado gold rush of the 1850’s.  A freight company in Leavenworth, Kansas was sending wagon trains of freight across the prairie to the gold fields.  In 1859 they formed the Leavenworth & Pike Peak Stage Line.  The stages used the route the freighters had been using to go to Denver.   In 1859 the LLP Stage line established a relay station at the crossing the Big Sandy.

DSCN6742 (640x480)

The stage line did not last long, in 1860 they were awarded the mail contract on the Overland route.  The route to Denver was abandoned but Resolis did not wither away.  The freight wagons were still rolling west and The Smoky Hill Trail passed through, keeping the trading post open.  During this time the population of Resolis had boomed to maybe 30 hardy souls. 

In 1870 there was another change to the area, the Kansas Pacific RR was pushing across Eastern Colorado.  The RR established a small RR town to the north of River Bend.  Many of the people of Resolis packed up and moved to the new railroad town. 

Resolis did not stay vacant for long because another railroad showed up in the area.  The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific was pushing westward to Colorado Springs and at the site of Resolis a small depot was established for the new railroad.  People returned to the little village along the river banks.  There were jobs working on the railroad and it was good ranch land.  The population boomed again to over 60 souls.

DSCN6752 (640x480)

Resolis now rivaled River Bend, its neighbor in size.  There were saloons, stores, blacksmith and all the amenities of a country town.  The land was not good for farming and when the Homestead Act changed very few people moved in to the area to settle it.  The ranchers pretty much controlled the surrounding area.

With the changes in railroading, jobs in the little section towns began to disappear.  The drought of the 30’s arrived and many people flew with the wind to other places and Resolis became a forgotten place full of vacancies. 

When the railroad ceased operations in the 1970’s, a local RR began operations of a diner train through the area.  The big cottonwoods provided nice shade and cool breezes for the evening train to pass through.  Resolis was no more but it was a mile marker and listed in the RR time tables.  The diner train did not last long and when it ceased operations, the railroad also became a ghost. 

DSCN6734 (640x393) (2)

The rails were removed and the ROW went to various land holders in the area.  There are a few bridges still standing, the RR Grade can still be seen and a few ranch houses have some sizable fences of RR ties.  Yet where the town had exactly existed is a question.  One spot is out in a pasture, the other is where Resolis road cross the old ROW.  Oh well, bouncing down the road looking at what may have been, for on far horizon is River Bend’s Boot Hill. 

Kuhn’s Crossing

DSCN6591 (1024x768) (640x480)

            One of those places where I was a few days late and a whole bunch short.  Situated off Hwy 94 and down a dead end road a short distance, was Kuhn’s Post Office.  This where one could cross Bijou Creek and continue their journey westward.  Off and on for years I drove past this location, not knowing what was located just over the rise. 

            Back in the trees lining the creek I could a barn with its silo and the other ranch buildings.  It was a very pastoral scene as I whizzed by on the highway.  Back down the road had been Kuhn’s Crossing Schoolhouse and there were some log cabins. 

DSCN6601 (640x470)

            Over the years these structures had weathered and collapsed into piles of lumber scrap heaps.  The markers of the little pioneer community were gone.  Down the road a ways were some ranch houses and outbuildings after crossing the creek.  A rubble heap sat on the ridge where the school had once been.  I took too long to go looking and found not much. 

            It is a fascinating area to drive through.  To the south a ways was a stage stop and a branch of the Smoky Hill Trail.  To the north on another road is another branch of the Smoky Hill Trail.  There are some other communities nearby and some wide open range land.  Cottonwoods line the creek bottoms and stately pines dot the ridges.  It is a varied land of rolling grasslands, towering ridges, 7000-8000 feet in elevation.  The Indians would roam here in the summer

            Today, many of the pine trees have grown back, ranches dot the land and cattle graze the grasses.

DSCN5367 (640x480)

Elba, Colorado

Elba

            The Elba Post Office was located at three different locations, according to the map.  There also was a cemetery that was named Elba, have seen no mention of a church.  Dotting the southern end of Washington County in Colorado, the Post Office slowly moved East until 1932 it was located on Hwy 63.

DSC02497 (640x480)

            The PO on Hwy 63 appears it may have been a small town of sorts.  There are a some buildings in the area and by its location may have been a general store with gad station.  The other locations were farm houses, back over that a way.

     Like many things on the prairie, Post Offices were consolidated into larger towns as the farms and ranches were consolidated into larger operations. 

DSC02502 (640x480) 
     Today there is lots of open spaces between homes and mixed in the area are a few abandoned homes that are reminders of days gone past.  It is mostly farm land with some ranching in the rolling hills.  The occasional car streams by on the highway, a truck boils up dust on the country road.  There is a peace on the land as the wind is still that day. 

DSC02491 (1024x664) 

            The journey, following the roads on the old historic map, looking at the many building that sit vacant.  Empty homes, that hear voices no more, the birds that scatter with approaching stranger.  It is a land that still yields a harvest, provides for the people that still call it home. 

            On windswept plain is the cemetery.  Markers of when pioneers settled here.  A memory of when dreams of owning their own place brought them across the ocean, over the land.  Setting stakes and building their dream. 

 

DSC02527 (640x428)

Lindon, CO

Lindon Colorado

DSC02444 (1024x768)

            Located in Eastern Colorado along US Route 36, Lindon is not as well known as its neighbor, Last Chance.  Lindon is a small country town that has almost disappeared.  All the businesses are gone.  There are enough people in the area to keep the post office open and it appears an old gas station is now operated as a garage. 

            The railroad never reached this far west, an omen of impending failure for the little community.  The droughts and unstable commodity prices for Ag products did not bode well for the settlers in the area.  Then the drought of the 30’s hit and the little towns began to blow away, including Lindon.  The school was closed and consolidated with a neighboring town. 

            There are a few who still call Lindon home, they are either ranchers, farmers or the hired hand.  There is the junk collector so common in small towns across the plains.  Along the highway, can be seen a few remains of where the various stores and shops had been.  The memorial to one of the local leaders is now boarded up, possibly due to vandalism.  There is the occasional car that whizzes by and the trucks that want to avoid the stops’ on the main byways.  Silence is the dominant feature of the little village. 

DSC02446 (1024x757)

            On the map, the early Lindon post office is shown in five other locations and a variation of the spelling, Linden.  Two of the first post offices were located north of the neighboring town of Anton.  How the post office selected the contractors and why they changed is a good curiosity.  Two of the early mail stops were north of town and another was just south of the present town. 

            There are oil pumps in various spots in the area.  Lindon is on the southern end of the Julesburg basin and some good sized oil pockets have been found in the area.  This has helped to keep some life in the area, yet it has also contributed to the consolidation of farms and ranches in the area. 

            The nearest town for supplies is Anton, which is probably smaller then Lindon, both have a population of less then 50 souls, but Anton has the gas station/bulk plant, grocery store and elevator and a few other businesses.  With no rail service, everything is trucked out to the little towns along Hwy 36. 

DSC02445 (1024x768)

Dwindling

Campo Colorado

DSCN6057 (1024x768)

 

            Out along the prairie line approaching Oklahoma, is the little town of Campo.  The business district is mostly vacant and sitting collecting the dust of times gone past.  The corner café keeps Main Street from being completely empty.  It is a little town that probably will never perish because of its location.  It is a gateway to the Comanche Grasslands and on the busy Ports to Plains highway. 

            There is still a village government and the local constables keep the coffers from going empty.  Some people just don’t want to slow down passing through until they see the flashing lights.  Campo was also in the center of the dust bowl and a few reminders of those days are present.  There are a variety of pictures of the town and its neighbors from those dirty days.  Today the traffic flies by and the dust does not stop, it keeps on going someplace. 

DSCN6059 (1024x768)DSCN6077 (1024x768)

            The empty store fronts on the road way harkens back to a day, when small towns were the heart of America.  Now the few ghosts sit under the canopy watching traffic pass.  The corner coffee shop has the local town news.  Pause for breakfast, listen to the locals cuss and discuss the weather or prices of crops.  The waitress hustles the coffee pot around, the cook yells, order up, and conversation goes on.

DSCN6062 (1024x768)

            Outside the trucks rumble by, shaking the ground as the press onward to their destination.  Nearby the rails sit silently, awaiting the next coal train to go south or returning empties.  The grain elevator sits in slow status of natural destruction.  A lone sentential next to the rails, a reminder of when business was on the railroad. 

DSCN6073 (1024x757)

            Over 100 hardy souls call the little prairie village home.  Working on farms or maybe one of the government jobs.  The grasslands are nearby and are operated under the Nation Forest Service.  Picnic grounds and trails dot the lands.  It is a land of mystery and surprises.  Petroglyphs have been found in some caves that some suspect may have been Viking.  There are the Indian artifacts spread around the areas, fossils, millions of years old and a herd of Big Horn Sheep call the grasslands home. 

            Campo will be a little wide spot on the road from here to there for years to come. 

 

DSCN6068 (1024x769)

Buchannan

Buchannan, Colorado

 

           

Situated along a wagon road, is the dot marking Buchanan.  The map did not indicate that there had been a Post Office there.  Other information about this little dot on the map is slim and none.  It was in the area where I was driving, looking for ghost towns on the prairie.  So I bounced over a few ruts and went to see if there was anything at Buchannan. 

DSC02566 (1024x768)

Up and over the hill I saw an old farm house and some out buildings, long abandoned.  The homestead sat on the banks of a small creek and it appeared there may have been some springs there also.  The house was small but functional.  Behind it was poles for a clothesline, a chicken coop.  Further down the bank was the barn and some posts for a corral and on the other side was the windmill and stock tank. 

It looked like any other homestead on the prairie that got blown out during the dirty thirties.  But here it was a dot on the wagon road.  So now I am speculating.  Was this a transfer point, way station for travelers, had there been a store here, what importance was the Buchannan place to the early day settlers.  I’ll probably never know, but I found the place.

DSC02567 (1024x768)

Driving across the creek and looking back, I could see a faint trace of the old wagon road.  It was a change in the vegetation across the way on the banks of the small creek.  Straight as an arrow it headed for the Buchannan place. 

Nearby on the map, there were other places marked as having Post Offices.  Abbott was few miles south on the road and further south was the Abbott church.  Yet, here the road showed up, having its beginnings at Deertrail, CO. 

When I go searching for these prairie ghosts I usually have 4-8 targets marked out on the map.  Places like Buchannan are usually and after thought but being on the wagon road, intrigued me. 

 

DSC02569 (1024x768)