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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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Golden Belt Route …. Part IV

 

golden belt route

Aroya

            Traveling southeast from Boyero, one will end up the last little bit of the Old Golden State Route village, Aroya.  Just south of Boyero is the junction of the old Colorado state highways, SH 63 and SH 94.  From here to the junction with the new SH 94 there will be no other crossroads for the next dozen miles or so.  Being ranch land it is still like it was more then a 100 years ago. 

            Couple of dams have been built on some of the draws that are spring fed, creating a small oasis on the prairie. Here the local wildlife will meander in for a taste of water.  Wylie coyote watches looking for a meal as the other critters stop by.  A herd of pelicans can be seen occasionally at the watering hole.  It is a bustling area for wildlife.

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            There is one ranch house along the road between Boyero and Aroya.  Just to the east is where the Aroya stage station had been.  It was short lived, a few months until the RR showed up putting the stop out of business.  Bounding on down the road, one crosses a ridge.  To the east can be seen the Aroya schoolhouse on a knoll.  The crossing gates of the railroad stand at attention, waiting for the occasional train.  Traffic zips by on the blacktop.

            Cross the highway and one is on the last stretch of the old wagon road.  The few buildings of what remains of Aroya come into view.  Out on the roadway, there is an information board, giving a brief history of the town and the area.  The JOD Ranch is on down the road a bit.  It is one of the oldest continuous used ranch brands in the state, 1870.

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            The remains of the service station still reside next to the highway, beside it a mercantile, then the Aroya store.  There are a few houses that still stand, most are overgrown with weeds, making for snake haven.  The population had been zero for years.  A family hauled a trailer to the town and the population quadrupled overnight.  The following year another trailer was drug out back next to the other one.  They did not last long, the following year they were vacant.  Somebody hauled one of the trailers off but the other one still sits back in the trees, empty. 

            A welder had lived in the town and he would scrounge all types of metal and weld the pieces together is a variety of things, gates, mailbox stands…. Etc.  After he passed on, vandals were scrounging around his property stealing many of his creations.  Some of the locals got a few of his things and gave them to the museum in Kit Carson.  His lighthouse dominates the machinery display.  Today people still go through things picking to see if they can find that treasure.  Otherwise the little prairie burg is quiet. 

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            Aroya was built by the railroad in 1870 as a place to service their engines and maybe find some customers.  A well was drilled in Aroya gulch for water and the town was underway.  On the south side of the road can be seen where some of the railroad structures had been.  There is a bridge that crosses the gulch.  Today the railroad uses the siding as a storage lot for surplus rolling stock or maintenance of way equipment. 

            On the knoll stands the country school, a little bigger then a one room schoolhouse.  It is very visible from highway 94 and is the subject of numerous pixels.  It looks down on the town it once served.  No longer are sounds of children present.  The houses down below sit silent, a memory of another time. 

            The cemetery is a boot hill, sitting on the hilltop on the other side of highway 94.  It is in a pasture for the JOD Ranch.  Most of the graves are the 1900 and later.  No headstones for earlier are there.  So my guess is, the burials before 1900 used wooden crosses or markers.  It is now fenced off to keep the cattle from knocking over the few markers still there.  Like many little railroad towns back then, there would be the saloons and the conflict that comes from the over consumption. 

            When Interstate 70 was built across the nation, the Golden Belt Route was diverted at Oakley Kansas for political reasons to follow I-70.  Across eastern Colorado this little section of history remains with its little ghost town and memories. 

Conclusion

—–30—-

Golden Belt Route …. Part III

Boyero

            Continuing along the Golden Belt Route, one travels over one of the old concrete bridges from the early 1900’s, crossing Coon Creek.  Bouncing over the country road, is bouncing along with the wagons that traveled next to the railroad tracks more than 100 years ago.  Very few vehicles roll along the road and fewer trains sing on the iron rails.  On the road to Boyero, the land is mostly unchanged, it is open range, cattle stand on the road looking at the interlopers, deer lounge in the shade of the few trees and birds serenade the traveler. 

            It is traveling back to another era, listen to the land as it sings.  Here one can gaze across the emptiness and hear the creak of the wagons, see the puffs of dust from the wheels.  It is now cattle that graze on the grasses, sharing with the wildlife.  The eagles feast on the prairie dogs, the prairie falcon has a dove for a meal, the song birds sit on the fence line and the antelope watches from far ridge.  A land as it was centuries ago. 

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            Rolling SE from Clifford, the Golden Belt Route passes through Boyero.  Situated on a bend of the creek and the tracks, the livery stable dominates.  Built by the railroad in 1870, Boyero’s purpose was to serve the railroad and keep it running.  The water in the area is ample but very alkali, not suitable for steam engines.  So a cistern was built and the RR brought in tank cars of water to fill the cistern.  Since most of the people that lived there worked for the railroad, they were allowed to get water from the cistern. 

            Over time the RR village grew into a prosperous ranching community and rail town.  Schools were built, there were churches, stores, shops and the saloons.  It was at the junction of a state highway and US road making it a good place for early day travelers to stop.  Then the government realigned the US highway and later the state highway was rerouted.  The decline of Boyero began.  Today there is one family that still lives in the remains.  Years ago they had an antique store there and a sign directing customers down the road to their shop. 

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            Many of the town lots are still owned by former residents or their families.  Most of the streets have faded and are overgrown with grass.  North of the livery stable there is a stack of RR ties, it is this pasture where the schoolhouse used to be and there were some homes there also.  Along the old highway is the remains of a gas station/post office, the general store collapsed a few years ago and was cleared to a vacant lot.    A couple of streets can be seen going east and there are a few more buildings down them.  Mixed in with them are a few cattle, always watching the people that pass by. 

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            Across the tracks sit a few more buildings, there is a street along the frontage with small side streets into the other places.  The large building had many lives, store, boarding house and home.  The drummer boys used the trains a lot for pedaling their wares and rooming houses were as popular as hotels were back then.  Let the mind wander, warm summer eve, on the porch.  The dim glow of a cigarette as the travelers wait for the cool of the evening to settle in.  Conversation floats off the veranda, it is a scene for the imagination to conjure up. 

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            Before the auto, ranchers would ride their horses into town.  Put their horse up at the livery and walk down to the train.  They would ride the train to the county seat, take care of business.  Catch the train back to Boyero, walk over to the livery and pick up their horse for the return trip home.  Life had a different pace back then.

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            There are ranches in the area that can trace their beginnings back to the late 1800’s.  Walking the cemetery, there are a few pioneers there born in the mid 1800’s.  Alongside are the railroad workers that built the little town.  Here the Spirit of the West lingers.

Golden Belt Route … Part II

Clifford, Colorado

            On the western end of the remains of the Golden Belt Route is the little town of Clifford.  Of the three towns along the roadway, Clifford is the smallest.  There are still a couple of buildings still there, the schoolhouse and the Wards house.  What makes Clifford so interesting are the myths associated with it.  The buried gold treasure, the Indian battles, stage stops and the family that perished riding the train and they were buried at Clifford. 

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            Clifford is just south of US 40 and can be seen from the highway if one looks closely.  Rolling down the country road towards the creek, one passes the one room country schoolhouse.  It sits in a pasture, dealing with the elements of time.  It is pretty much like it was over 100years ago.  Out back is the coal house with attached out houses.  Over the years some people have vandalized it, tearing screens off to get in or…. But it hangs in there.

            Going on south one can see the depressions in the pasture where the rest of the town had been.  At the railroad tracks, there are the foundations and footers for the railroad buildings and water tank.  On south of the tracks, behind locked gate in the ranchers pasture, is the mail order house.  Huge rambling building that may have been a rooming house.  The porches have caved in, the windows are gone and with some imagination one can see the ghosts floating around the weather beaten house. 

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            The east edge of town is Coon Creek, the Mirage stage station had been here.  The Indians had also used the creek for a sweat lodge.  Through here Coon Creek is a pretty good sized steam, 10-15 feet deep and 20-30 feet across.  Looking to the north, about 6 miles are the grove of trees that mark Coon Springs, a stage stop on the Smoky Hill Trail.  Next to the railroad tracks is the small graveyard.  These three elements make for farfetched stories that probably have basis in fact. 

            The spring of 1864 an Army payroll wagon was robbed by 3 men near Coon Springs.  They were not very successful in their getaway.  The troopers were after them and catching up with them the robbers ducked into a gully.  Here they put the gold coins into dutch ovens and buried the gold, using stones to mark the spot.  They figured they would spend their time in jail, then return and dig up their loot.  One was killed in a gun fight after getting out of jail, another went back to jail after another robbery and the third disappeared.  So the legend of the buried gold grew and people would go out on the gullies looking for the buried treasure.

            Even a gentleman from England traveled to Clifford to search.  He spent over 6 months roaming the area looking for the buried gold.  One day he went to the train depot and very quietly left Clifford with his baggage.  Now if you found the gold, would you shout it from the rooftops or quietly go into the night? 

            When gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains, the Smoky Hill Trail became a busy place and water on the prairie was important to the gold seekers and other travelers.  Coon Springs became an important stop and this did not set well with the Indians.  Then when the stage stop was established there, the Indians became more enraged and over the decade there were a variety of Indian raids on the station and on the travelers. 

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            The spring of 1870 the railroad began building across East Central Colorado.  The Mirage stage station was built along the banks of Coon Creek, upsetting the Indians more.  The spring of 1870, the RR construction crews were building across the plains.  A camp was built near Mirage for the workers and it was a pretty lively place.  That summer the Indians launched a series of raids on the workers and stage stations, from Lake Station to Kit Carson.  Numerous workers were killed and many more wounded and the crews fled back to Kit Carson.  The Indians had stopped RR construction for a short time.  The attacks also brought more army troopers.  General Custer was reinstated and assigned to protect the railroad from Kit Carson to Denver.  The Indians, they turned north and headed to Wyoming to meet up with Custer on another day.

            With Coon Creek and good water, the railroad built a small station near Mirage and called it Clifford.  Clifford never was a big town, maybe a 100 folks dwelled there.  There was a depot, water facilities and section houses for the RR workers.  Some stores were opened, a saloon and a few homes were built.  Ranchers in the area used for shipping cattle and travel to the neighboring towns. 

            The summer of 1896 a young family was traveling by rail from back east to join her husband in Denver.  Along the way the family had become sick, a mother and two daughters.  By the time they arrived in Clifford, the family had died.  The bodies were taken off the train and left at the train station.  Somebody took the effort to bury them.  A short distance from the depot graves were dug next to the rails and the family was placed in their final resting place.  There were other graves and today it is surrounded by a fence. 

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            There were the buffalo hunters that would visit.  There were the cowboys and their six shooters and the bar fly’s that traveled through the little town.  And… oh yes…. There are locals who still believe that the gold is still buried somewhere in the area. 

First Harvey Houses

Fred Harvey

Harvey Houses

 

Fred Harvey worked for the railroad in the 1860’s, traveling to various places, where work took him.  For Fred the food service in most eateries back then was less than adequate.  When he would return to his office there were complaints of being on the road and having bad food.  So Fred took it upon himself to change that, with a partner.  Two restaurants were opened at main railroad stops out west.  The very first Harvey Restaurants were built in hotels at Wallace Kansas and Hugo Colorado on the Kansas Pacific Railroad, 1872.

A Harvey House and the Harvey Girls tend to be synonymous with the Santa Fe Railroad.   After the early success with other restaurants along various rail lines, The Santa Fe RR offered a contract to Harvey to build restaurants along their rail line.   By this time the partnership had broken up and Fred Harvey was no long employed by a railroad.  He was now opening a chain of restaurants across the country that would bear his name.

The restaurants were situated in Hotels and soon these would be replaced by new hotels and some bore his name.  The Harvey houses dotted the southwest at other places besides the railroad.  Some were at other railroads and a few were in National Parks.  Today a few of the old Harvey Houses still stand and some are museums or refurbished into new uses.

The first two restaurants of Fred Harvey met their demise when railroading policy changed.  Crew change points were shifted and much of the railroad business the first hotels and restaurants relied on was gone.  Wallace had been a town of over 4000 souls, with changes on the Smoky Hill Trail and the railroad, the workers of Wallace moved on to the next railhead and soon it was a shell of what had been.  Today Wallace has a population of less than 100 souls and the Wallace hotel is long gone.  The Kansas Pacific office building still stands; otherwise it is ghosts that wander through the now empty town.

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The nearby museum of Ft Wallace has new display in a back warehouse that has recreated the town of Wallace using store fronts.  The Wallace Hotel that housed the first Fred Harvey in Kansas is one of the fronts that has been built.  It is like walking down the streets of the old railroad town with all the different stores and shops from that era.

Hugo does not a display of any kind for where the first Harvey House was.  Roughly where the hotel had been, there is now an old empty gas station and the sign for Hugo.  Short distance east is where the Roundhouse had been, now a swimming pool occupies the land.  The depot is next block over and preserved as a community center.  The street one block north of this is lined with small old homes where the early rail workers and others lived.  Most of the homes on the north side date 1870-74 and that era.  The other side is the newer homes built where the railroad had their buildings.  Hugo has an original roundhouse on the SW side of town that is being restored and maybe there they will do something with the Hugo Harvey House.

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Both little towns were connected by the railroad and then by the first Harvey house.  Both sit astride the Smoky Hill Trail and had stage stops.  Today the railroad still sends the occasional train down the rails.  No longer is it the whistle echoing across the high plains with a cloud of smoke overhead.  The air horns of the diesel have replaced the whistle of the steam engines but the lore still whispers across the land.

 

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. 

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            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.

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            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. 

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            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. 

tracking Rail Towns

Gilpin, Colorado

            Following the railroads, reveals lots of old communities that are no more.  Depending on the RR, spacing would 6-20 miles between stops.  The old steamers would need water and servicing and this is what lots of the stops were for.  They also were places to station the section crews that maintained the rails.  Here one could find section houses, a depot of sorts and if enough people were there an enterprising gentlemen would open a store.  Soon it would become a town, well maybe.  With the changes in railroad equipment, section assignments would change and small stops would become vacant as the workers were assigned to other districts.  What had been a place at one time, became a ghost place. Since lots of them did not become towns and have a Post Office, they do not show up on lots of maps.

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            I collect some railroad memorabilia and one of those treasures is time tables.  The RR tables would list the routes of trains and the control points.  These places would have a siding, maintenance crews and some buildings.  When I go hunting ghost communities I carry a few of these time tables to help me find some of the lost villages.  What’s interesting is if a town grew up, not associated with the RR, it does not show up.  So I carry some old maps and do lots of cross checking with the different places I’m looking for.  Sometimes these places pop up on digital, usually not.  Then other places pop on digital that shows on no other places.  It becomes a challenge to coordinate all the different little bits of info. 

            Gilpin is one of those little burgs that used to be that shows up most places.  There are a few things in the area but nothing to indicate a town had been there.  A rancher has built a corral nearby and across the road is a comm. Tower.  The railroad has some signal lights on the ROW for traffic control, which would be the only indicator that the railroad had anything here. 

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            The trains make a long climb out of the Arkansas Valley and Gilpin would have been the first stop on the ridge top.  Here the train would have gotten orders on how far to proceed and if there were any MOW crews on the tracks.  There would been a water tank and a depot of some type.  Sometimes the depot was an old boxcar sitting beside the rails.  Very seldom do I find reminders of those days.  Usually it is chunks of concrete marking where the various buildings had been.  As I go from here to there, I block out some time to travel along some of these out of the way routes, looking to see what I can see.  Sometimes I completely miss them and make U-turns, if I have not driven to far past them.  Or I put them in the hopper to chase down on another trip.

            Gilpin is on the edge of the desert and poor soil.  Not much grows on the limestone soil and there is very little rainfall.  Climbing up the ridge, the land changes to varied mesas, canyons and scrub forest.  A few cattle roam the sparse grassland and the occasional pick up rumbles down the road.  Otherwise it is pretty empty land as I muter down the road to the next stop. 

 

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