Arriba Colorado – A Ghostly Tale of Two Towns
by local author & historian: John LaBorde
It starts in Arriba – Colorado Ghost Stories.
Across the prairie of eastern Colorado the Chicago Kansas and Nebraska Railroad was building a highway of iron. Many a speculator wanted the railroad to pass through their claim. Many a dream failed but a few were fulfilled.
A Charles A. Creel traveled to Colorado with the fever of gold and ended up in the gold fields of Pikes Peak at Cripple Creek. He heard about the new railroad being built across the high plains and headed for Colorado Springs. Mr. Creel packed up and went east. Out on the rolling prairie he bought a parcel of land and in 1888 platted out a town. Sure enough, the following year the iron rails went through his town. The man who had set up a tent to sell lots in his town had guessed correctly where the railroad would pass.
Sitting on the high plains the new town was given the name Arriba for it sat above the prairie. The pronunciation was anglicized and is pronounced, Air….baaah. Pronounce it the Spanish way and the locals look kind of cross eyed at you. A depot was built by the railroad as were other structures. The town of Arriba was a going little town. There were shops, stores, banks, a newspaper, etc. Charles Creel moved from his tent into a nice house in his new town. He was a temperance man and no stores selling alcoholic beverages were allowed. Arriba was growing and new people were arriving. A C.C. Coleman moved to Arriba in the early 1900’s. He was a hard working man that had a thirst. There being no alcoholic beverages nearby, he took matters into his own hand. Next to Arriba, Mr. Coleman acquired some land and also platted out a town.
In 1904, Frontier City came into existence and the first building in the new town was a saloon. The establishment was built right across the street from Mr. Arriba’s house, Charles A. Creel’s. That did not set very well with the Arriba founder as the view from his yard or window was of a saloon. The gall boiled over and Charles Creel forbade residents of his town to partake of the saloon and a fence was built between the two towns. Frontier City had what some of the people of Arriba wanted and the fence did not stop the thirsty residents of Arriba from going to Frontier City’s drinking establishment. Daily holes in the fence had to be repaired and a worker would go along and fix them. The next morning there would be more work repairing the holes in the fence. A few said that George was making the holes at night so he would have work to do the next day.
The fence was not very successful at stopping the thirsty residents of Arriba, so Creel dug a ditch to separate the two towns. The ditch only slowed down the residents of Arriba from going to the saloon. Soon the ditch became a trench and even that was not stopping them from going to Frontier City. This trench became known as “No Man’s Land.” and it divided the two towns. Each town had their own streets and businesses. Creel and Coleman kept up their feud until Creel passed away. Mrs. Creel did not like the feud and after her husband passed away met with Mr. Coleman and settled their differences. The hatchet was buried and Frontier City became a part of Arriba
The trench of No Man’s Land remained and the street names did not change. Going East to West or vice a versa, when one crosses No Man’s Land, the name of the street changes. Even today after 100 years the ditch is still there and the streets change names when crossing.
In downtown Arriba there is a sign marking No Man’s Land. Here one can pause and look at the history of a town born of speculation, burned in animosity, pushed by desires, and truly a town of the West.
Trains still pass nearby but the saloon is gone. The sound of tinkling glasses is a memory. A brief flash of light moves by searching for a place of respite. Arriba – Colorado Ghost Stories.
More Resources Beyond Arriba – Colorado Ghost Stories
- Arriba Official Town Website: https://www.colorado.gov/arriba
- More Ghost Stories from Lincoln County, Colorado, visit: http://SeeLincolnCounty.com/ghost-towns-of-eastern-colorado
- For more photos visit: http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/arriba.html
- Additional History: http://glennfletcher.com/?page_id=1114
- To discover Arriba today, see more details here.
- More about the Arriba Museum: See details here.