The Remnants. The Legends. The Ghost Towns – Lincoln County Colorado
If you thought ghost towns of Colorado could only be found in the mountains, you’re actually in for a big surprise at just how many ghost towns you can find right here: Ghost Towns – Lincoln County Colorado. With the help of historian John LaBorde, we’ll share pictures, historical facts and perspectives.
Some of these ghost towns still have structures — traces of life — while others have succumbed to the hashness of the blistering summer sun and the bitter cold of the windswept winter. In many places all that remains are quite simply the ghosts of what has come and gone out here on the wide open prairies of Eastern Colorado.
As the wind whispers through the buffalo grasses, the footprints of Indians no longer trod and the buffalo roam no more. This is a testimony to the changes on the prairie. Tales of the early days are written on the memories of many as a passing of times forgotten are remembered.
The ghosts of these days travel with the changing winds of time. Trails are forgotten, found, or lost in the dirt. Foundations marked by trees are but remnants of communities that once were. A place to pause, look, and write your own stories. Lincoln County is a wide and varied land containing a history to the beginning of times. Here villages were built and bypassed now forgotten and crumbling slowly returning to nature.
A trail wound along the sand crick, curling to and fro as the water washed the sand away from the banks. Here and there the ruts of the pioneer wagon wheels could be seen. The Indians followed this trace for years chasing the buffalo. Today the ruts are gone and mostly forgotten. Roads now follow the lines of the surveyors, up and down the hills, crossing the cricks, bending around the tricky parts and correction line curves.
Off the buzzing freeway are the sounds of the prairie. The ponds where wildlife abound, the shaded groves of tall trees, barns standing stately over the plains, a country church on the ridge, the country school, and a lone tree with a foundation where once was a homestead.
Driving the roads of Lincoln County takes one to places where dreams were lived and lost, where dreamers found theirs and memories abound. During the high heat of summer the prairie animals seek out shade for cool. The arc of the sun declines to the far horizon as the cool of the evening approaches. The animals stir from the shade and seek out the water. On a far hillside antelope can be seen watching the travelers below. High overhead the hawk circles riding the thermals. The coyote trots along searching the fence line while turkeys peck away at the gravel. And birds sing with the sun’s passing. Here one sees and hears a life that has no peer. High mountain peaks on the horizon set a backdrop for the drama that unfolds at its feet. Be still and listen. . . . . for it is only on the prairie.
Pikes Peak shades the setting sun as the breeze settles down and a quiet beyond description envelopes the grassland. As dusk slides over the land, the natives get ready for a nights rest. A soft chirping whispers as the birds talk for a last moment. The hoot of the owl says he is ready to go hunting. The wail of the coyote shatters the evening calm as their convention of yips and barks penetrate through the howls. Soon they move on and the flutter of the night hawks wings ruffle overhead. In autumn, the golden shade of the cotton woods glow across the plains. A yellow ribbon marks the line of the sand crick as arched tree limbs invite a moment of brief respite. Small ponds dot the land and birds flock to them. Ducks swim around searching for food. The occasional Great Blue Herron lights on the ponds shore to fish as deer cautiously approach. Be still and listen. . . . . for it is only on the prairie.
“The country roads, winding and dusty, run over the hill and travel across the land. Over on the rise is a grove of trees. Out back is the shed over a cellar that once held the still. It would cook through the night, but in the morning mason jars were filled and carried to the barn. Later that week at night, a panel wagon would drive up and back into the barn. The clanking of jars could be heard as it was loaded. Next day it would drive off to the neighboring villages making delivers.
On Saturday, a model T pickup would pull into the farm yard. Later the driver would drive over to the barn. After backing in through the opened doors he would hop out to help the farmer load the pickup. A tarp was tied over the load and out onto the road he’d drive. That evening he could be seen at another barn on the other side of the county. A faint plucking of the guitar, a fiddle, and toe tapping could be heard along with a crooner from inside the community barn.
Shadows lengthened as a sliver of moon came over the hill. Out of the barn door a couple walks hand in hand to the parking lot. Opening the door she climbs in. He whispers a few things and closes the car door. He walks over to the pickup and nods his head. Pleasantries are exchanged and in whispers a conversation ensues. A corn cob pipe glows in the dim moonlight as the young man reaches into his pocket to draw out some coins. He counts them out and hands ’em to the guy with the pipe. His arm slips under the tarp and a slight tinkle of glass can be heard as a small jar slides out from under the covering. Handing it to the young man, they nod as a smile surrounds the pipe when the young man walks off. Soon a car door slams and a light glimmers as cigarettes are lit. Then there is giggling as the mason container is raised to the lips. Quietness sets over the evening.”
Country roads, curving, winding, rolling over hills, travel across the land. Over there among the twisted trees was a homestead. Here grandpa and grandma began their dreams. They built a home, worked the land, raised a family, survived the dust storms, and out lasted the winter blizzards. No longer are the buildings there. The tornado came through and ripped the barn apart, flattened the chicken coop, tore the shop and granary to shreds, and spread the pieces into the neighbors’ fields. A depression is left where the house once stood over the cellar. Dreams and memories were twisted to shreds like battered tree pieces flying in the wind. A yellow school bus rumbles past going to a school that has disappeared heading into a town that no longer is.
Ghosts now ride the bar ditches of times past. Towns float in memory pockets. Stories are waiting for ears to listen as the wind silently glides past. Country roads travel across the land winding, curving, and rolling over the hills. As a farm pond glistens in the late afternoon sun, fish are making circles to float on the sheen. Ducks rest on the water waiting the icy fingers of the north to push them on south. Yellow leaves shine in the light waving good bye to summer. The land is settling down for the winter. A white blanket covers the prairie as animals hunker down looking for warmth. The sun passes over head warming the land. Be still and listen. . . . . for it is only on the prairie.
A drive on the country roads leads to many wonders for those who seek them out. Past the ranches, cattle grazing nearby, plowed farm fields, and equipment parked by the fields waiting guiding hands. Windmills twirl drawing the ribbon of life out of the ground nourishing life on the grasses. Life is lived out on the prairie at its own pace.