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EXPLORING US 350

In Southeastern Colorado

 

 

By

Gary B. Speck

 

 

SOUTHEASTERN Colorado Is A THE EPITOME OF GHOST TOWN USA. Here in the plains on the back side of the state, ghost and near-ghost towns lie scattered about the countryside almost behind every bush.  The ghost town laden byway known as US 350, runs 73 miles northeast from Trinidad (Las Animas Co.) to La Junta (Otero Co.).  Here your ghost towning spirit can soar free, filling you with fresh air and fond memories of forgotten towns in a land that most ghost towners don’t even know about.  The Centennial State’s famous mountain ghosts are forgotten by these plains ghosts lying forgotten on the sweeping grasslands of the eastern prairies, unhyped and seldom written about. In July 2005, we explored this wonderland of ghost towns

 

 

Northeast of Trinidad, is Beshoar Junction, where US 350 begins and US 160 heads east towards Kansas. From 1903-1906, this was the site of the BESHOAR post office, our first ghost.  However, neither the railroad siding, nor the junction ever developed into a real town, so nothing other than a rural post office and a railroad siding were ever here.  Continuing northeast across the pancake landscape, US 350 runs west of and parallel to the Santa Fe Trail. On the west side of the highway, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad also follows the same route.

 

At or near the junction of SH 239 is the site of KADREW, another former railroad siding with no remains.

 

Three miles further northeast, at a bend in the highway, is the site of EARL. From 1881 until sometime after 1931, this long-gone community was the site of a two-story, wooden section house.  It also had a post office from 1895-1923.  The townsite was platted in 1921, but, judging by the post office closing date, looks like it failed or quickly faded from history and the landscape.

 

Three miles beyond the site of Earl a cluster of abandoned buildings sprinkled across the scenery at the junction of US 350/County Road (CR) 52.5 marks the dead town of MODEL. As I bailed out the Ghost Town Express with camera in hand, I could feel the soul of this place reaching through the brisk wind and the rumbling, grumbling thunderstorm rolling up from the Trinidad area. Model is a dead town even though 110 folks were counted in the 2000 census.  I have no idea where they all live, as only a couple buildings look even remotely habitable. Some of the remains include the Model Mercantile, what looks like an old motel that is still lived in, and a few scattered old homes.  It was founded around 1900 as Poso.  In 1920 the name was changed, as it was to be a “Model Town” with a platted site.  A railroad depot was here from 1915-1956, at which time the depot was moved to Trinidad. The town has been on a downward spiral since.

 

Six miles up the road is TYRONE, another dead town with a cluster of dead buildings.  This was another railroad town, and was established as Yetta in 1916.  For some reason the name was changed in 1929.  In 1930 there were 50 people here.  The post office closed in 1968, and by 2000, the population was listed as “RURAL.”

 

Another three miles further along is the site of SIMPSON.  It mostly lies on the east side of the highway just north of the junction with CR 70.  All that remains are a few concrete walls and other rubble.  Off to the east is the cemetery.  The town was founded along the railroad in 1909, with the post office opening in 1919.  The post office was called Wormington, and the community went by that name until the office closed in 1934, at which time the community reverted back to Simpson.

 

Next up is THATCHER an interesting collection of lived-in and collapsing buildings. Like Model and Tyrone, it claims some population, but is still far from thriving.  It has more buildings than the other sites, and is the location of a failed Helium plant. In 1930, 142 people lived here, and according to the 1940 WPA Guide, the Helium plant had “recently closed.”  The town was originally established along the railroad in 1877 near the old stage station called HOLE-IN-THE-ROCK.  A post office opened in 1882, and the town was platted in 1928.  It hosted a section house, depot, water tower and other assorted businesses including a school.  Not much remains other than rubble and a few scattered residential buildings and the old school.

 

Continuing northeast, is the barren site of HOUGHTON, followed by the rural community of DELHI, which lies just south of the county line.  Delhi dates to 1892 as a station along the railroad.  A post office opened here in 1908 and was discontinued in 1913.  It reopened in 1919, lasting until 1975.  Delhi consists of an old store and a few roofless cabins.

 

Crossing into Otero County, we reach the site of BLOOM, located about 4.5 miles north of Delhi.  It has a roofless building hidden in the brush.  A post office operated at Bloom 1913-1938. A cemetery is also located to the east, and a depot once sat along the tracks.

 

Continuing north, we pass the barren sites of MINDEMAN, and AYER, both forgotten railroad stations that once sported post offices.

 

The next community with any tangible remains was TIMPAS. In 1940 Timpas had 80 people, and according to the WPA guide, had “a few weather-beaten houses, a station and general store.”  By 2005, the rural community had a closed brick school, a handful of homes and several abandoned buildings all well mixed with dead cars.

 

Between Timpas and La Junta, the barren sites of RENE, BENTON, and ORMEGA, all beckon those with good research skills to find. None of these three sites have any visible remains and lie forgotten in the natural undergrowth.

 

The other side of Colorado is filled with ghosts of the past, and this short stretch along old US Highway 350 is just a microcosm of what exists out on the plains east of the Rockies!

 

 

This was our Ghost Town of the Month for March/April 2013.

 

Locations:

 

 

SITE NAME

ELEV.

LATITUDE

LONGITUDE

TOWNSHIP/RANGE

Ayer (Otero Co.)

4583’

37.7580673 / 37° 45’ 29” N

-103.8463434 / 103° 50’ 47” W

NE¼ Sec 25, T26S, R58W, 6PM (6th Principal Meridian & 40° Base Line)

Benton (Otero Co.)

4281’

37.9050101 / 37° 54’ 18” N

-103.6571700 / 103° 39’ 26” W

NW¼ Sec 2, NE¼ Sec 3, T25S, R56W, 6PM

Beshoar Junction (Las Animas Co.)

5906’

37.2287010

-104.4111174

SW¼ of the NW¼ Sec 25, T32S, R63W, 6PM

Beshoar Siding (Las Animas Co.)

5922’

37.2180730 / 37° 13’ 05” N

-104.4066484 / 104° 24’ 24” W

SW¼ Sec 25, NW¼ Sec 36, T32S, R63W, 6PM

Bloom (Otero Co.)

4800’

37.6875124 / 37° 41’ 15” N

-103.9566258 / 103° 57’ 24” W

NW¼ of the NE¼ Sec 24, T27S, R59W, 6PM

Delhi (Las Animas Co.)

5085’

37.6422351 / 37° 38’ 32” N

-104.0180174 / 104° 01’ 05” W

NW¼ Sec 4, T28S, R59W, 6PM

Earl (Las Animas Co.)

5686’

37.3333488 / 37° 20’ 00” N

-104.2783095 / 104° 16’ 42” W

NW¼ Sec 19, T31S, R61W, 6PM

Houghton (Las Animas Co.)

5174’

37.5894578 / 37° 35’ 22” N

-104.0432967 / 104° 02’ 36” W

SE¼ Sec 19, T28S, R59W, 6PM

Kadrew (Las Animas Co.)

5625’ (APPROX)

37.2978856 (APPROX)

-104.3010664 (APPROX)

SE¼ Sec 35, SW¼ Sec 36, T31S, R62W, 6PM  (APPROX)

La Junta (Otero Co.) (NO Ghost)

4121’

37.9797153 / 37° 58’ 47” N

-103.5471600 / 103° 32’ 50” W

Secs 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, T24S, R55W, 6PM

Mindeman (Otero Co.)

4718’

37.7069567 / 37° 42’ 25” N

-103.9166241 / 103° 42’ 25” W

SE¼ Sec 8, W-Ctr Sec 9, T27S, R58W, 6PM

Model (Las Animas Co.)

5617’

37.3722372 / 37° 22’ 20” N

-104.2449743 / 104° 14’ 42” W

W-Ctr Sec 4, T31S, R61W, 6PM

Ormega (Otero Co.)

4216’

37.9608427 / 37° 57 39” N

-103.5863338 / 103° 35’ 11” W

E½ Sec 17, T24S, R55W, 6PM

Rene (Otero Co.)

4442’

37.8589895 (APPROX)

-103.7198961 (APPROX)

Ctr Sec 19, T25S, R56W, 6PM (APPROX)

Simpson (Las Animas Co.)

5620’

37.4977918 / 37° 29’ 52” N

-104.1671912 / 104° 10’ 02” W

SW¼ Sec 19, NW¼ Sec 30, T29S, R60W, 6PM

Thatcher (Las Animas Co.)

5423’

37.5458470 / 37° 32’ 45” N

-104.1088551 / 104° 06’ 32” W

SW¼ Sec 3, T29S, R60W, 6PM

Timpas (Otero Co.)

4429’

37.8180667 / 37° 49’ 05” N

-103.7741187 / 103° 46’ 27” W

NE¼ Sec 3, T26S, R57W, 6PM

Trinidad (Las Animas Co.)(NO Ghost)

6017’

37.1677778 / 37° 10’ 04” N

-104.5088889 / 104° 30’ 32” W

Sec 12, 13, 14, 24, T33S, R64W / Sec 6, 7, 18, 19, T33S, R63W, 6PM

Tyrone (Las Animas Co.)

5541’

37.4541811 / 37° 27’ 15” N

-104.2083047 / 104° 12’ 30” W

SE¼ Sec 3, NE¼ Sec 10, T30S, R61W, 6PM

 

 

 

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FIRST POSTED:  March 20, 2013

LAST UPDATED: April 28, 2013

 

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