Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hopelessly lost, but making good time







Sometimes, as I wander in the hills and think about those who wandered there before me, I can’t help but feel a little lost. Lost in time, lost in space, lost in my own thoughts.
“Not all who wander are lost,” however, according to J. R. R. Tolkien. But the story-master didn’t know this little hobbit.
Wistfully during the wanderings, I often imagine a 100-year warp, or fold, or rip in the time continuum, in which one is able to freely pass from this century, backwards and on into the last.
At almost precisely such a moment, I’ll trip and stumble over an old, stonewall, or a rail tie, or cement foundation that extends a finger out from the past.
It may be difficult considering how much is left, but I almost turfed it one day as I daintily danced over the foundation remnants of East Husted Station.
The dogs like to run down the Santa Fe Trail that follows the former rail grade on the edge of the United States Air Force Academy. Just a little south of the North Gate, on the trail, lies the remains of lost village of Husted. We generally stay on the trail but there is a marker out there calling attention to the once-thriving metropolis. You can wander out a little ways into the yucca, dry grass and oak brush. Evidence of a road winds around down through the gamble oak and pine trees.
What remains of the remains, is not much. You have to almost scratch at the ground to find the base of the one-time train stop on the Santa Fe and the Denver & Rio Grande railroads.
“Husted was never a big village but it had stores, a saloon, church, school, post office, and a restaurant. When automobiles became popular it had several filling stations along the highway,” wrote historian Lucile Lavelett in “Monument’s Faded Neighbor Communities and its Folklore.”
The community’s history stretched way back into the early 1860s (and perhaps before) when the first white settlers came to this area. Sawmills, the Indian uprising of 1868, lynchings for cattle rustlers in Dead Man’s Canyon, whiskey stills in prohibition, a D. & R.G. roundhouse, fox farms, and a horrific train wreck in 1909, all played prominent roles in that colorful account. But by 1920, the place was pretty much on the wane, as the Post Office closed and railroads began to shift from steam, reconfigure traffic, and eliminated the need for a round house. The coming of the Academy was the last straw, as the government purchased the property from those living in the burg, and surrounding ranches as they prepared to build the new installation. Several of the buildings from the town were moved into Monument and are still used today.
Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
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