Saturday, August 31, 2013

Eastonville rich in history: Ghost town memories from Charles M. Hobbs

By Rob Carrigan,

In August of 1965, the following firsthand account was related to Jean Evans of Monument. This account was told to her by Charles M. Hobbs, a longtime resident of Eastonville, a once thriving community on the Black Forest’s edge about 12 miles east of Monument. Evans was described as a prolific writer, intensely interested in the historical areas of which she is living. Her conversations with Hobbs have become the definitive source for information about early Eastonville. She published that information in the Palmer Lake-Monument News that year.
“I first saw Eastonville in the spring of 1886, and we lived at that time on the John Smalley place, about seven miles northeast of Eastonville, in the eastern edge of the Table Rock community. In the month of June, I was sent to Eastonville on an errand, as that was the nearest store, and as I stood on the top of the divide, just northwest of the little town, and gazed down the Squirrel Creek Valley, I thought it was certainly a ‘Cattleman’s Paradise,’” according to Hobbs as recorded by Evans.
Eastonville at that time had only about 30 or 40 inhabitants, according to Hobbs, and the railroad from Denver to Pueblo had just been built in 1882. That road was first known as the Denver and New Orleans; and later as the Denver, Texas and Fort Worth and finally, the Colorado Southern.
“The main line did not enter Colorado Springs, but there was a branch line from Manitou Junction, which came to the Springs and the depot was located on Sahwatch, just south of the Puffer Mercantile Company’s location. This was a very busy road for years, and it was the main line for transportation of southern cattle to northern pastures in the spring of the year. There were nine passenger trains each way though Eastonville daily, and numerous freights. The depot was never closed. There were two agents, Mr. Taylor and George Sprout,” Hobbs said.
“The station was first named McConnellsville, Easton was the first post office in that community and was located about one mile north and east of Ayer Ranch on Jonathan Goodrich’s place. The mail was carried there from Colorado Springs, usually on horseback. When it was decide to move the post office to the new railroad station, there was objections raised because of the similarity of the the two post offices Easton and Eaton, and then it was decide to call the new office and station Eastonville, as it has been since.”
The town grew quickly with the advent of rail depot. By 1900, the community had nearly 500 residents and growing business sector.
“The first store in town was owned by John Brazelton. He sold it to John and Orlin Gates. (No relation to Russel Gates.) Then they sold it to Russel Gates Mercantile Co. Russel Gates then proceeded to erect an immense store building, which laid in an ‘L’ shape and had about 400-foot linage and was a two-story affair. Business was good and they soon added a big lumber yard and creamery,” according to Hobbs.
“Mr. Gates was a very energetic man and proceeded to organize stores in nearly all the neighboring towns. He owned the Z Bar Z Ranch on the head of the Big Sandy. Later, he moved to Denver and left James Durkee on the ranch. Mr. Gates was once an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of the city of Denver. The upper story of this big store in Eastonville contained a hotel, a furniture store, and a large hall with a splendid stage,” he said.
“Eastonville was surrounded by a splendid farming community, and huge crops of grain and potatoes were grown.Two-pound spuds were common, and there was a great demand for seeds of these dry land potatoes from other growing centers. No, we didn’t have any price controls then, and we had to take whatever the market was, and that was sometimes 25 cents per hundred weight. Trainloads of potatoes were shipped from Eastonville and Monument. These two towns were the agricultural center, employing many people in loading and shipping. Potato bakes were held in both Monument and Eastonville. John W. Black was the big buyer for eastern markets. But alas, one year, our potato crop failed and never has returned to normal production. However, there is a few potatoes raised, but it took all the profit out of the business to do the necessary spraying and doctoring.”
Also, changes were in the works with the coming of the automobile and with help from Mother Nature.
“When the automobile and truck began to appear on the scene, small towns began to feel the effects of them, and Eastonville and Monument were two of the towns that really felt it. When the flood came in 1935, it so completely demoralized the railroad, that soon it was taken up. The Gates Mercantile Co. began to disintegrate and Mr. Ragsdale took over the Eastonville store and continued to run it for several years. Houses were torn down and moved away. A rural mail route was established from Elbert and the post office at Eastonville was discontinued. The stockyards were torn down. In few years, only a few buildings were left of what was once a very prosperous place.”
Today, you can see a few remnants of old Eastonville by traveling straight east on Baptist Road from Monument, as it turns into Hodgen Road, past the burn scar to where it is at an intersection with Eastonville Road, then south, a little less than a mile, then east onto Sweet Road. Remnants of what was once the town are along either side of Sweet, until (and after) your reach Elbert Road. The Presbyterian Church on the south side of Sweet Road survived for many years as the community center, and some of it is still standing, though the last few years have been difficult. Eastonville Cemetery is on the corner of Latigo Boulevard and Meridian Road.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Heaven at the hop yard?

Rick Squires now tends a quarter acre of heaven on earth, it seems.
This year, his relatively-new business, "The Twisted Bine" might produce as much as 300 pounds of organic hops on that quarter acre, right here in Monument.
And that is where the heaven part comes in — almost all of it, will be used to make local beer.
"With the trend to go local, and the difficulty of getting certified organic hops, that is precisely why I got interested," said Squires last week in the hop yard.
Squires interest, translated into other's interest.
"I already have 180 pounds of it sold," he said of this year's crop, of which, local breweries have spoken for most of that.
Pikes Peak Brewing Company has in the largest order, perhaps simply because its experience last year, and a local concoction produced with wonderful results.
"Yea, it really turned out well," said Chris Wright, founder of Pikes Peak Brewing, of the 'America the Pale' pale ale made with a portion of Squires' crop last year.
Hops are called 'wet' hops if it finds its way into beer within 24 hours, and 'fresh' hops if it makes that same leap within seven days.
And that is when the hops are most potent, aromatic and flavorful. Many breweries end up using dried hops or frozen hops in their processes, but with the move to everything local, local, local, a market exits for all the certified organic 'wet" Cascade Hops rick Squires can grow.
As an engineer, (he was a former project manager for G.E. Johnson when it built the World Arena) it was also the organic certification that appealed to his sense of record keeping.
Extensive records of organic fertilizer, growing plans, and of all the ground in use, as well as any methods of ridding the plants of pests, water used to irrigate, were just some data required to get the California Certified Organic Farmers (C.C.O.F) designation to apply to his hops efforts. Because he has owned the location where the hop yard was created for more than 28 years, and generally keeps pretty good records, he was able to do so.
"I even had to identify what the alpaca's were eating before creating the alpaca fertilizer I was using," according to Squires.
The whole yard, of course, is designed with sustainability in mind. The eighteen-foot poles that support the paper ropes that the hops climb (during peak growing periods, they can grow as much as a foot per day) is made from recycled fire sprinkler systems (from mostly local buildings) and he even uses a solar pump to bring water from his pond to the bines.
Much of the country's hop crop comes from the Pacific Northwest and particularly Washington and Oregon. The Cascade variety that Squires grows is suited for the 7,000-feet elevation here in Monument. Educating himself for the past few years in the science and art of hop growing, (he also has a honey-producing bee operation on the same property) he said he liked the idea of having a big party to bring in the hop harvest.
When he first planted the rhizomes to the start the hops, he began thinking of a community potluck. Last year, with his first real crop, a blue grass band, good food and friends, it became a reality and great success. So much so, that he needed to print tickets this year, to keep a handle on it.
The second annual Hop Picking Festival is scheduled for Sunday, August 25, and includes hop picking and music at the hop yard from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Squires emphasized that this a private affair requiring a ticket (which is free) but other events, such as a beer brewing demo and music, food and beverages at HiCountry Home Brew and Gifts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and picking and brewing at the Pikes Peak Brewing Company's brewery from noon to 3 p.m. are open to the public.
"We will bring some of the bines down and strip them here at a table, and have a brewing demonstration, with music from a band," says Woody Woodworth, owner of HiCountry Home Brew and Gifts.
And of heaven and the hop yard, maybe it is as the famous old quote, often misattributed to Ben Franklin says, "Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Waving, not drowning

Down through the moss, and over the rocks
Sand moves beneath us, round goes the clocks

Looking out the window, light on her face
Wonder if she frightened, if she feels out of place

People who have known her, time just stands still
Water in the stream flow, just one way, downhill

Fog and forgiveness, muddy on the bank
Current no longer swift, for that we can thank

Shallows to the deep end,  back to the shore
Pools of a memory, lesson learned once more

Out much further than you all thought
Waving, not drowning, in time's river caught

__ Rob Carrigan

Sunday, August 4, 2013

If you go to Pikes Peak, be sure to wear wildflowers in your hair

Color and character since the early days of Colorado

By Rob Carrigan,

Though it may be a surprise to no one, wildflower watchers' and preservationists' colorful prose and sentiments stretch back into the beginning of the written record in the Pikes Peak Region.

The earliest recorded non-native activity in the area was the Army's Major Stephen Long Expedition of 1820, which discovered the Colorado State Flower, the white and lavender Columbine, somewhere between Monument and Palmer Lake.

"The white and lavender Columbine, Aquilegia caerulea, was adopted as the official state flower on April 4, 1899 by an act of the General Assembly. In 1925, the General Assembly made it the duty of all citizens to protect this rare species from needless destruction or waste. To further protect this fragile flower, the law prohibits digging or uprooting the flower on public lands and limits the gathering of buds, blossoms and stems to 25 in one day. It is unlawful to pick the Columbine on private land without consent of the land owner," according to the the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration.

In June of 1820, Major Steven Long and 22 men left what is now Nebraska to explore the source of the Platte River. After more than three weeks of crossing the tall grass prairies of eastern Colorado, the expedition finally reached the base of Pikes Peak.

Major Long was anxious to continue, but was persuaded by Dr. Edwin James, a naturalist with the expedition, to wait a couple days. James wanted the delay so he could climb Pike’s Grand Peak.

Long reluctantly agreed and provided Dr. James three days to climb the peak, make his observations and return to camp.

Dr. James and two men reached the summit on the afternoon of the second day, and spent only an hour on the summit before starting the trip back down.

James returned to Long’s encampment in time to make the prescribed deadline, having managed to scale the mountain. In addition, he made extensive notes in his journal and documented examples of previously unknown plants and flowers, including Colorado’s state flower, the blue Columbine.

Long was so impressed, he named the mountain for him, declaring it James Peak, but, of course, it didn't stick.

In the 1890s, Edlowe, near Woodland Park, was one destination of the Wildflower Excursion run by the Colorado Midland. The Wildflower Excursion carried passengers from Colorado City to Edlowe interested in picking the ubiquitous blue Columbines in the area. One favorite destination, the meadow west of Edlowe, was used on almost all of the excursions according to Mel McFarland, in writings from 1980.

The Wildflower was one of the Colorado Midland's popular excursions, according to Celinda Kaelin in her book "Pikes Peak Back Country."

Dr. H.A. Burton, whose father was a Colorado Midland engineer related the following:

"The Midland's famous Wildflower Excursions proved to be a source of summertime spending money for the children of Florissant. We boys looked forward eagerly to the summertime tourist season and the daily operation of the flower train."
According to advertisements running in Colorado Springs papers, a one-day trip left Colorado Springs at 8:45 a.m and turned around at west end of Eleven Mile Canyon, returning to the Springs at 5 p.m.