We are on the way out. Out of Colorado and goodbye to the American West. Beyond the incredible natural grandeur that so often meets the eye out here, there is an accompanying folklore of the settling of "these here parts", as it might have been said back then. Our road ahead takes us into Kansas. We ride route 50, tracking the Santa Fe Trail. It originated at Franklin, Missouri and was a commerce route in the mid 1880's to Santa Fe and points west. We stop in La Junta because it provides access to two National Historic Sites. Cathy went to the site of the Salt Creek Massacre yesterday while I played golf. After some days of moderate activity, I needed some muscle movement…It is a Site which commemorates a horrid massacre of Native Americans. There sure was some ugly behavior exhibited by us vs. them as we decided the land was ours back in those 1800’s . Then today we went over to the nearby Bent's Old Fort. The Bent brothers created this entrepreneurial fortress in 1833 to provide food, lodging, care for horses and pack animals, supplies and who knows what else to the growing migration of the lost souls of the time that were wandering west on the Old Santa Fe Trail, looking to find a place to root.
More on Bent's Old Fort to come, with photos. It is a very fine example of how extraordinarily well done some places are within our National Park Service offerings.
But, this Vilia Blog entry is about our current town, La Junta, Colorado, the economic center of this ages old flood plain of the Arkansas River, an area whose deep and rich soils provide for a wealth of produce and fruits. A unique part of The Mountain State...we arrive at high season for the local Rocky Ford Cantaloupe. Cathy and I agree; it is the finest example of this melon we have had. The combination of getting field ripe sweetness along with the earthy quality this melon has, well, it is exquisite. I stopped at a farm stand and have bought more than we can consume of this melon, plus other harvest goodies. I have done this once again at these farm stands, these temptresses of Natures bounty…. Will I ever learn?
Back to La Junta. It is Spanish for The Junction. La Junta was an early terminus for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Rail. You changed here for spurs to Denver or Salt Lake City. The place was big time in the later 1800’s. It holds onto some architectural riches of those well-to-do days. Here is a snapshot of La Junta.
The Old Baptist Church.
The rail history is exhibited by the caboose bank branch.
The Elks have an elk...
The Lodge put up a nice brick structure.
You can try to get a Pepsi...
Or, buy a newspaper...since 1896.
There's the old Draper building.
And Times Square!!! New York!!!
A fine old post office.
And a welcome sculpture...?