De Beque, Colorado – May 2, 2022
Today Leslie, her mother Lorraine, and I made a genealogical trip back in time. We drove to De Beque with the intent of finding the home at which Lorraine had spent some summers beginning in about 1937. She remembers riding a two-wheeled cart while her grandpa Jacob Nylund took her down to the train depot to get the mail. The train did not stop to deliver the mail. It may have slowed down just a little, but it did not stop. As the train rumbled by, the a worker on the train reached out with the bag at the end of a pole. The worked deftly positioned the pole so that the bag could attach to an arm on a stationary pole at the depot. Once in place, Jacob would fetch the bag and take it back to his shoe shop to prepare for distribution. At the time, the population of De Beque was only about 300. Today it is not much larger, at nearly 540.
De Beque is only about 50 miles from our home, so we arrived close to 10:30 a.m. We did not have an address by which to be guided. Instead we relied on some old photographs and Lorraine’s memory.
We entered town on 4th Street an continued west, hoping to spot the old train depot or at least the railroad tracks. We continued on to the end of 4th Street without spotting anything remotely resembling a depot or tracks. We turned north and doubled back on 5th Street. It just so happened that we turned back south on Minter Avenue. We stopped after about 100 feet and flagged down a passing deputy with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department. We asked if he knew where the depot was. He did not. We asked several other questions, but he did not know the answer to anything we posed.
Just as the deputy drove away, Leslie pointed across the street and exclaimed, “There it is!” We had been sitting in front of the house as we talked to the deputy. A couple of glances at the photographs and then back at the house confirmed it was indeed the location for which we had been searching. The address is 480 Minter Avenue. Now we know. Lorraine remembers the home without the addition on the south side. It was simply a square home with two bedrooms, a living area, and a kitchen. The outhouse was out back.
We drove south from the house and found the railroad tracks within about three blocks. At the tracks I turned the car around and began taking a few photographs. We drove back to the house to get some photos there too. While going back to the house we passed the De Beque Country Store.
Finished with the photographs we decided to return to the store and go inside. It was nice that we did. Inside the store are several old photographs of De Beque on display. It was like a mini museum within a convenience store/food grill. The young woman at the cash register seemed genuinely interested in the stories Lorraine offered. After looking at the photographs, we bought some bottled water and returned to the car.
On the way into town I had seen a sign for the Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area. I decided to head that way. The signage was not too great once we got outside of De Beque and we ended up on a private road. Those two impediments made us decide to turn around and return home.
It had been overcast all morning. As we drove back to De Beque to intercept Interstate 70, I could not resist stopping to photograph some cattle grazing.
As it turns out, the wild horse area is not far from the Cameo Shooting and Education complex at Interstate 70 exit 45. That will be a trip for another day.