Centennial Celebration July 20 in Keenesburg
Keenesburg, Colo., could have withered up and blown away in the 1970s had a group of citizens not convinced the state that Interstate 76 should go through the small, farming community. The town, instead, will be celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this summer.
The Centennial Celebration will take place in Schey Park on July 20 from 2-8 p.m. A meal will be served, complete with dessert, and cornhole boards will be available. The celebration kicks off at 2 p.m. with a color guard and opening prayer and a welcome from the mayor, Ken Gfeller.
Town Board Trustee Juanda Hesse said a time capsule was created and buried at the town’s 50th anniversary and that time capsule will be opened, and a 2019 capsule will be buried. The celebration is family friendly with story time, three-legged races, a straw bale toss, German dancers, and a duck race. The celebration will also include a bouncy castle, a dragon display, an Old Iron tractor display, a Model T-era car on display, a history movie, a history walk, tattoo parlor, smoke house and fire truck spray, and local organization displays.
Individuals hoping to include items in the 2019 time capsule should bring them to include, ensuring they are no larger than 4 inches square.
According to a book compiled by a writing class at Weld Central High School in 1990-91, the town was built along the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. Neighboring towns served as water stops for the railroad, but trains only stopped in Keene, as it was originally known, to pick up livestock. The railroad depot was built in 1906, the first building in town boasting a telegraph office and living quarters. The depot handled the telegraph and town mail until a post office was built in 1907.
The town was originally known as Keene, named for rancher and settler Les Keene. A letter from the Keene, Neb., mayor requesting a name change lead postmistress Fannie Evans to suggest Keenesburg, solving the problem of the dual name.
In the early years, the town was dependent upon the business of ranchers and slowly grew. The first general store opened in 1909. In 1915, the town had a lumberyard, opened by Mr. Beggs and run by E.W. Dye. In 1922, the lumberyard moved to its new location, where it remains today. It was purchased in 1927 by the Foster family.
The town bank was opened by B.E. Timbers in 1920. Incorporated in 1919, the first mayor was V.M. Porter and trustees were Lawson Bowles, H.T. Elder, A.F. Gross, William Preston, F.M. Williams, and Dr. O.J. Vallicott.
The town was primarily supported by cattle ranching, with cattle grazing open range and periodically wandering into town. Settlers dryland farmed until the Henrylyn Irrigation system was completed in 1923 and irrigation wells were dug, allowing farmers to utilize canals to produce crops.
Another sign of the times was barbwire networks, a phone system powered by batteries and used extensively in 1915. 1918 ushered in the first garage and Forsythe Oil Company. Gas was delivered by wagon in 5-gallon cans. Fred and Tom Bell opened a service station in the 1920s.
According to a report by the University of Colorado Denver, the school was constructed in 1927 and was expanded to accommodate local growth until it was decommissioned in 2002. The building remains, used for storage.
The town remains an agricultural community alongside the interstate. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.