This is just a short entry about a really neat little ghost town my mom and I went to visit last weekend! There are a lot of great ones in Colorado but many of them require a half a day to get to, so we found this little gem that was a little closer to Denver.
As I searched and searched for a fun place, I came across Dearwood, CO. It came to life in 1910 thanks to Oliver T. Jackson and was a thriving African American community! It grew into a sustainable place with churches, a gas station & homes. Unfortunately during the Dustbowl & Great Depression in the 1930’s, the town was mostly abandoned.
Here is a neat snippet from an article I found (link at the end). George Junne is a professor of Africana Studies at the University of Northern Colorado,
“While Jackson spent his time marketing the community and working in Denver, his wife, Minerva, acted as the town’s “judge, jury and executioner,” according to Junne. She ran the town’s day-to-day operations, and ran them tightly. “When she snapped her fingers you jumped,” Junne says.
In promotional pamphlets, Jackson touted the community’s rich soil and view of the mountains. Always on the lookout for newcomers to town, he made clear they were looking to grow. He never stopped thinking up new ways to make Dearfield succeed and fill its coffers, Junne says. Even Prohibition offered Jackson an opportunity.
“For a while this town was known as ‘Beerfield’ because he was bootlegging here,” Junne says. “He needed to make money to keep things going. The people all around here knew about it and they gave the nickname.”
It makes me sad to think about how quickly this town came and went, but it’s also really cool that this wonderful piece of African American history still stands for people to visit and hopefully educate themselves. Imagining what it was like 100 years ago is always fun and I hope the spirit of Dearwood can continue to live on!
I will say that it most definitely didn’t feel haunted. It almost had a light and happy feel to it. I guess I always thought ghost towns were supposed to be spooky and all, but most definitely not Dearwood! It sounds like during it’s brief history that it was a happy place of empowerment and success. Who knows, your neighborhood may someday be a decrepit ghost town that people come and visit.
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