Most locals know that many fascinating historical details can be found in the book From Mace’s Hole, The Way It Was, To Beulah, The Way It Is. (The book is available at the History Center, which is reopening on July 1st in the lower level of The Beulah General Store). Specifically, this comprehensive history shares some insights on the different names the area has known, and how the current name came to pass over a hundred years ago.
• Before Beulah became ‘civilized’, the earliest inhabitants included Paleo-Indian and Archaic peoples, specifically members of the Apishapa culture, which dates from 1050-1450. By the early nineteenth century the Arapaho and Ute nomadic peoples called Beulah ‘Home’.*
• In the 1840s, Beulah was known as Fisher's Hole. Named after Robert Fisher, a trader, hunter, guide; and friend of Kit Carson, who first visited the area in 1834.
• Mace’s Hole was settled in 1862, named after Juan Mace, who’s surname was likely anglicized from Maes. Mace was a cattle thief who used the valley for a hideout.
• Mace’s Hole depicted the old order, apparently most fertile areas in the country had been dubbed a ‘hole’ by trappers or others passing through.
• There were a list of names to choose from, including Silver Glen, Glen Eden and Spruce Valley. The name Beulah was decided after a narrow vote!
• The name Beulah was officially acknowledged by the U.S. Postmaster General on October 25, 1876; the same year the nation was commemorating a Bi-Centennial, and the state of Colorado the Centennial year. Many Beulah residents still remember the year long celebration of events organized for the occasion, including a memorable Pony Express ride to Pueblo.
Many might be surprised to know that the origins of the Pueblo County Fair actually began right outside of the Beulah Valley in the area 5 miles east of Beulah, in a place known as Goodpasture. From 1917- 1926 the Roper Ranch was the location for the yearly fair, where 206 classes in 14 different departments existed. According to the 1923 fair program the fair was widely supported by Beulah and Pueblo merchants.
In the ‘family article’, entitled “The Pueblo County Fair”, written in 2011 by Roy Roper, he describes the location of the fair’s exhibits. ‘Pantry and crops exhibits were displayed in the Roper Community Hall building across the road from Wilbur Roper’s General Merchandise store and next door to the Roper Brother’s Blacksmith and Ford Auto Repair Shop, and also at the Methodist Church building. Field events were held at the corrals and 1/2-mile race track a short distance east of the ranch buildings where open air bleachers seating had been erected to accommodate the crowds.’
In a recent interview, Mr. Roper who was also a soil conservationist, explains the enthusiasm that surrounded the first Pueblo County Fair, and the excitement that people had for the great potential found in dryland farming. “The land was new, it had just been plowed out, and the topsoil was still good.” In addition, Roper notes that they had several good years for moisture, even building silos for the expected bounty. “But they eventually figured it was too hard to make a living on only 160 acres”, motivating several community members to pool their resources, and pursue a seed factory, dairy farming and the cheese factory.
Roper references a detailed 1917 article written for the Western Farm Life magazine, where the author describes the wide diversity found in the Beulah/Goodpasture area, “Exhibits Grown at 6,000 - 9,00 feet Elevation - Goodpasture Fair Shows What Can be Done at High Altitudes.” In this gem of an article, the author ponders high altitude farming, “a study of climate and its influence on plant growth, namely, that as we gain altitude plants seem less susceptible to frost and cold, and make quicker growth during the hours of sunlight.” He determines that the impressive variety, size and form of vegetables found in Goodpasture are ‘proof of this dissertation’.
He divulges that “Mrs. O.S. Mackelfresh, who showed fifty-two kinds of jellies and preserves, being only five behind the famous fifty-seven varieties of our friend Pickle Heinz.” And marvels at the Murray Brothers exhibit, “Sudan grass, which is not recommended for altitudes above 5,000 feet, grew ten feet tall at 6,000 feet.”
Beulah resident and multi-family historian, Ilona Simonson Wahl recalled the story of Lee Roper planting 300 apple trees at the Goodpasture site, utilizing dynamite to bust the clay on each post hole! The article from 1917 specifically mentions the Roper orchards, “This orchard has never been irrigated and fruit from it was awarded first premium at the International Dry Farming Congress in 1911.”
It’s no wonder the Pueblo County Fair continues to be such a big draw year after year, the same pioneer spirit exists! Youth learn valuable and practical life skills through experiential learning, culminating in a grand gathering. “Everyone looked forward to the fair,” says Wahl, “because everyone got to be together.”
The Pueblo County Fair
by Roy Roper, a former Goodpasture "native son". August 2011
(Editing by Linda Rope, photos not included in this online version)
Come! Let's go to the Fair! The Pueblo County Fair this year (1923) will be held at Goodpasture, Sept. 21st & 22nd! The admission cost is only .25 cents.
How strange was this? The County Fair being held at a little rural community scarcely anyone had aever heard of before? And yet this was what happened during the years 1917 - 1926.
This was probably more of a community fair than a county fair since most of the exhibits and those person connected with the fair were from nearby farms and ranches. int eh Goodpasture and Beulah communities. The Fair Grounds were at the (Lee) Roper Ranch close by the highway from Pueblo to Beulah, 22 miles southwest of Pueblo.
Fairgoers were surprised to see the large number of departments, exhibits and exhibitors, especially since most were form the local community. There is no record available of the number of entries made by exhibitors, nor is there any record of how many exhibitors were form outside the Goodpasture-Beulah area.
However, those persons interested in bringing an entry to the Fair had plenty of opportunity as there were 206 classes in the 14 departments - everything form horses and mules for the men to pantry stores and lac work for the ladies. There was even a class for mangels and sugar beets so perhaps some irrigated corps were indeed a part of the entries.
Superintendents of the various departments were again all local farm and ranch folk who had a special interest in the kinds of entries for their department. Pantry and corps exhibits were displayed in the Roper Community Hall building across the road from Wilbur Roper's General Merchandise store and next door to the Roper Brother's Blacksmith and Ford Auto Repair Shop, and also at the Methodist Church building. Field events were held at the corrals and 1/3 mile race track a short distance east of the ranch buildings were open air bleachers seating had been erected to accommodate the crowds.
A write for the Western Farm Life magazine covered the events during the 1917 Fair. He was amazed to see the variety and quality of crops and livestock exhibits since almost all were form dryland production at altitudes of 6,000- 7,000 feet. (A copy of his story form the Oct. 1917 Western Farm Life is attached).
My father (William Roper) explanation for the unusual variety and quality of the agricultural products was that the local farmland was then mostly "new", some having been plowed out of native sod only a few years earlier. Also, that there were a series of good moisture years, except for 1919, during that period.
Prize money for the winning entries ranged from as much as $10 & $5 for the best horses, mules and teams, $5 & $2 for top prize cattle and hogs, $2 & $1 for poultry entries and down to $.75 & .50 cents for grains, vegetables and grasses. Fancy work and pantry stores were awarded .75 & .50 cents and ribbons as prizes. However, the many donated prizes helped to even out the lack of prize money.
Although the Fairs were held outside the Pueblo area, Pueblo and Beulah merchants were generous in their support of the Fair both with special donated prizes for class winners and with advertising in the Fair Program brochure to help with the cost of prizes, printing and other expenses. The year 1923 must have been a high point of the Fair - or for the person selling advertising, because 78 Pueblo merchants placed their ads in the Fair program.
As could be expected the afternoon field events at the racetrack area attracted the most attention. Field events included foot races for all ages, milking contests, pony races, steer roping, bronco busting, and team (horse)relay races. These latter two drew a lot of interest and were awarded "top" prize money of $20 each. ON the second day, activity started at 1pm with a stock parade of all premium livestock entries. Another afternoon event included a one mile Slow Motorcycle Race in 1921. At least four entries were required and entrants were warned that touching a foot to the ground disqualified the rider. The prizes for this were $5 & $2.50.
In 1924, the fair admission cost was increased to .35 cents and prize money was increased also. This probably perked up the interest of participants.
On Sept. 19, 1924 a Pueblo Chieftain news article had this to say: " A good deal of Pueblo proper will be present at the county fair today, the Central High School band playing throughout the afternoon program and quite a number of Pueblo citizens expected to be present at the exhibition booths and in the grandstands. A big dance tonight at the Goodpasture Hall will wind up this, the last day of the Pueblo County Fair - the most successful fair that the region has ever had".
In 1926 music was provided by the Centennial High School band.
The Fair years were also during the "hey-day" of the popular Model T Ford autos. This was evidenced by several Ford related activities such as the 50 yard foot race for Ford owners over 45 years of age, the prize one Gates tire. The Ford Auto Co. donated a 30 X 3 1/2 tire as an extra premium prize and the afternoon finale was a Bucking Ford Exhibition. (At the then-active Roper Brothers Blacksmithing and Ford Auto Repair shop in "downtown" Goodpasture, my father, William, was the Model T mechanic.)
Management and operation of the fair was by the Pueblo County Fair Association led by a 9-11 member Board of Directors. All were from the Goodpasture/Beulah area. John Simonson was president of the Fair Association in 1921 and George Asher was president in 1923-24.
During the early years, 1917-1922, of the Fair at Goodpasture, there apparently was no agreement for use of the grounds. Not until 1923 was a lease agreement made and signed for legal use of the grounds and hall building. The lease rental remuneration was $1 per year. The agreement extended until 1936, but of course all fair activity at Goodpasture had cased by 1926.
As a child, age 5-6, in 1930-31, I remember seeing the wood bleachers 'Grandstand" at the fairgrounds east of Uncle Lee's large barn. It was even then being dismantled.
All that now remains at the Pueblo County Fair site at Goodpasture is a historical marker and the large red barn at the former Lee Roper ranch, where no doubt, many of the County Fair livestock were housed during the two day fairs.
Credits: Ruth(Roper) Eden, (granddaughter of Lee R. Roper) Memorabilia & photos.
Ken and Ilona Wahl, (Granddaughter of John Simonson and George Asher) Memorabilia and photos.
The Beulah Historical Society - Historical information.
Western Farm Life Magazine.
(Not included in this online article) Photos: Mrs. Ed Donley; Roper General Store; Fred Easley Cattle; Goodpasture Hall; Charles Donley team; Frank Kehoe mules; award ribbons; list of winners; premium LIst of the Pueblo County Fair Association.
The following article was recopied from the Western Farm Life Magazine, dated 10-15-1917
Author's initials are A.I. S, otherwise unknown, and article photos too indistinct for reproducing.
Exhibits Grown at 6,000 to 9,000 Feet Elevation Goodpasture Fair Shows What Can Be Done at High Altitudes
May the fourth, nineteen hundred and seventeen, found the writer attending a meeting of mountain dairy farmers at Rye, Pueblo County, Colorado. The following day there was to be a similar meeting at Goodpasture, a similarly situated foothills village, but that meeting was not held, because of a heavy snow. Other storms followed, May being a chilly, wet month. As late as the first week in June there was snow in the foothills. On the 25th day of September, 140 days after the big storm that stopped the Goodpasture meeting, and about 110 days after the last trace of winter, I was back at Goodpasture to attend a fair. My recollection of the disagreeably cold, wet spring led me to expect a poor showing of farm crops. What I saw as astonishingly different. It was a revelation; sure proof of a fact often overlooked when we think of or write about so-called high altitude farming - that is farming at 6,000 fee above sea level, or over. This fact is one that is recognized by those who make a study of climate and its influence on plant growth, namely, that as we gain altitude plants seem less susceptible to frost and cold and make quicker growth during the hours of sunlight than in a denser atmosphere nearer sea level. Then, too, the human body is less sensitive to cold at high levels. While neither man, plant nor animal feels changes of temperature as intensely as they do at lower elevations, the effect is apparent just the same; in man it is shown in exuberance of spirit and buoyancy; in plants in quick growth, high color and great vitality. History shows that among the world's most progressive nations have been those situated in climates of light humidity - some at high altitudes, others in desert countries. In such situations man's necessity for overcoming nature's obstacles to food production found the salubrious climate its most potent ally.
In proof of this dissertation I want to show you the Goodpasture fair, which even the people who arranged it did not find as significant as an outsider, because they have know for years what they can do in a short but glorious summer.
The agricultural exhibits were placed in the schoolhouse; (Correction, Roper Hall Building), the women's exhibits in the church; the livestock exhibits in the corral on the Roper ranch, and there was a home talent racing program on the half-mile track built for the occasion.
Space will permit only detailed mention of the exhibits in the schoolhouse. Nothing was shown that grew below 6,000 feet and there was one exhibitor whose products were grown at 9,000 feet above sea level - a mile and three fourths up!
We wil begin at the top, with Allan Mingus' exhibit. He is a mountain homesteader. About fifty acres of his farm is cultivable. He grows oats, barley, timothy hay, and garden produce. His best cash crop this year was head lettuce; heads almost as solid as a cabbage. His lettuce bed was visited by deer this summer and these epicures of the forest nibbled the hearts out of a few lettuce heads. Fifteen to twenty head of cattle are supported by the ranch and butter is a good source of income.
There was a frost on August 20 this year, but what at a low altitude would have ruined garden and field crops did not damage in the light atmosphere at 9,000 feet. Mr Mingus' exhibit includes some fine Early Ohio potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, black radishes and head lettuce.
Lewis Brothers, located on North Creek, five miles from Beulah, at 7,000 feet showed four varieties of potatoes, six varieties of apples beside crabapples, cauliflower that was literally perfect - the prettiest and most compact and even heads the writer ever saw at any fair; squash peppers, tomatoes - ripened at 7,000 feet; cabbage, melons, beans, onions, peas and good quality wheat and oats. The grains are grown without irrigation, but water is available for the garden when needed.
In the fruit exhibit I saw some ripe peaches which I thought came from the lower country. "Are these peaches from Pueblo?" I asked. The answer was; "No, come outside and we'll show you the ranch where they were grown. It was the Fred Lytle ranch (6,700 feet), about two miles from Goodpasture and plainly visible up on the mountainside. The peaches were entered by Mrs. Lytle. Thee are five peach trees in the family orchard, and a good assortment of apples and plums.
Just across the road from the schoolhouse (Hall building) I saw and photographed the Roper orchard, comprising two acres of apples, plums and cherries. The apple trees are especially thrifty. This orchard has never been irrigated and fruit from it was awarded first premium at the International Dry Farming Congress in 1911, in competition with dry farmed fruit from the entire plains region of the North American continent. It won on quality and appearance.
Returning to the exhibits. C.N. Sellers of Beulah (6,000 feet)showed ripe Everbearing raspberries and strawberries. His strawberries began bearing in August and will continue to yield fruit until the first hard freeze.
Sudan grass, which is not recommended for altitudes above 5,000 feet, grew ten feet tall at 6,000 feet, in spite of all the Murray Brothers could do to keep it down. R.P. Murray is a six footer and I took him outside with his exhibit to photograph him. The heavy seed heads drooped, but the picture will give some idea of the height of the grass, which was grown without irrigation. There was some milo and some teterita and plenty of amber cane on exhibition, all grown at 6,000 feet or over.
Oklahoma dwarf broom corn grown by A. Whitlock of Beulah at 6,340 feet was another unusual exhibit. Mr. Whitlock also showed some garden truck and yellow dent corn.
There were many exhibits of corn, mostly of the high altitude flint varieties, of short stalk and long ear, and several dent corns well ripened, or just in about condition for silage. Turkey red wheat was also much in evidence, good crops being grown on the long sloping hillsides or level mesas. There is less complaint of winter-killing than on the plains, as there is usually a better snow covering and the winds, while occasionally high, are less frequent.
Remarkable for variety from one farm was the exhibit of F.J. Morgan and Sons, five miles east of Goodpasture at about 6,000 feet. This included melons, cabbage, tomatoes, two varieties of potatoes, turnips, cucumbers, giant sunflower, cow peas, lima wax, navy and pinto beans, cantaloupe, beets, carrots, pumpkins, celery, squash, parsnips, three varieties of corn, oats, wheat, rye and several varieties of flower.
The Morgans got a good yield on eight acres of pinto beans. Their winter wheat made a light yield, fifteen bushels per acre but showed a sixty-one pound test at the mill. They cut fifty tons of silage from twelve acres of corn - the short stalk, high altitude corn, grown without irrigation, as were all their other crops, including the garden. They planted potatoes in straw, putting the straw in the bottom of the furrow, and got a good yield, growing enough for family use.
Another remarkable exhibit was that of Mrs. O.S. Mackelfresh, who showed fifty-two kinds of jellies and preserves, being only five behind the famous fifty-seven varieties of our friend Pickle Heinz. There was a real antique in this collection - a jar of currant jelly put up in 1900 - seventeen years go - and still, to all appearances, in perfect condition. She also had a wild grape jelly, put up in 1907, and some put up in 1911, but it was mostly of this year's preserving, including a bottle chokecherry wine and one of dandelion wine. There were many other creditable exhibits, those selected for mention being representative of the fair and not necessarily the best.
In the livestock section the exhibits included beef and dairy cattle, some good Herefords, a few Holsteins, and Ayrshires, and a nice showing of draft horses and mules. The mule colt class was especially strong in quality and numbers, indicating high-class jacks in the neighborhood.
The fair was in charge of a committee of the Goodpasture Farmers' Club, the officers of which are Walter Johnson, president; Guy Lambuth, vice-president, and Emerson Lambuth, Secretary. Frank Kehoe was chairman of the fair committee and he had a corps of able assistants.
Stanley V. Smith, county agriculturist, was there to help where ever he was needed. He helped form the Farmers' Club that made the fair a possibility and its unqualified success was due to a spirit of cooperation and unselfish community pride such as may be developed in any good farming community that has at it call the services of a trained agriculturist.
The agricultural exhibits were judged by A.R. Pierce, a Pueblo seedsman, who has for over thirty years been a factor in the agricultural development of the Arkansas valley and who judges agricultural exhibits because he likes to do it and knows hot to do it fairly.
(From The Pueblo Chieftain)
Hannah Maria Kidder was of Vermont parentage and born at the head of Moosehead Lake, Maine, January 30, 1842. In 1860 the family immigrated to Wisconsin, and there she was married to W.I Evarts. In 1876 she came to Beulah with her husband, who died in 1897.
Many people remember with affection, the kindly nurse who always brought comfort and cheer wherever she went. She was well known and much sought in her profession, when good nurses were rare in Pueblo. She always gave whole-souled of her best and those who knew her, admired and loved her and her grand womanhood, as well as for her cheery and comforting ways. With all her fine qualities of mind and heart she was a great lover of books, music and nature, herself one of nature's rarest products. Flowers were her passion and pleasure and the fruits and grains raised on her ranch in Goodpasture won many prices from county and state fairs. She was a pioneer in "Dry Farming," and was signally honored at the World's fair in St. Louis by the award of a gold medal for the best oats in America.
by Lee Roper
Pueblo County Fairs were held at Goodpasture, Colorado, five miles east of Beulah, from 1919-1924 (corrected 1917-1926). However the legal indenture between Lee R. Roper and the Pueblo County Fair Association, was not put into effect until 1923. This event ran for five consecutive days of each September until the lease terminated at the end of five years. The Roper Hall was utilized for the Fair demonstrations of hand work, baking, grains, vegetables, fruits,and ETC. The fair program was well attended by both the local residents and the Pueblo people. Some of the group also participated as well. The general Store and Blacksmith shop were the two gathering places of the community. The store offered the menu of fried chicken, smoked meats, and homemade ice cream and pie. The ice cream parlor was incorporated with the store (East side of building). At the end of the five day activity, the last event was the big dance in the hall. Due to the rapid changes in the economy and the mode of travel by the automobile, small communities changed and Goodpasture was one of them. The post office and store close din 1925, the 'Roper Brothers" Blacksmith Shop remained the focal spot until 1938.
by Greta Hanson Maurer and Laura Amman
The ‘Beulah Valley Art Exhibit’ made its debut in July 1955, led by artist and Beulah Resident, Bill Sharp. He imagined a gathering that acquainted the public with Southern Colorado Artists, originally with no prize awards. The first gathering brought 29 artists to the valley, where they received a warm welcome from the local businesses, who also featured art and artists. Sharp is quoted in the Pueblo Chieftain on the opening day of the event, “[the] purpose of the exhibition is to stimulate interest in art, and provide a natural site for what might become a popular cultural center.” Certainly, 63 years of a successful, ongoing event qualifies as ‘popular’.
Initially, artwork was hung outside on the fence beneath the towering shade trees in front of the well known Gay Way dance hall, secured by a nail. Grand Avenue was transformed with the wide array of art mediums and styles. Oils, the newly invented acrylic, pastels, pen and ink came together to create a colorful collage, and vibrant representation of a thoughtful and creative community. Eventually the show incorporated a wider variety of artwork and crafts, representing pottery, sculpture, woodwork, stained glass, jewelery, dried flowers, fibert arts, quilting, and so much more.
Event popularity ultimately necessitated the move from the original downtown location. Other venues included the Pueblo Mountain Park, the Catholic Church grounds, and now the Beulah School campus.
This year, Lorrie Scott, president of the Beulah Valley Arts Council and her exceptional team of volunteers, has added the ‘Beulah Cool Mountain Run’, a classic car show. The committee will host over 50 vendors, a beer garden, multiple food trucks, and a full line up of musicians, including a free street dance on Saturday and free concert on Sunday.
Many connected to the area plan family reunions and annual gatherings, specific to the fun-filled two-day event. Now held at the Beulah School Natural Sciences, the show covers a large area including an art show in the school auditorium; artisans,vendors and food trucks lining the roads that lead to the school; and the car show and public parking on the interior of the school’s track.
The reason for the longevity? Dedicated volunteers, creative artisans, talented performers, great food who all come together in the spirit of creating something special, and perpetuating a proud Beulah tradition.
Buddy Johnson's kids – Kitty, Pat and John – eagerly agree that living in Beulah, between 1953-1962, were some of the greatest times in their young lives. “I can’t think of a better place to grow up, than in Beulah,” John Johnson offers sincerely. Parents, William A. “Buddy” Johnson who grew up on Colorado's eastern plains and Matilda “Tillie” (Trabucco) Johnson, who grew up in Canon City, knew Beulah was a good fit for the family. In time, the picturesque mountain backdrop would also become the spot (Gayway/Songbird) for memorable and historical music performances, all envisioned by a man who knew how to make indelible impressions.
A born entertainer, Johnson was known late in life to read the local phone book and have people in stitches," his son recalls, “he was a hell of a salesman." Buddy had a popular radio show in the late 40’s ”The Buddy Johnson show” first on KGHF, then on KDZA and finally on KCSJ radio every day featuring western music. One evening a week Buddy Johnson and his band the Colorado Rangers performed live music in the KCSJ radio studio. In 1953 a brand new studio was built on Pueblo’s ‘Big Hill’ called KCSJ-TV was lining up talent and easily aligned with Buddy Johnson. A group of local radio talents moved over to the new medium of TV where they worked tirelessly to produce numerous radio and TV shows. Buddy's shows ran the range from the children’s afternoon “Buddy Johnson's Adventure Club” show on afternoons, to evenings when he and his band performed live music on shows like the "Colorado Hayride” or the "Barn Dance” while on a different night Buddy hosted Western movies on the “Western Star Theater".
When Johnson's band weren’t in a studio they were traveling, covering areas east from Tribune, KS on the east all way to Montrose, CO; and south from Raton, NM stretching north to Parker, CO. In the small towns, Buddy was greeted by big crowds, because of his celebrity on TV and radio. Far from glamorous, it was not unusual at these regional events for his day to start out with a parade in the morning, a rodeo in the afternoon, and then capping it off with a dance at night. When Johnson hosted Saturday weekly dances at Gayway, the next day he would offer a Sunday afternoon “Gayway Jamboree". Johnson’s wife, Tillie was in charge of the restaurant, and loved running it. He was the singer and drummer for his band and occasionally played the bass. “Dad loved Bob Wills Western Swing music". A number of his band members like Duke Farrin, Red Fanning, Russ Hayes played with the Rangers for decades. He gave budding performers like Jim Ed Brown, some of whom were stationed at nearby ‘Camp Carson’, a venue to showcase their talent. At the recent Beulah Reunion, many reminisced, and jotted down their fondest memories – Saturday Night dances came up most often. Buddy Johnson had everything to do with bringing the talent, and drawing the crowd to create a memorable ‘heyday’ that is fondly recalled 56 years later!
If you were a Pueblo area kid in the 1950’s, one of your first TV memories was probably that of The Adventure Club with Buddy Johnson. Viewers made reservations six months ahead of time to schedule their child to attend a live ‘kiddy show’. Johnson’s western-themed show was packed with stories, antics, games and music. Princess Columbine, played by Jada Willard, would assist – lining up children, ready with props, coaching young game contestants, elevating the drama with her bright native costuming; and there were the puppets ‘Koko’ the clown and ‘Pierre the Chef’. Most kids in the area thought Buddy actually rode his horse to Pueblo from Beulah for every show. Why? The filmed introduction of the show featured Buddy riding his horse into Pueblo with the Wet mountains behind him, and then tying Chubby up outside the studio. When the show was done, Buddy would stride out of the studio, where the pre-filmed footage would show him riding back toward Beulah, again.
An inductee of the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame, Buddy Johnson's career spanned a remarkable 41 years (1945 - 1986), a testimony to his talent, dedication, creativity and the ability to generate a darn good time.
With gratitude to John Johnson for his taking the time to talk to this paper, as well as proofing the accuracy of the content.
The Pueblo Barn Dance was hosted by our resident cowboy Buddy Johnson who also played the drums in his own band. Country and Western artists who played local night clubs welcomed the opportunity to promote themselves on local TV. Jim Reeves, Hank Thompson, Lefty Frizzell, Patsy Cline, Jim Edward and Bonnie Brown appeared, to name a few.
We had a local version of "Your Hit Parade" until Bill Haley and the Comets with his "Rock-Around-the-Clock” and Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill" hit the music popularity charts. Our local band could not play “Rock-a-Billy" or "Rhythm and Blues" at the time.
Many know Helen Louise Kerr Even Hedlund Even today, by her remarkable display of crocheted goods greeting folks when they come to Beulah’s annual Fall Craft Show, where she has had a table every year for the events' 27 year history. Howver, most will fondly remember her as the Beulah School secretary, who empathized with youthful woes, called mothers and fathers on their behalf, or issued lunch or milk tickets to the ravenous, surviving the chaos for 26 years. Aside from her sweet demeanor, what sets Louise apart in this little mountain town, is the fact that she has lived her entire life – 86 years and going strong – in the Beulah Valley! Her husband Herbert said, “You couldn’t drag Louise away from Beulah with 1,000 horses.”
Born on July 14, 1932 to Roscoe ‘Bud’ Clayton Kerr and Helen E. Klipfel Kerr, Louise lived the pioneer life upon coming home from the hospital to live on Northcreek cut-off, right next to Middle Creek. Her mother would brush snow off her baby blanket, as a very cold winter found its way through the minute cracks in the homes’s thin walls. Her sister Donna Patricia is 18 months younger, eventually followed by sister, Wanda Rae, 15 years her junior.
By age 6, the Kerr family moved a mile down the road to a 365-acre ranch on Northcreek Road, at the junction of Northcreek cutoff. “My family raised chickens, donkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, pigs, milk cows, beef cows and a few horses. They raised barley, corn, alfalfa hay, wheat and pinto beans.” Life on a working farm/ranch was not easy, she will never forget shucking corn each night with her sister, Donna. While it was her job to bring the milk cows in each evening, her mother was adamant that she never milk a cow... and she never did. Louise’s parents preferred she pursue her education, and follow different pursuits in her life than the tough life of dairying and farming. The girls did homework by kerosene lamps and attended the old Northcreek School. Her teacher was Mrs. Rogene Donley, a total of three children attended the one-room school, which used to stand just across the dirt road from the Red Mountain Youth Camp.
The family’s home was heated with a wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen. Newborn ranch animals would occasionally find renewed life in the same warmth. Louise recalls with great fondness her mother’s homemade cooking – biscuits, cinnamon rolls, fried potatoes and onions; noting that her fried chicken was the best, and her Angel food cake... well, heavenly! As a child, Thursdays were a particular treat as she and neighbor kids would come over after school and enjoy her mother’s cream puffs, made from the cream skimmed from their cow’s milk.
Louise’s mother, Helen (daughter of Charles and Faye Klipfel who had eight children, including Herman, Beverly, Wesley “Dutch”, Emmet, Helen, Hugh Lee, twins, Faye and Fern), played the piano and her father played the sax for dances in Beulah. Her parents met through their love of music. Once old enough, Louise went to the Beulah dances held at the GayWay, and enjoyed Gussy Morgan’s Band. “We would dance until 2am and then I always went to work at 9am. My mother made all our dresses from chicken grain sacks and from donated clothes from wealthy families in Denver. We always wore our best to the dances.” The family participated in an annual Chuck Wagon Picnic held in the Songbird parking lot that saluted the pioneers. “My mother prepared us that the ‘picnic’ probably would be just beans, she didn’t want to hear any fussing.”
A strong man, her father Bud was a hard worker, and aside from the unending labors on the ranch, he worked several other jobs, including a hand at the Beulah Fox Farm, and a ‘hod carrier’, which is remarkable, given that he lost an eye due to a childhood accident, and had no depth perception. (Wikepedia notes a brick hod is a three-sided box for carrying bricks or other building materials, often mortar. It bears a long handle and is carried over the shoulder.) As well, Bud would cut blocks of ice for summer-use for his family and families around the Beulah Valley. The ice was packed in sawdust in different sheds around Beulah, and would last all summer-long. Ice was retrieved and utilized in the family’s outdoor ice chest, where they stored food. Louise noted the best locations for ice were the Youngren’s pond (across Hwy. 78 from the Siloam Road turn), and various Mountain Park lakes, the locations were kept secret.
Transportation for Louise’s family was courtesy of old Ford Model T.
She vividly recalled dreading trips outside of the Valley, up Beulah Hill – no guardrails, the road was rocky, curving, steep, and it came very close to the rock wall on the north side of the road. “Sometimes we could make it on the first try, other times, Daddy would have to go up the second half in reverse,” a well-known way to implement front-wheel drive.
As a young child in the depression years, Louise explains a simple, yet wholesome life. “I helped my mother can vegetables and fruit, and each fall we would fill the cellar. We dried our clothes on a clothesline. We bathed in a steel tub with water from one of two wells on the ranch.” The family’s outhouse was “a long way from the house. I remember coyotes howling. Oh, how I hated the trips at night!” There was a salt man, who had large bags of salt tied to both sides of a donkey carried from a mine on 12 Mile, the location he never divulged. There was a candy store in the 30’s that is just a stones’ throw from where she lives now on South Pine Drive, just after the first (unofficial) entrance to the Mountain Park.
Weather observations in her 86 years as a Beulah resident include impressive snowstorms, with snows so high that the shoveled paths to the barns went over her father’s head. “The creeks always ran and never were dry, although flooding was fairly common in Spring.”
Childhood games like ‘Kick the can’, ‘Fox and Geese’, ‘Hide and seek’, building ‘bug houses’ out of sticks and mud were how she, her sister and friends had fun. She rode an ‘old horse, named Pet, who carried four kids at a time”! One very hard Christmas during the depression, Santa brought a special dresser made from orange crates and old drapery material put together with love; while another year she and her sister awoke to an entire wooden bucket of candy.
Louise recollects that she must have been about 4 years old, when her parents brought her to a ‘celebration’. She now thinks it might have been a public event to advertise all the features of the Apache Girls Camp. In particular, she stood in rapt attention, as she watched girls jumping over what was likely a bull snake, and the ‘Snake Dancer’ inviting the crowd to jump over the snake, too! Recoiling in disgust, Louise motioned that her answer was an easy ‘No’.
The dawn of World War II, and the fear it brought did not miss Beulah. Louise can still picture her family (mom, dad, Uncle Emmet, Donna and Louise) listening to Roosevelt’s speech on the radio. “Even though I was a child, I still remember the horror I felt, because of their reactions from the speech.” She remembers blackout curtains in her home, and those of her neighbors. Gasoline and sugar rationing became common. The local ‘Mehring boys’ would give Louise’s mother Helen their sugar ration in exchange for her baking fresh cinnamon rolls for them. They enjoyed them so much, they also removed snow from the family’s driveway. At the time, Louise worked at the Pine Drive Store for Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, and while the sugar was rationed to local customers who had coupons, non-patronizing customers were told the store was out of sugar. Louise admits it made her very uncomfortable to lie, and she felt guilty about doing it. She worked at the Pine Drive Store from 8th grade through high school answering phones at the switchboard, pumping gas and selling various dried goods. She was paid $1.00/day.
There was (and still is) always something going on in Beulah. Louise described competitive horse races, complete with ‘friendly betting’, that started at Emmet Klipfels (corner of Grand and Central, and would end up at the GayWay. The finish area was also the site for Quadrilles (each of four groups of horse riders taking part in a tournament or carousel, distinguished by a special costume or colors) were memorable.
One fourth of July, circa 1936, Louise witnessed what might be Beulah’s very first melodrama, although she didn’t know it, and unbeknownst to Louise, the ‘men of the town’ (I remember a ‘Donley boy’ being involved) staged a show. The crowd gathered where the ‘Stompin Grounds’ stands today for a mock hanging of a horse thief! The boys hung a rope from a tree, and the crowd was very excited. “I remembered the horses were running, chasing the thief, guns were firing and a posse was organized for the horrific climax.” She expected the worst and couldn’t understand why her parents were laughing. “The posse caught the thief and brought him to the tree and then they simply laughed and went home. I was left with my nightmares!”
Louise’s parents made a huge financial sacrifice by paying for Louise to attend Central High School in Pueblo. She didn’t want to leave her dear classmates, but she knew it was her destiny, and she graduated in 1950.
Louise first met Edward R. Even in 1945 when she was 13 years old, eventually they would marry in 1951. Philip Ray was born on April 17,1955.
In 1958, when Louise was pregnant with her second child, tragedy struck. Edward, who was a flagger for the crop dusting planes, was sprayed with DDT and passed away eight days later.
Cynthia Louise was born later that year on December 2, 1958.
Louise married Lyle Hedlund in 1961, and son, Gregory Lyle was born on May 26, 1962. They were married for 30 years, when he passed away in 1991.
She married Herbert Even, brother of Edward, July 29, 1995, and they were married 22 years prior to his recent passing in November 2017.
Helen Louise Kerr was born into a pioneer life, where she knew great love from her family, witnessed remarkable life events, and survived unimaginable loss. She rallied for her children, choosing love and her faith at every pivotal corner with her gentle ways, and tenacious spirit! v
by Greta Hanson Maurer
Beulah old timers will tell you that a wayward flock of geese, off course due to a severe snowstorm in Kansas, landed in the low just off Grand Avenue in the center of Beulah. Apparently, the area was covered in ice, and when it melted it formed a small pond for the winged visitors. Area residents loved the vision they created, and in 1883 Col. C. N. Sellers made the decision to create Lake Tucita by damming up the Pioneer Ditch and filling the area to levels large enough to float a small boat. He planted shade trees surrounding the lake, and they stand today. The original boathouse is the residence of the Ermel family and is located on the west end of the property.
In 1910 the dam was controversially dynamited, and the water drained. The grassy two acre area became the site for Beulah's first rodeo, as well as the spot to play baseball. Local businessman Warren 'Shorty' Parker built the original octagonal GayWay Park to serve food to the crowds with an area big enough to accommodate dancing. A new group of owners took over operation in the late 1940's.
Rumors of liquor and gambling bootleg operations have filtered around Beulah for years. Caren Ermel, daughter of 1960’s owners Bill and Robbie Graham confirms that 'some of the remains of the bootleg operation were still in the building when my parents bought it'. She also recalls being told of an illegal card game going on in the back during the epic snowstorm in the Winter of 1957. Despite being warned to pause the game to clear the deep snow from the roof, the game continued - until the roof collapsed on top of them.
In the 1950s William 'Buddy' Johnson rebuilt the building as it stands today. A multi-talented local radio and TV personality, Johnson hosted Saturday night dances and Sunday afternoon Jamborees at the location known as Buddy Johnson’s GayWay Park. He toured throughout Colorado with his band, the Colorado Rangers, playing for a remarkable 41 years. Buddy brought a host of music talent to the Valley, including nationally acclaimed singers, Jim Ed Brown and Smoky Ray Porter.
The Grahams brought in small carnival rides, mini-car racing, miniature golf, restaurant, grocery store; also offering antiques and a convenient laundromat. At one time the big room was even used for rollerskating.
Renamed for new visions over the years in modern times, GayWay Park has operated as the Tucita Inn, Hungry Heifer, Gringos, Wooden Nickel, Flag Mountain Grill, and for the past 10 years, it has been home of Songbird Cellars, who will bring food back to their location in mid-September (see more on page 2). The Songbird has played host to performers like Michael Martin Murphy, Flying W Wranglers, Flo Bots, Cassie Taylor, and more. A gathering place through the ages, a historic gem, Beulah’s GayWay Park is a treasure.
GayWay Park by Beulah Historical Society
January 30, 1842 - Feb. 4, 1915
No one calls it Lake Tucita, which is how it all began in 1883. Back then, Beulah patriarch Col. C. N. Sellers decided the beautiful mountain valley needed a boating pond, so he put in a dam and let Pioneer Ditch fill in the low-lying area off Grand Avenue. He even built a little boathouse. Sellers was an improver at heart, adding thousands of trees to the valley as well.
"Apparently there was a dispute over the kind of fish Col. Sellers was stocking in Lake Tucita," explained Orville Myers, a Beulah historian. "Somebody dynamited the dam in 1910 and the lake drained away. Sellers never rebuilt it."
So a flash of dynamite cleared the way for Gayway's construction in 1927 by businessman Warren "Shorty" Parker. Unfortunately, Parker didn't have much better luck with explosives than the Lake Tucita dam.
Gayway was born. "I remember you could get a hamburger for a dime and an ice cream soda for 15 cents, " recalled Bob Purvis, 75, whose family moved to Beulah when he was just a year old. "Shorty Parker would pay me to keep an eye on the compressors that kept the pop machines cold."
By the time Parker acquired the 2-acre park area, it had become the grassy and popular location for baseball games. Teams from Beulah, Goodpasture (a now extinct community east of Beulah), Burnt Mill and Rye all had teams that played there. So Parker erected an octagonal building with enough space to dance and serve food.
GayWay became a center of the Beulah community under Parker's ownership. Along with baseball games, the local cowboys held the valley rodeo there every summer.
"That's where I learned to square dance, " said Kay Keating, a retired Navy captain who grew up in Beulah. "I think we used GayWay for just about any community event you could think of."
Ranch families would ride in for the dances and the youngsters would fall asleep on the benches that ringed the hall.
That continued right up until the day in June 1939 when Parker was on a crew installing a water line under nearby Pennsylvania Avenue. Purvis was an 11-year-old boy at the time and was at the construction site, along with his father, Cliff.
"Shorty was the dynamite man on the crew and he'd set two shots down in this hole," Purvis said in his gravelly voice. "Well, one of the shots went off but the second one didn't. I started to walk up to the hole behind Shorty when my Dad called, 'Buddy, you better come back here. It's not safe.' So I started back toward my Dad and that's when the second shot went off, which killed Shorty."
Other owners took over the operation of Gayway during World War II and the late 1940s - Dr. Lee Curtis and Harry Taylor, Paul Wright and Earnest "Bus" Davis.
But the glory days came in the 1950s when Pueblo musician and entertainer William "Buddy" Johnson bought the park. Johnson hosted Western music programs on Pueblo radio and a children's show on local television. The drummer for his own country music band, Buddy Johnson and the Colorado Rangers, Johnson began hosting weekly dances at Gayway on Saturday nights and a Sunday afternoon Jamboree.
"Those were great years," said John Johnson, the musician's son and a local filmmaker. "My dad knew that there were several country music entertainers (such as Jim Ed Brown) stationed up at Camp Carson in those years and he would invite them down to Gayway to perform. There was always music on the weekends at Gayway."
It didn't hurt that Johnson could put in a plug for his Gayway dances when he was on the air during the week. Photographs from that period show Johnson and his band on stage at Gayway with other groups, guitars around their necks, waiting for their chance. Out on the dance floor was a forest of couples, the ladies' skirts twirling.
"That had to be the be best of times for Gayway," agreed Myers, the local historian who moved to Beulah in 1951 and lived in a small cabin next to the park. "I'd watch the cars from Pueblo line up and park for those Saturday night dances and Sunday Jamborees. Pueblo has always liked to play in Beulah and those nights were proof."
"Absolutely," agreed Purvis with a laugh. "I can tell you there were a few fights out there in the parking lot."
Purvis remembered a co-worker at the CF&I steel mill who confessed that he'd once rounded up some rough friends with the idea of "going up to Beulah and showing those guys who was tougher." The battle was short and sweet, ending with that group of mill workers getting routed, Purvis said with delight.
Myers recounted watching young men leave the dance hall to quietly jack up the car of the Gayway "bouncer" - an off-duty police officer. "Then they went in and did something to get the security guy to chase them. Well, they ran out and hopped in their car and raced off. But the security man's tires just spun and spit gravel because his wheels weren't really touching the ground."
But Mother Nature had something to say about Gayway. The winter of 1957 brought a crushing snow storm that caved in the roof of the old octagonal dance hall. It took a while to rebuild, but for some reason the collapse seemed to break the spell that lured Pueblo people up to the dance hall in the hills.
"Gayway just wasn't ever as popular again," Myers said.
The 1960s brought new ownership and more changes. When Bill and Robbie Graham bought the park, the old dance hall had even been used as a roller skating rink.
"My dad (Bill Graham) tried a number of things to attract business," said Debbie Rose, who currently owns the park, restaurant and neighboring Beulah General Store with her husband, Mike. "He bought some little carnival rides one year and even put in a miniature golf course."
Asked her earliest memories of Gayway, Rose laughed and said, "Washing dishes. Because we always had a restaurant there even if we were doing other things with the rest of the building, like running a store."
Over the past 20 years, various people have leased the restaurant and tried to establish a new tradition - along with new names. For old-timers, however, it will always be Gayway.
Pete and Polly Conlon took over operating the restaurant five years ago, naming it the Flag Mountain Grill. Easterners - he is from Massachusetts and she is from Maryland - the Conlons have enjoyed taking on the responsibility of running a landmark institution in Beulah."We've even brought back the tradition of music," said Polly Conlon as she prepared a small Christmas banquet. Conlon plays stand-up bass fiddle, while her husband plays guitar and mandolin. Every Sunday afternoon, there is an "open microphone" at the Flag Mountain and area musicians drop in to play with the Conlons and others.
The restaurant also regularly hosts The Bad Girls of the North - a musical duo made up of Linda Amman and Chrisann Galvez.
And what about the dance hall? Conlon opened the doorway to a big room that is crowded now with lumber and other tools. There is still a stage and a solid floor underfoot. But the room is cold and quiet now."It's not exactly ready for a dance today," Conlon offered.
No, but when it comes to Gayway, you never know what tomorrow might bring.
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