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Orchard Colorado Townsite - Ghost town

Photos courtesy of Mike Sinnwell 2005

The great pathfinder, John Fremont, apparently camped here on one of his trips through Colorado. Initially the area was known as Fremont's Orchard. It was a fort, stage stop,  and had a post office as early as 1863. It was located on the Platte River Trail and frequented by wagons and travelers. Another one of the many Plains Ghost towns.

A viewer writes - You've got a very special website here! Just wanted to mention the the town of Orchard, CO was used as the setting of the town "Centennial" in the television series of James Michner's book. Up until just a few years ago, the foam rubber bricks and stones could be seen still covering some of the buildings. Dan, Frederick, CO

Rocky Comments - yep and they also filmed in Bent's Fort, Estes Park  and Denver Colorado.

A viewer writes - Mon 5/28/2012 5:02 PM -- I was in the mood to reminisce today, and something made me think of Orchard Colorado, so I googled it and found your wonderful pictures.  My great uncle Herbert "Pink" Powell used to live in Orchard and my family would visit Orchard when I was a child back in the early 60's.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the pictures of the old church.  Don't ask me why, but when I was a child I used to have nightmares about that church!  Every time we drove into Orchard and passed that church I would just shake and hide my face, I was scared of that old church!  It seems so funny now, but it was not funny when I was a kid.  My uncle Pink also leased many of his wonderful antiques to the movie studios and they were used in Centennial.  What a trip to see those pictures and it was kind of sad to see my old church in ruins.  Thank you for posting the pictures. Desiree Hedger

A viewer writes - Monday, May 28, 2012 -- Re: Martha Kennish.

Interesting that she elicited the comment of being a character out of the book Centennial. I like that. You probably know Orchard, Co., was used as the town of Centennial to film the series. Other parts were filmed around Jackson Lake and north of Weldona. Anyway Martha and her husband William Kennish owned a grocery store in Orchard.  

Martha married William Kennish on 6 Oct. 1909. They had four children, twenty grandchildren and at my count 41 great-grandchildren.   

I can't for the life of me figure why she would give the impression, let alone say that she was of Welsh heritage. Kennish is not Welsh it is Manx. My great-grandfather Robert Kennish was from the Isle of Man. Martha was born to Frank N. Harshman and Laura E. Bullard on May 16, 1889. She died on May 15,1984.

I truly loved my grandmother, who had a tremendous influence on me. She started me on my hobby of genealogy with stories of her family, etc. The stories told by her are pretty well documented and I now that everybody in the family, including her, is aware that the Kennish heritage is Manx.

Martha was a very complex person. She was estranged from most in her family, including her siblings, children and descendents much of her life.   

When the depression hit she and my grandfather lost everything they owned except for one farm, which we called the home place, at Wiggins, Co. MK went to Denver and worked as a maid and caretaker for a widower with seven children, to help pay the mortgage on the farm. This happened before I was born.   

Their marriage was contentious to say the least. When she demanded settlement of the farm, I asked my grandad why they didn't just divorce and settle it, he replied, "Your grandmother doesn't believe in divorce, she's Catholic." When I pointed out that he wasn't, he filed. She became furious with me for suggesting that they get divorced. She tore up the divorce papers when they were served on her by the Gilpin County Sheriff. She never spoke to me again, until the day my mother died. They never divorced, but never lived together after I was born (1934).   MK's life style was self chosen, i.e. lack of modern conveniences.


I think I understand her better than most of the family. She was extremely kind to strangers, but was cold towards most of her family. She demanded more of her family members than others. It was never a financial demand but she held them to her moral standards, which I believe were quite high. She was extremely judgmental and seldom acknowledged, let alone praised anyone's accomplishments in her family.  

She is the only person I have known who could walk into an empty room and start a fight.  -Tom

A viewer writes - Friday, March 08, 2013  --  I was six months old when I arrived in Orchard CO. The year was 1936 and I had just been adopted in Denver where I was born. My future mother picked me up with on diaper and a new baby blanket; the adoption paper cost $9.00. These were hard times and I was very fortunate to have a family which consisted of an older sister and dad. My new mother and I boarded a train and the next stop was Orchard. This was to be my first home living along side the rail road track in a box car that was converted into living quarters. My dad worked for the rail road and that was part of his benefits, free housing. He worked on a rail car that two men would pump to travel down the line looking for spikes and damaged ties. I was told by my mother that we were the lucky ones as lots of people would come by ever week asking if we could spare some food which my family shared as my dad always had a little garden and my mother canned veg. We lived there until I was about two years old and then moved to Oklahoma. I had never return to orchard and only heard about the place through conversations with my parents. When I was 72, 2005 I had raised a family of my own and lost my wife of 45 years. Through the internet I started searching for any part of my other family if they still existed. The journey took me to Fort Morgan. While at Fort Morgan I drove out to Orchard to see what it was like. I spent about 45 min. driving up and down the few streets, It was a Sunday and I could tell there were people still living there but I never saw any thing alive except a poor dog wondering along one of the streets. The experience was quite and experience. bt redberry620@gmail.com