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Purcell Colorado Townsite - Ghost town

Photos courtesy of Mike Sinnwell December 2007

Purcell land and investment company once owned the land this town was once located on. This town went the way of many other plains towns in this area. Many of them, Keota, Raymar, Grover, Hereford, Stoneham and others were along the railway road from Sterling to Cheyenne. As the drought and dust storms caught up to them  the towns dried up and disappeared. Some managed to remain active until the railroads left. Purcell just flat ran out of water. The town was named after Lawrence Purcell, a real estate man from nearby Greeley. The railroad had a turnaround track here, a stock yard, some elevators and a few businesses. They even had telephones. Not much left to see. Have to chase the cows out to see the old false front building. East side of Townsite is being developed as Purcell Estates. Visitors welcomed, tours of historic old sites available. Contact: Charles Odendhal, mail: 24165 CR 90, Ault, CO 80610. Phone: 970-834-1286. Email: coden3@lpbroadband.net.

A bit of History provided by -  Charles Odendhal January 2009

Purcell, Colorado, was established in 1909. Around 1908, Union Pacific RR built a light rail track from its Coverly-Greeley intersection to an area south of County Road 90, known as Hungerford Station. UPRR called it the Peaceful Valley Spur, but locals called it, “The Prairie Dog Express.”  

Then, Mr. Lawrence Purcell, a Denver merchant and rural land developer, talked UPRR into extending its tracks across CR 90 and onto his lands, by selling the UPRR a much larger area for just one dollar. UPRR extended its tracks across CR 90 and built another Wye on the north side of Purcell. Remains of the old Hungerford Wye [a ‘Y' shaped RR track on which trains could turn around] are still visible just south of CR 90. Thus, Purcell is the only known railroad town located between two Wyes and Hungerford Station soon ceased to exist. We call our 'old RR yard' parcel Double Wye Acres.

Purcell was the center of a fairly prosperous farming and ranching area for many years. Some 175 souls received mail in Hubert Waldo's post office. Dozens of homes were located in or near Purcell. There were also two grain elevators, a mercantile with gas pumps, car repair shop, grocery store, lumber yard, stock yards, Grange Hall, several churches and a multi-grade schoolhouse.

An irrigation canal to bring Laramie River water to farmers surrounding Purcell was constructed, but later blocked by Wyoming politicians. The eroded remains of the old canal can still be seen across the lands northwest of the Purcell. This political double-cross and farming disaster for the Purcell area was detailed in James Michener's best selling novel on Colorado’s history, CENTENNIAL.

During the 1930s, without irrigation water, Purcell’s farmers suffered from drought conditions. U.S. Department of Agriculture relocated many families to Grand Junction. Most of Purcell's original buildings, including its Grange and churches, were then relocated for use in nearby Pierce and Galeton, while the lumber yard and gas station were moved to Purcell’s SE corner. With a lack of area business, the UPRR ceased its Peaceful Valley service around 1946 and pulled up its tracks in 1954 for use elsewhere.

Much of Purcell, except for a few privately owned parcels and south portion of the UP rail yard, was acquired by a rancher who incorporated Purcell’s lands into his multi-section cattle range. This area was later acquired by the rancher’s niece, still raising cattle on the adjoining range lands.

Today, Purcell’s east side is being developed as Purcell Estates; combining hundreds of the original, small platted lots into a new community of 185 homes on one half to one acre homesites. The Corps of Engineers is also building a 40,000 acre foot lake nearby, with public fishing, boating and campground; The Galeton Reservoir.

Purcell is located on high ground with great views, with Pawnee National Grasslands to the north and cattle ranches east, west and south. Area is high desert, fairly dry and windy.

A viewer writes - Thursday, September 09, 2010  -  My great uncles homesteaded near Purcell.  I'm looking for any information anyone might have for Olof Monson Somarin and Swan Monson Somarin.  Please e-mail me at sendtojulie@hotmail.com.