A few months ago on a sunny spring day I headed for a little known Colorado ghost town. While most Colorado ghost towns are associated with the mountains and the gold rush, the barren expanse of Colorado’s eastern plains is home to many ghost towns and “almost ghosts”- faded agricultural and railroad towns rapidly vanishing as the days of corporate farms devour the last few hardscrabble soles who eek out a living from the high desert dirt.
Among this forgotten and disappearing towns is the little hamlet of Dearfield, about 30 miles east of Greeley, Colorado on a secondary road. Dearfield is an obscure part of history, known by few, and visited by even fewer. Dearfield was a “Negro Colony” founded in 1910 by O.T. Jackson, an African-American businessman from Boulder, Colorado who sought to build a prosperous and free colony for blacks. Jackson filed claim on a homestead in 1910, and soon thereafter the colony of Dearfield grew.
It is often suggested that “Dearfield” is a misspelling of “Deerfield” but lore has it that Jackson and the early settlers of the colony chose the name “Dear” because the land was so “Dear” to them and represented a new beginning and bright future. Sadly, Dearfield was in a poor location and water was always in short supply. Water issues, coupled with the Great Depression, dust bowl, WW2, and the problems that faced African-Americans at the time, left Dearfield a ghost town by the late 1940’s. The towns founder O.T. Jackson passed away in 1948.
Today the site of Dearfield is in decrepit condition, the few remaining structures are about to topple over, although there has been some preservation work done by the Black American West Museum to shore up what is left. Dearfield is also a registered National Historic Site.
Below are a few photos I snapped while wandering around Dearfield. Amazingly, a board in a building still bears an “O.T. Jackson” ink stamp, and a rack of mason jars lays toppled over and strewn about the floor of a long forgotten store room.
(Be sure to click on the pics for a much larger image)