I set out in late December of 2013 between Christmas and New Year for a long road trip and some soul searching following some problems in my personal life back in Denver…not the type of problems that land a guy in jail, just woman problems that lead a fella to drink grain alcohol and use harsh words and get down on himself and the world around him.

I chugged down U.S. 350, a 73-mile long stretch of two-lane blacktop that cuts diagonally in SW-NE direction between LaJunta and Trinidad, Colorado. My old Range Rover humming along at a slow, spirit cleansing pace over the low hills and rises that make up this desolate stretch of road.

Ruins of places that “once were” dot U.S. 350, tucked in among the sandy buttes and dry washes.  A tumbledown house here, an abandoned school there. A crumbling adobe building with an outdated radio tower in disrepair.  A concrete foundation.  In the days prior to “The Dust Bowl” of the 1930’s, there were numerous small farming and ranching communities along this route, but today, not much but these few traces remain.

As I continued on down the road, my thoughts lost in the open the expanse around me, another small town appeared on the road ahead of me. This was the largest of them I had seen so far on U.S. 350, and as I approached, I assumed it must still be occupied.  As I pulled off the shoulder of the road and hopped out with my camera, it became clear that this place, like the places I had passed before, was entirely empty.

 

The residential district of Model 1913

The residential district of Model 1913

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After snapping a few shots of the vintage advertisements on the side of the abandoned general store, I climbed back in the Rover and had a look at my map.  I was in the town of “Model 1913” a town founded in 1913 and proclaimed to be a “Model” community, hence it’s unusual name.  Unfortunately, Model 1913 lasted only a few years and was about empty by the time Japanese bombs at Pearl Harbor drew the United States into WWII.

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Model 1913 General Store

Model 1913 General Store

Model 1913 General Store

Storefront in Model 1913, For Sale believe it or not!

Storefront in Model 1913, For Sale believe it or not!

I continued to walk around and take photos and look inside open doors.  It was a standard ghost town, buckets and cans, and bottles, a broken desk, assorted piles of rust and bird poop everywhere. Of course, what ghost town is complete without at least 20 modern era mattresses thrown in every available nook and cranny between and under buildings…

One of the many mattresses that inhabot Model 1913, just inside the door of this old shed

One of the many mattresses that inhabit Model 1913, just inside the door of this old shed

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Then, I noticed a strangely new and clean sign hanging from a post pointing the way to the “Model Post Office”.  I hopped in the Rover and headed for the Post Office, which appeared to be a dilapidated, abandoned looking house on the edge of town. Within seconds, as I began my drive to the so-called “Post Office” a vicious and seemingly rabid dog appeared out of nowhere at full sprint towards my Rover.  Being used to cowardly city dogs that are all bark and no bit, I naively slowed to a stop and started to talk to the dog through my open window.  The dog continued his charge towards me snarling and growling and that is when I knew this wasn’t a typical city dog.  I began to roll the window up as the dog jumped at my door barking and slinging dog slobber 47 feet into the air. I tried to drive forward down the road towards the “Post Office” by the angry canine ran in front of my vehicle and jumped at the bumper. So, I backed up, and the beast followed in hot pursuit snarling and spitting and lunging at my Rover.  I looked around assuming this must be the guard dog of the last lonely resident of Model 1913, and as I searched all the homes along the street, I could see no peering eyes.  The angry dog continued his assault on my Rover biting the front bumper, attempting to jump on the hood several times, and scaling my door barking numerous times.  I had made the decision to run the dog over if necessary to escape the street I was pinned down in, but finally, the dog backed down, growling and following me at a short distance as I backed out of downtown Model 1913.

The Model 1913 "Post Office" apparently still in service??? Looked rather abandoned to me, and was guarded by the meanest dog this side of hell!

The Model 1913 “Post Office” apparently still in service??? Looked rather abandoned to me, and was guarded by the meanest dog this side of hell!

 

My encounter with the savage dog left me feeling thankful, just five minutes earlier, I was out on foot literally 25 feet away from where the dog was hiding- that could have been a very bad situation for me!  Anyhow, I never did make it to the Post Office in Model 1913, but later research showed that it was in fact still open and serviced a few hardscrabble ranchers that still hung on in the hills surrounding the abandoned town.  I never found out anything about the dog, but I urge anyone who stops in Model 1913 to stay in their vehicle with the windows up.

Model 1913 quickly became one of my favorite ghost towns in Colorado, evil demon dag and all.

Adobe shack in Model 1913

Adobe shack in Model 1913

Comments
  1. Simone says:

    Whoa! This is an incredible story. I’m grateful you were in your car and not on foot. Crazy. How much are they selling the building for? Your soul? Excellent photos and as always – exceptional storytelling.

  2. Fergus Gold Post says:

    interesting visit…..if you ever make it out west, we could assure you a much friendlier greeting in our little ghost town! 🙂

  3. April Kersjes says:

    What a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing it and the great pictures. I hope your travels helped you and your woman troubles. Taking the outstanding pictures you do is got to be better than drinking grain alcohol! Look forward to more stories and pictures.

  4. I would like more info on where this town is, Part of my family is from south eastern Colorado and I have never hard of this town.

  5. Lauren says:

    I am very interested in learning more about this town, but there is practically nothing to be found on the internet! How did you learn about the Model 1913 story? Do you have any source suggestions? Thanks!

  6. Debie Foster says:

    The post office was down the road from the Model Merc and it isn’t pictured in any of the photos you’ve shown here. It is a more modern building and isn’t delapilated like most of the buildings shown here. Now it’s only used to sort mail.

  7. Mary Pettis says:

    Seeing these pictures brings back so many memories for those of use who grew up in this area. The stories we have to tell of the people who lived there and the times we had are precious and I hope will live on if only in our hearts and minds.

  8. Lori Torres Apple says:

    I grew up near the area and my grandparents lived just down the dirt road from the mercantile. The house they lived in was called the old mindosa place and was part of their compensation for working down at the River Canyon ranch. Lots of good and not so good memories, but none the less…memories.

  9. Jeff Eberle says:

    Thank all of you who commented recently with your personal stories and memories of Model. I’m planning another trip in the next few weeks to Model. I really like the town and want to get some more photos. It’s a shame I couldn’t have seen it in it’s prime. If anyone has any photos of the town in livlier times they’d like to share please contact me- I would be interested in seeing them and using them in a future piece I’m writing about the towns along Highway 350.

  10. Inky Ferrendelli says:

    Very interesting. My husbands grandfather and family moved to Model fromKansas City in the late 1800s or early 1900s. They moved by railroad car. My brother-in-law and 3sisters-in-law were all born born in Model. They left there in about 1940. I visited the sight where they had lived in 1998. Only thing of the homestead was thefoundation.

  11. Inky Ferrendelli says:

    The grandfathers last name was Argo.

  12. Nice article! Very interesting and very informative.
    I stopped by Model 1913 earlier this year with a few friends as we took a day trip to visit and document the ghost towns of southern Colorado. The “post office” was very much abandoned. No sign of a vicious dog thankfully. The market place building across from the mercantile is under renovations it looks like. And one of the far houses is occupied. Otherwise it is a model ghost town. One of the coolest ghost towns I’ve ever been to.

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