Mysterious Colorado Ghost Town on the Huerfano River.

Posted: September 6, 2016 in Cemeteries and Graves

Sandwiched in between the Sangre de Cristos to the west, and the Wet Mountains to the east in Southern Colorado, a few miles west of Gardner, Colorado I came across the forlorn and tattered remains of an old settlement about a year ago. (I’m certainly not “on to” something new here, these ruins have appeared in books and in photos across the web for years.) Tucked in close at the foot of a rocky bluff near the Huerfano River, surrounded by ranches sat this little gem with no name. I have searched high and low for information on this settlement and have found a few, vague leads, but no definitive answer as to what this place was called…or if it was ever called anything.

 

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Rito Oso? Archuletaville? Sharpsdale?

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According to Colorado Ghost Town aficionado Ken Jessen, for a short time in the late-1960s and early-1970s the site was occupied by members of a hippie community that named the site “Archuletaville” but the buildings were there long before the 1960s. When the hippies arrived, the buildings were being used as goat pens by a local rancher who agreed to let the hippies live at the site. This is the most recent account of the site’s history.

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Prior to the arrival of the hippies and the establishment of Archuletaville, the site is shrouded in mystery. Many have claimed it to be the ruins of “Sharpsdale” an 1800s era supply stop on the route over Mosca Pass into the San Luis Valley. But evidence suggests that Sharpsdale was located nearby and closer to Tom Sharp’s “Buzzard’s Roost Ranch” which still stands today a few miles down the Huerfano from Archuletaville.

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Another possibility is that the ruins are the site of Rito Oso an old Mexican settlement dating back to the era when Southern Colorado was still a part of Mexico. A walk through the broken and crumbling ruins at the site lend credence to this possibility- Clearly, some of the structures are newer and date to, or have repairs and improvements that were made in the “Archuletaville” era of the 1960s, but a look around reveals a handful of much, much older structures of stone, log and adobe brick at the site.  A rough hewn log cabin without a single iron nail present, it’s logs splintered and dry rotted in a way that only decades of exposure to the elements can produce. Stone pens and sheds for animals. The location- Tucked in at the base of a bluff, on a prominence overlooking the vast plain of the Huerfano- An excellent defensive locale if you were concerned with attacks from roving Indians and bandits. Perhaps the most compelling evidence is the ranch across the road from the site which bears the name “Rito Oso”  but nobody seems to know for sure what the ruins were called or when they date to. Does anyone out there know the facts about this enigmatic site on the Huerfano?

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Comments
  1. Ron Ruhoff says:

    Jeff, Mike Blecha’s “Colorado Place Names” sez Sharpesdale had a P.O. on and off between 1883 and 1934. It’s located on USGS per attached. His book has no reference to Archulettaville or Rito Oso. Just plain Oso is listed as an early settlement 4 miles west of Walsenburg. Are the buildings you picture in a different location thatn the Sharpesdale on the map? Ron Ruhoff

    On Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 5:14 PM, Life…Death…Iron wrote:

    > Jeff Eberle posted: “Sandwiched in between the Sangre de Cristos to the > west, and the Wet Mountains to the east in Southern Colorado, a few miles > west of Gardner, Colorado I came across the forlorn and tattered remains of > an old settlement about a year ago. (I’m certainly not” >

  2. JP Nix says:

    Sharpsdale was actually up the road from these structures about four miles west. Pretty much at the junction of the Huerfano River and May Creek. Most think it was named for Tom Sharp, but it was most likely named after relatives of Tom’s who settled west of his Buzzard’s Roost ranch and trading post.
    On November 23, 1883, a post office named Sharpsdale was commissioned not far west of Malachite. See excerpt below:

    “It was not named for Tom. Rather, it evidently was named for one C.B. Sharp, postmaster. C.B.’s name was Clinton, but he went by the nickname of Kit. Apparently, C.B. was related to Tom and followed him to Huerfano County. The 1885 census identifies him as a stockgrower, while Tom was a merchant (with a lot of livestock), 42 years old (Tom was 47), born in Missouri as were all three of his children. C.B.’s youngest child, a William S., age seven, was also born in Missouri, which leads one to believe that in 1878, C.B. was still living back east. Just next door to C.B. lived one S.W. Sharp, 33, another Missouri-born stockgrower, with his wife A.R. In 1880, S.W. was living with Tom, as were Joseph A. 71, and Elizabeth Frances, 65. Parents?

    S.W. and C.B. Sharp were either brothers or cousins of Tom, presumably. Another of C.B. and S.W.’s neighbors was B.T. Wright, whose wife was Miriam Sharp from Shelby County, Missouri. Benjamin.T. Wright was a fellow ex-Confederate and former Texas Ranger. Miriam’s obituary says she and B.T. came to Sharpsdale in 1880. The Wrights had seven children in the 1885 census, one of whom, Elizabeth, 14, listed her occupation as “cowboy.” One of their sons was John J. Wright, later district water commissioner and deputy sheriff (under Sheriff Jefferson B. Farr) who became the victim of Homer Potts when he shot J.J. at the Klein Hotel in Walsenburg in 1916.

    On the other side of the Wright family in 1885 lived the A.P. McIntires. A.P. was Alfred, and he succeeded C.B. Sharp as postmaster of Sharpsdale. A.P.’s brother was Alvi S., owner and operator of a furniture store in Walsenburg from 1906 to at least 1933. Alfred was the father of Mrs. W.M. Wycoff and Mrs. Alvi Neeley, both well known in Walsenburg social circles.

    The third McIntire brother was Fremont, who married Annie Sharp in June 1886. Annie was the daughter of C.B. Fremont was said to have come to the upper valley in 1878. The couple had six children but unfortunately lost three, between one and eight years old, to diphtheria in December 1895. Annie was so despondent she moved back to her parent’s home. In 1903 Fremont got a divorce and won custody of the three surviving children.

    So, anyway, there was an ample number of Sharps to justify a Sharpsdale.”

    https://huerfanoworldjournal.com/be-sharp/

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