Our Heritage, Wild Horse, Colorado

Most of the communities in east central Colorado owed their birth and initial development to the railroads. Wild Horse was no exception. Over one hundred years ago the directors of the old Kansas-Pacific Railroad Co. decided to extend their track northwest from Kit Carson to Denver. A small detachment of U.S. Cavalry was assigned to protect the surveyors as they laid out the grade stakes. Early one morning in 1869, as the cavalry rounded a bend in the Big Sandy about twelve miles west of Kit Carson, they saw a band of several hundred wild horses around a water hole.

The water supply was good so the troops decided to establish an outpost camp and call it the Wild Horse Station. The railroad company built a section house along the survey course to house the grade crews until completion of the tract. Later it would be used by maintenance crews.

From 1869 until 1906 Wild Horse was just a station. The nearest post office was Aroya but it was said the mail service was the best. The depot agent at Aroya handed the Wild Horse mail to the train crew each day and they would throw it on the front porch of the old section house as the train went by.

The Union Pacific had a commissary car to take care of the needs of the section crew; it stopped once or twice each month until a store was erected in Wild Horse.

Among the people instrumental in building up the town of Wild Horse was John McIntyre. He had been born in Ireland in 1852 and came to America in 1877. He came to Wild Horse in 1878 as section foreman and remained in this position until 1885 when he retired to spend full time to the sheep ranch he had started with his brother Jim. His brother died in May 1905 and then he lost over half of his sheep in the big flood of June, 1905. He had sheared over 1000 ewes the day of the flood and upon seeing the storm clouds forming, he decided to keep the ewes in his big shed overnight so a cold rain or hail would not chill them. Late in the afternoon them. Late in the afternoon a cloudburst hit the prairie land northwest of the ranch and a wall of water washed out three-fourths mile of tracks just north of the ranch. The water ran through the corrals and shed over four feet deep and all the sheep drowned except an old buck.

John was elected county commissioner for several terms and while county commissioner he, along with Judge Hedlund and U. P. agent Lou McLain, formed the Cheyenne County Land Company in Cheyenne Wells. The two brothers bought 18 sections of land from the railroad company shortly after the turn of the century and after picking out eight sections for their sheep ranch, sold the balance to a Minnesota Land Company that brought a group of settlers into the area in 1907.

Anna McIntyre, their sister, came to Wild Horse in 1880 and became cook and housekeeper for her brothers until her marriage in 1893 to Fred Goodier. Fred Goodier came to Wild Horse at age of 15 from Oakley, Kansas. He became a sheep herder for the McINtyres in 1888 and stayed in their employ until 1899 when he bought his first carload of cattle and established his ranch.

In 1905 Fred Goodier bought a segment of land from the state and in early 1906, he and a county surveyor laid out the town site and a prairie town was born. Fred Goodier was appointed the first postmaster and the post office was in a room in his old ranch house. He also put in a supply of groceries for the homesteaders and land buyers who were arriving. By midsummer in 1906, Mr. Goodier had built a store, land office building and lumberyard. Soon after two hotels were built: one in west Wild Horse, erected by Bob Pfalzgraff and the Albany, a nice two story cement block building noted for its beautiful lobby, said to be the nicest between Oakley and Denver.

The boom was on and from 1906 to 1909 other buildings included a two block lumberyard and office, drug store, two restaurants, two livery barns, three saloons (one only lasted a few weeks) a hardware store, pool hall, two cream stations, a barber shop, newspaper building (The Wild Horse Times), a shoe shop, another grocery store and dry goods store, a depot of sorts (two box cars joined together), a warehouse, a butcher shop and the Alfalfa Valley Bank. Local promoters proclaimed Wild Horse to be the "best little town in the world."

The school building which still stands in Wild Horse was built in 1912. Between 1921 and 1923 the Wild Horse School was a branch of Cheyenne County High School and conducted classes for freshmen and sophomores.

Wild Horse was a community with mostly Scandinavian lineage and the Lutheran Church was predominant. At first services were held in homes then in the Wild Horse School and later a school building was bought and moved into town to serve the congregation. This building still stands.

Soon after 1909, after automobiles began to displace the horse, one livery barn became a garage. Wild Horse reached a peak about 1910-1911 at which time Charles Collins bought the controlling interest in the bank and moved it to Kit Carson.

Then a series of fires hit the town. The warehouse burned; it was not replaced. A restaurant burned and then the butcher shop. Then came the big fire in 1917 which destroyed almost entirely the east portion of town which was the business section. Someone started a fire in a wood stove in the cream station and some time after midnight, the stove toppled over and flames engulfed the town. Water was in short supply in those days and the bucket brigade was no match for the fire. The destruction was complete; the value of the loss was nearly total.

It was the beginning of the end for Wild Horse. Part of the town was rebuilt but the Depression and the "dirty thirties" followed soon after and like so many other small towns, Wild Horse lost its young folks to greener pastures