Kersey’s Garage: Horse to Horseless

Kersey 2

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

Taking detours on the open road will lead to pleasant discoveries.

Two weeks ago, after eating a delicious breakfast at Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner in Lakewood, Colorado, I began the trek back to Rock Springs.

On Interstate 25 I wondered whether I should head to Cheyenne then turn west or go through Fort Collins. Instead, I went with  option C,  get off onto US 34, a road I haven’t traveled on and head east.

After reaching Greeley and taking pictures of a Union Pacific railroad depot I drove around until I found a filling station.

There aren’t many stations around which feature elements from different eras.  From the garage’s original sign and brick construction to Texaco gas pumps that saw fins off a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air, the nostalgic goosebumps spread like wildfire.

Kersey’s

Clyde Clad Kersey came to Platteville, Colorado in the1880s  before relocating to Greeley. The area the station stood was a barn providing feed,  shelter for horses and storage for carriages and wagons.

In 1917, it became Kersey Livery and Feed Stable, which was built by W.F. Mortimer. Three years later when the automobile was beginning to proliferate, it was converted to a gas station and garage  built using a brick bonding system.

Kersey operated the garage until he turned it over to his son-in-law Maurice Burbridge, a lifelong resident of Greeley. Burbridge eventually changed the name to Texaco Star, which repaired cars as well as provided storage for trucks and wagons with produce needing protection from the cold.

Kersey 3

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

In 1964, Ray Eckhardt and his younger brother Ronnie worked as mechanics and bought out Burbridge.

Today, it is Jim’s Auto Repair.

Travel to 531 8th St. and soak in specs of automotive, Colorado and American histories, but be careful, it is still a functioning business.

Kersey 1

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

 

 

A Nostalgic’s Dream

Motel vac

One of the many neon gems on Colfax Avenue. This is heading east.

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

Colfax Avenue in Denver, Colorado is known as neon row. It is filled with creativity and a dose of class.

On Monday as I was heading back to Rock Springs, Wyoming, I decided to head west on Colfax, also known as U.S. Highway 40, to see if I can find some more gems along the way.

In Lakewood, just outside of Denver, I stopped for a trip down memory lane.

Davies 2

I admit I filter or edit many pictures including neon signs.

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner pays respect to the state’s Old West heritage while incorporating the stainless steel 50’s era diner more commonplace in the East Coast.

In 1957, the diner was brought from a New Jersey manufacturer. The 46-ton establishment was shipped to Colorado by rail and was placed on its current foundation.

In 1997, the National Historic Society inducted Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner into the National Historical Registry.

The Experience

After opening the door, Bob Seger could be heard playing on a distant tabletop jukebox. Waitresess with sweat trickling down their foreheads took chocolate milks and strips of bacon to the counter while others greeted customers with, “What can I do for you?” as they put menus on the table.

By 9 a.m. people were standing by the door waiting for their chance to enjoy a meal down memory lane.

Davies 1

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

A trip down memory lane

lh 1913 2

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

A trip down memory lane is a cliché, but for a road-a-holic such as myself it is an appropriate one.

In August I took a trip from Green River to Rock Springs on a 1913 Lincoln Highway alignment. The 15-mile trip was filled with peaks and valleys with a side of uncertainty.

On the left  were vistas and buttes  and on the right was the conveyor belt, also known as Interstate 80. After several hills and a few sharp curves the soul went from feeling adventurous to where am I heading? Is there an end in sight?

After reaching the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and U.S. Highway 191 I was feeling calm again.

The experience, however, paled in comparison to when roads weren’t paved and driving was a relatively new phenomenon.

In 1915, Louise Graf, a Green River resident, drove to Rock Springs on the same bumpy, rocky and adventurous route.

“If you had a car, it was an all -day trip. If you didn’t have a flat or two on the trip, you were doing good,” she said. “Roads were dirt, not even graded. There wasn’t enough room for two cars to pass each other. If there was a car coming, you had to finagle your way through.”

The Lincoln Highway was Graf’s interstate. The uncertainly of the new road and how the car would handle the journey was as much a challenge as getting to her destination.

I did not encounter any flats, just an hour’s journey with an appreciation for what Graf’s generation had to deal with.

lh 1913 1

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman