“It was the Dust Bowl years. The wind whipped the fields to pieces…The children would have to stop their schoolwork because they couldn’t see what they were doing.”
– Doris Robbins, Cornish School Teacher
The town of Cornish was located at the crossroads of historic Native trails. The Cornish railroad station was established in 1910 along the Pleasant Valley Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad, named after a civil engineer for the railroad. Though a town plat was filed in 1911, development of Cornish didn’t get started until the first business, Miller Mercantile Co., opened in 1913.
Cornish ranchers together with the railroad built large pens to hold cattle to ship out by train. Cowboys and local businessmen built rodeo grounds and a horse racing track for everyone’s entertainment.
In the 1930s Eastern Colorado suffered from “black blizzards” – wind storms that blew away topsoil. Cornish storms revealed Native artifacts at campsites, some thousands of years old. With literally everyone looking Cornish residents assembled one of the largest collections of Early Man artifacts and in 1934 were inspired to put on the “Stone Age Fair”. This proved so successful that after six years there were thousands attending, more than the few residents could accommodate. So Cornish moved their Stone Age Fair to Loveland in 1940, where it remains an annual event.
The wind also blew away the Cornish farmers’ livelihood leading to closures of businesses, their church and the school. The grain elevator and sugar beet dump closed when the railroad left in 1965. Finally the postmaster retired and the Cornish Post Office closed in 1967.
Originally published in the Greeley Tribune February 13, 2009
Written by Nancy Lynch, former Curator of Exhibits