New Sign Reflects Community Memories

Colony Photograph, displayed at Big Timbers Museum

L to R: Gerri Jenkins and Rene Gonzales of Vocas Unidas, John Hernandez and Pamela Cabello

The area of Lamar north of the Lamar Canal and on the western fringe of the Industrial Park was once known as the Mexican or Spanish Colony for several decades around the turn of the last century.  A marked black and white photo at the Big Timbers Museum indicates the last time anyone lived there was November of 1954.  Now, east bound drivers along the road off North Main Street will see only open land when they look northward, before they arrive at the first road crossing the canal.  That was where a number of Mexican families resided in the Lamar community for numerous years.  Exact population figures are hard to come by.  There were a number of single family units and two lengths of dorm buildings, bordered by several outhouses that dotted the landscape.  One representation of the Colony is a 3 by 3 foot mock-up, constructed by Bonifacio Hernandez who once lived there.  His son John, who donated the display to Vocas Unidas, said his father built it from memory.  Gerry Jenkins of Vocas Unidas said the group donated it to the Big Timbers Museum for safe-keeping.  Bill Pfeilsticker, Lamar City Administrator, said the display had been kept by the city for a while as well.  Pfeilsticker had researched some of the history of the Colony on his own. 

Kirk Crespin, a founding member of Vocas Unidas in Lamar, remarked recently that he had relatives in the Colony around 1907 when his great-great grandfather and other relatives made that area their home.  He said the Colony had to have received some form of official recognition as his mother’s birth certificate stated that her birth place was ‘Mexican Colony, Lamar, Colorado’. 

Other than some fading memories among the town’s elderly, a remembrance of that time was recently signified by CDOT officials with a name change of what was once Auwarter Drive.  Prior to the arrival of the Neoplan USA bus manufacturing plant in 1982, it was a gravel road running parallel to the canal.  Several years after the plant was in operation, the name was changed to Auwarter Drive in honor of the company founder.  Several years after the plant closed, several residents approached the city council with a name change request, one that would remain appropriate for decades or more.  It was decided, in honor of the Mexican Colony, to make the change to Colonia Avenida.  Two street signs had already been designated as such, one where a side street crosses the canal and the other at the intersection of Crystal Street where Avenida turns north outside the Dragon Enterprise gate.  The smaller signs on city property have been in place for some time, but only after a couple of years did CDOT officials come to town last week, to make the change official on the state highway, at the intersection between Community State Bank on the west and Pizza Hut on the east.   For some local residents the change of street names brings to mind a time when the Colony was once a living part of Lamar and not just a vacant field off-road from where hundreds of semi trucks pass by each day.

By Russ Baldwin

Correction:  Mr. Crespin pointed out that Mexican Colony was noted on his mother’s birth certificate, not her address for receiving mail.  Also, Community State Band was erroneously listed as Commercial State Bank. 

Russ Baldwin


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