Serving the world

Fred and Joy Blevins have owned Browns Park Store for 21 years

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Fred and Joy Blevins opened the Browns Park Store in 1985 to get away from all the snow in Steamboat Springs.

In the past 21 years, the small trailer has seen visitors from across the country and around the world.

"We put out that guest book so people passing by could sign it," Joy Blevins said. "We have hometowns listed from Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador."

One guest book has turned into 15 or 16 books, and the signatures are from every state and many countries around the world.

Blevins estimates that a few hundred people stop by the store each year looking for food, gas or directions. The visitors are often from Craig or Steamboat Springs and are searching for a weekend getaway. She sees a lot of people on float trips, who are stocking up on beer and ice before they head down the Green River.

"We get a lot of people looking for Dino--saur National Monument," Blevins said. "They are a long ways from there, unless they want the river entrance at the Gates of Lodore."

Along with directions, Blevins likes to dish out a little history to the visitors.

"That Browns Park School now, that used to be a one-room schoolhouse," Blevins said. "Then they brought down the old Sunbeam School and attached them together. Now it's two rooms."

The area around the store is chock-full of history of the Old West -- homesteaders and cattle rustlers, outlaws and solid citizens -- and one, old swinging bridge.

"I have a picture about 1930 when they put a cable across the river to build the bridge," Blevins said. "You should have driven across it before they put the sides on it. It would sway in the wind." That bridge blew down and was rebuilt around 1949, she said.

Joy's husband, Fred, opens the store every morning at 8 a.m., seven days a week. Joy takes over about 10 a.m. so Fred can tend to the few cattle they raise, or irrigate the hay fields. Their son Rick has taken over many of the chores at the ranch while the couple runs the store that Joy said is often a lifesaver for the weary traveler.

"There's a lot of those," she said. "The campers come in and fill up their water tanks. They get some propane and gas, maybe some fishing gear."

Last week, the Sombrero Ranches horse roundup brought thirsty cowboys by the store, and people aren't the only ones that come visiting.

"We've had moose come up from the river and stand right out here," Blevins said. "We have deer, elk, coyotes and hummingbirds. They fascinate people."

In the fall, the store extends its hours to serve hunters in the area; in the summer, it's the fishermen. They stay open until 8 or 9 p.m. for those anglers that don't have enough gas for the 40-mile drive down to Maybell.

The best part of the business, has always been meeting the people, Blevins said.

"Most of them are just wonderful," she said. "They gas up and go on down the road."

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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