Museum of Northwest Colorado: Remnants of Loyd community
Driving the vast distances throughout Moffat County it is hard to imagine all the little burgs, post offices and stores that once dotted the immense landscape. Traveling south today on Colorado Highway 13, there are signs of new oil and gas activity, but the first oil boom to hit the region actually originated in that remote area. The first oil wells were drilled in Moffat County in the early 1920s, and as a result of that activity, numerous small communities sprang up.
John and Manda Loyd homesteaded about 30 miles south of Craig in 1916, never guessing that their backyard would be the site of oil drilling about 10 years later. When the oil boom hit that area, a post office opened in 1929 and named after the pioneering family. Development at that particular site did not take off, and the small post office (accompanied by its name) then was moved three miles east where two camps were established for the oil workers and their families. The store and its gas pumps, located directly across from Iles Grove, continued to operate on Colo. 13, serving the small Loyd community as well as travelers on the highway.
As with most oil booms, many were certain there would be a surge in population, and Loyd was no different. A town site was laid out consisting of nine named streets and 528 lots. Despite the big dreams, Loyd never grew beyond a smattering of about 15 houses, a post office and a school. For years, the Craig Empire-Courier newspaper regularly ran a little local news column from the Loyd district, detailing activities of the residents, including reports of sick school children, travels of the residents and other newsy tidbits.
By the mid 1950s, statewide redistricting had closed the little school, and the small community dwindled away, forcing the post office to close. The sturdy little homes were sold off and moved, and the school building was moved almost 40 years later to Elk Springs west of Maybell. That school building, still standing, is the last remnant of the community of Loyd, along with one home that remains at the original town site.
Recently, Dale Thompson, Mike McIntyre and Melvin Snyder got curious as to what was left of the little town, and after a visit out to the site, they shared their information with Janet Gerber, assistant director of the Museum of Northwest Colorado. Chuck Rakestraw and Elaine DeuPree also graciously took the time to add information and maps to the museum’s knowledge base of this once-thriving little burg. It is stories and efforts like these that help preserve our fast-fading history of our area as it was in the early 20th century. To learn more about our region, visit the museum this summer and enjoy a trip back in time and a cool respite from the heat. Located in downtown Craig, the museum is open Monday through Saturday with free admission. Call the museum at 970-824-6360 for more information.
Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.