While there will be various blog postings to come on what Silver Reef has done and will do with the Rohrbacker property, the land itself has such a rich history that it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t share it.
Encompassing 160 acres, the land was first homesteaded by the Rohrbacker family. The property is located in the Boxelder Valley, which if you were not aware housed a vital arterial waterway that fed irrigation water to many of the 35,000 farmable acres in the Wellington area. The property also blends into an unincorporated area known as Buckeye. Buckeye was named after a large Ohio based ranching company: Buckeye Land and Development Company.
Back in the 1920’s, the western side of the land was host to the Buckeye Railroad system, also known as the Wellington-Fort Collins line of the Union Pacific Railroad. The railway ran from Buckeye to Fort Collins and served as a means for farmers and ranchers to ship their crops, sheep, and other livestock. The railroad had access points every three miles along the railway so farmers could ship said products easily. The railway also offered passenger trains, allowing Fort Collins residents to visit the Buckeye area to spend time with friends and family. In addition to all that, the railroad also had two loading stations – one for cherries and another for sugar beets, due to the cherry orchard as well as sugar beet dump on the property.
In the early 1930’s, as part of the many Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) projects in the area, cherry trees were planted on the property. In case you weren’t aware, the CCC was a public works relief program that hired unmarried and unemployed men as part of the New Deal. The CCC performed many unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources such as soil conservation, reforestation, and water drainage. The local chapter of the CCC that assisted with the cherry trees on the land was called the Buckeye Civilian Corps. The group was formed October 15th, 1935 and the men lived in Quonset huts just a few miles north of the land. The Buckeye Civilian Corps planted over 240,000 trees in the Wellington area and focused many of their efforts on soil conservation and erosion control within the Buckeye and Boxelder drainage projects, specifically in relation to improving the North Poudre Irrigation Company system.
The cherry trees that were planted on the property with the help of the CCC led to many fruitful harvests, the cherries of which were loaded from the farm onto the Union Pacific railroad. The revenue from this allowed the Rohrabacker family to pay off their land in just a few years, a shining example of how beneficial some of the New Deal projects ended up being to local communities.
As I mentioned before, cherries were not the only items being loaded onto the railway from the property. Sugar beets were also a vital player. The Wellington community had a strong sugar beet industry and sold most of their product to the Great Western Sugar Company (GWS). In the southern area of the property, a sugar beet dump was established, complete with a scale and hut. The neighboring farmers would bring their harvest to the Rohrbacker property so their beets could be loaded onto the railroad which would then transport the beets to the Fort Collins based GWS factory.
In addition to the cherry orchard and sugar beet dump, the Rohrbackers have used the property as a dryland wheat farm as well as an area to raise and breed Quarter Horses. When Silver Reef bought the property, there were two horses left. Both were in their late twenties and were the descendants of the original breeding stock.
Bert Rohrbacker would often hold rodeos within his arena with other neighboring residents. There were community gatherings that served as a way for 4-H students to practice their skills. Many of the events were based around fun and whimsy such as costume contests or bobbing for apples, while others were much more technical-based like bareback riding and cutting.
The Rohrbackers have such a wonderful legacy within the community. Throughout this project, we have learned a great deal about the family and their generous nature. They were always willing to give a hand or offer advice and were incredibly involved within the public, as evidenced by their sponsored rodeos and access to the railway system. As some of the oldest residents in the area, the Rohrbackers have been asked to be mentors as well as historians on the long Buckeye legacy.
The Rohrbacker property is filled with an abundant history and has so many ties to the community; Silver Reef is beyond excited to have acquired it. We are determined to adhere to the wonderful Rohrbacker legacy. In the following posts, we will dive further into the process of purchasing the land and the steps we took to get it where it is today. Stay tuned!