The town of Meeker was founded in 1885 after the U.S. Army abandoned their
garrison known as the Camp at White River. Many of the garrison's buildings were sold
to the town. The town is named for Nathan Meeker, the U.S. Indian Agent who
was killed along with eleven other men by White River Ute Indians in the 1879 Meeker Massacre.
The incident took place at the former White River Indian Agency, located along State Highway
64 west of Meeker. The town is primarily an agricultural and ranching community, but is also
a popular destination for hunters. In fact, Theodore Roosevelt visited the town twice on hunting trips.
Meeker is located near the intersection of CO State Highways 13 and 64. It's the county seat of
Rio Blanco County, and I would estimate the population around 3,000. Meeker is famous
for its annual Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials.
I visited and photographed Meeker in July of 2020 and again in Sept of 2021.
Cruising down Main Street
Many of the older and historic buildings of Meeker are located along Main Street. I couldn't present them all, so I picked the ones that I thought were the most pertinent.
Construction of the building for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) was completed in 1897. The IOOF is an organization dedicated to the service of its community. The building served in this capacity for nearly 100 years, with the IOOF hall upstairs and various businesses and community organizations occupying the ground floor. The building was purchased in 2004 by the Mountain Valley Bank, its current occupant.
The Meeker Hotel and Café were originally housed in an adobe military barracks. Ruben Ball inherited the hotel from his sister after her death in 1893, and he constructed the new Meeker Hotel at its present location in 1896. East and west wings were added in 1904, completing the structure that stands today. In 1917, the Café was moved to its present location in the stone building next door. The dining room of the Café is currently located on the ground floor of the east wing.
J.W. Hugus and Co. started their store in a military barracks, but in 1889 built a two-story brick building in the middle of town. The store was destroyed by fire in 1911, but promptly rebuilt. The business continued to operate until 1919 at which time it was sold to A. Oldland and Company. After the Oldland company left the building was split into different stores. The building has continued to change owners and businesses to the present day.
Rio Blanco County Government
The Rio Blanco County buildings are situated in a rectangle bounded by Main Street, Park Avenue, and Fourth and Sixth Streets. The County Clerk Recorder, County Courthouse, Detention Center, and Sheriff's Department are located here. The space around the government buildings is very park-like, with lots of grass and trees, benches, and a few sculptures.
Fourth Street, Park Avenue, and Sixth Street
Here are a few more noteworthy Meeker buildings.
The White River Museum is housed in two buildings on Park Avenue. The buildings are
part of an Army garrison built in 1880. The museum is devoted to the history of Meeker and Rio
Blanco County. The first building features everyday life of early pioneers, including farming,
transportation, clothing, and household implements. The second building has four display
rooms featuring Ute history and culture, the White River Indian Agency, military history,
and cavalry officer's quarters.
Click to visit the museum
I have a thing for pharmacies and drug stores, especially independent ones. Meeker Drugs is my kind of place. In addition to the pharmacy, there is also an old fashioned soda fountain, coffee shop, and bakery.
Market Street (CO State Highway 13)
The buildings and businesses along Market Street tend to be more contemporary than those found downtown. These include Blanco Cellars, Off the Olive Branch, and Smoking River Brewing Company, to name a few. Watts Ranch Market is located on Market Street. The Meeker Police Department and Meeker Fire and Rescue are also on Market Street
Meeker leases five parks to the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District, which is responsible for park maintenance. The five are Paintbrush Park, Town Park, Circle Park, Sanderson Hills Park, and Sixth Street Park. I got to Town Park on my second visit to Meeker. I wanted to check out Circle Park located just across the White River, but it was closed for some road work. Town Park has lots of parking, a playground, picnic tables, horseshoe pitches, and access to the White River that runs along its south side. Ute Park is 115 acres of primarily open space along CO 13 just west of the Meeker City limits. It serves as a venue for concerts and other events, and is home to the annual Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials.
Town Park (no audio)
White River (no audio)
Source material: wikipedia, meekerhistory.com
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