How Arriba Came to Be
(as written By Bob Coulson)
Back in 1887, there was nothing in Arriba but prairie grass. This area was populated by antelope, buffalo, rabbit and other wild life.
The Chicago, Kansas &, Nebraska Railroad was laying track from east to west, but the tracks extended only to the town of Flagler (11 miles east of Arriba).
Now about this same time a man by the name of Charles Creel arrived from Cripple Creek. Where he had made some money mining. He set up a tent on a parcel of land now know as 48 Elm Street in Arriba (it is the oldest house in Arriba).
From Creel’s research, he figured the railroad would be coming westward, and therefore the steam powered locomotives would need a water stop (as they did about every ten miles) to replenish the water in their boilers.
Sure enough, on August 23, 1888 the rails were laid immediately to the south of Creel’s tent just as he had predicted! The railroad foreman named this place “Arriba” (pronounced Ah-ree-ba). That pronunciation held true until latecomers began slurring the word. Today it is commonly referred to as “Air-Ah-Buh”.
Now that train service appeared imminent, Creel could build a REAL farm house to replace his tent. Once that was completed, he brought his wife (Elizabeth) from Cripple Creek to this new home. The next two items on Creel’s agenda was first, to appoint himself mayor, and secondly, to become a real estate agent. Creel laid out lots on this 43 acre parcel. He soon became wealthy, as the new arrivals flocked to this area to seek their fortune. Charles and Elizabeth were well on their way to living the good life-----that is until:
A man by the name of C.C. Coleman came to town. He was upset because there was no saloon, and he required a drink now and then. Now Creel, on the other hand, was a “tea toddler” (that’s an old term meaning he used alcohol only for rubbing his sore joints, but NEVER internally)! Creel’s goal was to keep Arriba dry. He felt Arriba’s citizens should avoid the evils of alcohol.
Coleman figured the only way he could get a regular drink, was to purchase the 43 acres immediately to the east of Arriba, establish his own town- name it “Frontier City”, and build his own saloon. He did just that. To get Creel’s goat, he built his watering hole just a stone’s throw from Creel’s back porch! Coleman even gave his east and west streets new names so that when Arriba met Frontier City the streets had completely different names. Arriba’s Elbert Street now became Frontier City’s Lincoln Avenue Arriba’s Front Street now became Frontier City’s Colorado Avenue Arriba’s Railroad Street now became Frontier City’s Rock Island Avenue
Only College Avenue’s name stayed the same.
To show that he was one swell guy, Coleman gifted a complete city block to become Frontier City’s Park. It was planted with dozens of Elm trees.
Creel was not one to give up the fight. He hired workers to build a strong barbed wire fence between Arriba and Frontier City. That parcel was and is called “No Man’s Land”, although it was legally within the town limits of Arriba.
The fence did absolutely no good. Because at night, thirsty folks in Arriba would use wire cutters to gain access to the new saloon. In the morning Creel would repair the fence, but of course, at nightfall it was cut again. Creel decided to take stronger action and hired workers to dig an eight foot deep trench in No Man’s Land, and secure it with many strands of barbed wire.
The deep fortified ditch failed also, and for the next fourteen years this nonsense continued.
In 1918, the Citizens of both towns had enough and they talked about a merger. At a special election, the votes were counted: 90 for 1 against. Most people believed that Coleman’s vote was the negative one.
The voters also decided the blended town should be called Arriba, although the street names have never gotten around to be changed!
(For more information, facts, stories and legends about the Town of Arriba please visit the Arriba Museum, 711 Front Street Arriba Colorado)