"Yes, yes, yes, there have been major proposals for Greenland," says Kent Brandebery, Castle Rock history buff and a member of the Douglas County Historic Preservation task force. "One was a housing development that would rival Highlands Ranch. One talked about a 500-room Holiday Inn. God knows what might happen there."
But Brandebery is certain that something will happen. At this point, it's just a matter of time--and he's racing against it to try to save what few buildings remain in the town. "Oh, the barn," he says. "The barn's so historic. What a National Historic Site it would make."
Last year Brandebery approached OPUBCO, the ranch's current owners, about trying to get historic designation for the structure. "We received no cooperation at all," he says bitterly. "They are ignorant, as far as thinking historic designation would tie up whatever development they want to do. They just didn't want anything to do with it."
Brandebery can't stand the idea of losing another piece of history. "If you think that kind of thing happens too much around here, you hit the nail on the head," he says. "Look at the town of Parker. People are always asking me, `Where is the town of Parker?' Well, it's gone. It was just a rampage over there with the development. That can't happen at Greenland. But the owners won't help."
Greenland Social Notes
June 27, 1906: Miss Kate Higby marries Charles Fred Noe. A local reporter calls it "one of the most elaborate receptions" ever to be held at Greenland. After the ceremony and a "fine collation" of food and drink, the guests are invited to the huge red barn, where they are encouraged to "indulge" in hours and hours of spirited dancing.
1918: Not just the year of Greenland's first automobile accident, which occurs on the railroad tracks, but also the year Miss Merman, "the popular and efficient teacher" at the Greenland School, announces that the Parent-Teacher Association will give a play entitled A Busy Liar, proceeds to be applied to paying for the school Victrola. The play is later postponed because of an outbreak of diphtheria.
1925: A flood causes a train to derail at the Greenland depot. To the children's delight, one car's cargo of candy and toys spews out all over the street.
1931: At the wedding of a Higby grandson, according to the Castle Rock Record Journal, "the hostess served a very dainty lunch of ice cream and cake and cocoa and mints." Also, someone--the paper coyly doesn't say who--laid "a new linoleum" in her Greenland kitchen.
1933: Miss Emily Higby, in college at Greeley, comes home for summer vacation in an automobile! While she is there, the paper reports, "quite a few from Greenland" attend a Saturday-night dance at Monument.
1957: To mark the last year that the Greenland School will ever hold classes, teacher Gladys Johnson commissions her students to write a history of their town. The two-page, typed document ends with these words: "It is good to live at Greenland, with its purple mountain majesty."
Dave Miller has lived in Greenland for the past twenty years and can't imagine living anywhere else.
He's always hung around ranches--whether they belonged to a friend or a relative didn't matter. After attending Castle Rock High School, Dave came to Greenland as a hired hand in 1975, when he was sixteen and the Higbys were still in residence. He worked on the ranch and lived in various small houses on the property until the Higbys moved out altogether in 1981 and Dave was made ranch manager. As such, he was entitled to the original Higby farmhouse.
Today he lives there with his wife of two years, Monique, and three dogs. A neighbor, Doug Bryant, acts as head cowboy. "It's just the three of us, and it's a full-time, seven-day-a-week schedule," Dave says. "We lay off when we can. If you're a person that's got to be regimented, you wouldn't like our life one bit."
Even if you understood it--and Dave's not sure you do. "We do everything on horseback," he says, "and that's the way of it when you have to rope and doctor stock. I mean, say you're four or five miles from the house, and one of our cattle has got the foot rot...but what do your readers know about foot rot?
"In fact," he decides, "how do you explain any of this to people who don't eat beef? I believe in an agrarian society, and they don't. It's that simple. There is no cruelty to animals going on around here. Look at my horse. He's a little bored, maybe, but he's not being abused."