HISTORY HERE AND NOW July 31, 2009

Cruising North Avenue in ’60 looked a lot like it does today

Daily Sentinel collection/Loyd Files Research Library Museum of Western Colorado
The Veterans Hospital, National Guard and what was then the VFW and is now the Brass Rail can be spotted in this circa 1960 aerial photograph of North Avenue.



When searching for another picture in The Daily Sentinel photo collection at the Loyd Files Research Library at the Museum of Western Colorado, I ran across this aerial photo of the North Avenue area from 18th Street to 28 Road.

I believe the photo was taken in 1960.

My husband, Teddy, and I began poring over the photo to see if we could identify the structures. After a few hours of discussion, and cruising North Avenue to see how accurate we were, we dug out a Polk City Directory from 1962 and started matching addresses to structures.

We were amazed to see how little structures had changed on North Avenue.

Of course the Veterans Affairs Medical Center complex is still there. The hospital has grown to accommodate more war veterans. The Lincoln Park Golf course still winds around the south side of the hospital.

Where Teller Arms Shopping Center is now appears in this picture as mostly a vacant lot. At the northwest corner is the Teller Arms Texaco gas station, on the northeast, WM Auto Supply. If you look closely in both corners of this area on the North Avenue side you can see two gas stations. The area in the middle is where the Starlite Drive-In theatre was.

In the top right-hand corner is the Grand Junction Regional Center, and just below that to the left is the Denver & Rio Grande traffic tower. Both remain.

The housing development on the right is Mesa Gardens. This subdivision was developed in the middle to late 1950s when the uranium boom was going strong. The large lake between the Veterans Hospital and the subdivision raised the water level to such a height that none of these homes was built with a basement. All are on cement slabs.

Just to the left of the subdivision is the Files Stock Car Track, which was on 28 Road.

If you use your imagination, you can still see the track.

To the left of the track was Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3981. For several years Post 3981 and the Brass Rail operated together. It is now just the Brass Rail.

Continuing north on 28 is the Colorado National Guard, which is still there.

North of the National Guard building was the home of the Smoke Shack, a favorite hangout for those 18 years and older, where you could get a beer or two and listen to some great music. Keep in mind that in the 1960s the legal drinking age was 18 for 3.2 beer.

The Shack was scrapped years ago.

The curvy line running from the top of the picture down is the Indian Wash Irrigation
Ditch, which supplied irrigation water to the farms southeast of the city.

On the north side of North Avenue, top left, across from the Veterans Hospital, was the San Juan Motel. It is now the Ipswich Inn. The vacant field is where Eisenhauer Dodge built their new car dealership; it is now Auto Mart.

The building next to the vacant lot was the Econ-O-Wash. The next small building is the Snow Peak, and according to Teddy, it had the best hamburgers in town.

Next is the Frontier Motor Lodge, which is still there. The next building is the Royal Inn. Locals had great hopes for the restaurant at the Royal. The chef had cooked for the Shah of Iran. I can remember going there with my parents for special occasions.

Now it is the Timbers.

And that’s the way it was.

Kathy Jordan is retired from The Daily Sentinel and involved in many preservation efforts, including the Avalon Theatre, the railroad depot and the North Seventh Street Historic Residential District.

Curious about the way Grand Junction used to be? E-mail questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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