Welcome to Swink, Colorado

 

Swink lies midway between Rocky Ford and La Junta, in the center of a rich farming district. While the history of the town may be said to date back to about 1900, its background really lies even further in the past, in the era of Indians and cattle barons.

The Santa Fe Trail's northern, or mountain, route followed along the Arkansas River, passing Bent's Old Fort on the way to the Rocky Mountains and then south to Santa Fe. The trail crosses the Timpas Creek just west of what is now Swink. Zebulon Pike's expedition camped near the confluence of the Timpas and the Arkansas before pushing further west.

Probably the first attempt at settlement in the immediate vicinity of Swink was the establishment of an experimental station by an Indian agent, Captain Cooley. In 1863 Cooley built a dam of brush and willows across the Arkansas River about a mile east of Swink. The dam was to supply him water with which he was going to irrigate his experimental farm, and teach the Indians irrigated farming methods. His project was short-lived, however, because the Indians never became interested in tilling the soil and one night stole all the Captain's mules, ending his project.

Columbia Land and Cattle Company is another name prominent in Swink's past. The company was owned by the Holly family. This company had large holdings in the area when the only industries were those connected with raising cattle and sheep.

Tthe early 1900's saw an influx of settlers. These were farmers rather than ranchers or cattlemen. History shows that two main crops; cantaloupes and sugar beets, were the favorites of these farmers.

By 1905 the Holly Sugar Co. had made a careful survey of the prospects of growing large acreages of sugar beets in the area. The company examined the potential for establishing a beet processing and sugar production plant, and eventually did just that.

The site chosen for the location of the Holly Sugar Factory was a small settlement then known as Fairmont. This little burg boasted nothing but a railroad station, and that was only a boxcar set up to serve as a depot. There were a few farm buildings in the general area. The factory was built on 80 acres of land donated by H.S. Holly for the company's use.

After it became apparent that the Holly Sugar Co. would locate a factory in the area, a small group of men formed "The Town Company." They bought that land from the E.M. Reynolds claim and arranged a date for the sale of town lots.

On January 17, 1900, the people at Fairmont made an application for the establishment of a post office in their community. The reply from Washington came, and with it the information that they would have to change the name of their town as there were already too many Fairmonts in the country and another would complicate the distribution of mail.

The people called a meeting to decide a new name for their town. George Swink was late in arriving, and as he entered the room the idea of Swink for the name of their settlement swept the audience. The name was approved in Washington,and thus George W. Swink was honored as the leading benefactor of the town.

Today Swink is a thriving town of about 700. It is still surrounded by rich irrigated farm land. The livestock industry has changed, but today feeders ship thousands of head of cattle and sheep each year to eastern packers or local packing houses.

 

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