Lamar, Colorado: Petrified Wood Building


Of all the cities in Colorado, Lamar probably doesn’t rate very high when it comes to tourism. But, there are a few things around town worth seeing, as you pass through.

As I drove to my motel the night before, I spotted this odd building (above) in the middle of a used car lot.  I’m glad I backtracked the next day, because this building is, indeed, unique.  In fact, it was once recognized by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.  The reason? It’s built entirely out of petrified wood.  The faded sign above the front window declares that it is 150,000,000 years old.

In truth, the building isn’t made entirely out of petrified wood.  They must not have counted on anyone sneaking around to the back.  Even so, it’s still impressive, and judging by its current surroundings, it’s also underappreciated by modern-day Lamar.

The petrified wood building was originally a gas station, and was constructed in 1932 by a local lumber dealer.

The petrified wood building is just a few blocks south of the center of town, on US 287.  Once you’re done there, drive back into the center of town, and look for the old Lamar train depot.

The Lamar Depot serves as a Colorado welcome station, and also offers up several interesting attractions.  I was most fascinated by this windmill blade that’s on display in front of the depot.  You always see these giant, modern power-generating windmills far in the distance, but you can never get close enough to fully comprehend their size.  Here, you have the chance.

The blade that’s on display is from a GE windmill.  At the tip, the blade is only a few inches thick…

… but at the other end, it’s big enough to stand inside, and has dozens of bolts, which attach it to the center.

Also on the grounds of the Lamar Depot, you’ll find a Madonna of the Trail statue.  In the 1920’s, the Daughters of the American Revolution placed these statues in states from coast to coast, marking the path of the old National Road and the Santa Fe Trail.  We will pass another one on this trip, in Council Grove, Kansas.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a train depot without an old steam locomotive on display.  Locomotive number 1819 was built in 1906 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia.  This engine made its final run in 1953, logging a total of 916,626 miles.

Since there wasn’t much else to see in Lamar, and the weather was cold and dreary (this was the start of a very miserable final two days of the trip), I headed out, for the long drive across Kansas.

Kansas State Line

There’s little fanfare as you enter Kansas–just a small sign by the side of the road.  This is a terrible picture, and I swear it didn’t look that bad during my mid-March trip across the state.

An old, abandoned building stands at the edge of US 50, at the state line.

Continue east on US 50.  You’ll pass through several towns, each of which is only a few blocks wide.  The next town that’s worth a stop is Garden City, Kansas.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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