HUDSON'S RAILROAD TIES OF THE PAST KEEP TOWN ON TRACK FOR THE FUTURE
The following article contains excerpts from a Weld Central High School class history project that began in 1975. The original compilations were titled, Fifty Years and More. The 1991 updated and revised edition is titled, From Then Till Now, and is commonly known by the locals as “the blue book.”
On May 24, 1862 the Union Pacific Railroad drove the spike to complete the railroad line stretching from Omaha, Nebraska, to Denver. Located along the way were water stops, and at these locations small towns began to grow. In 1863, the railroad built a section house and a depot to add to the water cistern where the town of Hudson is located today. The purpose of these water stops was to provide the steam engines with the necessary water and coal. At this time, the railroad was forced to haul both the water and coal into the depot, as water was not located around the tracks for several miles.
The land upon which the town was founded was purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad Company at a low price by the Hudson Land and Improvement Company. They purchased the land on November 2, 1887 and platted it that same year. The original plan for Hudson was platted for four times bigger than it is now. The original plan called for most of the town to be located on the north side of Highway 52. It is thought that this location was chosen because it is the highest point between Denver and some location farther east. The contractor also believed there was water under this location.
The Hudson Land and Improvement Company placed an article in the Colorado Exchange Journal for December 29, 1888 in an effort to promote interest in the area. This article called Hudson a booming young city full of promise and enterprise. It claimed that Hudson was planning a 16 acre park, streets 60 feet wide, and large development plots for houses. This would have been an interesting plan since the entire town of Hudson was originally comprised of about 8 acres. The Hudson Land and Improvement Company never achieved their goal of building a park, although they did make some money from their original investment.
In the years after the railroad had thoroughly established itself across the plains, it developed a train called the Burlington Zephyr. It was advertised as being able to travel from Chicago to Denver in 12 hours. The Burlington Railroad Company did an excellent job of publicizing their first run which was anticipated by many people. The people of Hudson were no exception as they lined the tracks and were amazed by the “silver bullet” which sped onward toward Denver.
The railroad had a profound effect on Hudson. Without it, Hudson itself may never have been incorporated into a town as it did on April 2, 1914. Publicity of the area would have been unnecessary and there would have been no need for a town. The railroad also helped the town to survive as it hauled in all the supplies which were so vital for the early settlers. These included such significant items as lumber for houses, coal for fuel, and many other products necessary for cooking. The railroad is what gave Hudson life and later on kept it breathing.
Water was a scarce commodity in the area until the Henrylyn Irrigation District formed in 1907. A canal system was completed in 1913, which ran from the South Platte River. This provided a tremendous impetus to farming. In March, 1913, fifty farmers from Oklahoma came to Hudson to establish new farms. The first concerted effort at agricultural and community development took place during this period. The major crop in this area was sugar beets. With the migration to the cities, farms became larger and more mechanized. Agricultural job opportunities decreased.
The opening of the first store in Hudson in 1893 marked the beginning of a long period in the Town’s history. Hudson increased in population and came to serve as the commercial trade center for the area east of Fort Lupton. Some of the types of businesses which flourished in Hudson over the next few decades were a bank, four newspapers, a confectionery, general store, several blacksmiths, livery stable, a lumber yard, hotels, barbers, and doctors. One restaurant, The Pepper Pod, has been in continuous existence since 1913 and is well known throughout the State. The Pepper Pod owned its own buffalo herd that grazed behind the restaurant. Tourists and children would gather at the fence and peek through the knotholes at the herd. The Pepper Pod began serving buffalo meat during WWII due to a beef shortage.
In more recent times Hudson has seen the growth of many other businesses such as a campground, automotive / truck repair shops, gas stations / mini marts, car wash, an online store for hunting dog supplies, grocery store, meat locker, egg farm, feed lot, restaurants / fast food chains, liquor stores and taverns, beauty salon, truck stop, plastics manufacturing, chemical blending plant, rail car restoration plant, and a privately-owned correctional facility.
The Town of Hudson continues to prepare for growth with the opening of a state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant, and the completion of the town-wide street paving project. Other plans and activities being developed by the Town include: the expansion and beautification of Hudson Memorial Park with enhanced amenities; the implementation of a community based recreation program; a transportation corridor master plan; and an economic development initiative that creates strategic partnerships designed to support, grow and attract businesses to Hudson.
From its humble beginnings, Hudson continues to steam ahead toward a bright future. No longer just another stop along the way, Hudson is on track to become a destination location, and your home on Colorado's front range.