Wind closes Agate post office

Posted 6/3/10

Elbert County building officials red-tagged the Agate post office after a wind storm leveled an adjacent building. The building next to the post …

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Wind closes Agate post office


Elbert County building officials red-tagged the Agate post office after a wind storm leveled an adjacent building. The building next to the post office, the Agate (grain) Elevator Office, for years was nothing more than a shell until May 24, when wind gusts of 65 mph took down the last of the cinder blocks.

“It was a wicked wind,” said Valinda Eberle, Agate postmistress.

Eberle was on her lunch break when the elevator office came down. Because of the strong winds she decided to spend lunch resting in the break room when she heard a crash. Thinking there might have been a train crash, she opened the door to find the building next door had finally fallen.

Elbert County officials visited Agate the day the elevator building toppled and discovered fresh cracks on the inside walls of the post office. The county immediately condemned the post office until an engineer can confirm the extent of the structural damage.

With the help of the Agate School District, which donated a building, and the phone company, which within 24 hours moved the phone lines, the Agate post office was up and running in a temporary location within a day.

“They’ve all been wonderful,” Eberle said. “I couldn’t have done all of this without those people. They’ve all been godsends.”

The elevator office has been little more than a front wall façade since Eberle’s arrival in town nearly eight years ago. As legend has it, a fire swept through town years earlier, taking out a gas station, a house and the elevator office, which shares a front façade with the post office.

The post office opened on April 8, 1881, about five years after the town was founded. Originally called Gebhard, Colo., Agate was used as a central meeting point by local ranchers before the Union Pacific Railroad established Gebhard in 1876.

Today, the railroad passes through Agate, without stopping, and the town’s most prominent entities are the post office, the Agate Mutual Phone Company and the school. Agate is the easternmost community in Elbert County with the state’s smallest school district.

Eberle began efforts in 2004 to clean up vacant buildings in town and successfully lobbied to have the county tear down the hazard that was left of the town’s hotel. Since she arrived, and with the help of a volunteer crew of about a dozen people, the number of abandoned buildings in Agate has dropped from four to two buildings. The landowners of the two remaining abandoned buildings live out of state, Eberle said. Efforts to contact those landowners have been unsuccessful, she said.

As for the elevator building, the decision to tear down the building was in the hands of the county attorney, Eberle said. The owner is an elderly man, and Eberle did not want to see him go through the expense of removal.

“After awhile I just let it go because I knew the circumstances,” she said. “Then when the wind was so horrific … it went down.”

Despite the strong winds that pummeled the Front Range that day, few reports of wind damage arrived in Douglas County, to the west. In Castle Rock, tree limbs came down onto power lines and the fire department quickly cleaned up the deadfall. In Franktown, the side of a plastic, domed greenhouse lifted in the wind. Firefighters prevented further damage by cutting the torn plastic from the greenhouse frame.

photo caption:

This building in Agate collapsed May 24 when high winds pummeled the Front Range. The building is adjacent to the Agate Post Office, which is closed as officials test the integrity of the structure.


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