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Mountain people cope with stuff

Brief by Marcia Darnell

Creede Fire – May 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine

The December 1 fire in Creede didn’t destroy, or even disrupt, daily life in the historic mountain town.

The flames began on a Friday night in Journeys, a cafe in the main business district, which in Creede is one street. The buildings, constructed in 1892, are particularly vulnerable to fire.

The volunteer fire department got right on it, and with reinforcements from South Fork, had the blaze out within four hours.

The adjacent bank opened the next Monday in another location. Funds, records, and safe deposit boxes were preserved and rescued. The First National Bank of Creede reopened the next Monday at the Bob Ford Mall in shop space vacant for the winter.

“We never missed a minute of banking,” said Dan Ford, president and CEO of Pine River Valley Bank, which owns the Creede bank. “It took a couple of days to open the vault, as the lock had to be heated, but we retrieved and moved all safe deposit


Ford says the bank will move back, and that the site is already cleaned of debris.

“We tried to save some of the original structure from 1892, but couldn’t,” he said. “We’re going to build a similar building in size and 1892 motif. We want to fit into the character of the town.”

They were able to salvage the old flooring, tongue-in-groove Douglas fir, and are contracting for an old-fashioned tin ceiling.

“Our goal is to be back in on the anniversary of the fire, December 1,” Ford said. The bank will be renamed the Creede Miners & Merchants Bank.

The Holy Moses, a Creede retail fixture, also took a big hit, but is still in business.

“We had extensive smoke and water damage and we put $40,000 worth of merchandise in a trash dumpster,” said Vicki Kulyk, who owns the Holy Moses with her husband, Nick. “But we have our building and our furniture, and we’re going to re-open.”

The shop, which specializes in country-theme items, will do business this summer at 111 Wall Street, one block east of the post office, in a log cabin that was originally the phone company in Creede. The couple intends to have a grand re-opening the week of May 1, and move back into their old space in the fall.

“We had people volunteer to help us do anything and everything,” Kulyk said of her neighbors. “Some of the retirees helped us carry out all the inventory and throw it away. When we moved our furniture, we had tremendous support — they came with trailers and helped us load and move our furniture. We also had people calling us all the time, and the hardware store has helped us tremendously. People have just really helped us a lot.”

Journeys was destroyed. The owners of that building have since sold it to three partners who are planning to build a restaurant and bakery. They have already removed the debris.

And mountain life goes on.