By Lew Holloway

When I was a boy, about 11 years old, I cut lawns for my summer job. I got .25¢ cents for cutting and trimming large lawns. I could water lawns for three hours every other day for .25¢ cents per week. The homeowners allowed me to use their lawnmowers and whatever equipment was needed. I had one lady who always found something to complain about. After she finished verbally beating me down, she would only pay .10¢ cents. She said I did not please her and that I had used her lawnmower. As I walked away, she always asked me to return next week. I complained to my mother; she would only say we needed the money and I needed to do a better job. Mother said I had committed to her for the lawn work and could not quit. I realized my strategy was to get the old lady to fire me. But I didn’t know how to do this because she would inform my mother. (We were a family of three, no man in our house. Every penny seemed to be a help to our expenses.) I saved all the money I made through the summer for new clothes when school started.

Most of my lawn-cutting customers were in the same area of town. Erie affluent lived in the same neighborhood, the northwest end of town. I had so many lawns to cut. The residents (elderly) who lived in this area had well-kept yards with green lawns. Most other Erie town people didn’t seem interested in property upkeep. They didn’t care about a manicured yard, especially. Most did not have lawns.

MR. BILL (A great guy and friend)

I often enjoyed visiting with my customers. All my customers had lived in the same houses in Erie for years. They were usually the second and third-generation families. The town’s history became a passion of mine at an early age. Being inquisitive, I asked the elderly residents to tell me Erie stories. Mr. William Davis was one of my favorite friends. Mr. Bill must have been in his seventies. I remember sitting on his front porch step as if it were yesterday, listening to his great stories. As I recall, Mr. Davis was a US soldier in France during the First World War. On occasion, he would mention war encounters. He may have been in the carvery. Bill once owned one of Erie’s businesses, a tavern on Briggs Street.



(Pictures are only to help understand, a free online image)

Mr. Davis said he had always been a horse owner during his adult life. His interest was the Quarter Horses. Several horse owners would gather to race at some location, such as roads or flat pastures. They would make bets on the racing outcomes. Davis built a horse track on one of his properties at the south edge of town.

William Davis owned one of northern Colorado’s most significant quarter-mile horse racing tracks. The racetrack was located southeast of town, where Briggs Street ended.

The main unpaved road into Erie intersected at Briggs Street (Today Perry St.) and went east up the hill (Today Erie Parkway). The horse track was built on the west banks of Coal Creek in a flat open space owned by Davis. (At the turn of the century, Coal Creek was a fast-running stream, often flooding lower Erie). There was a white picket fence around the horse track.

(Pictures are only to help understand, a free online image)

The racetrack attracted community residents from several communities around Erie. The racetrack became a gathering place almost every Sunday during the summer. There was a small wooden grandstand for spectators. The racetrack park had a baseball diamond. Often, young men would have foot races around the quarter-mile horse track. The high school used the ballpark. Locals set up refreshment stands and party tents. Erie residents created a family day. The biggest day of the year was the 4th of July, which included the coal miners’ annual picnics. Beer kegs were busy flowing beer. Coal miners were always present at the beer-drinking gatherings.

Racehorse owners came from Denver, a great distance on horseback. Most racing enthusiasts were from Lafayette, Louisville, Longmont, and Boulder horse owners.

In later years, Bill Davis lived in northwest Erie. Mr. Davis owned a large home with a very large barn at the back of his house. Mr. Davis owned horses most of his adult life.

Mr. Bill’s horse track has been lost in the Erie archives. During my years through the 1940s, there was no sign of a horse track or park in the area. Erie’s exciting, eventful place was lost in time.

(All photographs are from an online free-of-copyright site intended to help the reader understand location and or conditions.