A landmark was toppled today. It wasn’t one that many people knew of, but it was one that grew close to my heart over the years. Today they bulldozed the cabin and surrounding trees down the road from my home. The silos still stand – not sure for how much longer, but they are there tonight.
This place was the “haunted house” down the road, the only other structure on this segment of Strauss Cabin Road besides ours. I grew up in my home half a mile from this derelict for the last 17 years. I would wake up before sunrise to photograph the cabin and the sprawling landscape around it. I would sneak out on sticky summer nights as a teenager and meet friends there to drink warm beer and tell ghost stories. I would drive by it daily and thank no one in particular for allowing this piece of rotting, rusty history to be our neighbor.
My mom told me years ago that our house was the third one built on the road. The first was the original Strauss Cabin, a modest homestead perched next to the Poudre River under a maze of massive cottonwood trees. The second was this cabin in the first decade of the 1900s. It sat on a sparse lot of field grass about a quarter mile from the original homestead. The third house plopped down on County Road 7 was ours, a small wooden structure set across from a lake with a tiny pond of its own on the property.
When I moved here in 2000, our home was the last livable one remaining on the road. All that was left of the others was a pile of bricks and ashes of Strauss Cabin and two colossal grain silos towering over a labyrinth of horse stalls and an eerie dark wood house. Inside one of the silos near the top of the structure hung a noose, presumably left there by some mischievous 90s teenager. Seeing as part of the stables had been burned down via arson years earlier, the jump to ghosts was an easy one to make for local youth. I can’t even tell you how many times I heard people ask me in high school after they found out where I lived if I had ever seen a ghost on my road or in the infamous “Strauss Cabin”. I never did.
What I did see were two bald eagles return every spring and fall to nest in the same dead cottonwood for nearly 20 years straight. That tree is gone now. Their home is gone now. They were the last two baldies I’ve seen in the Fort Collins area since I was a boy, and I doubt I will ever see them again.
I’m sad. I’m sunken. I’m furious… but not really sure at whom. It’s a natural part of life having homes destroyed or taken away from you in the blink of an eye. Whether it is caused by the intervention of humans to turn a profit or the spark of a fire during a lightning strike, buildings burn and homes collapse.
Call me saccharine. Call me nostalgic. Call me a sap, but I feel sorry for those eagles. They will soar in around sundown tonight and realize their home for the last two decades is gone. The pace of the world around them is quicker than their own. They will realize overnight that the roost they made, the nest they set, the home they built, is no longer theirs. It isn’t fair. It isn’t just. It isn’t right. But it is.
The eagles will be fine though. They will fly on this evening and search for a new tree on a new road next to a new family that they can call home. They will build up their nest stick by stick and rear chicks, just as they have before. Maybe in time they will learn to accept their old home is gone, and this new one is there… if only just for a bit.