Where lettuce

BV Heritage photo circa 1930s.

The photo in last week’s paper was identified correctly by Mike Center. He knew it was the front office building of All Around Tire on the corner of Chestnut and Railroad streets.

The small building with the false front said it was the Colorado Cooperative Lettuce Association, Buena Vista Colo. The Cooperative Association was formed in 1921.

This building was moved to the Baptist Church on 608 S. San Juan, now Valley Fellowship Church. I am not sure if it is still there or incorporated into another building.

The larger building was originally gray metal. All Around Tire put the new siding on it.

Glen Morrison was an early owner of the building. Later it was owned by Irving Avery and it was used as a blacksmith shop in 1959.

The building was built by the lettuce association in the 1920s.

The lettuce business was started by Denny Isabel in 1917 and many ranchers raised head lettuce for the next 30 years.

A 1-acre field of lettuce could produce 9,000 heads of lettuce, which would earn the rancher $500.

The lettuce was packed in wooden crates and ice from Ice Lakes was packed around it.

The Rio Grande Railroad shipped it to Front Range cities. This building was used to store shipping crates, labels, and other supplies for the association.

In 1922, the lettuce association held a celebration and a parade that for many years was called Head Lettuce Days and held Labor Day weekend.

This included a horse race on Main Street that later became the rodeo held at the Rodeo Grounds.

The parade had floats, bands, clowns and many horses, and a barbecue was held in the local park.

Local ranchers donated the beef and the Reformatory cooked it and baked the buns to serve the sandwiches.

And of course, heads of lettuce and dressing were available to the many attendees. This celebration evolved into Rodeo Days with a parade and rodeo. The rodeo was cancelled this year because of COVID-19 for the first time in its 99 years.

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