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1. The weather in Sterling is bad. During the fall and winter the wind is always blowing. In the summer there are tornadoes, and drought affects the area so badly the South Platte has dried up.
2. There really isn't anything to do. Sure there is some shopping like JC Penny, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot, but there not much selection unless you make to the drive to a Front Range city. Employment is sparse, a large part of the downtown area is shut, and I suspect the city's only money maker is the state prison.
3. The town is old in many different ways. Almost all of the houses are 30-50years old, and they all look it. Many of these houses are run down. There aren't many young people, except those who go to NJC, and since it's a farming town, most young people will leave for jobs elsewhere. So it's mostly older folk, including my own grandparents.
4. The town has some strange folk you can only find in a small town.
From what I read in various sources the past several years, many outlying rural towns, especially in farm country, continue to lose population. This is a trend that has been going on for decades. Whether or not the trend is actually quickening is hard to measure, but the demographers have at least captured it in their census takings.
I have a hunch why this is happening.
- Agricultural equipment and techniques are steadily more productive, thus each farm family can produce more crops, meat or milk. This eventually requires fewer farm families to get the same result. When old farmers retire and sell off the farm, a nearby farmer often takes over his operation. So the average farm continues to grow in total acreage and fewer farm families are left. Many young ones see little or no future and vote with their feet.
- Expensive water / irrigation make crops more expensive to grow here and harder to market. Commodity prices probably won't support the high cost producers. Farmers & towns with low or no water costs survive. Ours fail.
- Coalmine towns back in WV, KY, OH and PA see the same thing as mining equipment and techniques grow more efficient. Fewer miners needed to get out the same tonnage. The kids move on. Case in point... Jessica Lynch. She was the WV girl who was captured early in the Iraq war, was freed, horribly injured. Her way out of mountain poverty was the Army. Same dynamic for farm boys. I worked for the Army for 30 years... if you read the list of hometowns you'll see very few list Manhattan or Boston or San Francisco as their hometown. Those kids tend to have college and a shot at a decent future. But we are defended by kids from KS, OK, TX, NE, WV, NH, GA, TN and many other rural states. City kids see a college recruiter. Many farm kids see a DoD recruiter. Either farm or mine, the kids leave town. Army college money looks pretty good compared to mopping floors at the local Dairy Queen.
- Cycles of boom and bust in both ag and mining take a toll. Every banker wins in an upturn, every farmer loses in a downturn. Big losers go bankrupt, move on. Banks have reserves, they hang around. Boom & Bust in big cities is different. Sure, banks and IT firms merge, excess people are let go. But they have education and skills that get them jobs elsewhere. Farm & mining skills are not easy to sell... those processes are more efficient and you just are not needed by other farmers or mine firms.
Its the same dynamic across rural America. Fewer hands required to get the job done. People move on. Towns shrink. Some die.
Silver lining? Who knows. Many millions of baby boomers are about to retire and move out of high cost areas. Quite a few are heading for nicer places than gridlocked big cities of the east and west coast, not to mention Las Vegas and Phoenix, both choking in traffic and heat. That's why we came to Colorado Springs, it's live heaven compared to that mess back east in the DC area... the mess stretches all the putrid way from Richmond, VA to Boston, MA. Crowded, dirty, horriby expensive. Even though there was a downturn in housing this past year, people on this board who cover Durango say it's booming there... early boomers ARE on the way. It has a 'potential' to change the face of America. Small towns like Sterling may make a comeback, but it's a case by case basis. If there's anything there worth having, boomers may seek it out. But for sure it's going to change all the old towns... We won't live in some tiny old house built 75 or 100 years ago, with ancient wiring, plumbing, tiny closets, just one tiny bathroom and few if any amenities. Some old houses have character, most only have roaches. I grew up poor. Ain't going back to that or anything that looks like it. Small towns are fine, but gotta have a fine home. I love Durango, could ride the train every day, but we like the critical mass of Colorado Springs, the nearness of Denver, so here we are, here we'll stay.
Time will tell if Sterling comes back....or becomes a dusty relic... memories... way out there... in the Twilight Zone.
I also notice that sterling kinda has a high crime rate for its size. I use to live in Brush, I use to go to Sterling sometimes, it probably has a better shopping district than any of the other towns out in northeastern part of the state.
Aurora. Horrible traffic. Endless sprawl. Non-existent architecture. Crime. Gangs. I hate even driving through it. One of the most depressing places that I have ever seen. Proof that even middle-class and affluent people can, or have to live in a place with few redeeming qualities.
FLORENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Flo town all the way the biggest smelliest filthiest ugliest dump that ever got puked out of the sky onto the face of the dry droughted out earth. i swear the only place that can even compete is penrose (Which, btw, isnt even a real city/town hehe)
Not that I've been to all the towns in Colorado, but my vote is for Commerce City. Absolutely the armpit (of what I've seen) of Colorado. Industrial madness. That giant pollution white plume you see coming out of Denver (not the brown, although it probably contributes to that), that's from Commerce City. Unfortunately the UPS store for a good part of Denver is in Commerce City. It feels like Detroit. Things look run-down and warehouses are all over the place. Any time I drive through Commerce City (on I-25 or US36), I have to turn my recycling air on in the car. It's that bad. Luckily, the smell is localized and once you're through, you can't smell it anymore. I have to say though, from US36, Commerce City looks really pretty at night with all the lights on.
I have been told there are some "nice" places in Commerce City, but I've yet to see them.
Ive heard the plains towns in South-Eastern Colorado are depressing, but then again how can anyone go wrong living in an area like that with such sweet cantolope so I cant say any of those towns are the worst in the state. I guess I have to say Alamosa, thats just not a place id want to reside in personally. Its sort of in the middle of nowhere and having to go so far just to get to Pueblo doesnt sound very appealing!
I dont know why Aurora has such a bad reputation. I dont think Aurora is that bad at all. Even the worst area is improvement with the Medical Center on Peoria, proximity to Stapleton and also Aurora's improvements along Colfax. Maybe people feel this way because they see Aurora from a very unappealing way from going up 225 going to DIA.
Sterling isnt that bad, I mean I wouldnt want to live there. But its just a non-descript medium sized town to me.
Fort Morgan and Brush are actually fairly pleasent. I like medium-sized cities more like Denver and Colorado Springs though.
Fort Morgan and Brush were very attractive small towns though. I found both to be extremely clean and well-maintained. Yes, the people tend to have smaller homes out there that arent brick like alot of the Denver area. But, overall despite the lack of entertainment out there I found both of those towns to be very clean and well-kept. Especially with the lawns out there I think both Brush and Fort Morgan have alot of retirees and with those towns being small they maintain their lawns very nicely.
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