Villa Grove is one of those little towns you drive through
and wonder why people live there. Sitting at 8,000
feet above sea level, this place enjoys incredible scenery.
Unique in its own way, it is surrounded by majestic
vistas. With a breathtaking view of the Sangre de Cristo
range at its
backdoor, the San Juan Mountains to the
west, and the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
to the south, Villa Grove is a picture postcard.
Villa Grove was founded by Francis M. Hill and platted
in June 1882. A vital supply town for miners and
ranchers beginning in the 1800s, it was the last stop for
needed goods before heading over Poncha Pass or up to
Bonanza. Miners from all over the region came for food,
drink, and entertainment. Many local establishments
catered to the voracious appetites of the hardworking
laborers. The railway at the foot of the mountains provided
transport for goods, cattle, and travelers.
Villa Grove was home to thousands of people in the
1800s, mostly miners living in tents. Now the population
is between 40 and 50. Villa Grove is still a great stop for
travelers. A 137-year old building, which formerly served
as a supply store for coal and drygoods, is now is a great
place to get an iced latté, groceries, and a delicious meal.
The town also features a Baptist Church, motel, bed and
breakfast, antique store, butcher shop, liquor store, pottery
outlet, upholstery shop, and a restaurant. There is
a nice town park with a spot to rest and picnic.
Bonanza, which was incorporated in 1880, was one
of many sister towns to Villa Grove. Descendants of the
founding Ashley and Cole families still reside in the area.
Mining was predominant in the entire region from the
Kerber Creek District to the Rawley Mine above Bonanza.
Ranching grew along with the influx of families working
in the area. Most of the time the two lifestyles went
hand in hand. When the veins of silver, lead, copper, and
zinc ran dry, the people drifted away. Bonanza remains a
town to this day and it has few full-time residents. Remnants
of its glory days are scattered on the hillsides and
hidden in the forest.