Phippsburg Pam and Jack Huston sit on the porch of their blue and white home off a dusty road in the middle of Phippsburg.
Pam is sturdy with long blondish hair. Jack is slim and soft-spoken.
The couple moved to the community seven years ago because it was small, quiet -- and dry.
The Hustons choose not to drink alcohol for moral reasons, and do not want to live in a place where liquor is sold.
So the news that a liquor store is coming to town, much less is moving into an old hotel adjacent to the Hustons' home, is reason enough for the Hustons to leave.
"The morals are shot here, so we're out of here," Pam said. "Since people didn't stand up for this, they deserve what they get."
"We've got it in Oak Creek, we've got it in Yampa and this was kind of like a safe haven," Jack said. "We don't have that anymore."
The Hustons' decision is one of the more extreme reactions to the retail liquor license recently granted to the new Black Dog Inn, formerly known as Teters Towers.
Some residents fear a liquor store could have negative impacts on the town.
Others are welcoming it, not only because it will make picking up a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine more convenient, but because it will mean more business for the tiny community with often-empty dirt streets.
One thing can't be argued: the liquor store will be the community's first -- or, at least, its the first in 100 years.
And unlike other states, Colorado has not had anything close to a dry town for about a decade, according to Matt Cook, director for the state's liquor and tobacco enforcement division. The division does not track unincorporated areas such as Phippsburg, so can only determine when the state last had a dry town or city.
Still, with liquor entering Phippsburg, it looks as if the Hustons -- and possibly other residents -- will have to travel far to find their new home.
Phippsburg has stayed more or less dry over the past decades for various reasons, such as disapproval from the railroad, tradition, and Prohibition.
Around 1900, the area became a company town for the nearby Moffat Mine, owned by the Perry Coal Co., according to area historian Paul Bonnifield.
The railroad entered the scene in 1908, and eventually, miners moved to Oak Creek and railroaders called Phippsburg home.
Local lore has it that the community offered the longest bar in the state.
That claim is hard to validate, Bonnifield said.
"Every place has claimed the longest bar, so I'm not sure, and I don't know anybody ever went around and measured bars," he said.
But Phippsburg was home to a gambling, drinking and prostitution operation run by a man named Doyle who was eventually run out of town, Bonnifield said.
Colorado was voted dry in 1914, and although Oak Creek continued to offer alcohol, Phippsburg did not. Deeds dated back to that year said "no intoxicating liquors, wines or vinous spirits within 20 years be manufactured, sold or disposed of as a beverage directly or indirectly on these premises."
When the state's prohibition laws were lifted in the 1930s, nothing changed in Phippsburg.
Eventually, in the 1950s, the Iacovetto family's general store got 3.2-beer, said Louise Iacovetto. Both Louise and her husband, Ray, grew up in Phippsburg.
The change met with resistance, but once the beer entered the scene, it didn't cause many problems, Louise Iacovetto said. The store was sold in the 1970s, and continued to offer 3.2-beer until the early 1990s.
Talks about a microbrewery that would be part of a steakhouse surfaced later, but nothing came of that, Iacovetto said.
Beer aside, the first chance for legal liquor has come with the Black Dog Inn's recent request.
But that history doesn't mean Phippsburg was always truly dry.
Bootlegging was common, as much for the challenge of having a little sill and making liquor as for having the liquor itself, both Iacovetto and Bonnifield said.
And stories abound of railroaders jumping off the train in Oak Creek to get alcohol there, or even driving an engine up to town to make a purchase.
That was simply known as "making an Oak Creek turn," Iacovetto said.
The liquor proposal
Michael Smith and Marlene Blom, who live near Hayden, bought the hotel they have named Black Dog Inn on something of a whim.
The couple, both in their 40s and engaged to be married in August, returned from vacation to find a flier about a hotel for sale in Phippsburg.
They crunched the numbers, and decided it was an opportunity they couldn't pass up.
Smith, who has worked construction all of his life, and Blom, who has worked as a preschool director, were both ready for a change.
They plan to run the 17-room hotel for hunters, hikers and other outdoors-enthusiasts, and will offer a convenience store with many of the supplies tourists and residents could need. They also plan to offer a small, separate liquor store.
The liquor store will be convenient for guests and residents, and serve as another source of income to make the hotel economically viable, they said, and will not become a bar.
They said they figured there might be some resistance from Phippsburg residents who did not want to see a liquor store, and actually were surprised when then found dozens who wanted to sign a petition in favor of having the store.
What they didn't expect, Blom said, was that they would be groundbreakers.
"We didn't think, 'Oh, we're going to be the first ones,'" Blom said.
Signatures were collected by residents opposed to the store, and by the inn owners who want to bring liquor to town. With a quick glance at the list, county commissioners said it looked like the community was more or less split.
Those opposed, such as the Hustons, give reasons such as tradition, a desire to maintain the community's small and quiet feel, and negative impacts liquor can have.
"I can see what liquor does, and I'd just as soon liquor wasn't that close," said longtime resident Dutch Ebaugh.
Another problem, he said, is that the community does not has a police force to regulate underage drinking or other potential problems.
Those in favor of the store bring up convenience and business opportunities.
Resident Steve Cina said he thought the store would bring more people to town, and so was an improvement as long as there was not a bar.
Sharalee Trudeau said she feels the inn owners have the right to start a liquor store.
And E.J. Wilson, who signed a petition in favor of the store with his name and the words "Thank you! You are welcome here!" said that the store would vamp up business in the town and bring money and energy into the community.
"I think there's been a lot of hysteria," he said. "One of my neighbors actually thought we would have drunks coming into (our) driveways ... That's not going to happen, that's just hysteria.
"It'll just be good."
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