If you are leaving the state of Oklahoma driving on Highway 287, Campo is the first town in Colorado. Or it could be the last town in Colorado on Highway 287. We are nine miles north of the Oklahoma State Line. We have a population of about 100 people. Campo has remained a virile little town, going through periods of growth and decline controlled by rainfall and the economy. It is in a fertile farming area with some of the best grazing land in Baca County.
Though the town’s size has decreased the spirit has not. It is the gateway to Colorado and is a friendly, small town that welcomes new businesses and residents to the area. We have 39 students enrolled in the Campo School from preschool through the 12th grade. Our school also provides daycare for children not of school age. Some days we have as many as seven children in the day care ranging in age from three months old to 4 year olds. We are extremely proud of our school. We may have a small school but our students receive an excellent education.
The community of Campo is supportive in a high school basketball teams. If there is a game you know everyone is going to be at it. In 1976 the Campo girls’ basketball team won the first Girls State Basketball Tournament. Since then we have made several trips to Denver to play in the State Playoffs, sometimes winning or placing second or third. As of now, Campo’s athletes consolidate with two other Baca County towns: Pritchett (35m NW) and Vilas (30m NE) to create a team called the South Baca Patriots. This team was created in order to bring enough students together to keep a team for all of the sports. While the students have the options to play volleyball, basketball, track, and cheerleading, for the past two years, there has not been enough students interested to have a cross country or football team.
Currently we do not have a motel or hotel in Campo. Several years ago we did have a motel. It closed when the owner passed away. So far, no one has bought the motel. We currently have one regular café with the name Campo Cafe. It is open from 5:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and carries a full menu. We have one gas station that stocks some groceries, such as bread, milk, chips, etc.
We have a recreation district that provides activities for kids. We have several clubs for kids, such as 4-H and kids club. We have a nice city park with playground equipment. The school also has playground equipment and allows children to use the playground when school is not in session. We have a lighted tennis court and basketball court. The Student Council at the school has a “Movie Night” frequently. The movies are free to anyone that wants to go. It’s held at our Community Center. Open gym in the summer so kids and adults can play basketball and volleyball.
Campo has two churches the Wesleyan Church and Pentecostal Holliness. We have a volunteer fire department with trained firemen. Although we do not have very much trouble with crime, we do have a two man police department. They help slow the traffic down on Highway 287. We also have a Quick Response Team that can provide emergency medical attention. We also have a QRT vehicle that can transport patients to the hospital. Unfortunately we do not have doctors or hospitals in Campo. There are doctors and hospitals in Boise City, OK which is 28 south of Campo and in Springfield, CO which is 20 miles north of Campo.
Campo is at the center of some of the most scenic parts of Baca County. We have Picture Canyon just 18 miles to the southwest where many historic and archeological sites await visitors. We have several areas with Ogam writings that shows that the ancient Celts explored the area long ago. Also in Picture Canyon we have Crack Cave. Inside Crack Cave are markings carved in the rock. They were carved in the rock faces over 1,000 years ago. Although a mystery, it is certain that these inscriptions, in conjunction with the rays of the sun striking them, precisely mark the equinox. The sun shines through the east facing cave door and lights up ancient carvings only twice a year. An equinox occurs each spring and fall when the noon sun is overhead at the equator. We have celebrations to mark the Spring Equinox and the Fall Equinox. More information available on Recreation
Campo was named by Frank Wheeler. The name Campo means “field” in Spanish. Campo established a post office in 1912. It was located in a dugout with Frank Wheeler serving as post master. George Petty delivered the mail until he went back to Kansas for harvest. At this time John Witt became the mail carrier.
Percy Miller was Campo’s first Mayor. He used a steam engine and plowed the main street.
Maxine Wheeler Jones was the first baby born in Campo in 1913. This was also the year the first store was built by Frank Wheeler and Henry Weeks. The post office was then moved from the dugout to the back of their grocery store.
The Davises built the second building in Campo. He had a Ford car and was going to take people wherever they needed to go but that didn’t go over very well because most of the homesteaders didn’t have very much money. Mr. Davis later built another building on the west side of the street and put in a pool hall. Then Ernest Weeks built a garage building so now Campo had four buildings.
George Petty started a blacksmith shop in 1914. He received thirty cents for sharpening plowshares, one dollar for wagon wheels and fifty cents for shoeing horses.
Campo started their first school in 1914. It was built by Mr. Wadley, one mile south and a half mile east of town. Evert Thomas was the first teacher. In 1919 the school was moved west when a basement was dug and the original building placed over the basement. The first graduating class was in 1933. In 1950 when the school burned, District 38 school board members purchased land to build a new school. The building contained seven rooms. The school became an accredited school in 1961.
By 1920 Campo also had a filling station, The First State Bank, a drug store, a cream station, a dry goods store, “The Campo Enterprise” weekly newspaper, a café, a rooming house, two spudwell drilling rigs. The first two commercial truckers Campo had were Gene Duncan and Herb Hibbler. Mr. Warlick who lived seven miles east of Campo would walk over to town every other Saturday and run the barber shop. It cost a dime to get a shave and fifteen cents for a haircut. Later a roller skating rink and grocery store were added. The Gem Theater was opened in June of 1951. It burned to the ground on November 18, 1954.
Dr. Patterson lived and practiced medicine in Campo in the late teens and early twenties. The town built a house for him.
There were play parties, literariness, baseball games, rodeos and picnics for entertainment. As most homesteaders only farmed forty acres, just enough to prove up their claims, the men had quite a lot of idle time, so during the summer the baseball team would get together for practice nearly every day. Campo had one of the beast teams around, playing such teams as Lamar, Springfield, Boise City, Elkhart, Liberal, and Dalhart. One season Campo did not lose a game.
Sunday school was held in a dugout one mile south of town, and then later was held in the basement of the school.
Broomcorn was a popular crop. Campo was once the broomcorn capital of the world!
The Town of Campo was incorporated on March 6, 1950.