Explore: This is an easily accessible exploration that can be driven or biked the entire 10 mile length. The Rock Island Trailhead can be found off of McLaughlin Road in Falcon. The eastern end of the trail is by the Peyton post office. This trail and Highway 24 run side by side all the way.
The Ocean to Ocean highway was pieced together to connect the east and west coast from New York to Los Angeles. Technically, it also ran from Los Angeles to New York, but in this day of westward expansion, who would want to do that? This new 1914 route was in direct competition of the 1912 Lincoln Highway, the first route to travel coast to coast. Of course the definition of “highway” was much different than it is today, as the road from coast to coast was gravel at best, and a muddy trail at its worst.
PP-OO Colorado wanted in on the newly mobile tourists and, gasp, the Lincoln Highway bypassed the entire state by running through Wyoming! Other states felt the same. The Ocean to Ocean Highway added Pikes Peak to the name to show how much better this muddy route was over the other muddy route. Route signs were placed at towns and intersections across the entire United States from NY to LA. A “PPOO” signpost meant that you were on the right track. Promotions and bragging by the towns along the way were similar to the Route 66 hype that came decades later.
The highway that can’t make up it’s mind: This was the nickname given to the Ocean to Ocean highway by the early 1920’s. Other parts of Colorado wanted in on the tourist action, so there were two routes through this state. The western terminus later changed from Los Angeles to SanFrancisco.
The Green Bridge is a landmark on the NY to LA highway! The official name of the bridge is the Black Squirrel Creek Bridge, but it was know to all as the Green Bridge. Near Peyton, at milepost 327 on highway 24 is Black Squirrel Creek. The unique bridge that spanned this creek has a story. The original bridge over Black Squirrel Creek was one of the final hurdles to the trans-continental roadway. An advanced design Black Squirrel Creek Bridge was built in 1935. Also known as The Green Bridge, It was a iron bridge with concrete abutments. Barred windows in the abutments were rumored to have been a jail for holding transferred prisoners. Another rumor held that it was for a German POW chain gang during WWII. Actually these barred entrances were access openings left over from the construction of the bridge and the bars were there to keep the kids out, but that story is not nearly as much fun. This belief is still active among the adults that grew up in the area.
A vanilla replacement. The Green Bridge was on the national register of historic bridges, but it had deteriorated to the point that is had to be replaced. The Green Bridge was in such bad condition that the state couldn’t give it away to be displayed at another location. The unique steel work and the mysterious window are now just memories of the people that grew up in the Peyton area. In 2011 the Green Bridge was demolished.
Bicycle or walk the trail There is an easy almost-level trail that parallels the 10 miles of highway 24 between Falcon to Peyton. Junked automobiles were used as a cheap and convenient land fill along the drainages of the area and it’s fun to stop at each creek that this old railroad bed crosses. A nice assortment of antique autos are peeking back at you through the prairie grasses. It can be a long walk without any shade, but it’s not beyond a motivated novice bicyclist to explore the entire length. There are mile markers placed along this 10 mile trail thanks to a well executed Boy Scout project. An interpretive sign about the Green Bridge at Black Squirrel Creek can also be found on this hiking/biking trail.
This melancholy view says so much about this historic route. In the foreground is the long abandoned concrete bridge of the Ocean to Ocean Highway that ended in New York. Running parallel to the road are the remains of the wooden railroad bridge that terminated in Chicago. These historic bridges are easily seen from Highway 24 east of Calhan.
You can follow Highway 24 back into Colorado Springs, but if you have the time and energy the remnants of the Eastonville adventure is in this same area.