On California Mesa, between Delta and Olathe, there’s a crossroads that’s home to a little town with big character. At the intersection of Highway 348 and Banner Road sits the community of Pea Green; a place that was named for the color of their buildings and one that has managed to stay contentedly on the edge of the map. Although the sleepy little spot is pretty quiet most of the time, on certain days people "in the know" descend on this corner to hunt for antiques or to enjoy some old-time music in one of the most unique venues in Western Colorado.
Homesteaders settling the area made use of the spring that fills nearby Buttermilk Gulch. Herman Darling, who owned a lumber mill, set up shop in the early 1880s and a boarding house opened up next door. A blacksmith shop, grocery store and a schoolhouse were soon to follow and it wasn’t long before the crossroad was a bustling corner. Much of the wood that was used for construction of the nearby booming town of Delta was first transported by bobsled, from the Uncompahgre Plateau to the mill, to be graded and stacked before it was hauled north.
It’s rumored that the miniature metropolis had a different name at one time but when the townsfolk came together to paint their new community building, they mixed what leftover paint they had on hand and the resulting color set both the palette and the name of the town forevermore. Pea Green Corner, as it is now known, is still the closest thing to a social hub for the nearby farms and ranches and many of the current residents have roots that tie them to the first settlers. Several of them recall going to school in the historic schoolhouse and attending everything from dances to funerals in the community building.
The three buildings that still remain at the corner include the old schoolhouse, the Pea Green Store and the community center. The schoolhouse was built in 1912 and classes were held there until the late 1960s. It was renovated a few years ago and has since been a store and a restaurant but is currently not in use. The blacksmith and lumber mill are long gone now but the aptly named Pea Green Store and the community center still receive their fair share of activity on certain days of the year.
The Pea Green Store has been closed for some time but, like the antiques that can be found there, has been repurposed as the home for Pickin’ At the Pea, a unique antique sales event that occurs in both the spring and fall. The bi-yearly bazaar offers shrewd shoppers a fun venue to find vintage treasures and items from bygone days. Pickin at the Pea is a junker's dream. There is often live music and food available as well as a host of vendors with enough antiques for a long day’s hunt. It’s an occasion that folks from all over the Western Slope anxiously await and is very well attended.
The community center was built in 1927 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout the years it was utilized for a great many things including school lunches, Christmas programs, weddings, and funerals. They also held Saturday night dances that were off-limits to the kids. Because liquor was usually involved, there was often a fight before the night was over. Fortunately, there is still music to be heard on Saturday nights from January until April. Today the center is the home of the Pea Green Saturday Night Concert Series and the old-time and bluegrass talent is always top notch. The nights may be a little more tame nowadays but the crowd is quite sizable and coming early to find a seat is highly recommended.
If you take the beautiful drive out to Pea Green Corner today you’re not likely to find very much activity at the crossroads. On quiet afternoons, the spot appears to be more of a back roads artifact from a time gone by than a bustling corner. There are great nostalgic photo opportunities to be had in front of the Pea Green Store and it’s easy to picture the old schoolhouse yard bustling with children at recess who are now quite grown. However, if you come when Pickin’ at the Pea is in swing, or you show up for a Saturday Night Concert you might be surprised at the crowds you will find. Chances are it won’t be the last time you take a scenic drive in the country to the little crossroads with the funny name.