wpe7.jpg (10556 bytes) Blue Horizons History

 

 

 

Nearly ninety years ago a family tradition began; a tradition of trying new ideas, and working hard to make those ideas become reality.  In 1915 Elmer Taylor conceived an idea to build a water powered white flour mill near the outlet of Long Hollow Creek south of Redmesa, in arid southwestern Colorado.  At the time he determined there was adequate water from irrigation return flows and enough drop to power a mill at this location.  In spite of those who opposed his idea and thought of it as impractical, he continued to make plans to begin the project.

In 1922 Elmer filed for the rights to use the water, then surveyed two ditches and a siphon to bring the average 17 cubic feet per second of water from Long Hollow and Government draws to a point directly above the mill site.  From there it would drop in a large pipe into a Leffel water turbine that would supply power to the new milling operation.

With the help of two older sons, Alfonzo and Lloyd and others, Elmer began the process of building two ditches and headings, a large water siphon, grain storage bins and of course the three-story mill building itself. The brick for the building was made on site, where adobe was fired in a homemade kiln and then put into the walls of the structure.

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Milling equipment was moved from an older mill east of Kirtland, New Mexico to the new Long Hollow site. The equipment had to be installed as the building was constructed. By 1924 the project was finished and The Long Hollow Milling Company was in business and ready to produce flour. A water-powered mill in the middle of a dry region had finally become reality. This mill began producing  white flour to be marketed primarily to Navajo reservation trading posts.  It had the capacity of producing 40 barrels-per day if operated around the clock (barrel = 196 lbs), that is about 327 pounds per hour.  

Three brands of flour were produced, "White Fawn" a lower grade flour, "Staff of Life", a medium (straight) grade (the most common and best seller) and "Baker’s Special" a higher grade flour. In later years "Golden Cargo" brand cracked wheat cereal and "Mother’s" stone ground corn meal and whole wheat flour was marketed.

Because of the Colorado-New Mexico Water Compact, the irrigation above Long Hollow and Government draws had decreased drastically.  As a result the return flows in the streams to run the mill gradually began to decrease. By the late 1930's, when Elmer and his son Lloyd were managing the business, there was no longer enough water to keep the mill in operation continuously.  A one cylinder horizontal diesel engine was then installed to help the water turbine power the mill.  During this time it became increasingly hard to buy enough wheat to keep the mill in business, so Lloyd began to purchase land north and west of the mill and started raising wheat.  Around this time a warehouse, made of unfired adobe bricks, was added to the west side of the mill.

In 1942 the water siphon that carried water from one ditch, across government draw to the other became so rotten that something had to be done. A water flume was designed and built to do the job. Many people who notice the flume in the canyon think it is a train trestle and wonder where the tracks are.

Bob Taylor, the last of Elmer’s sons went to Long Hollow in 1946 to manage the business. In 1947 the diesel engine that helped run the mill was replaced with a Minneapolis Moline propane powered four-cylinder engine. This engine still assisted the water turbine.

In 1957 the white flour portion of the mill was shut down, this ended 33 years of white flour production for the Long Hollow Milling Company.  Wheat was still cleaned and whole wheat flour and cracked wheat cereal were ground, but this was a much smaller operation than it had been for many years. The main emphasis of the business was then turned to dryland farming where wheat and pinto beans were produced.  A small amount of irrigated alfalfa hay and grain was also part of the operation.

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The main three-story mill building made of fired adobe brick was torn down in 1966 and a new block two-story (basement and ground level) building was built. The old third story floor was tilted and used for the new roof.  Equipment was installed in the new mill to clean wheat, grind whole wheat flour and cracked wheat cereal. The flour was sold under the "Mother’s" brand. The warehouse portion of the building was not torn down and is still standing today. The remaining portion of the mill is still powered by the propane engine installed in 1947.  At this time the business name changed with the word "Milling" being taken out; it was simply called The Long Hollow Company.

In the 1970’s the farming operation changed a great deal. Bob was still managing the business and now his sons were old enough to be involved and were helping with the farming. Many farmers were leaving the area north and west of Redmesa and the Taylor family had opportunities to lease many farms. This trend continued until the early 1990’s. Total acres farmed peaked at about 6500 acres with wheat, pinto beans, barley, oats, alfalfa hay, grass/alfalfa mix hay, and safflower as the list of crops produced on the farm.

Flour and cracked wheat production stopped in 1991 at the mill and only wheat cleaning was continued there. With the increased acres on the farm, there was little interest at the time in keeping a small flour business going.

In 1997 Bob’s youngest son, Trent and his wife, Linda began Blue Horizons Farm as a sideline business to the large scale farming operation. This business was established to diversify into specialty crops, such as fresh vegetables and melons, fresh cut flowers and bedding plants. Products were marketed at a pick-your-own garden, special sales and festivals, Farmer’s Markets, a restaurant, a health food store, and through a Community Supported Agriculture arrangement. Up to two acres of drip irrigated gardens were established during this time with acre being certified organic.

During this time other alternate dry land crops were experimented with to see how they might work in this area. These include field corn, cornflower seed (bachelor button), confectionery mustard seed, black oil sunflowers, and hard white spring wheat.

Trent and Linda operated the garden for four years, then in 2001 the family decided to dissolve The Long Hollow Company and some of the large scale farming would be taken over by Trent and Linda, thus Blue Horizons Farm became a wheat, safflower, oat, alfalfa hay and grass/alfalfa mix hay farm.

In 2002 Trent and Linda Incorporated Blue Horizons Farm and they worked to survive the worst drought anyone living in the area could remember.  Crop insurance and USDA disaster programs were lifesavers during this time.

Iin 2004, exactly 80 years after The Long Hollow Mill began grinding white flour, a new era began at the mill. "Blue Horizons Farm" brand whole wheat products are being cleaned and ground. Most of the same products available for years under the "Mother’s" brand are again being offered with some additional products. Hard white whole wheat, hard white whole wheat flour and cracked wheat, as well as a courser ground cracked wheat are now available.

And the tradition continues. . . .

 

 

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