Pea Green Corner is a sleepy agricultural community situated on southwestern Colorado’s California Mesa. The San Juan Mountains loom in the distance and the only traffic jams are caused by cows.
The colorful beginnings of Pea Green Corner
The Ute Indians, who first inhabited the area around Pea Green Corner, were relocated to Utah in 1881. Homesteaders, farmers, and ranchers arrived on their heels in the mid-1880s, drawn by the hope of promising agricultural lands. Access to spring water from nearby Buttermilk Gulch, and the lure of the surrounding mountains peaks, provided for attractions as well.
As the settlers’ families grew, the need for a local schoolhouse to educate their children became apparent. In 1887, Montrose County School District No. 14 acquired an acre of land from homesteader J.W. Pierson. On that land they erected a small-frame schoolhouse and painted the exterior with government-issued green paint. Locals said the paint looked like the color of green peas, and the name Pea Green Corner was born.
In the years that followed, a general store and community house were built on that street corner and also painted green. A larger brick schoolhouse was built there as well but closed in 1962. While the general store eventually closed too, the community house remained a vibrant hub for Pea Green Corner, hosting events like pie socials, club meetings, and community dances.
Music and comedy make Pea Green Corner a lively spot
Today, Pea Green Corner’s community house, the only building that hasn’t been shuttered, brings together locals from the surrounding areas for a variety show held every Saturday night. The event, called the Pea Green Saturday Night Series, was started 15 years ago by the Pea Green Brothers, musical and comedy performers who aren’t technically brothers. Their show includes accordion music and humorous bits, and is set in the 1930s with a theme meant to resemble a radio station from yesteryear.
Another popular act is the Great Western Heritage Show. This musical group hovers between the genres of bluegrass and country, and features cowboy themed performers telling the history of old-timey songs, then singing the earliest known versions of those songs with guitar accompaniment.
Audience members at the Pea Green Saturday Night Series clap along to familiar favorites, their stomachs full from grazing at the community potluck that kicked off the night. Many of them come from families that run generations’ deep. They fondly recall growing up in the area, some having attended the brick schoolhouse before it closed. Their roots date back to the area’s early settlers responsible for naming Pea Green Corner in honor of a bucket of government-issued green paint.