Restoring Hope to Hugo, Colorado

Colorado, at times, seems divided, with the Rocky Mountains to the west and the plains to the east. Most think of adventure and weekend trips in the mountains. But those who live out east are making a case for travelers to visit the plains for a unique and quiet getaway.

In one town, valiant efforts have redefined what it means to visit Colorado’s eastern plains. Found along U.S. Route 287, 16 miles south of Limon, the quaint hamlet of Hugo offers unexpected charm and character. More than you might expect at first glance, this town will make you re-consider stopping in for a visit, rather than passing by.

Restoring Hugo, Colorado

Like most towns along the eastern plains, Hugo built itself around the agriculture industry along with the notion of hard work, resilience and persistence. Once thriving and now struggling, places like Hugo work hard to breathe a little bit of life back into their communities.

Part of Hugo’s ability to sustain and grow is attributed to one woman, Gillian Laycock. A previous resident of Aurora, Gillian, and her husband found themselves in Hugo during a hailstorm that required shelter at the Hugo liquor store, which happened to be for sale. Looking for a change in life, they took the leap and purchased the liquor store. A far cry from South Africa, where Gillian is originally from, the resurrection of Hugo soon became her passion project.

Hugo, Colorado, the garage, eastern plains, hogo roundhouse, Plains Bar, Gillian Laycock, Jessica Hughes, 303 Magazine

Downtown Hugo with Red Brick on Main at the corner. Photo by Jessica Hughes

With a love for the arts and her community, Gillian, and a host of others have brought new life to Hugo with recent additions of retail businesses, art classes, community events and more. As the creator and founder of The Garage and the Red Brick on Main, Gillian strives to bring her community together in hopes of revitalizing the town and making it a place people want to live and visit.

While it may not have mountain views or the Denver nightlife, Hugo is a unique place that stands out amongst the rest and is worth the visit, all thanks to its dedicated community.

Things to do in Hugo

In a town that has never been above 1,000 residents, Hugo offers just enough to do without all the fuss of a big city. As the county seat of Lincoln County, Hugo is home to the county courthouse, jailhouse and the regional hospital. It offers several restaurants, bars, retail shops, creative spaces, hotel accommodations and several historic sites.

Hugo, Colorado, the garage, eastern plains, hogo roundhouse, Plains Bar, Gillian Laycock, Jessica Hughes, 303 Magazine

Inside the creative space at The Garage in Hugo, CO. Photo by Jessica Hughes

For unique art classes and community events, visit The Garage on Fourth Street. As an artist herself, Gillian wanted to provide Hugo with a coworking and creative space for locals and visitors alike. The Garage includes a technical artistic area, an indoor art gallery and an outdoor sculpture garden. Join hosted events, such as an intro to welding class, the community mural project and seasonal décor art classes.

READ: Three Women Are On a Mission to Paint Every Grain Elevator on Colorado’s Eastern Plains

Hugo, Colorado, the garage, eastern plains, hogo roundhouse, Plains Bar, Gillian Laycock, Jessica Hughes, 303 Magazine

The latest community art project, a paint-by-numbers mural. Photo by Jessica Hughes

Uncover a piece of the past with a visit to the Hugo Union Pacific Roundhouse and other historic sites. The Hugo Roundhouse is one of the three last-remaining roundhouses still standing in Colorado. The roundhouse is currently undergoing extensive restoration to bring it back to its original state.

Other notable historic sites include the Hugo Municipal Pool, the Plains Bar, and Hugo Liquors. Originally built in 1954, the liquor store’s neon-sign charm and aesthetic lures in photographers and beer drinkers alike.

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Shop downtown with some of the best antiquing in the area. Antique shops include Main Street Mama’s Antiques and Uniques, Yesterday’s Memories and The Korner. Originally the town pool hall and bar, Main Street Mama’s still features the original bar where customers can order old-time classics like Root Beer floats, delicious malts and coffee drinks.

Hugo Events

Hugo is also home to several main events, including the Lincoln County Fair, Colorado Championship Ranch Rodeo, and the Colorado Prairie Music Festival. The music festival brings country music to the heart of Colorado with its delivery of top talent to the eastern plains for a day of live music and festivities.

For more information follow on Instagram @thegarageworkspace and @hugomainstreet_co