Bayou Salado Trading Post conjures up images from a trading post of old where rugged individuals rode their horse or walked for miles to pick up hard tack, side pork and news from the outside world.
Anyone dropping into the BSTP today is likely to encounter news about the winter pronghorn migration, news from the world outside South Park, conversation with a visitor from Poland riding a bicycle from Canada to Mexico, a few rock hunters or a customer refilling a propane tank.
BSTP is located at 12561 U.S. Highway 24 in Hartsel, between the antique barn and the Badger Basin liquor store and gas station.
Owners Lark and Dave Harvey sell coffee, tea, hot chocolate, espresso, ice cream and a wide array of Native American crafts, jewelry, hats, books, local artist consignments, paintings, vases, rocks and much more.
Much of the jewelry on display and for sale at the store is made by Dave Harvey and other Colorado artists. Harvey, who is an expert silversmith, specializes in making jewelry with local rocks, especially stones found in the Hartsel area, including blue agate and blue barite.
After the Harveys bought the trading post in 2004 they added ice cream and propane to the menu.
“By adding propane to the business, we found we were able to stay open year round,” said Lark Harvey.
The Lapidary Journal magazine featured Dave Harvey’s jewelry and stone work with a detailed article and photos a few years ago.
A rather hidden gem (pun intended) of the Harveys’ trading post is their rockhound line of business.
Rock hunters and diggers from all over the world come to the BSTP to get directions and a permit to dig in the Harveys’ quarry.
Rock hunters bring their own digging tools, get a map to the claim and sign a waiver at the BSTP. They have a 20 pound limit and the permit is good for a day.
The Harveys noted that during this pandemic year, business increased in the beginning of June and was steady all the way through the beginning of December.
“It’s a perfect activity for those who want to be in the mountains, dig, socially distance, and have ice cream,” said Lark Harvey.
“The Hartsel barite is special in that, while it starts out a light blue-gray, with prolonged sunlight exposure, the crystals will gradually turn a darker shade of blue,” said Mark Leatherman on the rockngem.com website. “Barite has got to be one of my favorite minerals to collect for a variety of reasons: 1) its unique heft for being a non-metallic mineral, 2) the variety of colors and conditions under which it can form 3) its flat, tabular crystal forms, and 4) its practical usage in products ranging from paper, paints, plastics, and petroleum drilling to medicine, vehicle engines and electronics.”
The BSTP has barite and blue agate samples for customers to view and touch.
Blue agate is also a popular stone found in and around Hartsel.
“South Park blue agate is special and is hard to find,” Dave Harvey said.
The Harveys have been pillars of the community in South Park for over 20 years. Dave Harvey worked for the Park County Environmental Health department, served on the recreation center board, including as president, and both Lark and Dave are active in the Hartsel community, including the library, Hartsel Days and the community center.
“I’ve been a rockhound all my life,” said Dave Harvey. “I used to go fishing with my Dad, and I would wander off to search for arrowheads and rocks.”
“We are always happy to share our knowledge of history and sit down and talk with anyone,” Dave continues. “We often hear feedback from customers that people are very friendly in the West.”