From buffalo hunters to carnival rides
Some of the earliest settlers were the Holon Godfrey family who ran a stage stop in the 1860s called Fort Wicked as told on a commemorative marker 3.3 miles southwest of Merino on Highway 6. Settlers came to the nearby river bottom to put up hay and hunt buffalo to supply other pioneers using the South Platte Trail, and later to the railroad workers. When the railroad arrived in 1881, the original name of Buffalo was changed to Merino, and the town grew up northwest of the tracks. At one point in time it was home to many small businesses as well as a large sugar beet dump and a pickle receiving station.
While much of the main street is no abandoned, what was once Shaw’s Hotel and grocery store now houses internationally recognized sculptor Brad Rhea’s studio. The town is home to a thriving school district with one building complex serving grades K-12. The east side of the tracks is now home to Wisdom Manufacturing, one of only a handful of carnival ride manufacturers still existing in the world. Daily freight trains still make their way through Merino on their way to destinations further west.