The history of Crossan’s M & A Market goes back to the early 1900s. In 1902, there wasn’t much to the town of Yampa, but in 1903, forty new buildings went up in a single year! The construction boom could be traced to the anticipated arrival of the Moffat Line, the first railroad to arrive in Northwest Colorado. Two brothers, Sam and Ed Bell, who had a reputation for strong-arming union leaders on behalf of mine owners in Cripple Creek, took part in the 1903 development rush, building the general merchandise store in Yampa’s L-shaped commercial district. They began construction in March 1903 and by June, the market was fully stocked and open for business.
The Bell brothers sold the store in 1905 to Buck & Son, and just as fast as they built the first general merchandise store in Yampa, they attempted to take advantage of the new owners by building a new, larger store right next door.
Buck & Son morphed into Buck and Moore after a year, but it was George Canant, who purchased the store in 1910, who finally brought stability to the operation. He dubbed the store Canant’s on the Corner and competed with the Bell brothers by touting his selection of fresh produce. He remained at the helm of the store until 1930.
In 1935, Canant’s daughter sold the store to Howard Allen and Joe Montgomery, and they operated the store as the M & A Market. In a 1936 quit-claim title transaction, Howard Allen and Robert Crossan bought Montgomery’s share, and the market became Crossan’s M & A Market. In 1952, Allen retired, and Robert and Florence Crossan managed the store until 1964.
The store shut down for good in 1964 after the Crossans retired and their son, George, showed no interest in carrying on. It was sold back to Joe Montgomery, who had a store down the street, and he used it for storage.
Crossan’s M & A Market was significant to Western Colorado as one of the first general stores in the Yampa Valley. The store offered the necessities for living in an isolated and remote area; it was an integral part of the cultural and economic vitality of the region. Its prominent location on the corner of First and Main Street has ensured it remains an established and familiar feature for more than 110 years.
More than a market, a general merchandise store was an important social hub as well. Cowboys, sheepherders, preachers, lawyers, housewives and school teachers all gathered at the store. It was a place where a cowboy could find a woman to take to the dance.
The market is a good example of a false-front, two-story, commercial building. Its gable roof is partially concealed behind the two and a half story clapboard facade, with a central pediment that is aligned with the ridge and pitch of the roof. The main front entrance has a recessed entry and is flanked by two large display windows. The authenticity of the interior remains congruent to a 20th Century general mercantile store, which helps tell the story of the building’s period of significance: 1903 -1964. Crossan’s is surrounded by structures built during the 1903 building boom that helped to create and to define the town of Yampa. It is the best example in Yampa of a two-story commercial building reflecting the least amount of change over time. The fact that the building has always been used as a general mercantile store since its construction in 1903 is notable.