This crossroads hamlet high in the Pike National Forest -- really a small commercial complex at a stop along the tourist route -- is bought and sold more often than a used Chevy, so when independent oilman L. W. Brooks Jr., put up $425,000 recently to beome its newest owner, folks here didn't worry much.

Brooks promised to upgrade the gas station and the liquor store -- the only ones for 20 miles -- along with the bar, the best in that stretch of the forest. With these resources secure, life will go on for the mountain folk scattered about this mountain valley in places called Night Hawk, Twin Cedars, Rainbow Falls, Ox Yoke and Scraggy View. Deckers is 55 miles south-southwest of Denver.

"They're just getting a new tavern-keeper," shrugged a man on a stool in the Deckers bar. On the wall above his head hung an announcement portending blgger news: the volunteer fire department, down the road at Trumbull would use its new equipment on "actual fires as ojur training progresses."

When word went out just before Christmas that the whole town of Deckers was on the block, news hounds descended on the area to interview some of the 100 residents who were said to live here.

But they found that Deckers really has a population of about four people, all operators of the small commercial ventures here. The 100 people described as residents in the real estate ads for the town are spread out for miles around. Some of them say they are fed up with the deluge of publicity suggesting that they might be displaced.

The real estate broker for the town, Van Schaak and Co. of Denver, had noc discouraged the publicity.

"We did market it as a town," said Van Schaak spokeswoman carol Cheatham. She said some prospective buyers were mainly interested "in the ego trip of having their own town."

This was all lost on buyer Brooks, who called the hype of Deckers "baloney."

"I was looking for some commercial property and it sort of presented a challenge," he said.

Set between tiny slopes strewn with weirdlyshaped boulders, Deckers was once known as Daffodil. Nobody around here seems to know where that name came from, but there's strong suspicion it had something to do with flowers.

The present name was taken from a miner named Deckers, who settled here about the turn of the century, when it was easy to get full title mineral claims on the public domain.

Deckers didn't find much gold, but he did find the fish wriggling in the south fork of the south Platte River, a now-renowned trout stream that meanders here in S-turns and ox-bows on its way to befoulment in Denver. The 43-acre town-site also bubbled with mineral springs, so Deckers settled for building fishing cabins and bottling "Lythia" water to cure everything from constipation to ingrown toenails.

Under a series of subsequent owners, Deckers grew to include two gas pumps, a liquor store, a small grocery, the restaurant and bar.

It wasn't lost on Brooks, believed to be the fifth owner of Deckers in the past 10 years, that nearly 1 million motorists pass through Deckers each summer to fish, use nearby Forest Service camp grounds or take in the gorgeous mountain scenery.

"I'm sort of a gambler, you know. I've been in the oil business 33 years," said the hale, drawling Dallas native, who now lives in Denver.

To catch the attention of evey more motorists, Brooks plans to renovate the existing buildings, import artisans to show off native and not-so-native crafts, install a "fast food facility" and put up a motel -- retaining, of course, the "rustic motif" that predominates here.

Brooks also wants to resume marketing water from Deckers' mineral springs, on the theory that people who buy Perrier water from France might just flip over to Lythia water from Colorado.

On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon, fishermen were strung out along the river; Brooks, preparing for his impending takeover, prowled about the cabins, a pair of brown work gloves flopping in the rear pocket of his blue poplin pants.

Meanwhile, in the Deckers grocery, clerk Dolly White, a resident of this valley for 50 years, broke away from a seemingly endless line of snack-buying customers to show a visitor the deer and elk horn earrings made by her brother, Bill March.

But some light-fingered passerby had lifted the entire rack, and as Dolly worried about how to break the news, brother Bill suddenly walked through the door.

"Hope they got a lot of girlfriends," he said philosophically. "Better get busy. Got to make some more."

Over in the restaurant and bar, Chuck Mulder was fretting. To hear him tell it, success had spoiled opwning and managing Deckers, and though he'd be out of here in a couple of weeks, this was shaping up as another hellishly busy afternoon.

The fishermen were out in droves, and a whole convoy of ice-racers (people who race jeeps on the ice up at Rainbow Falls) had come through in the morning and cleaned out his whole supply of potato chips.

A second jeep convoy -- out "four-wheeling through the new and the mud and the gunk. Raising heck," as one member put it -- was known to be in the vicinity, and come suppertime, there was no telling how hungry and thirsty these people would be.

A tall, hefty man of 50 with a salt-and-pepper beard, Mulder conceded that running Deckers had had its points. Once in a while a helicopter set down in the middle of the road to airlift sandwiches to forest fire crews, he said.

But, he complained, his work went on "24 hours a day. We live here and never get away from it.... The cash register ringing is a nice sound for a while, but you get so that doesn't even sound good to you anymore."