Douglas County

Material Information

Douglas County history and guide to cultural resources
Appleby, Susan Consola, 1967-
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
xi, 326 leaves : ; 29 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
History -- Douglas County (Colo.) ( lcsh )
Colorado -- Douglas County ( fast )
History. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
History ( fast )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 313-326).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, History.
General Note:
Department of History
Statement of Responsibility:
by Susan K. Appleby.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
34821021 ( OCLC )
LD1190.L57 1995m .A67 ( lcc )

Full Text
Susan K. Appleby
B.A., University of New Mexico, 1990
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts

1995 by Susan Karla Appleby
All rights reserved.

This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Susan K. Appleby
has been approved

Appleby, Susan R. (M.A., History)
Douglas County: History and Guide to Cultural Resources
Thesis directed by Professor Thomas J. Noel
As one of the fastest growing counties in the
country, Douglas County, Colorado is forced to face some
important issues. Among the most pressing of these is
historic preservation. Politicians, business owners, and
citizens alike have rarely considered the impact of their
actions on the historic, properties of the county. Now,
amid a whirlwind of change brought on by overwhelming
growth, preservation of the county's historic sites can
no longer be ignored.
This history and historic resources guide to Douglas
County is intended to call attention to the county's rich
heritage and to aid in its preservation. There are nine
chapters devoted exclusively to the county's major towns
or communities: Castle Rock, Deckers, Franktown,
Highlands Ranch, Larkspur, Louviers, Parker, Roxborough
Park, and Sedalia. Each chapter is organized into two
parts. The first part chronicles the history of the town
or community from founding to the mid-1990's. These
histories are vitally important because as more and more

people make the county their home, a need arises for
roots, civic pride, and greater awareness of the
community's past, present conditions, and future
The second part of each chapter lists the town's or
community's most significant historic sites and explores
their founding, developments over time, and present
state. Among the sites included in this section are
schools, churches, homes, businesses, railroad depots,
government buildings, ranches, barns, dams, libraries,
grange halls, forts, and cemeteries. Identification of
these historic sites is essential to both communicate the
value and significance of the county's history and to
demonstrate the need for historic preservation.
Awareness and preservation of Douglas County's
history and historic sites will provide greater civic
pride within the county and help forge a harmonious
connection between past and present.
This abstract accurately represents the contents of the
candidate's thesis. I recommer

1. INTRODUCTION ............................... 1
2. CASTLE ROCK HISTORY ........................ 5
' Castle Rock Sites ..................... 30
Wilcox School/Town Hall .............. 30
Wilson House ......................... 31
French Bakery ........................ 32
Christensen House .................... 33
Castle Rock Depot .................... 35
Keystone Hotel ....................... 37
B&B Cafe ............................. 39
First National Bank/Douglas Lodge 39
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic
Church................................ 40
Owens House .......................... 41
City Hotel ........................... 43
Cantril Courthouse ................... 44
Upton Treat Smith House .............. 45
Christ Episcopal Church .............. 46
Cantril School ....................... 47
Dyer House ........................... 49
Hammar House ......................... 51
Cedar Hill Cemetery .................. 52
3. DECKERS HISTORY ........................... 67

Deckers Sites ............................ 90
Ammons House ........................ 90
Cheesman Dam ......................... 92
4. FRANKTOWN HISTORY ........................ 101
Franktown Sites ......................... 116
Fonders School House ................ 116
Pikes Peak Grange ................... 118
Castlewood Dam ...................... 119
Engle/Winkler Ranch ................. 123
Conrad Moschel Grave ................ 125
Prairie Canyon Ranch ................ 126
Franktown Cemetery .................. 127
5. HIGHLANDS RANCH HISTORY .................. 135
Highlands Ranch Sites ................... 150
Highlands Ranch Headquarters ........ 150
Big Dry Creek Cheese Ranch .......... 152
6. LARKSPUR HISTORY ........................ 161
Larkspur Sites .......................... 174
Lone Tree School .................... 174
Spring Valley School ................ 175
Spring Valley Cemetery .............. 177
Greenland Ranch ..................... 179
Benjamin Quick House ................ 182
7. LOUVIERS HISTORY ......................... 190

Louviers Sites .......................... 203
Louviers Village Club ............... 203
8. PARKER HISTORY ........................... 209
Parker Sites ............................ 228
Twenty Mile House ................... 228
Ruth Memorial Methodist Church .... 231
Parker School/Parker United
Methodist Church .................... 234
Tallman Barn ........................ 235
Newlin Cabin ........................ 237
Sulphur Gulch Stage Station Barn .. 238
Twin Houses ......................... 240
McMurdo Cemetery .................... 242
Parker Cemetery ..................... 244
Newlin Cemetery ..................... 246
9. R0XB0R0UGH PARK HISTORY .................. 257
Roxborough Park Sites ................... 274
Persse Stone House .................. 274
Silicated Brick Company Kiln ........ 276
10. SEDALIA HISTORY .......................... 283
Sedalia Sites ........................... 295
The Victor House .................... 295
McDonald General Store/Jasmine
Rebekah Lodge No. 83 ................ 296
Indian Park School .................. 297

Indian Park Cemetery ............... 299
Church of St. Philip in the Field 300
Cherokee Ranch Castle .............. 302
11. CONCLUSION .............................. 310
A. COUNTY AND TOWN POPULATION .............. 312
BIBLIOGRAPHY ....................................... 313

I am indebted to many individuals and
organizations for their assistance and encouragement
during the research of this thesis. Unfortunately I
am unable to list everyone, but wish to thank some
of the special motivators and encouragers.
I heartily thank University of Colorado at
Denver Professor Thomas J. Noel for his tips,
knowledge, and suggestions. Professor Noel's
encouragement was always timely and appreciated.
I am utterly indebted to Douglas County Library
Local History Collection Archivist Johanna Harden
who opened her fascinating archives to me and
allowed me to rummage endlessly through her
collection. Without her untiring support,
"exploration field trips," and eagerness to help,
this work would never have been completed.
The Parker Area Historical Society was a great
source of assistance, particularly Clyde Jones and
Loyd Glasier.
Kent Brandeberry of the Douglas County
Historical Preservation Board and Bob Lowenberg of

the Castle Rock Historic Preservation Board added
sagely perspective. The Colorado Historical Society
and Denver Public Library's Western History
Department were vitally important sources of
Finally I would like to thank my husband, Don
Appleby, for his endless patience, encouragement,
editing, and good dinners, and Jacob for hanging in
there until I was finished With my work.

Until the 1970's Douglas County existed as a rural,
sleepy county. Set amidst rolling prairies to the east
and Rocky Mountain foothills to the west, the county
lacked the gold that spawned and encouraged growth in
other parts of Colorado. With intersecting trails like
the Cherokee, Trapper's, and Smoky Hill, the county
served as a highway for travelers en route to other, more
promising areas, especially the boomtown of Denver. By
1860, and especially after 1865, when these trails
brought families into the area, Douglas County, with its
fertile land and resources such as lumber, rhyolite, and
coal, gained new significance. Sawmills, ranches, and
farms prospered, especially after the arrival of the
Denver and Rio Grande and Santa Fe railroads.1
Today the county which saw most of its history
overshadowed by its burgeoning neighbors, Denver and El
Paso counties, has suddenly jumped to the forefront of
state and even national growth. In 1995, Douglas County
was named the fastest growing county in the United
States.2 The following table illustrates the county's
population growth:
page 1

Table 1.1
Amid the overwhelming issues that accompany its
status as the country's fastest growing county, Douglas
County struggles to preserve what little remains of its
past. The tremendous growth currently engulfing the area
makes this historic resource guide essential to
preservation of the county's history through
identification of landmarks and historic sites. As
cookie cutter designs for subdivision and commercial
development are carved into old ranchlands, historic
buildings are being bulldozed to make way for parking
lots in the name of "progress." This guide will
demonstrate the value and significance of the county's
historic sites. In a county that spans 5,160 square
miles---one of Colorado's largest----it is impossible to
oover all historic sites and it is necessary to pick and
page 2

choose among the most significant."1
This guide also traces the history of the county's
major towns and communities from founding to the mid-
1990's. As more and more people make the county their
home, a need arises for roots, civic pride, and greater
awareness of the community's past, present conditions,
and future possibilities.
The historic sites of Douglas County reflect the
pioneer spirit of its early settlers. These artifacts
provide a glimpse into the lives of those who were here
before us, some of whom triumphed over the elements and
others who failed and moved on. The sites are reminders
of the past and, through preservation, can contribute to
the community's sense of pride and heritage.
page 3

1. Anne Moore, "History of Douglas County," in Our
Heritage: People of Douglas County. Ed. The Book
Committee, Shawnee Mission, Kansas: Inter-Collegiate
Press, 1981, pp. 328-335.
2. Douglas County News, June 3, 1995, p. 1.
3. U.S. Census.
4. Moore, p. 335.
page 4

After Castle Rock's designation as the county seat
in 1874, the town quickly assumed the role of county
leader and grew at a faster rate than all other Douglas
County towns. Today, as a result of this growth, the
town is a place where old and new exist together; where
historic, rhyolite buildings are surrounded by modern
fast food restaurants, gas stations, and strip malls.
A look into Castle Rock's founding and early
development begins with the rocky butte itself. This
highly visible rock outcropping has long been an
orientation for travelers, both past and present. From
a distance, the hill presents a clean silhouette crowned
by a large, commanding, flat-topped rock formation
resembling an old ruined castle. The origin of the name
is most frequently credited to the Stephen H. Long
expedition during 1819-20.x The diary of Edwin James,
botanist and geologist for the expedition, gives an
account of the first sighting and naming of the landscape
feature. Of special note is James' comparison of the
natural rock outcropping to European and Eastern American
architectural features, which was a common analogy among
page 5

early explorers and settlers of the West:
One of these singular hills...was called the Castle
Rock on account of its striking resemblance to a
work of art. It has columns, porticos, arches, and
when seen from a distance, has an astonishing
regular and artificial appearance. On approaching
it, the base is found enveloped in an extensive
accumulation of soil intermixed with fragments of
rapidly disintegrating sandstone. The lower
portions of the perpendicular sides of the rock are
of loosely cemented puddingstone, but the summit is
capped by a compact and somewhat durable sandstone.
This is surmounted by a scanty soil in which grow a
few stinted oaks and junipers.
Unsurprisingly, subsequent explorers and pioneers
also claimed credit for naming the rock. Among them was
David Kellogg, an argonaut who traveled along Plum Creek
in 1858-59 searching for gold:
At the bend of Plum Creek stands a large flat-topped
round rock resting on a pyramid-shaped base. It is
an isolated part of the original rock formation, the
softer part below being worn away. We find a
crevice through which we climb to the top, fire off
our guns and christen the place "Castle Rock",
thinking we are the first to give it a name.3
By the early 1870's, the arrival of the Denver and
Rio Grande Railroad and the National Land and Improvement
Company's recruitment for potential town colonists
spawned the formation of a small village called New
Memphis.'* Located three miles northwest of present-day
Castle Rock, the village was settled in 1871 by several
Tennessee families and survived for several years as a
"red hot lively town" where the "principal activity of
page 6

the inhabitants was horse-racing, gambling and drinking
forty-rod whiskey."59 The town of Douglas, settled that
same year, became a trading point and distribution office
for nearby post offices after the railroad installed a
switch and water tank there in 1872.A However, the
origins of Douglas revolved around the discovery of a
valuable stone which gave rise to a quarry industry that
was a precious source of revenue for the entire Castle
Rock area.
Silas Madge, while prospecting on one of the
isolated buttes near his ranch two miles south of Castle
Rock, discovered a hard, pinkish gray volcanic rock. He
extracted several samples and sent them to Denver to be
assayed. The response reported no value to the rock
except as a potential building material. By 1872, Madge,
who was later labeled the "Father of the Lava Stone
Industry," began quarrying the lava rock, called
rhyolite, by hand and hauled it in a wagon to Douglas
where it was then shipped by rail to Denver.7, Each year
the volume of rhyolite removed increased and by the early
1880's Madge employed a large number of workers, owned a
boarding house in Douglas, and convinced the D. & R.G. to
construct a 2.6 mile spur from Douglas to the top of the
Madge quarry.63 The Castle Rock Journal reported the
page 7

progress at Madge quarry:
Mr. Madge has his.railroad completed and the oars
running into the quarry...It is a pretty sight
indeed to see the engine steaming about on top of
the little mountain five hundred feet above town.'*
Rhyolite from the Madge quarry was used to build the
Cantril School and Keystone Hotel in Castle Rock, the
railroad depots in Castle Rock, Littleton, and Colorado
Springs, the Union Depot and many other notable landmarks
in Denver, and the Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs.10
The Santa Fe and Douglas rhyolite quarries opened on
other hills surrounding the town and also prospered from
the building boom along the Front Range. However, a lull
in construction brought about by the Panic of 1893 and a
switch in builder's preferences from stone to terra
cotta, cement, and cast stone delivered a crushing blow
to the stone industry from which it never quite
recovered. From 1900 to 1920 the work at the quarries
was reduced to the extraction of small rock which was
crushed and used for highway construction.
The area between the two boom towns of New Memphis
and Douglas survived for several years most likely as a
stopover point and campsite for travelers.11 In
1869, Jeremiah Gould, a Civil War veteran from Rhode
Island, moved to Colorado and established a claim on a
page 8

160-acre tract of land that later developed into the
heart of the town of Castle Rock.13 When the claim was
finally recognized on February 27, 1874, Gould and
several other settlers decided to create a town out of
his large homestead and named it after the castle-like
rock formation nearby. The town plan was drawn and filed
on April 24, 1874 by John Craig, Philip P. Wilcox, J.D.
McIntyre, and Gould.13
The year 1874 also saw an election for a new county
seat. In February, Douglas County was divided and its
eastern half was formed into a new county called
Elbert.1-* As a result of this change of territorial
status, Franktown, the Douglas County seat at the time,
was no longer centrally located in relation to the rest
of the county and the call for a new seat was raised.
D.D. Belden, the Douglas County Attorney, wrote a letter
to the Rocky Mountain News in support of Castle Rock as
the county seat. His letter reflects the awe and respect
that the local folks still felt for the geological
formation that was the center of focus for the new
Castle Rock is a point. It is somewhere. Nature
has done something just at that place. It has
erected there a great Landmark...Castle Rock has the
advantage of being near the geographical center of
the county...the county seat will not, of course, be
located away from the railroad... cheaper if
page 9

not better water can be obtained here...If the county
seat is located at Castle Rock, it will be a
permanent location, and a town will grow up there of
no ordinary beauty.1
On March 31, 1874 Douglas County voters selected
Castle Rock as the new county seat from among five other
towns: Franktown, New Memphis, Douglas, Glade, and
Sedalia.1* The Rocky Mountain News cheered the voter's
Douglas County did the right thing in voting to
locate her county seat at Castle Rock. It is one of
the most picturesque points in the whole territory,
adding to the charms of natural scenery a proper
geographical location, with all the surroundings
necessary to make a thriving and attractive town.17
The Daily Denver Tribune also expressed optimism for
the development of the new seat and mused, "We expect to
have a nice little town, one that will be an honor to
Douglas county and to Colorado."1
Castle Rock moved forward swiftly. Streets and
alleys were planned and laid out, the land was divided
into plots, and for several months the local newspaper
printed auction notices for the sale of Castle Rock lots:
Notice is hereby given that the Commissioners of
Douglas county, Colorado will offer for sale, on
Monday and Tuesday, the 22nd and 23rd days of June,
1874. Sale to commence at 10 o'clock a.m. each day,
at the Court House in Castle Rock, being the county
seat of Douglas county, to the highest and best
bidder for cash in hand.1S>
page 10

Approximately seventy-seven lots were sold during
the first auction, amounting to a profit of $3,400.20
The money raised from the sale of lots was used to fund
the construction of several county buildings, most
notably a grand multiple-story, rhyolite court house in
the center of town.221 Indeed, Castle Rock appeared to be
"springing up as if by magic."2-'3 On June 1, 1881 the
town incorporated.33
As the future of the nascent town looked brighter
and brighter, it enjoyed a steady flow of entrepreneurs.
Castle Rock's first business district was located on
Perry Street near the Denver and Rio Grande Depot.^
Among the Perry Street trades were two of the town's
better known hotels, the Owens House and the Harris
Hotel. Also located on Perry Street were the Eclipse
Saloon, and a printing shop, a drug store, a dry goods
shop, and a grocery/meat market.30 In 1887 Castle Rock
entered the dairy business with the construction of a
creamery that by 1889 was "turning out over five hundred
pounds of butter a week at present, with a prospect of an
increase."26 In 1888 new businesses included E.A. Palms
Groceries and Clothing and J.W. Farrell & Co. Harness and
Saddlery, as well as a real estate exchange, and stores
specializing in dry goods or mowing machines.3'7
page 11

By 1900, however, Wilcox Street, adjacent to the
courthouse square, surpassed Perry as the town's most
popular strip for business development.3 The businesses
advertised in the local Castle Rock Record Journal during
August 1900 included real estate, insurance, and
physician offices, as well as a barber shop, shoe store,
butcher, and undertaker.3*5 These advertisements reflect
the diversity of trades needed to satisfy a population
which reached an all-time high of 233 people (compared to
83 people in 1880) and promised to rise even higher.30
Among the more appealing lures of Castle Rock in the
mid 1880's were its gold discoveries. One May 1884
headline in the Castle Rock Journal boasted,
"GOLD...Castle Rock to the Front With Rich Placer
Discoveries..." and predicted, "A BOOM IS CERTAIN TO
FOLLOW."31 After "glittering gold fields" were
discovered at nearby Elizabeth in early May, the Castle
Rock Mining Company was founded by men who eagerly
reported three weeks later that "free gold" was abundant
in the Castle Rock area as well. Excitement quickly led
to inflated hopes: "Every man, woman, and child in the
town are already cognizant of the fact that near us exist
large and unlimited fields of the sparkling colors
gold."33 While the town enjoyed its own minute "gold
page 12

rush," the adjustment to a new kind of visitor, the
wealth-seeking argonaut, was often awkward. An editor's
note in the June 1884 issue of the Castle Rock Journal
suggests that "old timers" could even be somewhat
resentful: "The town was full of strangers last week,
presumably prospectors who are not loud in their
aspirations to obtain a claim in our gold field."33
However, Castle Rock's frenzied gold fever lasted only a
couple months, as the placers most likely dried up
quickly.3-* The town returned to quarrying, agriculture
and the business of being a county seat.
In 1897, Castle Rock proudly opened its new
schoolhouse, a six-room, two-story, rhyolite structure
described by the Castle Rock Journal as "an ornament to
the town."30 Perched atop "schoolhouse hill", the
Cantril School, named after a prominent Douglas County
named William W. Cantril, was approximately four blocks
east of the grand, rhyolite courthouse constructed in
1889.3 The two buildings were the largest and most
architecturally elaborate in town, evidence of the
importance local citizens placed on government and
education. Kent Brandeberry, a retired music teacher and
long time resident of Castle Rock, claims the two
buildings were closely related:
page 13

The people at the turn of the century had taken
great pride in their public buildings and
institutions. The courthouse and the school were
very significant buildings... For Castle Rock to put
up these two buildings as they did, they had to
be admired by all the people along the Front Range
of the Rocky Mountains.3-7
As Castle Rock entered the new century its progress
and modernization continued. In July 1900 the town
acquired a telephone exchange system and local phones
were installed.3 The town's first bank, The First
National Bank of Douglas County, was constructed and
opened in January 1901 to the glee of the Castle Rock
Journal which confided, "It is the pride of the newspaper
that with the new phone and a bank, Castle Rock is
becoming quite a metropolis."3,5, In June of 1902, the
Town Council voted to install gas lights in the business
district. Eight street lights which "turned the night
into day" were erected by way of connection to a nearby
acetylene gas plant.£VO
Among the decade's debates about collective
community improvements was the laying of sidewalks. As
early as 1889 the Castle Rock Journal claimed, "More
sidewalks and less stock on the streets are the pressing
needs of our town."*11 The Town Council did not agree
that the walkways were necessary and the sidewalk battle
raged throughout most of the mid-decade. Finally in
page 14

August 1909 a special Town Council meeting was called to
address two pressing issues: stray chickens and the pros
and cons of laying out cement sidewalks. A resolution
passed as a result of this meeting to "encourage and to
promote the building of sidewalks throughout the town for
the convenience of the people."*3
Victorious in the sidewalk battle, the promoters of
progress continued efforts to modernize Castle Rock. In
the 1920's the blossoming town of 224 people supported
such businesses as a restaurant, drug store, jeweler,
blacksmith, creamery, two banks, two hotels, two garages,
and two grocery stores.*3 In 1921, following the
sentiment of a Castle Rock Journal reporter who
exclaimed, "Let there be light!" town officials approved
the installation of a municipal light and power plant
with energy supplied by the Du Pont Electric Company in
Louviers.** The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation took
over the plant in January 1929 with the intention of
supplying power to several small communities in the
county.*3 Although financial problems caused by the
Depression aborted these grandiose plans, the corporation
continued electric service to Castle Rock and even
installed "an ornamental lighting system" along the main
thoroughfare and a beacon light on top of the historic
page 15

By 1931 the Castle
rock to guide mail pilots in 1929.^
Rock Journal announced the addition of neon lights to
several businesses "which is making Castle Rock take on
metropolitan airs by being 'lit up.'"'*';'
Growing Castle Rock developed some of the problems
of a metropolis. Traffic congestion led to an August
1929 decision by the town council to install the town's
first stop signs on Wilcox at the intersections of Third,
Fourth, and Fifth streets. The Castle Rock Journal
praised the decision: "With so much through traffic on
Wilcox Street, this precaution on the part of the
councilmen was very timely."'* The Journal was equally
impressed with a town council decision in 1936 to hire
WPA workers to grade and surface approximately two and a
half miles of town streets as well as to conduct road
improvements along Wilcox and around courthouse square:
"The town officials are giving full co-operation with
this piece of improvement work and are entitled to a 'pat
on the back' for their action in taking advantage of the
opportunity in getting this work done."'I*,,
Despite the success of many of its decisions, town
council votes also generated their share of controversy.
In June 1931, as Castle Rock's population reached 575,
the council announced its plans for the completion of a
page 16

modern sewage system near town.00 The cost of the system
would run approximately $27,000 which would be financed
by the sale of bonds bearing 5% interest. After
parsimonious Denver bond houses offered only $20,000 for
the bond issue, the town eagerly accepted the close to
par offer of a Pueblo investor, Joseph D. Grigsby.01-
Many Denver investors raised an eyebrow to what they
referred to as the "judgement bond racket. "0=: The Denver
Post's daily features of the so-called "Castle Rock
chapter in the 'judgement bond' scandal" in early 1932
enraged the Castle Rock Journal which steamed:
As no one stands to lose a dollar in this
transaction, and Bonfils [owner and editor of the
Denver Post] will not be called upon to contribute a
dime on account of it, we would kindly suggest that
he keep his damned nose out of our town affairs
until such a time, at least, as some wrong has been,
or about to be, done.03
Despite the town council's insistence of no wrong
doing, a petition was filed by the County Commissioners
to examine the issue in 1932. The Commissioners decision
was prompted by the formal complaints of the D&RG
railroad and two town citizens who felt they should not
be taxed for the sewage system because their property was
outside the district limits.on The Colorado Supreme
Court eventually saw the case in 1936 and decided in
favor of the town and against the petitioners.00
page 17

Although town activities during the 1930's centered
around attempts to expand and modernize, the financial
impact of the Great Depression on Castle Rock was clearly
exemplified by the failure of its banking system. In
1932 the Castle Rock State Bank closed its doors claiming
a gradual falling off in business, due to the present
market conditions. " First National Bank left Castle Rock bankless and caused
the Castle Rock Journal to suggest: Depositors will now
find it necessary to seek banking facilities elsewhere,
or else find an old sock----without holes---in which to
care for their reserve funds----if any?"07r Finally in
1939, after years of struggling without banking
facilities, the Bank of Douglas County opened in Castle
Rock. "Sentiment in all parts of the county is very
strong for having a Douglas County bank and it will,
without doubt, receive hearty local support and
patronage," cheered the Castle Rock Journal after the
bank's opening was announced.00
Financial difficulties during the Depression did not
deter Castle Rock citizens from celebrating the holidays.
One of Castle Rock's longest standing traditions began in
1936 with the lighting of the Christmas star atop the
rock. The original star consisted of heavy pipes, rods,
page 18

and one hundred 25 watt light bulbs. In 1949 a stronger,
45-foot star, which still stands today replaced the
weakened, weathered star.3** On November 28, 1965 the
first annual star lighting ceremony occured and featured
a chorus and a brass choir.*0
Besides ushering in the inauguration of the star
lighting ceremony, 1965 became a pivotal year for the
town for another more detrimental reason. In the
afternoon of June 16, 1965 after a tornado touched down
at Palmer Lake, a torrential rain set off floods along
East Plum Creek and West Plum Creek. The damage wreaked
by the Plum Creek flood created what was later labeled
"the greatest calamity in Colorado history. "&:L Great
sections of Interstate 25 and other roads and bridges
were washed out, homes and other buildings were damaged
or destroyed, crops lost, and many people and livestock
lost their lives. The flood smashed through a trailer
park on Third Street and carried off several trailer
homes which were never seen again.One local citizen
wrote of the disaster:
For awhile, Castle Rock was completely isolated.
All highway bridges leading into town were washed
out, the railroad bridge was undermined at one end,
there was no mail service, either in or out, and no
long-distance phoning. Many dozens of cars trying
to come through Castle Rock or to by-pass it on the
west highway, lined up, and many became swamped in
mud. Helicoptors buzzed overhead constantly,
page 19

evacuating these motorists to shelters here and in
Denver .6,3
The disaster strengthened the community through
mutual relief efforts that transformed the Castle Rock
Junior High School and several homes into emergency
relief centers.<&,q The Red Cross took over the Wilcox
School and converted the gymnasium into a medical center
stacked with cots for victims of the flood. Volunteers
helped the highway department, railroad, and'utility
companies with cleaning and repairing the damage wrought
by the flood. Administration took applications for emergency funds
loans from farmers and ranchers.** "I think it's pretty
typical of a small community," reflects resident Kent
Brandeberry, "Most of them were self-reliant and they
could get along wherein maybe in a larger city people
aren't that self-reliant and could have been more
helpless than Castle Rock was."67
Slowly the town began to rebuild. A donation of
$25,000 from Mr. Phillip S. Miller, an influential long-
time resident and philanthropist, led to the construction
of a county library in 1968 at the corner of Third and
Gilbert streets.60 The same year Castle Rock increased
its population by 250 with the annexation of a subdivison
known as Glover.^ In 1978, one year after constructing
page 20

the town's first shopping center, Village Center, the
Castle Rock Planning Commission approved construction of
the Castle North complex which included 120 apartment
condominiums, 95 townhouses, and 45 hillside units.7'0
Just as growth engulfed Castle Rock, a fire engulfed
the town's most treasured building, the Douglas County
Courthouse. During the fateful night of March 11, 1978,
Rose Ann Lucero, a seventeen year old Denver resident,
set fire to some papers in the basement of the civic
building in an attempt to create enough confusion to
permit her friend's boyfriend's release from his
jail cell where he was being held for drunk driving.
The fire spread quickly until it completely overwhelmed
the rhyolite relic, sending the majestic stamped tin
tower and old stone walls crashing into the basement.
Only two years after it was placed on the National
Register of Historic Places, the proud building was
pronounced unsuitable for restoration and sentenced to
death by wrecking ball despite adamant protests of
citizens who coalesced into a "Save the Courthouse"
Immediately after its erection, the present day
Douglas County Administration Building, replacement to
the courthouse, became a blow to the town's pride.
page 21

During the design phase of the new building, town
citizens felt they were falsely led by County
Commissioners to believe they played an active role in
selection of its architectural replacement.7'3 The
Commissioners held public meetings in which they actively
sought the input of residents. The town newspaper
printed drawings of the leading architectural choices and
requested their readers send their votes in for tallying:
"Act now and let your views be known. Don't wait
assuming the design you want will automatically be
selected."7"* Nonetheless, after active solicitation of
their preferences and opinions, County Commissioners
finally ordered construction of an architectural design
which had never been viewed by residents. Kent
Brandeberry describes the town's shock:
When the building started to take shape, nobody
recognized what was going up there. It had no
resemblance to what people had seen in the paper,
had voted on. People were so discouraged. We went
to these meetings; we actually had input and had a
chance to select what we wanted for
our architectural scheme and when the whole thing
came down...nothing...nothing.7*
County Commissioners and the architectural firm
hired for the building's planning, George Hoover, Karl
Berg and Associates, engaged in a series of finger
pointing after outraged citizens compared the building to
page 22

a prison, an asylum, a plain box, a mausoleum or a "hunk
of cinder blocks dropped in the middle of someone's
lawn."7'** Looking back on the controversy, architect
George Hoover still defends the work of his firm. Hoover
insists that the limited money appropriated by the county
government restricted the firm to the construction of a
"relatively ordinary building."7'7 He feels the town's
immediated negative response to the building was due in
part to the County Commissioners' failure to communicate
to the public that the drawings they viewed were mere
architectural concepts, not the final drafts.
Additionally, Hoover points to the town's intense
sentiment and regret over the loss of their old
courthouse as further reason for the rejection of the
Generally when the building is the focus of emotion
as the older one's almost impossible to
replace it. [The courthouse in Castle Rock] was
really the symbol of stability and centeredness in
the county...It certainly wasn't a great work of
architecture, but it was a memory of the past and it
was really a rooted building. It felt like it had
been there forever. People were married there,
divorced there. [Courthouses] are the markers of
the stations along life's course. This was one of
those buildings.7'0
Although town opinion of it has not changed, the
Douglas County Administration Building still remains at
the center of courthouse square, a constant and painful
page 23

reminder of the devastating loss of its stately
Between 1981 and early 1984, after numerous
annexations, such as the Villages of Castle Rock and Plum
Creek subdivisions, Castle Rock's town limits nearly
tripled from 2,300 acres to 7,260 acres. The town's
rural atmosphere was slowly dwarfed by gas stations, fast
food restaurants, and chain stores, businesses that
conglomerated most heavily west of 1-25. In 1984, one of
the town's greatest growth years, Castle Rock reportedly
had more real estate offices and contractors than
churches and restaurants combined. Some futurists
predicted that the town would someday become the heart of
an extensive "megalopolis," or strip city, connecting
Denver to Colorado Springs or even Wyoming to New
Mexico.7" Sprawling growth continued as the town council
approved the annexations of six subdivisions, Castle Rock
Ranch, Metzler Ranch, Heritage Farms, Castle Highlands,
Heckendorf Ranch, and Lincoln Meadows in 1984 alone.00
The result was the addition of 7,695 acres to the town.
The annexations more than doubled the town's size and
catapulted its population from approximately 3,900 in
1980 to 6,000 by the end of 1984.
The actions of what the Denver Post referred to as
page 24

"annex-happy" town officials did not go without reproach
from Castle Rock citizens.1 Many complained the
unprecedented growth of the town posed a threat to the
rural lifestyle that made living in Castle Rock so
attractive. Others were concerned about downtown traffic
problems, overcrowding in schools, a rise in the crime
rate, and increased pressure on water and wastewater
services.02 In 1984, disgruntled town citizens united to
protest the proposed annexation of Castle Rock Ranch, a
2,260 acre residential-commercial development located
south of town. Although the citizens hired two attorneys
and managed to delay the town board's decision for some
time, their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful and
Castle Rock Ranch was granted incorporation.3
Town officials met some of the residents' concerns
with a series of measures. In 1984 the town imposed
mandatory lawn watering restrictions and began
construction of a more efficient, upgraded sewage
plant.* A traffic engineering firm, PRC Engineering,
was hired "to help untangle the rush hour and open
bottlenecks at several troubled intersections."3
In an attempt to answer claims that growth damaged
the old-fashioned, small town atmosphere of Castle Rock,
the town board hired consultant Charles King and set up a
page 25

steering committee to develop a "downtown plan."*** By
1987 the committee proposed numerous rehabilitation
measures for the core downtown area including the
installation of new curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and
landscape strips, increasing the number of parking
spaces, improving storm drainages, and widening Second
Street bridge on Wilcox.^ In July 1994, the town
council presented "Phase II" of the downtown plan, an
updated presentation of ideas and proposals for Castle
Rock's future which focused on transportation problems,
public improvements, and economic issues:
Through planned public improvements in the downtown
area, in association with transportation
improvements, an aggressive business recruitment,
and incentive programs, Castle Rock will welcome
growth while preserving the heart of the community,
the Downtown.063
The more elaborate proposals in "Phase Two"
suggested construction of rhyolite stone retaining walls
along 1-25, a series of small parks that would serve as
gateways to the town, and "festival streets" on Fourth
and Second Streets that "would operate as conventional
streets on normal days and would be adaptable as
pedestrian malls for special events."63^ The study also
highlighted the importance of historic preservation and
recommended a greater focus on a downtown heritage
interpretation system which included historic markers and
page 26

a town museum.'50
One of the Downtown Urban Design Plan's
considerations for future street network improvements is
currently under review. In order to decrease an
estimated 40% of the traffic flow on Wilcox, the board
suggested routing traffic onto Perry Street at the
downtown core's north and south ends.'51 In February
1995, the Castle Rock Town Council voted to retain two
consulting firms to perform preliminary work on the Perry
Street extension so that adequate information on its
design would be provided to voters who will decide in the
Fall of 1995 whether to approve the $2.3 million bond
issue needed for the street's construction. 5= Despite
the relief the new road extension would grant Wilcox
traffic congestion, business owners along the oldest main
thoroughfare worry diversion of too much traffic to Perry
Street may hurt their businesses.Apparently the
street that has been the scene of the majority of Castle
Rock's history wants to keep it that way.
Another plan for Castle Rock is the future
construction of a $30 million shopping complex known as
Castlegate. This new center would be located just west
of the existing Castle Rock Factory Shops which were
constructed in 1992 and have boosted the town's economy
page 27

enormously. In 1993, after its first year in business,
sales tax figures for the Castle Rock Factory Shops
equalled $2.5 million and it was named the top outlet
center in the nation by a Florida based trade publication
called Value Retail News.*** Cast legate, scheduled to
open in March 1996, will be composed of three
restaurants, an eight-screen theater, and countless
factory shops.'5''3 Castle Rock's future will also see the
rejuvenation of Rock Park, a 55-acre natural park
surrounding the historic rock and some road improvements
along Wolfensberger Road and 1-25.**'*
In a town where the old exists with the new, will
Castle Rock's historical buildings and sites be
overwhelmed and endangered by its growth? On the
contrary, it may be that the growth will provide the
needed incentive for preservation in the town and county.
Concerned resident and long-time local rancher Kent
Brandeberry believes it is the very people who are
creating the growth that will be the saviors of history:
I have to give so much credit to the people who have
moved here in the last ten to fifteen years for this
big surge in historic preservation. Its been
through their efforts, certainly not the native
residents, that we see a tremendous effort going on
now in historical preservation. It was just like
beating your head against a wall to get anybody to
listen to you back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's in
regard to anything dealing with historic
page 28

preservation. That was the last thing on the mind
of any commissioner, and the thought of preserving
something historical, they were unable to comprehend
Fortunately, preservation of historic sites has
gained new momentum in Castle Rock. In May of 1994 the
town created a nine member Historic Preservation Board to
oversee protection of the town's historical heritage.
Among the Board's chief duties are adoption of criteria
for designation of properties as Landmarks, review of
applications for alterations, movement or demolition of
Landmark buildings, advise and assist property owners on
preservation and rehabilitation issues, and develop and
assist in public education programs.<5e
Efforts to maintain a harmony and balance between
Castle Rock's past, present, and future are currently
underway in the town. Growth is still an important issue
and vital interest to Castle Rock residents, business
owners, and politicians. Perhaps the sentiments of an
1886 Castle Rock Journal reporter still apply today to
the town located "in the shadow of that great rock:
An excellent way to ruin your town is to oppose
improvements and mistrust its public men. Run it
down to strangers. Go to some other town to trade.
Lengthen your face when a stranger talks of locating
in it. Do not invest a cent. Lay your money out
somewhere else. If a man wants to buy anybody's
property interfere and discourage him. Be
particular to discredit the motives of public
spirited citizens. Refuse to see any spirit in a
page 29

scheme that does not benefit you. If you can't hog
everything, judge everybody else by yourself, and
accuse them of doing it.100
Castle Rock Sites
Wilcox School/Town Hall (1910-11: builder unknown), 620
and 680 Wilcox St.
This extensively renovated edifice was constructed
around 1910 after the 1907 brick school building that
formerly stood in its place was destroyed by fire. The
Wilcox building's original rhyolite massing of rough-
faced, squared stonework, hipped roof, and lower level
rectangular windows with transoms, suggests a
Richardsonian Romanesque influence. The building, which
was enlarged in 1936 to include a school gym, served as a
high school until 1961 when the community constructed a
new, larger one.101 The school then served the town's
junior high and elementary needs until 1967 when the
Douglas County School Board renovated the building for
administrative offices. This recent Art Deco influenced
remodelling took place in 1989 by Denver architect Ron
Abo. The original rhyolite facade was masked with
multicolored brick and featured inset rhyolite diamonds
on the frieze. In 1989 the school board agreed to a
$1,000,000 sale of the attached gym to the town to be
used as a town hall.i0:s
page 30

Wilson House (1897?: builder unknown), 704 Wilcox St.
A broad front porch, pyramidal roof, and hipped
dormer adorn this cozy Classic Cottage. The most notable
feature of the wooden, clapboard siding house, however,
is its turned porch posts with decorative brackets. A
brick chimney straddles the rear section of the roof and
several long, double-hung windows adorn the sides.
Larkspur pioneer James Dallas Wilson sold his stock ranch
in 1907 and moved with his wife, Sarah, to Castle Rock
where they spent the next twenty years together in this
comfortable home on the north end of busy Wilcox
Street.103 J.D. Wilson, known locally as Uncle Jimmie,"
owned a strong team of horses which he used to help
nearby farmers and ranchers with their hauling needs. It
was this occupation that ultimately brought him to his
death.104 In November of 1921, while hauling a load of
wood, Wilson sustained serious head injuries after
falling from his wagon and died the next day. He was
eulogized as "obliging and faithful...his departure is,
to any community he graces, to his family, his friends,
his neighbors, and all, an irreparable loss."100
Wilson's wife Sarah continued to live in the house until
her death in 1939 at which point ownership passed to her
children.10* The house has since had several owners
page 31

including a World War II veteran, Osmer W. Sheets, and
remains a residence today.10-7
French Bakery (1910-1918: George Leonard), 519 Wilcox St.
This two-story, wood frame house with clapboard
siding and high cross-gabled roof features patterned
triangular cut wooden siding on its eastern facade. A
large east-facing picture window is located on the first
floor. Above this are two double-hung second story
windows topped by a miniature, pointed arch attic window.
The foundation walls are of rough-cut rhyolite stone and
the entrance to the building is located on its south
side. Constructed sometime between 1910 and 1918 by
George and Evelyn Leonard for use as a home, it was
purchased by John and Anna Schweiger in 1918.loe> The
Schweigers owned the original Happy Canyon Ranch which
extended from present day County Line Road to Surrey
Ridge. John Schweiger, an Austrian native, named his
ranch after a pleasant, cheerful man who stayed in a
nearby cabin and was prone to whistling gayly in the
mornings. Schweiger worked in the mines and smelters of
Georgia and Tennessee before moving to Denver in 1869
where he was employed at Horace Tabor's Sampling Mills in
Leadville. Schweiger then moved to his ranch in Douglas
page 32

County with several family members and his new wife Anna
until 1918 when ill health forced him to leave his ranch
and move to Castle Rock.10' The Castle Rock house
remained in the Schweiger family for several years after
John's death in 1925. It changed hands many times before
1964 when Mr. and Mrs. McConnell converted it into a
combination tea room/gift shop called the Golden
Dobbin.110 The "Victorian house of treasures," was
praised by the Rocky Mountain Wews for its supply of
"out-of-the-ordinary gifts" and the tearoom's serving of
"delicacies" cooked by Mrs. McConnell herself.111
Michael and Joanna Stone purchased the building in June
1993 and turned it into a bakery/restaurant called the
French Bakery.1152
Christensen House (1889: John Lofe, presumed builder),
410 Jerry St.
Now occupied by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce,
this two-story, front-gabled, rhyolite structure was
formerly home to two of early Castle Rock's most
prominent citizens, Thorwald and Victoria Christensen.
Thorwald came to the United States in 1893 from his
birthplace on the Island of Fyn, Denmark. He settled in
Iowa and worked the long hours of a farmhand and later as
a shoemaker before accepting a job at an Ellendale,
page 33

Minnesota bank. In 1906, Thorwald came to Castle Rock to
become cashier of the First National Bank of Douglas
County. After many years of faithful service, he was
eventually named its president. Before his death in
1957, Thorwald was widely known as a leader of Douglas
County civic affairs. He also operated an insurance and
real estate agency, served as secretary-treasurer of the
Cherry Creek Soil Conservation District, helped organize
a progressive reform party known as the Citizens Party in
1908, served as president of School District No. 3, and
was a chairmember of the Castle Rock Fire Department.113
On September 24, 1919 he married "a beautiful socialite
and leader of women's groups" named Victoria Hannold
Anderson.11'** Victoria, who had been widowed two years
earlier, resided at 410 Jerry St. with her son.110
Originally constructed in 1889 most likely by an early
Castle Rock resident, John Lofe, this house had been
owned by the Anderson family since 1893 and came under
the sole ownership of Victoria in 1917 after her mother
died of double pneumonia.11A The house features a
prominent three-paned, hipped bay window, steeply pitched
roof with overhanging eaves, and porch with wooden
balustrade. The second story has a single double-hung
window with wooden lintel. Early photographs of the
page 34

house indicate that the bay window was a later addition
and that in its place was the front door to the house.
Like her husband, Victoria was an admired, active
contributor to her community. She served as lecturer at
the Pike's Peak Grange and was also a member of the
Eastern Star, a woman's group equivalent to the
Masons.11-7' The inscription on her gravestone in Cedar
Hill Cemetery speaks of her importance to the community
and respect among her peers: "OF HER IT HAS BEEN SAID:
'To have known her was a great privilege and to have her
for a friend a great honor. Her goodness will continue
to live in the hearts of all of us, for she was truly one
of God's noble women.'"110
The Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce, the current
owners of the old Christensen house, have outgrown their
exsiting office space and plan to build an addition to
the building's south side. The addition would feature a
bay window similar in appearance to the original one, a
skylight connection between the older section and the
addition, and a parapet faced with rhyolite.11^
Castle Rock Depot (1875: Benjamin Hammar), 420 Elbert St.
The Castle Rock Depot was constructed in 1875 after
a heated debate between the citizens of Castle Rock and
page 35

the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.130 The citizens of
Castle Rock felt their recent designation in 1874 as the
county seat warranted the immediate construction of a
railroad station in their town. However, General William
J. Palmer, founder and president of the railroad,
declined the town's request pointing out the existence of
two well-established depots in New Memphis, just north of
Castle Rock, and Douglas, south of town.131 Nonetheless,
Palmer eventually yielded and hired a well-known stone
mason named Benjamin Hammar to construct the town's
depot. A leading figure in the early development of the
town, Hammar supervised construction of many of the stone
structures in Castle Rock and may have worked on the
original Union Station Terminal in Denver.133
Constructed from locally quarried and cut rhyolite stone,
the Castle Rock Depot possesses many decorative features.
Among these features are wooden Victorian brackets
situated under the gabled metal roof, decorative stone
lintels, and a bay window composed of three single
double-hung windows framed by locally cut lava stone.
The cut stone blocks of the building are laid in a
running bond pattern.
Fearing the uncertain future of the depot, which had
been deserted since 1965, two Denver citizens, William
page 36

and Joyce Murray, bought it and had it moved from its
former location on Front Street near the railroad tracks
to its present location on Elbert Street. The Murray's
restored and converted the old building into a home.4-3
They added a second interior story and placed skylights
in the metal roof. Since its relocation and remodeling,
the old Castle Rock Depot has had several owners and
served many functions, including usage as a Center for
the Arts, a Senior Citizens Center, and a studio and
retail space for a glassworks company.13* The depot's
current owners have placed it up for sale and the Castle
Rock Historical Society is in the process of applying for
a $100,000 state grant to purchase the building. If
approved, the Society plans to turn the old depot into a
town museum with the first floor devoted to exhibits and
the second floor used as office space.1=B
Keystone Hotel (1904: James and Francis Fetherolf), 219
and 223 Fourth St.
This building once housed the Tivoli Saloon, one of
the wildest bars in the county where local deputies
discouraged drunken cowboys from riding their horses
through the establishment.4James Fetherolf, owner of
the saloon and thirteen rooms of the Keystone Hotel above
page 37

it, was also the barkeep. Fetherolf and his brother,
Francis, built the hotel in 1904 from native rhyolite
stone, adorning it with several double-hung windows
topped by flat arches.12'7 The roof is flat but
originally boasted an elaborate cornice which has since
been removed. A hall on the second floor of the building
held dances once a month on Saturday nights from 9:00
p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and on special occasions such as New
Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, high
school commencements, Fourth of July, September County
Fairs, and Halloween.12 The building changed hands many
times and contained a number of businesses such as a shoe
shop, cafe, hardware store, clothing store, a small
grocery store, pool hall, and barber shop. In 1946, Otto
and Ollie Schultz bought the old hotel, remodeled it into
an apartment building, and sealed up all the first-floor
windows with matching colored stone.12'5 Currently the
downstairs is occupied by Jester's bar, a shoe repair
shop, photography studio, and bike shop, while the
upstairs is used as apartments. Local historian and
school teacher Bob Lowenberg claims it needs "love and
care by a person who respects its age and value to the
page 38

B&B Cafe (1930's: builder unknown), 322 Wilcox St.
The local hot spot for everything from town gossip
to political debates to free financial advice is the B&B
Cafe. The cafe has been operating in its present spot
across the street from the County Courthouse and later
the County Administration Building, since 1930.131 B&B
customers refer to it as the "Beans and Bullshit" Cafe
and one patron claimed, "More business goes on at that
place than at the Administration Building across the
The cafe's gem is its onyx and marble bar which was
acquired from a deserted Leadville saloon by B&B's first
owners, Jack and Edythe Moore.133 The bar was
constructed in Italy and transported to Leadville in the
1880's.13n The cafe's interior also features a green
pressed-tin ceiling with a bullet hole from a 1946
shootout that left Town Sheriff Ray Lewis dead after he
tried to apprehend escaped convict, Manuel Perez.13
First National Bank/ Douglas Lodge (1904: builder
unknown), 300 Wilcox St.
Arguably one of the most elegant buildings in Castle
Rock, this Richardsonian Romanesque structure has local
rhyolite stone walls, a flat roof adorned with cornice
brackets and frieze decorations, and a double-arched
page 39

doorway. A crowning touch to the structure is the
radiating voussouirs of the second story rectangular
windows. The building was constructed in 1904 and its
initial tenant was the First National Bank of Douglas
County.13 bank doors closed and did not reopen until 1937 when the
building was purchased by its current owner, the Douglas
County Masons. This structure is still used as a
gathering place for Masonic members and is currently
being considered by the Colorado Historical Preservation
Review Board for nomination to the National Register of
Historic Places and State Register of Historic
Properties. 3-TS~!'
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church (1888: John
Baptiste Ehmanon), 210 Third St.
St. Francis of Assisi Church was reportedly the
first church built in Castle Rock.130 This rhyolite
structure features a high pitched gable roof, with boxed
cornices and a small gabled vestibule. Triangular-arched
windows with protruding sills frame stained glass and a
rosette window peaks above the vestibule.
The church was construted in 1888 by German born
stonemason John Baptiste Ehmanon, who cut the native
page 40

rhyolite stone in a rough manner which adds to the quaint
appearance of the church. Ehmanon's funeral was held in
the church in 1909. Among the more notable Reverends to
serve St. Francis of Assist Church was Father Dezonia
Streidle, the "Padre of Kiowa Creek," who was ordained in
Illinois in 1921 and spent thirty-seven years of his life
preaching in the Douglas County area.13'5 In 1966 the St.
Francis congregation built a new church east of Castle
Rock and put their old house of worship up for sale.
Ironically, the once holy building is now established as
a restaurant and bar called The Stone Church Restaurant.
In August 1994, J.P. Cochran, the present owner of the
restaurant, expanded the kitchen area on the building's
southeast side. The addition consists of a steeply
pitched roofline, wood wall facing, and new stained glass
windows. A'*
Owens House (1870's: builder unknown), 213 & 215 Perry St.
Mary Ann Foster bought the land from William Cantril
in 1875. By 1879 her two-story, wooden home was
completed with a cross-gabled roof, three gabled dormers,
and open-cone terraced porch with decorative railings.
The contrast between arched second story windows and
first floor rectangular windows reveals an Italianate
page 41

influence. The fifteen room structure was used as a
residence until October 11, 1879 when it was purchased by
David Owens who converted it into a hotel.141 Owens, a
New Yorker who moved to Colorado in 1859, tried his hand
at a number of activities such as the First Colorado
Calvary, mining, and ranching, before settling down in
the Castle Rock hotel business.142 Owens advertised his
hotel as a reasonably priced, first class establishment
and claimed, "Travelers, pleasure and health seekers will
find this the prettiest, cosiest and neatest hotel
outside of Denver." Located "in one of the healthiest
and most picturesque spots in Colorado" it is no wonder
the Owens house attracted tuberculosis patients and
became a "home away from home" for traveling County
Commissioners.143 In 1892 the hotel's name was changed
to the Cottage Hotel by one of its many successive
owners, John Burke.144 In 1937 the building underwent
extensive remodeling by yet another owner, Joseph Burke,
who converted the hotel into apartments.1455 The ceiling
was lowered, windows and fireplaces filled, the terraced
porch torn down, and most altering, a stucco finish added
to the entire structure. It is still used as apartments
today and survives "as one of the best preserved of
Castle Rock's original hotels. "14<£>
page 42

City Hotel (1870's: John Harris), 415, 417, 419 Perry St.
Once the site of Castle Rock's first hotel, this
building now appears worn, tired, and weather-beaten.
Its builder, an Englishman named John Harris, moved from
Memphis, Tennessee to Douglas County with his brother,
Tom, in 1871. He established a town two miles northwest
of Castle Rock called New Memphis.1*7' John Harris
constructed a vernacular wood hotel to welcome visitors
to the new town. The two-story, L-shaped building has
several double-hung windows and is topped by a front
gable roof. The high hopes that the Harris brothers had
for their town were crushed when Castle Rock became the
county seat in 1874 and attracted most of the settlers.
In 1877 Tom moved his family and various New Memphis
buildings, including the hotel, to the larger town of
Castle Rock.1*0 After this move, Tom spotted an eagle
nesting atop the Castle Rock formation and shot it.
Since it had an impressive six-foot wing span, he had it
stuffed, spread its wings out, and hung it in the lobby
of his hotel, presenting a grand spectacle for his
guests.1*1* Tom changed the name of the building from the
Harris Hotel to the Castle Rock House and placed it only
one block from the depot, an ideal location that helped
his business considerably. Besides his thriving hotel
page 43

profession, Tom became the town's second mayor. In 1884
he won a second term which ended abruptly when he was
struck in the streets of Castle Rock by a runaway steer
and died five days later.1830 In 1890 the hotel was
renamed City Hotel by its owner at the time.101 It
exchanged hands several times but always remained a
popular business within the town. A 1928 Castle Rock
Journal article described the business as "a first-class
hotel" and informed its readers that the new owners would
be serving "a big chicken dinner on opening day."112 At
present, the old hotel is an apartment building.
Cantril Courthouse (1874: William Cantril), 315 Fourth
This wooden building with peaked gable roof and
overhanging eaves was built in 1874 by William Cantril on
his ranch in Franktown for use as the county courthouse
there.13 When Castle Rock became the county seat in
1874, the Cantril courthouse was moved to its present
location on Fourth Street. It served as the county
courthouse until a new stone one was constructed fifteen
years later in 1889.1* Since then, the building has
been used for a variety of functions such as the First
National Bank office, the Castle Rock Journal office, a
general store, restaurant, apartments, and a sign
page 44

shop.1 Its first floor is currently used as a
locksmith shop with apartments upstairs.
Upton Treat Smith House (1902: Upton Treat Smith), 403
Cantril St.
The decorative features of this house give it a
diferent appearance than other rhyolite structures in
Castle Rock. Besides a steep gable roof with overhanging
eaves and tall, narrow, sash windows, the house has
roughhewn stone lintels and wooden trim casings that are
painted white and resemble picket fence designs. There
is also a hipped porch supported by wooden posts and
decorative brackets. The house was built in 1902 by
Upton Treat Smith, a Civil War veteran from Maine who
moved to Colorado in 1869 hoping to find his fortune in
gold at Central City.183* Like many who came before him,
Smith was not successful at mining and in 1872 he went
back to Maine, but only long enough to marry Sarah E.
Grout. The two immediately went West and settled on a
homestead in West Plum Creek, eight miles southwest of
Castle Rock, where they stayed for the next twenty-five
years. Smith moved his family to Castle Rock in 1902 and
in 1907 he was elected treasurer of Douglas County, a
position he held for seven years.17. Smith also served
page 45

as vice-president of the First National Bank of Douglas
County and later as president of the People's Bank of
Castle Rock.iSS Smith, who was affectionately labeled by
the Castle Rock Journal as "one of our best citizens,"
died July 7, 1925 and ten years later his wife, Sarah,
joined him.1'5 Possession of the house passed to their
children and has since had several owners, but remains a
residence. ;L Christ Episcopal Church (1907/ many additions: Charles
Herb), 615 Fourth St.
A fine example of rusticated, uncoursed local
rhyolite stone adorns this early century church. The
1906-07 construction of the central nave, which features
several stained glass Gothic lancet windows with heavy
lintels and a steep gable roof with overhanging eaves,
was done by local stonemason Charles Herb and was
financed by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ellis and consecrated by
Bishop C.L. Olmsted.On August 11, 1906 a ceremony
celebrating the church's construction was conducted by
Reverend Schofield, Archdeacon of the Diocese, and
Reverend James McLaughlin, who served the congregation of
the nascent church. During the ceremony, a marble
cornerstone was laid and those present paid homage to
their town's heritage by placing behind the stone an
page 46

August 10, 1906 issue of the Castle Rock Journal, as well
as a list of the town officers elected that spring and
several prominent Reverends who served the area.162 In
1911, Mrs. Ellis supported the addition of an east end
sanctuary in memory of her husband. A third addition to
the church took the form of a parish hall, kitchen,
narthex, restrooms, and sacristy in 1954, the same year
that the congregation became a mission of Ascension
Church in Denver. Three years later the congregation
gained parish status and purchased extra lots and a house
to the west of the church as a rectory for the new
minister.1*3 A 1958 purchase of land on the north side
of the building and a 1965 educational wing and belltower
addition gave the church its present appearance.1**^
Cantril School (1897: builder unknown), 320 Cantril St.
The Cantril School perches atop "schoolhouse hill"
and creates an impressive image upon the landscape of the
small community. The "most architecturally significant"
structure left after the burning of the old Courthouse,
this two-story lava rock building features a belltower
and hipped roof supported by ornate scroll designed
cornice brackets.1** The main entryway to the school is
set at the base of the belltower and consists of a round
page 47

arch which rests upon foliated imposts. The arch is
interjected by a keystone and radiating voussoirs. The
building's windows are rectangular with transoms above
each, with the exception of the upper bell tower windows
which consist of round arches.
The Cantril School is considered the area's best
example of the Italianate Villa architectural style.
Constructed in 1896-97, the school was described by the
local newspaper as "an ornament to the town.1*7' The
building was originally named after William W. Cantril,
one of Douglas County's early pioneers and ranchers, and
it served as the first county-wide school offering
courses for grades 1-12 until 1912.1s's When a new,
larger County High School was built in 1912, the old
Cantril School was renamed the Castle Rock Elementary
School and provided space and classes for grades 1-8
until 1961. From 1961-1968 it was used for grades 1-6
and from 1968-1984 the school offered kindergarten
through third grade classes. In 1984 the building was
awarded National Register status. The same year it
was converted into office space for the Douglas County
School District and is currently being used as the School
District Media Center.17'0 Long range goals for the
building include its purchase by the county and eventual
page 48

conversion into a county museum and archival center.171
Kent Brandeberry, former vice-chairman of the Douglas
County Historic Preservation Board, which is currently
leading the move to fulfill this goal, claimed the
Cantril School was singled out as the future site for a
county museum because "it is the most historically
significant public building in Douglas County." Asked if
he believed the acquisition would take place, Brandeberry
optimistically added, "I think it's a done deal."X7r3:
Dver House (1875: Samuel Dyer), 208 Cantril St.
This Victorian style house is one of the oldest
frame structures in Castle Rock. Built in three stages,
the middle section was constructed first and consisted of
a modified shed roof, triangular dormer, bay window, and
upstairs living space. The high gable roof and porch,
with decorative bracket support beams found on the front
section, was constructed next, followed by the back
section which now contains a kitchen and bathroom. The
house was built in 1875 by its first occupant, Samuel
Dyer, son of the famous Methodist circuit preacher,
Father John Dyer.17,3 After being appointed County Clerk
and Recorder in 1874, Samuel decided that the journey
from his remote ranch in Cherry Valley to his duty as
page 49

clerk in Castle Rock everyday was too hard for a man who
had lost his left foot at the Battle of Chancellorville
during the Civil War.1"7* Six years after settling into
his white frame Castle Rock house, Samuel married Esther
Mary Alexander, widow of Dr. W.J. Alexander, one of the
first doctors in Douglas County.17re> The two lived in the
house a short time before moving to Pueblo and then to
Cripple Creek with Samuel's father who wanted to preach
to the gold mining camps.17r<;*
The house survived as a residence until 1984 when
its current owner, wishing to develop the property into
apartments, informed the town government that it would be
torn down unless it was relocated to another site.17"'7
After no suitable property was found, the Town Board
finally opted to buy the entire property as a final
attempt to prevent the demolition of the historic
house.17 On September 11, 1984, Castle Rock voters
rejected a mill levy tax increase that would have been
used to fund the Dyer house and property by a 498 to 322
margin.17"^ After this defeat, the Town Board put the
house up for sale and it is currently being used as a
private residence once again.
page 50

Hammar House (1887: Benjamin Hammar), 203 Cantril St.
Another fine example of a late 19th century Castle
Rock stone house is the Benjamin Hammar House, also known
to local residents as the "Doctor's House." Since its
construction in 1887, this one and one-half story
Italianate style building has been the home of several
well-known Castle Rock residents. Stonemason Benjamin
Hammar was co-owner of the Castle Rock Stone Company and
later owner of the Santa Fe Quarry. He built the house
and he and his family lived in it for two years. During
those years the house was reportedly one of the major
social gathering places of early Castle Rock.100 In 1902
the house was purchased by Dr. George E. Alexander, a
native of Connecticut who practiced medicine in Fort
Collins, Colorado before moving to Castle Rock. Dr.
Alexander set up his medical practice in the house and
utilized a barn in the backyard to house the one-horse
drawn carriage that he used to make house calls. At the
time of his death in 1947, Dr. Alexander was among the
country's oldest physicians having spent sixty years
practicing medicine in Colorado.101 The house stayed
under the ownership of the Alexander family until 1988
when it was sold to Lionel Oberlin, member of the Castle
Rock Historic Preservation Board, and his wife Starr,
page 51

current president of the Castle Rock Historical
On February 3, 1993 the Hammar House became Castle
Rock's first residential structure to be placed on the
National Register of Historic Places.103 A major reason
for the designation was that the house has remained
virtually untouched since its original construction in
1887. The T-shaped structure retains its original four-
over-four wooden double-hung windows featuring lintels
with stylized stone Roman arches emphasizing raised
keystones with elaborate carving between the top of the
window and arch. Perhaps the most notable attraction of
the house is steep pitched side gable roof with a small
front gable in the center of the facade which tops a
wooden Victorian balcony. The original portion of the
house is made of native rhyolite stone and rests on a
stone foundation. A wooden addition in the rear of the
house sits on a concrete foundation.
Cedar Hill Cemetery (1875), 880 E. Wolfensberger Rd.
Established in 1875, Cedar Hill Cemetery is one of
the more peaceful spots in the county.10'* Shade trees
adorn the older section of the yard where many of Castle
Rock's pioneers were laid to rest. Here the visitor can
page 52

call upon the graves of Benjamin Hammar, Thorwald and
Victoria Christensen, Judge Elias F. Dyer, William
Cantril, and George E. Alexander.1,30
In the 1880's, entry was on its south side, but a new
road laid out on the cemetery's north side led to
construction of a north entrance.106 In the late 1880's,
Cemetery Society members announced more improvements to
the graveyard:
The Castle Rock Cemetery Society would politely
request all who have friends interred in the
cemetery of the place, or others who desire to aid
us in digging a well, putting up a wind mill and
enclosing the grounds with a neat, substantial fence
to send their contributions to the treasurer of the
The well was completed in Jaunuary of 1889, cost
$117.75, and spanned six feet in diameter.xe)m In 1967
wooden crosses located in the southeastern part of the
cemetery, called Potter's Field, were replaced with metal
plates set in concrete by the caretaker at the time,
Clarence Arrington. Mr. Arrington also constructed a new
sign for Cedar Hill's entrance gate.;,,,
The peace of Cedar Hill Cemetery was broken in 1978
when the tombstone of Judge Elias F. Dyer was stolen.
After the theft was broadcasted on a local television
station, the tombstone was found the next morning
abandoned along a roadside and reinstalled in the
page 53

Other vandalism occured in 1882 when
nineteen gravestones were knocked over,
none were broken .
page 54

1. History, 26. Robert Lowenberg, Castle Rock: A Grassroots Castle Rock, Colorado: Lowenberg, Ltd., 1980, p.
2. Edwin James, Account of An Expedition from
Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains 1819-20, Philadelphia:
H.C. Carey and I. Lea, 1823, p.16; Lowenberg: Castle
Rock; A Grassroots History, p. 21 notes that although it
is an established fact that the Long expedition did
indeed sight and name a formation "Castle Rock," careful
historical and geographical analysis indicates that they
were probably observing the formation now called
"Elephant Rock" located between Palmer Lake and Monument,
3. Lowenberg, p. 22.
4. Stevens, Thomas J. Noel, Paul F. Mahoney, and Richard E. Historical Atlas of Colorado, Oklahoma:
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1994, p. 28; Anne
Moore, "The History of Douglas County," in Our Heritage:
People of Douglas County. Ed. The Book Committee, Shawnee
Mission, Kansas: Inter-Collegiate Press, 1981, p. 333.
5. Moore, p. 347-48.
6. Ibid., p. 348.
7. Castle Rock Journal, March 5, 1897.
8. Mr. and Mrs. James Rose Harvey, "Quarries of the
Castle Rock Area," Colorado Magazine, vol. 23, no.3, May
1946, p. 115.
9. Castle Rock Journal, November 9, 1881.
10. Harvey, p.118.
11. Interview with Robert Lowenberg, April 2, 1994.
12. Castle Rock Journal, February 13, 1903.
13. Douglas County News, Walk with Our Pioneers,
December 12, 1974.
page 55

14. Frank Hall, History of the State of Colorado,
Chicago: The Blakely Printing Co., 1891, p.332 and 336.
15. Rocky Mountain News, March 18, 1874.
16. Lowenberg, p. 24.
17. Rocky Mountain News, April 15, 1874.
18. Daily Denver Tribune, April 21, 1874.
19. Rocky Mountain News, June 17, 1874. .
20. Ibid., April 29, 1874.
21. Lowenberg, p.25; Douglas County News, "Walk
With Our Pioneers", December 12, 1974.
22. Rocky Mountain News, June 25, 1874.
23. Lowenberg, p. 26.
24. Douglas County News, "Walk With Our Pioneers",
December 12, 1974.
25. Ibid.
26. Castle Rock Journal, December 4, 1889.
27. Ibid., February 8, 1888.
28. Interview with Robert Lowenberg, April 2, 1994
29. Castle Rock Journalf August 17, 1900.
30. United States Census Records, 1880, 1900.
31. Castle Rock Journal, May 28, 1884.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid., June 4, 1884.
34. Interview with Starr Oberlin, April 6, 1994.
35. Castie Rock Journal, July 19, 1897.
36. Colorado Historical Society National Register
page 56

of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, "Douglas
County Courthouse."
37. 1995. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
38. Castle Rock Journal, July 6, 1900.
39. Ibid., July 6, 1901.
40. Ibid., June 13, 1902.
41. Ibid., December 4, 1889.
42. Ibid., August 13, 1909.
43. Colorado Business Directory, 1921, pp. 200-202
44. Castle Rock Journal, December 16, 1921.
45. Ibid., November 29, 1935.
CO Ibid., April 19, 1931.
47. Ibid., May 29, 1931.
48. Ibid., August 16, 1929.
49. Ibid., June 12, 1936.
50. Colorado Business Directory, 1931, p. 186.
51. Castle Rock Journal, November 13, 1936.
52. Ibid., February 12, 1932.
53. Ibid.; Denver Post, February 10, 1932, p. 1.
54. Ibid., April 8, 1932.
55. Ibid., November 13, 1936.
56. Ibid., November 4, 1932.
57. Ibid., December 22, 1933.
58. Ibid., August 18, 1939.
page 57

59. Douglas County News, November 18, 1965.
60. Ibid., December 2, 1965.
61. Ibid., June 24, 1965.
62. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
63. Douglas County News, June 25, 1965.
64. Ibid.
65. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
66. Douglas County News, July 1, 1965.
67. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
68. Douglas County News, May 4, 1967; For a listing
of Philip S. Miller's many occupations and
accomplishments see Douglas County News Press, April 6,
1988, p. 13.
69. Ibid., May 9, 1968.
70. Denver Post, February 18, 1977; Douglas County
News, March 23, 1978.
71. Lowenberg, p. 143; .Douglas County News, July
19, 1978.
72. The courthouse was placed on the National
Register on September 8, 1976, Letter in National
Register of Historic Places File, Douglas County
Courthouse," Colorado Historical Society; Newspaper and
date unknown, Reference Vertical file, Local History
Collection, Phillip S. Miller Library; Douglas County
Town and Squire, April 21, 1978; April 28, 1978.
73. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
74. Douglas County News, August 15, 1979.
75. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
page 58

76. Douglas County News, November 22, 1983.
77. Interview with George Hoover, August 8, 1995.
78. Ibid.
79. Denver Post, March 4, 1984, A-2.
80. Ibid., December 12, 1984, NDC.
81. Ibid., March 4, 1984, NDC.
82. Ibid., A-12.
NDC. 83. Ibid., August 8, 1984, NDC; August 29, 1984,
84. February NDC. Ibid., July 4, 1984, NDC; July 18, 1984, 1984, NDC; May 9, 1984, NDC-1; March 13, NDC; 1985,
85. Ibid., March 21, 1984, NDC-4.
NDC; 86. Ibid., February 22, 1984, NDC; January 9 March 29, 1985, NDC. , 1985
87. Ibid., July 9, 1987, B-l.
88. "Downtown Urban Design Plan for the Town Castle Rock," Denver, Colorado: RNL Design, July 7 p. 2. of 1994
89. Ibid., p. 23.
90. Ibid.
91. Ibid., p. 16.
92. Douglas County News, February 8, 1995.
93. Ibid., March 22, 1995.
June 94. 24, Rocky Mountain News, January 21, 1995, p 1995, p. 51A. . 49A;
95. Ibid., February 1, 1995; March 15, 1995.
page 59

96. 1994. Ibid., March 22, 1995; May 18, 1994; August 6,
97. 1995. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
CO 05 Town of Castle Rock, "Historic Preservation
Board Handbook," May 5, 1994, pp. 5-6
CO CO Rocky Mountain News, March 18, 1874.
100. Castle Rock Journal, December 29, 1886.
101. Douglas County News, December 12, 1974;
'Schools in Castle Rock: I Central Section," in Our
Heritage: People of Douglas County, p. 368.
102. Denver Post, May 12, 1989.
103. Lowenberg, p. 120.
104. Castle Rock Journal, November 4, 1921;
November 18, 1921
105. Ibid., November 18, 1921.
106. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
Committee, "Historic Castle Rock Structures: A Walking
Tour," 1981.
107. Lowenberg, p. 121.
108. Ibid., p.78; The Town of Castle Rock and the
Centennial Committee, "Historic Castle Rock Structures:
Walking Tour."
109. Heritage: Rose M. Tuggle, "John Schweiger," in Our People of Douglas County, pp. 247-248.
110. Lowenberg, p. 79; The Town of Castle Rock and
the Centennial Committee, "Historic Castle Rock
Structures: A Walking Tour."
111. Rocky Mountain News, December 26, 1964.
112. Interview with Joanna Stone, April 14, 1994.
page 60

113. Reference Vertical Files, Local History
Collection, Phillip S. Miller Library.
114. Lowenberg, p. 71.
115. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
Committee, "Historic Castle Rock Structures: A Walking
116. Lowenberg, p. 71; Castle Rock Journal, April
6, 1917.
117. Interview with Starr Oberlin, April 6, 1994.
118. Gravestone of Victoria Christensen, Cedar Hill
119. "Victoria's House," Plans of Restoration and
Addition of Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce, January 25,
1995, Michael H. Collins, architect; Castle Rock
Historic Preservation Board Memo, January 28, 1995;
February 11, 1995.
120. Lowenberg, p. 26.
121. Rocky Mountain A/ews, July 12, 1874; July 18,
122. Letter to M/M William Murray from D.H. Hammar,
January 5, 1970; Colorado Historical Society National
Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form,
"Benjamin Hammar House."
123. Colorado Historical Society National Register
of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, "Castle
Rock Depot."
124. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
Committee, "Castle Rock Historic Structures: A Grassroots
125. Minutes of the Castle Rock Historic
Preservation Board, February 1, 1995; Castle Rock
Historical Society, Drawn plans for Castle Rock Depot.
126. Newspaper and date unknown, Newspaper
Clippings Notebook, Local History Collection, Phillip S.
Miller Library.
page 61

127. Lowenberg, p. 52; Castle Rock Historic
Buildings Inventory, "Keystone Hotel."
128. Douglas County News, January 18, 1987.
129. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
Committee, "Castle Rock Historic Structures: A Walking
130. Interview with Robert Lowenberg, January 15,
131. B&B Cafe menu.
132. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
133. Denver Post, January 11, 1987, B-l.
134. B&B Cafe menu.
135. Castle Rock Journal, February 15, 1946; Rocky
Mountain News, March 30, 1986, p. 18.
136. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
Committee, "Castle Rock Historic Structures: A Walking
137. Letter to Mike Davenport, Town Planner, from
Lane Ittelson, Deputy State Historic Preservation
Officer, January 19, 1995.
138. Castle Rock Historic Buildings Inventory, "St.
Francis of Assisi Church."
139. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
Committee, "Castle Rock Historic Structures: A Walking
Tour;" Lowenberg, p. 132.
140. Letter to J.P. Cochran from John Carlson,
Castle Rock Historic Preservation Board Chairman, August
11, 1994; Drawn plans for Stone Church Restaurant
141. Lowenberg, p. 48; The Town of Castle Rock and
the Centennial Committee, "Castle Rock Historic
Structures: A Walking Tour."
page 62

142. Castle Rock Journal, June 20, 1888.
143. Ibid., July 13, 1881; Douglas County News,
December 12, 1974.
144. Castle Rock Journal, June 22, 1892.
145. Lowenberg, pp. 50-51.
146. Castle Rock Historic Buildings Inventory,
"Owens House."
147. Ibid., "City Hotel."
148. Conversation with Johanna Harden, January 6,
1994; In an interview with Robert Lowenberg, January 15
1994, the author was told that John Harris also moved t
Castle Rock and set up a carpenter shop.
149. Interview with Bob Lowenberg, January 15,
150. Castle Rock Journal, August 13, 1884; August
20, 1884.
151. Lowenberg, p. 44.
152. Castle Rock Journal, October 19, 1928.
153. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
154. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
Committee, "Castle Rock Historic Structures: A Walking
155. Castle Rock Historic Buildings Inventory,
"Cantril Courthouse."
156. Douglas County News, July 23, 1970; Portrait
and Biographical Record of Denver and Vicinity, Chicago
Chapman Publishing Co., 1988, pp. 1230-1231.
157. Castle Rock Journal, July 19, 1925; Denver
Post, April 8, 1935.
158. Wilbur Fiske Stone, ed., The History of
page 63

Colorado, iv, Chicago: SJ Clark Publishing Co., 1913, p.
159. Castle Rock Journal, July 10, 1925.
160. Interview with Starr Oberlin, April 6, 1994.
161. "75th Anniversary," Christ Episcopal Church,
1982, p.l; Interview with Peggy Theriault, August 7,
162. Douglas County Record, August 24, 1906; Castl
Rock Journal, August 17, 1906; August 10, 1906.
163. "Christ Church, Castle Rock," in Our Heritage
People of Douglas County, p. 395, 396; Cervi's Journal,
December 29, 1955, p. 11.
164. Newspaper unknown, May 2, 1974, Newspaper
Clippings Notebook, Local History Collection, Phillip S.
Miller Library.
165. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
Committee, "Castle Rock Historic Structures: A Walking
166. Colorado Historical Society National Register
of Historic Places, "Castle Rock Elementary School."
167. Castle Rock Journal, July 23, 1897.
168. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
Committee, "Castle Rock Historic Structures: A Walking
169. Denver Post, November 7, 1984, NDC-1.
170. Colorado Historical Society National Register
of Historic Places, "Castle Rock Elementary School."
171. See "A Window of Opportunity," Cantril School
County Museum, Douglas County Historic Preservation
Board, April 5, 1994.
172. Interview with Kent Brandeberry, March 24,
173. The Town of Castle Rock and the Centennial
page 64

Committee, "Castle Rock Historic Structures: A Walking
174. Interview with Robert Lowenberg, January 15,
175. Lowenberg, pp.88-89.
176. Dyer House File, "S.M. Dyer House," Local
History Collection, Phillip S. Miller Library.
177. Douglas County News, May 3, 1983.
178. "Castle Rock Community Letter," Castle Rock
Town Board, 1984.
179. Interview with Robert Lowenberg, January 14,
1994; Denver Post, September 19, 1984, NDC-4.
180. Colorado Historical Society National Register
of Historic Places, "Benjamin Hammar House;" Castle Rock
Historic Buildings Inventory, "The Doctor's House."
181. Douglas County News, May 12, 1993.
182. Colorado Historical Society National Register
of Historic Places, "Benjamin Hammar House."
183. Letter to Castle Rock Historical Society from
Colorado State Preervation Officer, James E. Hartmann,
May 12, 1993.
184. Colorado Cemetery Inscriptions for Douglas
Countyf Kiowa County<, Larimer Countyf Lincoln Countyf
Prowers County, Denver Public Library, p. 97; Kay R.
Merril, Ed., Colorado Cemetery Directory, Denver,
Colorado: Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies,
1985, p. 166.
185. "Cedar Hill Cemetery," Douglas County Cemetery
Records, Phillip S. Miller Library.
186. Castle Rock Journal , May 31, 1882
187. Ibid., November 12, 1888.
188. Ibid., January 23, 1889.
page 65

189. Colorado Cemetery Inscriptions for Dougla
County, Kiowa County, Larimer County, Lincoln County
Prowers County, Denver Public Library, p. 97,
190. Douglas County News, June 29, 1978.
191. Ibid., September 29, 1982.
page 66

In the sleepy, secluded valley of the upper Platte
River's southfork, rest a string of small, quiet
communities. Throughout the history of the region,
settlements have sprouted with colorful names like
Nighthawk, Twin Cedars, Daffodil, and the less colorful
Pemberton, Trumbull, and West Creek. Nevertheless, those
settlements that still exist today are collectively known
as Deckers, the site of a popular turn-of-the-century
health and mineral springs resort. The success of
Stephen D. Decker and his resort remains as only one of
many examples of entrepreneurial activities which occured
within the valley. Indeed, since its beginnings, the
upper South Platte River valley has been a seedbed for
the flowering of entrepreneurs, many of whom attempted to
capitalize directly upon the extraction and occasional
marketing of local resources such as timber, gold, lithia
springs water, and finally fish. Despite the boom and
bust cycles these industries saw, the region has always
retained a sense of serenity and beauty that has
attracted visitors for years.
From the 1870s through the turn-of-the-century, the
page 67

upper South Platte valley resonated with the whirl and
whine of various sawmills stationed along the river
itself. "We visited the Platte river last week,"
reported an 1889 issue of the Castle Rock Journal"and
found that part of the country devoted largely to the
lumber interests."1 Owners of these mills took advantage
of their prime location within the Plum Creek Timber and
Land Reserve, a 179,000 acre forest which, with the
adjoining Pike's Peak Reserve, makes up part of the Pike
National Forest.2 Lumber was retrieved from the
reserves, cut in the mills, and transported either by
river drives or hauled over land by oxen and horse teams
to the nearest railroad town, South Platte Station where
the logs were shipped to markets like Denver.3 By 1879,
there were ten or more mills in operation along the river
and ten years later 200,000 feet of lumber was reportedly
carried out of the area each week."1 Among the most
successful mill operators were the John Mouat Lumber
Company, the South Platte Land and Lumber Company, and
the organizations of G. Kearney, S.S. Kendall, W.W.
Alpine, and Tim Gill.53
John Mouat and his brother Jerry also earned an
important role in the history of the area as the primary
builders of the Sugar Creek road, part of today's State
page 68

Road 67.^ Roads which connected the secluded valley to
towns like Denver and Castle Rock that lay beyond the
Rampart Range were rare during this time and the
construction of the Sugar Creek road was considered vital
to the economic survival of the area. "The people are
becoming awake to the necessity of having public roads to
the mountains," reported the Castle Rock Journal, "They
should have been laid out ten years ago."7r The grade
along Sugar Creek was more gradual than other sites along
the range and thus, better suited for road construction.
Nonetheless, the Mouat brothers no doubt had business
interests in mind when they chose the road's site in
1887.s Their mill was conveniently located at the
intersection of Sugar Creek and the South Platte River.
In 1889, a local newspaper reported the progress of
the road: "They are now at work on a road up Sugar Creek,
which, when completed, will be five miles long and the
best mountain road the writer ever saw."? Gwendolin
Ammons, one of the area's pioneers, was not as impressed
by the road and remembered it as "at best only a
makeshift wagon road."10 She thought more complimentary
of another road which wound ten miles along the South
Platte River on an abandoned railroad grade from South
Platte Station to just beyond Mouat's Mill on Sugar
page 69

Creek. Some time before 1885, the Colorado and Southern
Railroad constructed the grade in hopes of connecting
with the Colorado Midland Railway in the vicinity of
Woodland Park. When that plan failed, the county took
over the grade for use as a road.11 It remains in use
today and still affords a "magnificent ride."i:E
In 1885, the Ammons family acquired the Ox Yoke
Ranch, just south of Mouat's Mill, from Theodore
Roosevelt Metz, a West Virginian who homesteaded the land
with his family of ten children sometime prior to 1876.
Metz owned several oxen and used his teams to draw
freight between Leadville and Denver during the summer
time.13 One of the wooden yokes which held the draft
animals together during the summer hauling, was suspended
from the large corral gate to the ranch and supplied it
with its name.
The Metz family constructed several buildings on the
Ox Yoke land. Among these structures were two houses, a
store room, milk house and several barns, stables, and
sheds. In 1885, during a violent summer storm, a flash
flood raged through the valley and swept many of these
buildings away. Apparently, the disaster was more than
the Metz family could handle. They packed their bags and
left by the summer's end leaving the ranch and the Ox
page 70

Yoke cattle brand in the hands of the Ammons family.14
Although family ranches similar to the Ox Yoke
property peppered the river valley during the early
1880's and 1890's, the region remained isolated and
sparsely populated. This seclusion often set the area
apart as a source of weekend refuge for Denverites and
other city dwellers. "Never before have the mountains
been fresher and more inviting to persons who enjoy
nature," reported the Castle Rock Journal The Sugar
Creek correspondent for the Castle Rock Journal observed
in August 1889, "People from Denver are frequent visitors
to our creek. "1 Another journalist in the same issue
commented that the area's "grand mountain scenery" was
"appreciated by the people from the metropolis who spend
much time here breathing the pure air, enjoying the
scenery and partaking of the hospitalities of the
company."1'7' However, by 1895, something besides the
scenery and fresh air lured people to the area: gold
Captain George F. Tyler, who sent his son to Denver
in April 1895 with ore samples extracted from his ranch
between Trout Creek and West Creek in hopes of persuading
some professional mining men to make a thorough
investigation of the mining prospects in the area,
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triggered the short-lived gold rush of the West Creek
District. A couple months later, G.A. Kennedy arrived
with a chemical assay outfit and made several tests of
the Tyler ranch rock. When he reported that these tests
yielded from five to fifteen dollars a sample, hundreds
of argonauts flocked to the area to stake their claims.1,3
A comparison of the region to infamous Cripple Creek in
an October 1895 issue of the Castle Rock Journal revealed
inflated hopes:
Several persons who were at Cripple Creek when that
camp was being developed, say that at the surface
Cripple Creek could not show as much rock that run
in gold or that carried as much gold as the camp
here. And we know of no one who has examined and
has said to the contrary.
By December 1895, the Castle Rock Journal reported
that, "There is now scarcely a foot of government land
not covered by a claim...A person can travel either north
or south for five miles and be on mining claims."20
Encouraged by this initial success, Captain Tyler
arranged to have a townsite named Tyler, Tyler City, or
Bunker Hill surveyed on his ranch which was "destined to
be a central location in the great camp on West Creek. "2;L
Tyler obtained a post office in November 1895 and by
January 1896 the Castle Rock Journal reported, "Tyler is
growing and is the only town in the West Creek district
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that can yet boast of a real post office.33
As more and more miners poured into the area, about
five hundred square miles opened up for prospectors and
within weeks other campsites such as Pemberton, West
Creek, North West Creek, North Cripple Creek, Ackerman,
Trumbull, and Given were quickly established.33
Pemberton was the largest of these camps, laid out on
land belonging to Walsh Pemberton, one of the area's
prominent ranchers. The demand for lots in Pemberton was
so high "that it seemed impossible to stake them off fast
enough for buyers. Lots were surveyed, sold and
buildings begun all within a day."34 By January 1896,
Pemberton was "booming. Houses are going up as rapidly
as lumber can be secured."33 Businesses in the town
included restaurants, grocery stores, saloons, feed
stores, butcher shops, real estate offices, surveyors'
offices, a blacksmith shop, a hardware store, and a
barber shop.3* The population of the town in January hit
500, but a month later it doubled to 1000.33 The success
of the town prompted a Rocky Mountain News reporter to
muse, "...mining promises to be the leading industry in
the county at no distant day."3e
By February 1896, the inhabitants of the many
campsites throughout the region decided to unite as one
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town called West Creek, the name of the mining district.
They summarily filed for a petition with the County
Commissioners which called for an election of
incorporation. On March 16, 1896 all 123 votes were cast
in favor, and West Creek became Douglas County's second
incorporated town.3'5 The 1896 Colorado Business
Directory gave the new town and mining district a golden
It is beautifully situated in the center of the West
Creek Mining District, and is the largest town in
the territory... Among the other advantages, besides
the mountains of undeveloped wealth, are first class
water and water power. Game and fish in abundance,
pure air enriched with ozone, and the most
picturesque scenery. All of which, with the iron
mineral springs, makes this highly favored
locality a resort for both health and wealth.30
However, the glory days of the West Creek Mining
District were short-lived. When surface ores diminished,
the miners turned to hard rock mining which drained just
as quickly and a soaring population of 1,200 in 1896 fell
drastically by the next year to a mere 100.31 The number
of saloons fell from thirteen in 1896 to only two in
1897, while restaurants dropped from eight to two and
hotels from four to just one.32 By the summer of 1898,
nearly two-thirds of the habitable buildings in the town
were vacant.33
Many of the fortune-seekers who ventured to the area
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during the West Creek mining boom, were amateurs to the
world of panning, sluice boxes, and mine shafts. Among
these was Stephen D. Decker, described as "a pioneer
railroad man [who] held positions as brakeman, conductor,
superintendent of construction and general superintendent
on a number of railroads in this country. ,,3* Decker's
illustrious career included employment with such railroad
companies as the Atlantic and Great Western, the Erie,
the Oswego Midland, the Middleton and Crawford, the Union
Pacific, and finally the Denver and Rio Grande. Despite
busy days on the railroad, Decker seems to have had time
for other activities:
During the days that he ran a train in Kansas he had
many troublous days with the Wilson gang and other
bad men, and was usualy [sic] the hero, as he always
used strategy and prevented many killings. He took
part in Indian fights, and was the leader of a mixed
gang of cowboys, rustlers, and citizens in a chase
after the Cheyenne Indians on one of their raids
through Colorado.3
Disabled for two and a half years after being caught
in a hurricane in the mid-1880's, Decker came to Denver
where he was hired as an adjuster for the People's
Savings bank.3<& In the mid-1890's, he arrived in the
upper South Platte River country to try his hand at
mining and filed a claim at the junction of Horse Creek
and the South Platte River. Apparently, he did not find
gold, but instead found an indigenous resource which
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eventually made him a wealthy man. Decker's bonanza was
a natural, free-flowing spring of lithia water, mineral
water containing lithium salts. He bottled the water and
marketed it as possessing miraculous healing powers which
were effective in curing stomach and bowel problems like
catarrh, jaundice, and constipation.37' The product was
highly successful and allegedly established a steady
demand from both the United States and Europe.3ei
Decker promptly opened a saloon as well as a general
store that doubled as a post office in April 1896, and
called his tiny settlement, Daf f odil The saloon's
location often leap-frogged between Douglas County on the
east side of the South Platte River and Jefferson County
on the west side depending on which county's authorities
Decker was in trouble with at the time."*0 Nonetheless,
the saloon's customers remained faithful to the business
despite its unpredictability.
By November 1897, as the demand for his lithia water
became more widespread, Decker announced intentions to
establish a health resort on his land. The plans for the
resort's lay-out were outlined in the Castle Rock
On account of the healthful influence of sleeping
amid the odor of the pines, a multitude of small
cabins built of logs will be provided, rather than
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one large hotel. There will be, however, a central
dining hall and large pavilion for the use of all
the guests.41-
Eventually, Decker's Mineral Springs and Resort
encompassed twenty-seven buildings, including a music
hall for dancing and concerts.42 Summer festivities at
the resort included taffy pulls, "rousing camp fires,"
and "songs and shouts of laughter mingled with the roar
and rumbling of the river far below."43 Promotional
literature called the resort "The Tourist's Paradise" and
was replete with radiant descriptions of its attractions:
There is an air of seclusiveness at Decker's resort
that is thoroughly enjoyable, and at once commends
itself to those seeking a mountain retreat where
they can find refreshing rest entirely free from the
bustle, activity and environments incident to the
more pretentious summer resorts. Here the sojourner
is breathing with delight the cool and pleasant air,
prolific with the odor of the mountain fir and
pine... Nowhere in the State of Colorado presents a
better or more fascinating field for the sportsman
with the fishing-rod than at Decker's resort. The
South Platte is fairly alive with the 'speckled
Gradually, Decker's Resort became so well
established that the entire area for miles was known
collectively as Deckers. In 1909, the Colorado Business
Directory officially replaced its Daffodil listing with
Deckers, but the name was not legally changed until the
early 1920's to honor the town's founder who died in
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Turn-of-the-century guests of the resort were
advised to catch the Colorado and Southern railroad from
Denver to South Platte Station where they would then be
transported fifteen miles south to Deckers by stage or
private conveyance. It is unclear exactly when the stage
began rolling through the dusty roads of the upper South
Platte River valley. Locals claim it began sometime
during construction of the Cheesman Dam from 1900-1905,
but an 1896 issue of the Castle Rock Journal which
chronicles a journey on the stage from South Platte
Station to West Creek, disputes this claim.In any
event, the stage was an extremely important mode of
transportation for the area and served visitors and
residents for many years. The railroad brought mail
three times a week to South Platte Station where the
stage picked it up and carried it as far as Deckers.
The region's first mail carrier was a woman recorded
only as Mrs. Buzbee. In a recent recollection of the
early days of the upper South Platte River valley, long-
time resident, Ethel Culver Myers fondly remembered the
humor of Mrs. Buzbee:
She was fun. She would meet our cattlemen driving a
herd of wild Herefords in a narrow place on the
road, she would whip her team, run like hell through
the middle of them scattering them to the four
winds. 'You can't stop the U.S. Mail!'"*
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Dorothy Roerig, another long-time resident of the
area, particularly remembers Mr. Buzbee, the region's
first stage driver, who often allowed her to sit up front
with him on the stage and even permitted her to hold the
tail end of the horses' reins as they were traveling. "Of
course, I thought I was driving!" she laughs.
Unfortunately, Buzbee froze to death during a blizzard
after being thrown into the river while his horses
rounded a sharp curve en route to South Platte Station
from Deckers and West Creek.
Mrs. Buzbee's successor as mail carrier was an
African-American man named Charley King and a Mr. Baloo
(spelling unknown) became the new stage driver.'30
Dorothy Roerig claimed Mr. Baloo "was not a kind soul,"
but an alcoholic and wife beater. Apparently, he flew
into a rage one afternoon when he learned that Mrs.
Walgret (spelling unknown), the "stationmistress" at
South Platte, aided the desertion of his bruised wife by
placing her on the train to Denver never to return. It
has been said that Mr. Baloo, in an hysterical bout of
anger, shot Mrs. Walgret (she survived), set the South
Platte Hotel on fire, and stole a horse for his escape.
He was later shot near Canon City either by himself or
one of the many officers who pursued him.*1-
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In 1912, not long after this unfortunate incident
with Mr. Baloo's temper, the first "automobile stages,"
or "touring cars," arrived on the scene. Owned and run
by Mr. and Mrs. Newlin, the auto stage carried on the
same activities and responsibilities of its horse-drawn
predecessors. But the Newlins performed behind the wheel
of a seven-seater car, instead of the reins of a team of
horses. The Newlin's son, Ray, eventually took over the
business, but terminated it in the late 1920's shortly
after the lack of freight shipments and the construction
of State Highway 285 shut down the Colorado and Southern
route through South Platte Station and there was no
longer a need to transport passengers and mail into the
valley.55 32
In 1900, when there was still a great need for the
railroad, the Colorado and Southern planned a major
project to extend its rails from Denver to Cripple Creek
because the Cripple Creek area was progressing through a
mining boom that was in full-swing by 1893. The railroad
proposed a line from South Platte Station, along the
South Platte River to Deckers. At Deckers there were two
suggested routes. The first choice continued up the
Platte River, passed Lake George, crossed the Colorado
Midland railroad at Florissant, then went down Oil Creek
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to Cripple Creek and Victor. The second proposed route
turned southeast at Deckers, followed Trout Creek, passed
through Dellwood Springs, crossed the Colorado Midland at
the Divide, then commenced south to Cripple Creek and
Victor.133 Construction of the Short Cut to Cripple
Creek" began in 1900 from South Platte Station, but the
entire line extension was soon abandoned. Nevertheless,
the line was seen as beneficial to the Deckers area and
construction continued until 1904 when tracks were laid
as far as the small settlement of Twin Cedars and the
grade was extended to a mining town known as Nighthawk.
The railroad, called the Nighthawk Branch, was used
mainly to haul lumber, fence posts, railroad ties, and
gravel out of the area until its 1916 abandonment.13'*
In addition to freight hauling, the Nighthawk
Branch also carried passengers into the area as far as
the "O.J. Martin Place," (later called Twin Cedars) a
fisherman's lodge near the confluence of Pine Creek and
the South Platte River where the tracks suddenly stopped.
Enock Martin, a confederate Civil War veteran, and his
son Owen came to the river country in 1876 to work in the
lumber mills and filed on a 160-acre homestead that same
year. They constructed a small log cabin with a dirt
floor on the property to fulfill the legal requirements
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of the Homestead Act of 1862 which called for an
improvement of the granted land. The Martins made
further improvements a couple of years later, when they
constructed a fishing resort and several adjacent cabins
similar to those that Stephen Decker would build in
Daffodil years later. When Enock died, O.J. took control
of the lodge, naming it after himself, and hired Charlie
Ethridge to cook and serve meals to the resort's guests
around 1912-13.1,953 Dorothy Roerig can recall the quaint
swinging cable bridge Mr. Martin built across the river
for the convenience of his fishermen guest. Mr. Martin
chided young Dorothy and her friends for dangling from
the bridge on their wading excursions through the
river.The bridge was the only one to cross the river
for nearly ten miles and Martin also constructed the only
Walk-In Refrigerator in the area.37
After O.J. Martin died in 1939, his nephew, Don
Simeth, inherited the resort, but did not move there with
his wife, Jane, until 1948. "Our friends thought we were
crazy to quit work and go up there," Jane Simeth
commented many years later, "[but] life was very
interesting up there from the beginning to the end...We
were pioneers, because we didn't have water or
electricity or telephone or anything." Nonetheless, the
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Simeths gradually made repairs and new additions to the
resort and renamed it Twin Cedars after two cedar trees
that were just outside the back door of the main lodge.
Twin Cedars Lodge "did very well" and featured a grocery
store that served soft drinks and beer. However, dark
days fast approached the establishment. The lodge became
host to the Douglas County Deputy Sheriff during the
summer months, and one frequent guest to the cabins was a
reputed marijuana farmer who became uneasy with the
deputy's close proximity to his valuable stash. The
"reefer" set all of the buildings on fire and in no time
one of the region's longest-lived businesses quickly
burned to the ground. The Simeths never rebuilt the
property, but it remained in the family until May 1984
when Jane Simeth sold it to the Denver Water Board.
Another settlement known as Nighthawk sprang up a
mere half mile south of Twin Cedars in 1896. E.L. Rogers
platted the town as part of the Nighthawk mining district
which obtained its name from a species of hawk, the Bull
Bat, often seen in the area flying at great heights and
suddenly diving with a high-pitched cry.*0 Lots were
laid in the town by the Nighthawk Town, Mining and
Improvement Company and the Nighthawk Townsite Company
and during its heyday the town consisted of 100
page 83

residents. Several businesses lined the streets
including a post office, general store, hotel, livery
stable, and blacksmith shop and a November 1897 issue of
the Castls Rock Journal vaunted, "Nighthawk has more
inhabitants at the present time that any time in the
history of the town."*1 At one point it seemed Nighthawk
was destined to have a Queen Anne style hotel designed by
architect C. Herbert Lee, but proprietors never carried
the grandiose plans through and instead a very modest
building with several rooms was built. However, it
burned down in the early 1900s. Match chewing varmints
were believed to be the culprits.412
Nighthawk's early residents envisioned a prosperous,
booming future for their town. In several issues of the
local newspaper, Mountain Echo, published in Nighthawk,
attractive descriptions of the town were printed and sent
to "pleasure seekers and prospective investors in Denver
and Colorado Springs and in various parts of the East,
with the hopes of attracting people of means to this
locality."*-3 The decriptions painted Nighthawk as being
cozily snuggled within the midst of "the grandest vista
of mountain ranges, hilltops and greenclad valleys."*'1
Nighthawk was the last town in the upper South
Platte River region to progress through the diverse
page 84

stages of a mining rush. The Caledonia Nighthawk Mining
and Milling Company owned five claims near the town where
they sunk a shaft to a depth of fifty feet and a tunnel
to 100 feet. Prospectors also found copper within the
vicinity of the town. Nonetheless, by the 1900's the
town's mining prospects declined considerably and its
brief boom ended abruptly.6,53 Today only a few homes
intermixed with stone foundation ruins, scatter the
hillside on the east bank of the South Platte River.
By the turn-of-the-century, the small settlements
along the South Platte River abandoned all hopes for
permanent mining prospects and the valley settled once
again into a quiet ranching, farming, and fishing
community. However, on May 3, 1900, before the area's
residents could become too accustomed to the tranquility
of everyday life along the river, a flood which
"descended like a tidal wave fourteen feet high, ruining
roads, destroying buildings and floating away everything
portable in its place," immersed the area.66 The Denver
Republican reported the devastation:
...the farmers living in the South Platte valley
suffered both a severe fright and what was to them
heavy loss. Their lands were inundated, some of
their buildings were destroyed and it is probable
that many head of stock were drowned before they
could be removed to a place of safety.^
The flood also did considerable damage to a dam that
page 85

was in construction on the South Platte River at the
mouth of Goose Creek. Five years later the Cheesman Dam
was completed and provided a clean water supply for
growing Denver.60 The thirst of the city and surburban
areas was far from quenched, however, and new water
demands once again centered on the South Platte River.
As early as January 27, 1896 proposals for the Two Forks
Dam to be located directly on the South Platte River
approximately one mile downstream from its junction with
the North Fork of the South Platte, were filed by the
Denver Power and Irrigation Company. In 1924, the Denver
Water Board purchased the files, but did nothing with
them until 1966 when they finally decided the future of
Denver depended on an increased supply of water.61'5' They
enlisted the help of the Bureau of Reclamation to plan
the gargantuan project. By 1974, the two organizations
drafted and conducted studies into the location of three
proposed dam sites, all within Douglas County, which
included West Plum Creek Dam on West Plum Creek, Ferndale
Dam on the North Fork of the South Platte River, and
finally, Two Forks Dam on the South Platte. In early
1974, the Bureau announced that out of the three,
construction of the Two Forks Dam appeared the most
efficient and would therefore be the recommended site for
page 86

the reservoir.
South Platte area residents, Colorado sportsmen, and
environmentalists were furious. Construction of the dam
would completely inundate twenty-nine miles of the area
including the North Fork to Ferndale community and the
South Fork to a point above Wigwam Club.'70 Many river
residents resented the destruction of their homes in
order to promote the future growth of Denver and claimed
the project amounted to an annexation of Douglas County's
land and resources by Denver. Others shouted that the
diversion of the mountain waters reduced the western
slope's own chances for expansion, while still others
questioned the environmental impact of the dam. One man
even suggested Denver sink wells along Colfax Avenue for
their own water just as he had being doing on his land
for years.71
Perhaps the most devastating impacts of the proposed
dam on the upper South Platte River valley were
plummeting property values, denial of loans, and neglect
by county and state agencies and utility companies who
refused to put money into the condemned area. In August
1970, citizens met several county officials "with
complaints that the South Platte River area around [the
Deckers] resort community [was] rapidly deteriorating.'"77-
page 87

The valley citizens were dissatisfied with the lack of
law enforcement and the pollution of the river as a
result of nearly 5,000 to 10,000 weekend visitors to the
area during summer months.7'3 The county also refused to
pave the roads in the region and phones were literally
tacked from tree to tree" and consisted of four-person
party lines in 1971, a slight improvement from the eight-
person party lines that had existed in the area since
1963.^ One newspaper account claimed the neglect of the
area as a result of the proposed dam left many of the
valley residents living in limbo.7'
The presence of the Denver Water Board was ever more
ominously felt when it purchased Deckers Resort in
December 1981 from an independent oilman named L.W.
Brooks, Jr.7'* Brooks bought the resort in February 1979
after the headlines in Denver newspaper adds shouted at
Christmas shoppers, "BUY YOUR OWN TOWN!", For Man Who
Has It All: 1 Colorado Resort Town," and Want to Buy a
Town? Picturesque Deckers for Sale" in December 1978.7'7'
Deckers is still owned today by the Denver Water Board
who leases it to business operators like Char Reppeto,
manager of the General Store for the past twelve years.7'
In 1989, Concerned Citizens, a small organization of
local landowners and sportsmen strongly opposed to the
page 88

Two Forks dam proposal, and the nearly forty-five
environmental groups that joined them in their fight,
received some devastating news. The Army Corps of
Engineers approved the dam site as long as certain costly
conditions to offset environmental damage were fulfilled.
The Rocky Mountain News announced the next aims of the
opposition groups: "Dam opponents say the heat now has to
be turned on the Environmental Protection Agency and the
U.S. Forest Service which must approve the $500 million
water-storage project on the South Platte River. "T* One
year later, the dam was indeed disapproved by the
Environmental Protection Agency, to the clamorous
applause of the relieved river valley residents and
For the time being, it seems, Deckers will remain
above water, but the Two Forks Dam proposal has not been
completely discarded. The presence of a forboding sign
along the road just south of Nighthawk which reads,
"ENTERING ENDANGERED AREA" speaks of the valley
residents' struggle to save their memories and to
maintain the land that was so dear to their ancestors and
friends. The secluded river valley and its multitude of
natural resources, has successfully sustained several
generations. Entrepreneurial exploitation of the
page 89