Citation
Where the west meets the cul-de-sac

Material Information

Title:
Where the west meets the cul-de-sac a history of Douglas County, Colorado (1945-2010)
Creator:
Edison, Fred Alan
Place of Publication:
Denver, Colo.
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
viii, 233 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( Master of Arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of History, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
History
Committee Chair:
Noel, Thomas J.
Committee Members:
Fell, James E., Jr.
Whiteside, James

Subjects

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

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 218-233).
General Note:
Department of History
Statement of Responsibility:
by Fred Alan Edison.

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:
657071033 ( OCLC )
ocn657071033
Classification:
LD1193.L57 2010m E34 ( lcc )

Full Text
WHERE THE WEST MEETS THE CUL-DE-SAC:
A HISTORY OF DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLORADO (1945 2010)
by
Fred Alan Edison
B.A. Central Michigan University, 1974
M.A. University of Colorado Denver, 1985
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
History
2010


2010 by Fred A. Edison
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Masters in History
degree by
Fred Alan Edison
has been approved
by
Apvd UiTDjP
Date


Edison, Fred A. (M.A., United States History)
Where the West Meets the Cul-de-sac: A History of Douglas County, Colorado (1945 -
2010)
Thesis directed by Professor Thomas J. Noel
ABSTRACT
The transformation of the West continues today and places like Douglas County,
Colorado represent fruitful ground for students of twentieth and twenty-first century history.
Promoting a central location along Colorados Front Range developers, real estate agents,
county commissioners, and other pro-growth factions recently enjoyed a twenty-year feast.
At its peak Douglas County ranked number one in the nation for growth from 1990 to 1994,
outdistancing the nearest competitor, Summit County, Utah, just east of Salt Lake City, by
an eight percent rate of increase.1 Population increased seven-fold from just over 25,000 in
1980 to nearly 176,000 residents at the end of the twentieth century.2 As of the early
twenty-first century nearly four million people call the leeward side of the Colorado Rockies
home. Today Front Range cities, suburbs, towns and highways illuminate a 200-mile strip
clearly visible on nighttime satellite photos. Traffic reporters flying over the scene in
helicopters and airplanes witness countless automobiles, on a daily basis, crowding arterial
side streets and coursing along an over-burdened Interstate 25 from Ft. Collins to Pueblo.
Amidst the phenomenal growth reside citizens with interests in land stewardship,
progressive government officials, and conscientious developers and business leaders who
grasp an understanding of the New West" and an appreciation of the Old. In 1994
1 Peter Wolf, Hot Towns: The Future of the Fastest Growing Communities in
America, (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 19.
2 Colorado Department of Local Affairs: State Demography Office. Historical
Census Population, http://www.dola.state.co.us/demoa webapps/population census
(accessed September 27, 2009).


Douglas County citizens voted for a sixth-of-a-cent sales and use tax to preserve Open
Space. Today the County's Division of Open Space and Natural Resources provides an
escape from development for residents by protecting wildlife habitat, natural resources,
historic sites, scenic views, and the western rural heritage of the area.3 As of 2010,46,552
acres of land have been protected as open space.4
Although frequently criticized for creating a satellite city of Denver in Highlands
Ranch, Mission Viejo and successor, Shea Homes deserve some recognition for holding to
parts of the 1988 Open Space Conservation Agreement. To counter balance future devel-
opment, programs and organizations such as the Land Conservancy, Great Outdoors
Colorado (GOCO), the Cattlemens Association, and financial incentives such as
conservation easements offer alternatives for preservation minded landowners. Finally, in
the face of a rapidly changing New West," families with generational ties to the Old West
persevere and still manage to hold on to their farms or ranches in the face of rising land
values. This thesis highlights some of Douglas Countys western attributes and explores
efforts to preserve the Old West" in one of the fastest growing regions in the United
States.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend its
publication.
3 Douglas County Open Space: Douglas County Government,
http://www.doualas.co. us/opensoace/index.html. (accessed February 11,2010).
Ibid.
4


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
For the past ten years it has been an honor to work with the dedicated archivists at
the Douglas County History Research Center in Castle Rock, Colorado. Johanna Harden,
Shaun Boyd, Annette Gray, and Cecily North-Carnahan have welcomed the numerous
Douglas County high school students I have sent to them as researchers. Personally I
have asked them hundreds of questions and even spent a spring semester in 2007 as an
intern at the center. Their assistance in helping with the completion of this paper is
immeasurable.
Recognition also must go out to history professors Thomas J. Noel (my thesis
advisor and mentor), Jay Fell, James Whiteside, and Rebecca Hunt for guiding me through
the University of Colorado-Denvers M.A. program. Their Historic Preservation, Colorado
History, Historiography, and Oral History courses set this thirty year-educator on the path
toward becoming an historian.
I am extremely grateful to the Front Range historians, professionals, and citizens
who agreed to be interviewed: Lowell Baumunk, Kent Brandebery, Karen Bryan, Hank
Candler, Johanna Harden, Clyde Jones, Evelyn Monk, Norma Miller, Lionel Oberlin, Steve
G. Paterson and dozens of others all made vital contributions to this project.
Above all thank you to my family for providing support and encouragement during
this five-year process. My wife, Shelly Edison, who taught me to write in the active voice,
carried the home front during my many preoccupied hours, and emphasized to keep my
eye on the prize. Meaghan and Jackson, our children who grew into adulthood during this
endeavor and always showed interest in the progress of my paper. Thank you!


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION AND DEFINING THE WEST...........................1
2. DOUGLAS COUNTY AND THE OLD WEST.............................12
The Setting..............................................12
Douglas Countys Very Old West..........................25
A Last Stand of the Old West in Douglas County..........30
A Twenty-First Century Treaty, of Sorts.................38
4. DOUGLAS COUNTY IN THE WAKE OF THE WAR.......................43
Three Western Citizens...................................46
Around a Rural Community in 1946.........................52
5. FROM RAILROAD DEPOTS TO CLOVERLEAFS.........................68
Douglas Countys Railroad Depots.........................72
The Ribbon of Death and a Bridge to Nowhere.............79
Build It and They will Come" Interstate 25...........87
Railroad Depots Today....................................93
6. AUTOMOBILITY TAKES HOLD IN DOUGLAS COUNTY...................97
Around Courthouse Square.................................98
Continental Divide Raceway (CDR)........................102
The 47 Drive In.......................................106
Douglas County School District Re:1 ..................110
7. DOUGLAS COUNTYS RANCHING HERITAGE.........................120
Texas Cattlemen and Longhorns...........................121
vii


Ranching Milestones in Post War D.C..................129
A Ranch Lost.........................................141
A Ranch to Watch.....................................147
Ranches Saved........................................156
8. URBAN DOUGLAS COUNTY IN THE NEW WEST....................160
The Phenomenon of Suburbs............................161
Douglas Countys Urban Centers.......................164
9. A LAND WHERE LIFE IS WRITTEN IN WATER".................177
Douglas Countys Dam History.........................184
The New West Taps the Ancient West...................192
10. CONCLUSION: NEW WESTS ARRIVAL IN DOUGLAS COUNTY.......206
Western Authors Thoughts on Development.............206
Douglas County's New West............................210
Where the Old West Continues to Live.................213
BIBLIOGRAPHY...............................................219
viii


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION AND DEFINING THE WEST
Within one generations memory, Douglas County, Colorado grew from a rural
setting with a population of 3,496 westerners in 1940 to a pre-2010 census estimate of
315,000 residents.1 When World War II ended Douglas County sat poised between two
western cities anticipating a post war boom. At first growth seemed to bypass the small
hamlets of Louviers, Sedalia, Castle Rock, Larkspur, Parker, and Franktown, speeding
along improved highways between Denver and Colorado Springs. By the 1980s peace
and serenity gave way to growth and prosperity. In a larger context the same scenario
played out in other western locales. Similar stories surfaced in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Santa
Fe, Salt Lake City, Boise, and Spokane. Like other urban centers and their satellite
suburbs, Colorados Front Range, and in particular Douglas County, represents the New
West.2
Douglas County offers a classic case study of where Old West characteristics still
exist alongside New West manifestations such as suburbs, exurbs, ranchettes, gated
communities, expressways, golf courses, and mountain bike trails. Thoughts of the Old
West vary with time and generational interpretation. To a geologist the story can be told
1 Colorado Department of Local Affairs: State Demography Office. Historical
Census Population. httD://www.doia.state.co.us/demoa webapps/population census
(accessed September 27, 2009); Douglas County, Colorado. About Douglas County,
Colorado. http://www.doualas.co.us/About Us.html (accessed February 7, 2010).
2 William E. Reibsame, Atlas of the New West: Portrait of a Changing Region
(New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997), 12.
1


through layers of underground rocks. An archaeologist unearths stone-age campsites,
ghost towns, and ranches to uncover evidence from the past. Historians write about
famous people and events that represent a prescribed western theme. Finally, Baby
Boomers grew up in their own mythical,3 Hollywood created, versions of the Wild West
and many carried their beliefs into adulthood.
In 1986, Western writer, Wallace Stegner, presented a series of lectures at the
University of Michigan Law School. Naturally, the Pulitzer Prize winner addressed the
topic of the West. In his lecture, Living Dry, Stegner shared the following with the
audience:
If we want characteristic western towns we must look for them, paradox-
ically, beyond the Wests prevailing urbanism, out in the boondocks where
the interstates do not reach, mainline planes do not fly, and branch plants
do not locate. The towns that are most western have had to strike a bal-
ance between mobility and stability, and the law of sparseness has kept
them from growing too big. They are the places where the stickers stuck,
and perhaps were stuck; the places where adaptation has gone the
furthest.4
For Douglas County and the rest of Colorados Front Range, traditional western character,
as defined-by, Stegner, began to diminish in the late 1950s and early 1960s when
Interstate 25 became the conduit for thousands of automobiles and eager suburban
residents. The two hundred-fifty mile super-slab provided the means for one of the nation's
latest quests for Manifest Destiny and the near extinction of a number of small western
towns: former hamlets like Windsor, Louisville, Broomfield, Parker, Castle Rock,
Monument, Fountain and dozens of others.
3 Robert G. Atheam, The Mythic West: In Twentieth Century America, (Lawrence:
University Press of Kansas, 1986), 16.
4 Wallace Stegner, The American West as Living Space, (Ann Arbor: University of
Michigan Press, 1987), 5.
2


Major John Wesley Powells 1878 Report on the Lands of the Arid Region
delineated the West from the one hundredth meridian of west longitude to the Pacific
Ocean. Wallace Stegner defines the eastern boundary more precisely in his lecture, Living
Dry. The West can be defined by inadequate rainfall and begins at the isohyetal line of
twenty inches, beyond which the mean annual rainfall is less than the twenty inches
normally necessary for un-irrigated crops.5 In his classic 1934 essay, The West: A
Plundered Province, Bernard DeVoto identifies the West as a land of strangeness, a place
where the last frontier fell, where rainfall might fail for no reason, and a place where frontier
culture broke down.6 Donald Worster, in An Unsettled Country: Changing Landscapes of
the American West, describes the West as extreme wildness sunlight against shadow,
heat against cold, granite against water.7
In 1893 a young University of Wisconsin historian read his essay, The Significance
of the Frontier in American History, at the Chicago Worlds Fair. Frederick Jackson Turner
proclaimed the frontier closed citing the 1890 census. That year America witnessed a
major turning point. For the first time more people lived in urban environments than rural
ones. He recited praises for Westward Movement and Manifest Destiny by extolling how
progress and democratic institutions finally erased the frontier line, ... the meeting point
between savagery and civilization.8 Triumph defined the pageant of the American West.
5 ibid., 5.
6 Bernard De Voto. The West: A Plundered Province, Harpers Magazine, CLXIX
(Aug. 1934): 355-364.
7 Donald Worster. An Unsettled Country: Changing Landscape of the American
West. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1994),1.
8 George Rogers Taylor, ed., The Turner Thesis: Concerning the Role of the
Frontier in American History, 3rd ed., (Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath and
Company, 1972), 4.
3


Triumph over Indians, Hispanics, Chinese, outlaws, aridity, distance, and the wilderness
shaped the story of How the West Was Won.
Turners Frontier Thesis runs into problems when superimposed on the twentieth-
century West. Westward migration continued, this time with newcomers destined to build
urban centers. Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, and
Houston, once sleepy turn of the century settlements grew rapidly, fueled by Progressive
Era entrepreneurs and the largesse of the federal government. California, for example,
boomed with large mechanized farms producing food in abundance, all made possible by
dramatic water projects. Gerald Nash, the famed University of New Mexico professor,
pioneered a new view of the West with his 1973 book, The American West in the Twentieth
Century: A Short History of an Urban Oasis:
...Between 1940 and 1945 the federal government spent more
than $60 billion in the western states. Approximately $29 billion were
expended for war orders, more than five times the value of all manufact-
ures in the region in 1939...California received the lions share... But per-
haps most significant was the remarkable expansion of manufacturing in
the West, and the proliferation of new centers of scientific research and
technological expertise. The vast open spaces of the West and their re-
moteness encouraged innovation and experimentation. The war cata-
pulted the western economy from a pre-industrial stage into one charac-
terized by technological sophistication...9
Many modem historians began calling this new historiographical field the Nash Thesis.
Professor Nash clarified that World War II marked a turning point that changed the West
forever. The Turner thesis represented the nineteenth-century west but as the nation
rushed into the twentieth-century urbanization moved to center stage. From 1900 to
1940, Nash argued, the region had functioned as a colony of the East; but from World
War II onward the Westespecially Californiaserved as the cultural, economic, and
9 Gerald D. Nash, The American West in the 2Cfh Century: A Short History of an
Urban Oasis, (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1973), 201-202.
4


political pacesetter for the entire nation."10 Colorados Front Range, from Fort Collins,
through Denver and Colorado Springs, south to Pueblo eventually became one of the
Wests many developing urban oases.
Robert G. Atheam, the renowned professor from the University of Colorado at
Boulder, probably came as close as anybody when trying to define the West. In his book,
The mythic West in twentieth-century America, he writes:
...There are those who argued that indeed the West did have a geograph-
ical definition, just as it had identifiable life styles, but, amoeba like, both
these qualities shifted constantly, giving rise to the belief that this part of
pioneer America had been and remained largely a state of mind. It was
not hard to move from this premise to the notion that the Old West had
never really existed, except in the publics imagination...11
Athearn went on to say if you wanted to know the location of the West, face North, and it
will be somewhere off to your left.
During the 1980s several scholars issued major challenges to Western Historys
longest running hypothesis, Turners Frontier Thesis, placing it squarely in the crosshairs.
For Patricia Nelson Limerick, Donald Worster, Richard White, William Cronon, and others
the ninety-year old thesis begged for a tune up or even a major overhaul.
New Western Historians sounded out their voices at a Santa Fe symposium in
1989 called Trails Toward a New Western History. Patricia Nelson Limerick organized the
event centered on a twenty-four-panel, traveling exhibit titled Trials through Time. Donald
Worster, Richard White, and Peggy Pascoe read essays christening the panels and the
birth of the New Western History. Worsters and Limericks books, Rivers of Empire and
10 Ferenc Szasz, and Richard Etulain, Nash, Gerald,
http://www.anb.Org/articles/14/14-91919.html; American National Biography Online May
Update 2008, (Access Date: Wed Dec 16 2009 20:04:36 GMT-0700 (MST) Copyright
2008 American Council of Learned Societies University of Oxford Press).
11 Robert G. Atheam, The Mythic West, 16.
5


Legacy of Conquest, set the stage. White, Pascoe, and Cronon finished their award-
winning works; Its Your Misfortune and None of my own, Relation of Rescue, and Natures
Metropolis each within two years of the conference. The new interpretations emphasized
balance and inclusiveness in their narratives. Race, class, gender, and the environment
moved into the spotlight replacing century old Turnerian virtues.12
Patricia Limerick makes a case for breaking the shackles of the Turner Thesis in
her book, The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West
...Turners frontier was a process, not a place. When civilization had
conquered savagery at any one location, the process and the historians
attention moved on. In rethinking Western history, we gain the freedom
to think of the West as a place as many complicated environments oc-
cupied by natives who considered their homelands to be the center, not
the edge...13
Several years later the Center for the American West, based out of the University of
Colorado at Boulder, initiated a project to further define the New West'. From a team of
geographers and historians came the Atlas of the New West in 1997. General editor,
William E. Riebsame penned the following in his book's preface:
...The American West, we argue, is the archetypal case of an American
region yanked from its historical and myth-based sense of place into
hyper-development and plugged-in modernity. Such a transformation
forces contrasts between image and reality, between old and new...14
One of Professor Limericks complicated Western environments exists along Colorados
Front Range. Once one of Americas most panoramic regions, the eastern flank of the
Colorado Rockies witnessed phenomenal change beginning in the post World War II era
Limerick, Milner, and Rankin, eds.,Trails, ix.
13 Patricia Nelson Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the
American West, (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1987), 26.
14 Riebsame, ed., Atlas of the New West, 12.
6


and continuing today. The 1940 census for the seven county corridor, including Larimer,
Boulder, Adams, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, and Pueblo Counties, rounded off to a little
over half a million people. The 2000 census found around three million people crowded
into a rapidly forming urban corridor. All of this unfolded in the span of two short
generations.
7


CHAPTER TWO
DOUGLAS COUNTY AND THE OLD WEST
The Setting
A perception held by some travelers arriving from the East is that the West begins
at the Rocky Mountains. Views of this western barrier stand out all along Colorados Front
Range. None are more spectacular than in a county named for the shorter of two famous
nineteenth-century Illinois politicians, Stephen B. Douglas. One of the former Senators
many namesakes happens to be Douglas County, Colorado. Modern Douglas County
shares a thirty-six mile southern boundary with Teller and El Paso Counties. To the west
the South Platte River cuts a picturesque canyon separating Douglas from Jefferson
County. Beginning at Chatfield Reservoir the northern border with Arapahoe County runs
twenty-six miles due east toward the High Plains. Today, Douglas County shares a thirty-
mile eastern border with Elbert County. However, during the Territorial Period (1861-1876)
the County held the distinction of being one of Colorados original seventeen counties and
for most of that time encompassed large portions of Elbert, Lincoln and Kit Carson counties
running all the way to the Kansas border.15
Nearly a third of Douglas County, the western portion, lies within the mountain
province falling under the jurisdiction of Pike National Forest.16 One of Colorados eleven
15 Thomas J. Noel, Paul F. Mahoney, and Richard E. Stevens, Historical Atlas of
Colorado, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994),18.
16 C.A. Pague, A.R. Ellingson, S.M. Kettler, S.C. Spackman, J. Burt, and K.D.
Essington. Natural Heritage Resources of Douglas County and Their Conservation Castle
Rock, Colorado: Douglas County Planning Department, Colorado Natural Heritage
Program, (November 8,1995), photocopied, 5.
8


federal forests, it was named for the states first U.S. explorer, Lieutenant Zebulon
Montgomery Pike. Billion-year old rocks of Pikes Peak granite form the majestic Rampart
Range guarding the Pike National Forests eastern flank.17 The north-south ridge ranges
from just west of Sedalia to north of Colorado Springs. Thunder Butte, in the far south-
western comer, at 9,836 feet, represents the highest point in the County. Several miles
north, near the middle of the ridge, looms a set of jagged rocks known as Devils Head.
Running parallel and along the western base of Rampart Range flows the South Platte
River, plunging over 1500 feet on its course toward Denver. Historic Cheesman Dam
continues to regulate the South Plattes flow and provides gold medal trout water along the
streams lower course. The river makes a spectacular exit from the mountains at Waterton
Canyon and joins with Plum Creek to fill Chatfield Reservoir, the Countys lowest point, at
just over 5400 feet above sea level.
The rest of Douglas County topographically subdivides into two pasture filled
valleys with rolling hills and an evergreen clad upland called the Black Forest. Famous
Cherry Creek forms the eastern valley and flows into downtown Denver joining the South
Platte River at the Confluence. Cherry Creeks upper East and West branches mostly
drain a High Plains ecosystem converging several miles above Castlewood Canyon. The
western-most valley, Plum Creek, climbs several hundred feet to the nostalgic settlement
of Sedalia, approximately 25 miles south of the heart of Denver. There the cottonwood
lined creek forks into a West and East branch. West Plum Creek hugs the foothills and
resembles a small mountain stream in many ways. Dr. Edwin James in 1820 described
17 Halka Chronic and Felicie Williams, Roadside Geology of Colorado, (Missoula,
Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Co., 2002), 67.
9


this creek as ...a succession of {beaver} ponds... rather than a continuous stream.18
Today, when water tables and stream flows are up, West Plum Creek still offers habitat for
the once valuable beaver and priceless moisture supporting a few remaining ranches and
farms. Part of this picturesque valley is visible from the vantage point of Daniels Park.
Several miles to the east, over a North-South running set of hills and landmark buttes, East
Plum Creek flows during all but the driest years. Like its sister stream, East Plum Creeks
source begins in the western reaches of the Black Forest or Palmer Divide. Overlapping
into neighboring Elbert and El Paso Counties the Palmer Divide rises well over 7500 feet in
elevation and separates the Platte and Arkansas River watersheds. Covering the southern
third of Douglas County, the Black Forest blends a mosaic of ponderosa forests, inters-
persed with mixed woodlands, shrub lands, and scattered grasslands punctuated by
mesas, buttes, bluffs, hills, gullies, washes, and creatively named rock formations.19
Near the middle of the Tertiary Period, approximately 37 million years ago, a major
volcanic eruption in the Collegiate Peaks, west of Buena Vista, sent airborne molten rock
nearly one hundred miles entombing the Castle Rock area under twenty feet of lava stone
or rhyolite.20 The event went unnoticed through geologic time as monstrous and frequent
floods carved canyons in the rhyolite landscape.21 Several of the mesas and buttes in the
Black Forest, south of Castle Rock, stand as remnants of the epic Tertiary canyon
18 Howard Ensign Evans, The Natural History of the Long Expedition to the Rocky
Mountains: 1819-1820, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 130.
19 C.A. Pague, et al. Natural Heritage Resources of Douglas County and Their
Conservation, 5.
20 Kirk R. Johnson and Robert G. Raynolds, Ancient Denvers: Scenes from the
Past 300 Million Years of the Colorado Front Range, (Denver: Denver Museum of Nature
and Science, 2002) 26.
21 ibid., 28.
10


tablelands. Rhyolite is the lighter colored of three extrusive, igneous or volcanic rocks
appearing on the earths surface.22 The lava rock consists of fine grains, porously formed,
making it light weight yet durable. Silas Madge and other Douglas County pioneers soon
discovered that rhyolite made for an excellent building block. The Madge/Hathaway,
OBrien, Plateau, and Santa Fe Quarries supplied the stone for a booming industry that
thrived in and around Castle Rock during the last three decades of the nineteenth century.
To the south, rising above the stone quarries, stands the Palmer Divide. The rare
east/west running watershed also plays an important role as a regional weather maker.
Being 1500 feet higher than the surrounding area, the landform often blocks storms moving
in from both north and south creating an upslope affect.23 Mike Nelson, Chief
Meteorologist at Denvers Channel 7 News, describes the Palmer Divides effect in his
book, Colorado: Weather Almanac:
Winds from the north push moisture onto the northern flank of Monument
Hill, sending clouds, rain, and snow back into the Denver metro area as
the moisture piles up against the ridge. In contrast, a wind from the south
can bring rain and snow to the Colorado Springs side while leaving areas
north of the Palmer Divide much drier... During the spring and summer,
when the winds are blowing across the state from the south-east, the air
must pass over and down the Palmer Divide as it moves toward Denver.
This motion often causes a large-scale swirling movement in the air known
as the Denver Cyclone.24
Some of the Wests most torrential thunderstorms are spawned in this region. Upslope
blizzards, created by moisture from the Gulf of Mexico mixing with Arctic air descending
from the north, have been known to drop five to six feet of snow on the Front Range.
22 Dell R. Foutz, Geology of Colorado Illustrated, (Grand Junction, Colorado: Your
Geologist Dell R. Foutz, 1994), 14-15.
23 Mike Nelson, Colorado Weather Almanac, (Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books,
2007), 11.
11


Veteran Front Range residents will never forget the late spring, flash flood of June
16,1965. For several days leading up to the flood super-cell thunderstorms tracked across
eastern Colorado inundating the region and saturating the ground. In western Douglas
County storm clouds formed each afternoon for two weeks without busting loose. Then on
the fateful day tornadoes touched down on the Palmer Divide and ominous dark-green
clouds hung around Raspberry and Dawson Buttes dumping 14 inches of rain in a short
amount of time. Water rushed down the hillsides filling tiny Plum Creek, making it a raging
wall of water.25
H. F. Matthai of the U.S. Geologic Survey described the event shortly after it
happened:
...The deluge began, not only on Dawson Butte, but also at Raspberry
Mountain, 6 miles to the south, near Larkspur. The rain came down hard-
er than any rain the local residents had ever seen, and the temperature
dropped rapidly until it was cold. The quiet was shattered by the terrible
roar of wind, rain, and rushing water... The flow from glutted ravines and
from fields and hillsides soon reached East and West Plum Creeks...Large
waves, high velocities, crosscurrents, and eddies swept away trees,
houses, bridges, automobiles, heavy construction equipment, and live-
stock...26
Jim Lowell, a teenager at the time, remembered scrambling around on his parents ranch
south of Castle Rock to save his prized 4-H calf. To no avail, the 700-pound animal
washed downstream all the way to the Chatfield area.27 The Lowells, like hundreds of
others along the creek bed, required many years to recover. Scars still remain all along
the water course today.
25 Nelson, Colorado Weather Almanac, 216-217.; M.E. Sprengelmeyer, We never
really have recuperated, Denver Rocky Mountain News, (December 14, 1999), 30A.
26 John Chronic and Halka Chronic, Prairie, Peak and Plateau: A Guide to the
Geology of Colorado, (Denver, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 1972) 112-113.
27 Sprengelmeyer, We never really recuperated, 30A.
12


The semi-liquid battering ram destroyed nearly everything in its path.28 Recently
constructed Interstate 25 washed away, pavement, over passes, abutments and all. The
County was temporarily cut in half with the only crossings far to the south on the Palmer
Divide and way to the north of Denver. Water rose into Castle Rocks business district
forcing residents to wade across Wilcox Street. Rescue helicopters flew in from Fort
Carson and Fitzsimmons General Hospital employees staffed an emergency shelter
established in the new Douglas County High School on Front Street. As the torrent flowed
north into the South Platte River every bridge from Littleton to Denver was destroyed.29
The 1965 Flood caused over $500 million worth of damage, destroying 1,270
structures. With the bridges over the South Platte washed out factories in Denver closed
for days. Six people died from the storm and flood adding to the total of 24 statewide as a
result of the week, long storms. The tragedy spurred legislators and the Army Corps of
Engineers to build Chatfield Reservoir in the Northwest comer of Douglas County, com-
pleted in 1972. Decades after the flood Bea Lowell pensively wondered why construction
boomed along the untamed creeks across Douglas County. She said, Each generation
has to learn the same mistakes all over again. I guess thats human nature.30
Apart from one hundred year floods, slow moving upslope blizzards, hurricane
force winds, insurance busting hailstorms, cyclical droughts, and ash spewing forest fires,
the standard weather pattern for Douglas County usually produces enticingly mild temper-
atures and cloudless skies. The climate classification for this part of the West is Con-
* tinental with air masses from the Pacific, Arctic, and Gulf of Mexico bringing much needed
28 Nelson, 217.
29 Ibid., Jess Buskirk, Flood & Fire, Douglas County News-Press, (August 24,
2006), 6A.
30 Sprengelmeyer, 30A.
13


moisture to this semi-arid pocket along the leeward side of the Rockies. To the west looms
the Continental Divide. This ridgeline of the continent can generate high winds and often
produce summertime thunderstorms. Castle Rock averages 14.56 inches of annual pre-
cipitation, and the Palmer Divide draws an average of 19 inches over the span of a year.
Air temperature at Castle Rock averages a cool, seventy-three degrees in July and, a
tolerable, thirty degrees in January. Top this off with low humidity readings and one can
understand why animals and humans alike have always sought out this haven.31
Sun, aridity, winds, violent thunderstorms, flashfloods, hail, blizzards, bone chilling
cold, and stifling heat all make major impacts on western environments like Douglas
County. Another western phenomenon, uncontrollable forest fires, have thinned out entire
mountainsides, paralyzed National Parks, killed elite fire fighters, and evacuated thousands
from their idyllic mountain homes. Years of withering drought, combined with human
carelessness, culminated in the massive Hayman Fire during the early summer of 2002.
Over 90,000 acres of Pike National Forest burned ruining wildlife habitat and leaving
hillsides vulnerable to devastating mudslides.
Douglas County still embraces several common Western eco-zones ranging from
wetlands to semi-desert habitats. One of the most endangered happens to be the lowland
riparian zone. Some of the vegetation common along the Countys three major water
courses (the South Platte River, Plum Creek, and Cherry Creek) include coyote willow
shrub, snowberry, alder, river birch, dogwood, hawthorn, peach-leaved willow, Russian
olive, and cottonwood.32 Prehistoric hunter-gatherers, Native Americans, along with early
Euro-American explorers valued the riparian ecosystems as a haven for deciduous trees
31 C. A. Pague, et. al., Natural Heritage Resources of Douglas County, 5.
32 Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment for Douglas
County and the Towns of Castle Rock and Parker. (October, 2005). 31-35.
14


and animal life in a semi-desert environment. Grasslands typical of the High Plains extend
into Douglas County. The nutrition laden blue grama, a short grass species once devoured
by bison as well as Texas longhorns, reaches into the drier, sandy soils of the northern
portions of the County. Mid grass species such as western wheatgrass, needle-and-thread
grass, and little blue stem predominate in the south, nearer the wetter Palmer Divide. Tail-
grass species such as big bluestem are not uncommon in the uplands. The summits of the
higher buttes in the County support grasslands more typical of mountain biomes including,
globally imperiled, Parrys oatgrass community.33
The foothill or submontane zones highlight the central region of the County. One
of the attractions for fall color enthusiasts continues to be the red and orange shrouded-
hillsides compliments of the regions gambel oak. Gambel oak tends to grow in dense
clusters on dry, rocky sites producing two to four inch leaves with small acorns.34 The
shrub-lands mark a transition zone entering the Coniferous or Black Forest eco-zone.
Ponderosa pines cover the drier, warmer slopes of portions of the County. A distinctive
symbol of the West, the ponderosa pine provided a vital food source for pre-historic
inhabitants as well as building material for much of gold rush era Denver. Douglas fir and
aspen dominate the cooler, moister, northern slopes along the Palmer Divide and within
Pike National Forest.
In 1994 former Rocky Mountain News journalist Joseph Verrengia authored a
series of articles commemorating the anniversary of explorer John C. Fremonts
expeditions through the Rocky Mountains. Fremonts 1843 trip took him through the
33 Pague, et al., 8.
34 Cornelia Fleischer Mutel and John C. Emerick, From Grassland to Glacier,
(Boulder: Johnson Books, 1984), 41.
15


foothills of Douglas County near the site of present-day Roxborough State Park. The
nations path-marker reported in his journal:
.. .lofty escarpments of red rock.. .We came upon the pines, and the quak-
ing aspen was mixed with the cottonwood... There was excellent grass
and many beautiful flowers... We surprised a grizzly bear sauntering along
the river; which, raising himself upon his hind legs, took a deliberate sur-
vey of us that did not appear very satisfactory, and he scrambled into the
river and swam to the opposite side...35
Nineteenth and twentieth-century settlement in the region extirpated, the grizzly bears
along with two other threatening predators, the black-footed ferret and wolf. The coyote, a
poor cousin of the wolf, still prowls and howls during evenings across the County despite
concerted efforts by twenty-first century suburban vigilantes and hired bounty hunters.
Other typical western fauna still found in Douglas County include, eagles, hawks, falcons,
owls, grouse, blue herons, meadowlarks, killdeer and many other birds; rainbow and brown
trout thrive in the South Platte River near Deckers; dozens of amphibians and reptiles
ranging from salamanders to rattlesnakes; prairie dogs, bobcats, and numerous other
smaller animals such as foxes, squirrels, rabbits, porcupines, gophers, etc.; large un-
gulates include mule deer, elk, pronghorn, and even big horn sheep can be found in
Douglas County:36
...Bighorn sheep have been present on and around the Greenland Ranch
in southeast Douglas County since the late 1980s. Marked sheep that
were observed in the 1990s originated from the Rampart Range herd. In
recent years, the number of sheep in the population has been increasing
rapidly. Counts have gone from a total of 11 sheep in 1995 to over 50
sheep in 2006. The sheep frequently use part of Greenland Ranch, includ-
35 Joseph B. Verrengia. Collision Zone: The Foothills. Rocky Mountain News,
(August 19, 1994), 8A.
36 Pague, etal., 7-8.
16


ing Rattlesnake Butte and Nemrick Butte, as well as surrounding areas
including Larkspur Butte...37
Signature Western wildlife and habitat still exist in rapidly growing Douglas County, but
planners and citizens must continue to be stewards of the natural spaces so vital to the
environmental-balance.
The marquee western animals continue to be the bison, elk, mule deer, mountain
lion, antelope, and big hom sheep. However, the inhabitants with the longest tenure
happen to be a pair of rodents. Both hang on to rapidly diminishing wetland environments.
One ushered in capitalism to North America and the other outlasted nearly all of its Pleis-
tocene contemporaries.
Working alone, an instinctive creature carries on a timeless activity in the shadow
of the South Wilcox Street bridge during a 2008 June evening in downtown Castle Rock.
The solitary animal working the stretch of East Plum Creek represents one of the most
successful engineers, excavators, lumber jacks, dam builders, pond landscapers and
colonizers ever. Ominously, parked on the opposite creek bank, poised for the next days
work, sits a pair of diesel chugging machines, a backhoe and front-end loader, tools of a
modem day engineer.
The North American beaver, Castor canadensis, exists as a living testimony to the
art of survival. Once numbering in the millions they colonized an entire continent. World
demand for beaver fur hats, over kill by independent trappers and the greed of giant fur
trading corporations nearly exterminated the species by 1850. Colorados remote
mountains and parks provided one of the continents last havens. By the 1890s several
western states and Canada enacted laws protecting the endangered beaver. One hund-
37 Aaron Linstrom. Issues Submittal Form Should a bighorn sheep game
management unit be created for the Greenland sheep herd in Douglas County? July 25,
2007. http://wildlife.state.co.us/NR/rdonlyres... (accessed October 15, 2009).
17


red years later numbers have rebounded. Today, even along a noisy, heavily traveled
Interstate 25 through southern Douglas County, beaver habitat and colonies continue to be
visible from a car window.
North Americas largest rodent, the beaver, weighs around forty pounds and
stretches to approximately forty inches when mature. One remarkable specimen caught
on the Iron Ore River in Wisconsin tipped the scales at a whopping one hundred-ten
pounds.38 The Wisconsin record pales in comparison to the extinct Castoroides ohioensis,
a Pleistocene, stream-dominating ancestor weighing up to four hundred pounds and
reaching eight to ten feet in length.39 Imagine the tree gnawing capabilities of these Ice
Age beasts.
Nevertheless Castor canadensis continues the tradition of an environment altering
river rat. An awkward mammal on land, in the water, the beaver transforms itself into a
graceful swimmer. A twelve-inch black tail serves the creature as a rudder, a stool, a
prop, a scull, and a signal club... maybe even a trowel.40 A beavers four front incisor
teeth constantly grow, allowing the nocturnal workers to be tree-eating machines capable
of gnawing down a six-inch diameter tree in five minutes.41 A vegan, the toothy beaver
thrives on the inner bark of broad leaf, deciduous trees like the aspen, cottonwood, willow,
birch, alder, maple, box elder and other.42 East Plum Creek provides a bounty of small
38 Peter C. Newman, Company of Adventurers: The Story of the Hudsons Bay
Company, (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1985), 73.
39 Bjorn Kurten and Elaine Anderson, Pleistocene Mammals of North America,
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1980), 236.
40 Enos Mills, The Beaver Wodd, (Boston: The Houghton Mifflin Co.,1913), 42.
41 Newman, Company of Adventurers, 73.
42 Mills, The Beaver World, 10.
18


cottonwoods and willows for the hungry animal, at least until the next flash flood roars
down the valley.
As for Castle Rocks lone beaver spotted on June 8th, 2008 under the South Wilcox
Street Bridge, it was gone within two weeks. The backhoe and front-end loader had
completed the bridge girder repair and addition of riprap along the East Plum creek bed.
The modern construction equipment destroyed what Castor canadensis must have labored
on for the better part of a month. Barbara Spagnuola, the Town of Castle Rocks natural
resource liaison, believes local beaver habitat has improved despite an expanding number
of subdivisions. She maintains that the creek flows steadier because of increased runoff
from lawns. The Larkspur and Sedalia areas, being less developed, provide even better
beaver habitat.43
Toby Sprunk, Natural Resource specialist for Douglas County, identifies three
major watersheds in the county and differentiates between each. Cherry Creek fits a
plains-type ecosystem and today beaver colonies are very few. East Plum Creek runs
through a foothills/transitional zone and accommodates a few more colonies despite more
development pressure. West Plum Creek fits closer into a mountain type ecosystem and
consequently allows for a better situation for beaver.44
The month of June, 2008 turned out to be very dry and stream flows decreased
significantly. Couple this weather-related factor with Castle Rocks ever-present growth
43 Barbara Spagnuolo, Telephone interview with Fred Edison, (June 2, 2008). (As
the Town of Castle Rocks Natural Resources Specialist Barbara went on to explain with all
the resident watering East Plum Creeks flows have continued well through the summer
allowing for beaver to move from Larkspur, through Castle Rock, and down through
Sedalia).
44 Toby Sprunk. Telephone interview with Fred Edison, (June 2, 2008). (Toby
currently works for the Douglas County Division of Open Space and Natural Resources).
19


and Castor canadensis probably decided to migrate or, more troubling, involuntarily
perished. The last beaver1 of Castle Rock represents a classic western paradox a
keystone species of the Old West facing enormous pressure created by the New West.
Most modem westerners no longer hunt or trap and may be perfectly fine with seeing
Castor canadensis stuffed as an exhibit at the Wildlife Experience on Lincoln Avenue in
northern Douglas County. Others prefer to witness wildlife in a natural setting. The
challenge for twenty-first century officials, planners, and citizens is to maintain a modern
city and travel corridor without sacrificing the living remnants of the Wests colorful past.
Another case study for this paradox involves a much tinier rodent. The beaver
possesses the ability to swim away from development pressures if stream flows and animal
control officials allow. Even though they have disproportionately large feet and springy
legs the Zapus hudsonius preblei, more commonly known as Prebles meadow jumping
mouse, comes up short when trying to leap away from expanding subdivisions, range-
lands, road building, and water projects. Records indicate that Edward A. Preble first
recorded the species in 1899:45
The Prebles meadow jumping mouse is a tiny rodent with a body approx-
imately three inches long with a 4 to 6-inch tail. This species has large
hind feet, long hind legs, an indistinct dark, broad stripe on its back that
runs from head to tail, and is bordered on either side by gray to orange-
brown fur. This shy, largely nocturnal mouse spends most of its time out
of sight, foraging beneath long grasses for seeds, fruit, fungi, and insects.
For a mouse, its slow to reproduce, having two litters each year with an
average of five young in each litter.46
45 Prebles meadow jumping mouse, Center for Biological Diversity,
httD://www-bioloaicaldiversitv.ora/sDecies/mammals/Prebles meadow jumping mouse/ind.
(accessd February 9, 2010).
46 Prebles Meadow Jumping Mouse,
http://nativeecosvstems.orQ/species/mammals/prebles-meadow-iumping-mouse.
(accessed February 9, 2010).
20


During the peak of Douglas Countys growth from the mid-1980s into the 1990s the
Prebles weighed heavily as a candidate for the Endangered Species List. After several
years of petitioning from the Biodiversity Legal Foundation and other like-minded groups
the little critter achieved protected status. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated
Riparian Conservation Zones (REZs) along all three of the Countys major watersheds,
Plum Creek, Cherry Creek, and the South Platte River as well as up and down the Front
Range from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. The Endangered Species Act lists the
following activities as violations of the law: collecting, handling, harassing, or taking the
species without authorization; directly or indirectly injuring or killing the mouse; modifying
know habitat areas, and application or discharge of agrichemicals, or other pollutants into
the mouses environment.47
Special interest groups and some of the Countys finest citizens view the mostly
invisible rodent as a pest standing in the way of progress. Recently the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service removed the Prebles from the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming.
Currently the subspecies remains protected in the Colorado portion of its range. Biologists
believe the species remains a relic from the Pliestocene Era. The tiny rodent shared some
of the same environments the wooly mammoth and other Ice Age megafauna enjoyed.
Clovis Hunters may have been amused by the tiny creatures appearance and short hops.
Zapus hudsonius preblei represents a living connection to the Very Old West when all the
other remnants from that era can only be viewed in museums.
47 Douglas County, Colorado Open Space Prebles Meadow Jumping Mouse,
http://www.doualas.co.us/oDensDace/Prebles Meadow Jumping Mouse.html (accessed
December 20, 2009).
21


Douglas Countys Very Old West
...In the waning millennia of the last ice age, at least 15,000 and
maybe 25,000 Years ago, the first Americans might have camped along
creeks and in clusters of timber where Denver and Colorado Springs later
appeared. They may have stayed for decades or for centuries...48
Elliot West, The Contested Plains
Many theories try to explain how the first Americans came to North America.
However, a Pleistocene migration over a Bering Strait land bridge still remains the most
widely accepted belief among scholars and scientists. Robson Bonnichsen, from the
Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A & M, briefly summarizes the
concept:
It proposes that a single band of nomadic big-game hunters crossed the
Bering Land Bridge from Siberia to America at the end of the last Ice Age.
These people supposedly traveled down an ice-free corridor between the
Cordilleran and Laurentian ice sheets along the eastern flanks of the
Rocky Mountains and expanded into what is now the U.S. about 13,500
years ago.49
Over the past several decades the Land Bridge Theory acquired formidable
challengers. Many Native Americans claim their ancestry began in North America and
dismiss theories about an Asian migration. Some scholars and scientists refute the notion
of people traveling south through Canada along hostile, ice-free corridors during the
waning days of the last Ice Age. They point to 20,000 to 30,000 year old finds at Monte
Verde, Chile; Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pennsylvania; Queen Charlotte Island, British
48 Elliot West, Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado,
(Lawrence, University of Kansas Press, 1998), 18.
49 Robson Bonnichsen, Paleo American Origins: Beyond Clovis, (College Station,
Texas: Center for the Study of the First Americans, Texas A&M, 2005), 36.
22


Columbia; Aucilla River, Florida and dozens of other sites pre-dating the accepted starting
point for original North American occupation, the Clovis Point-Culture.50
The Clovis Point, a three-to-six inch man-made spear point, defines a pre-historic
era where human hunters stalked the Front Range in search of giant mammals. Clovis
Points named for what appeared to be Indian warheads that surfaced in the 1930s along
with several skeletons of wooly mammoths near Clovis, New Mexico were expertly crafted
by skilled flintnappers during the waning days of the Ice Age, the sharp edged, leaf shaped
projectile points, represented the weapon of the era when attached to a spear.51 The
Clovis Point tipped weapon combined with an atlatl, a throwing device, enabled a skilled
hunter to thrust the projectile with enough velocity to pierce the thick hide of a wooly
mammoth and mastodon.52 Columbian mammoths, grazers of over five hundred pounds of
vegetation a day, grew past thirteen feet in height.53 Paleo-lndians, working in highly
coordinated teams, risking a ten-ton stomping or goring by sixteen-foot tusks, killed the
beasts.
50 Micahel Parfit, The Search for the First Americans, National Geographic, 98,
no. 6, (December, 2000), 43-46.
51 Phyllis Eileen Banks. Blackwater Draw Museum traces of Clovis Man,
Southern New Mexico.com, (last updated on January 5, 2003, accessed January 4,
2008), 1. www.southemnewmexico.com (The Clovis Point first made headlines when a
teenager, Ridgely Whiteman, discovered what he called Indian warheads at a site known
as Blackwater Draw located between Portales and Clovis, New Mexico during a road
construction project in the 1930s).
52 Ibid.; (Atlatls are ancient weapons that preceded the bow and arrow in most
parts of the world and are one of humankind's first mechanical inventions. An atlatl is
essentially a stick with a handle on one end and a hook or socket that engages a light
spear or dart on the other. The flipping motion of the atlatl propels a light spear much
faster and farther than it could be thrown by hand alone).
(http://www.worldatlatl.org/WhatisAtlatl.htmO
53 Miles Barton, Nigel Bean, Stephen Dunleavy, et. al., Prehistoric America: A
Journey through the Ice Age and Beyond, (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University
Press, 2002), 86.
23


Most of Colorados Clovis sites exist on the eastern plains. Near Greeley, in 1932,
the Dent Site became the first official Clovis discovery in the state. Several years later,
thirteen points uncovered further east along the South Platte River Valley continued the
excitement. Other Clovis and Pre-Clovis sites may exist in the San Luis Valley, along the
headwaters of the Republican River, and in northwestern Douglas County.54
Approximately twelve thousand years ago bands of hunter/gatherers may have
witnessed the following scene in pre-historic Douglas County:
...Imagine the vast expanses of the Rocky Mountain Front Range and the
eastern Colorado plains, void of human inhabitants, lush with grass, and
bountiful with game. Cooler and wetter than today, the late Pleistocene
and early Holocene environment was populated by a multitude of now-
extinct megafauna: mammoth, camels, and sloth lumbered across the
grasslands and into the foothills. Into the land ventured the first humans
to occupy the Platte River Basin, the Paleoindians...55
Evidence from this era lies buried at an intriguing site near Roxborough State Park in
northwestern Douglas County. The Lamb Spring site, discovered by rancher Charles
Lamb when he was digging a stock pond in 1960, has revealed remains of a prehistoric
horse, camel, bison, and many smaller animals. The most remarkable find consists of
bones, skulls, and tusks of twenty-four Columbian mammoths.56
Dr. Dennis Stanford, lead archaeologist for the Smithsonian Institute along with
other scientists, students, and volunteers have participated in several digs at the site over
the past few decades. They believe tantalizing clues arise from the lowest, oldest layers of
54 E. Steve Cassels, The Archaeology of Colorado, (Boulder, Colorado: Johnson
Books, 1997), 58-67.
55 Kevin P. Gilmore, Marcia Tate, Bonnie Clark, et al., Colorado Prehistory: A
Context for the Platte River Basin, (Denver: Council of Professional Archaeologists, 1999),
51.
56 Ibid., 56.
24


the Lamb Spring dig. Within the deepest layer some of the bones were Carbon-14 dated
to around 11,500 BCE, placing the find "on the early side of the Clovis time period."57
What may be man-made cut-marks and hammer stone scars appear on the mammoth
bones. Possible stone-age tools and a fifteen-kilogram river boulder, perfect for smashing
large bones, were also found with the Pleistocene remains.58 If, further study at Lamb
Spring produces irrefutable Pre-Clovis artifacts, the discoveries will alter such long held
conventional beliefs as the Land Bridge Theory and the Clovis First Model. In the near
future Lamb Spring, located near Roxborough State Park, may become an interpretive
center and museum.59
The Clovis Point culture eventually dissipated when their primary food source,
Pleistocene megafauna, vanished. Between 13,000 to 11,000 years Columbian
mammoths and dozens of other North American species became extinct. Did they die off
because of pandemic diseases? Were they hunted to extinction by an increasing pop-
ulation of efficient human hunters? Or, when the Ice Age receded and a warmer, drier
climate dominated the area did the foraging grazers and super predators succumb be-
cause their Pleistocene environment collapsed? Some animals managed to survive
including antelope, elk, deer, dozens of smaller species and an ancestor of one of
Colorados true natives, the Bison antiquus.60
57 Sarah M. Nelson, Denver: An Archaeological History, (Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 2001), 72.
58 Dr. Dennis J. Stanford and Dr. John W. Fisher, Jr. Final Report: Analysis of the
Lamb Spring Archaeological Site. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Studies Program,
(October 23, 1992), 28-32.
59 Norma Miller, Douglas County Preservation Board, Interview by Fred Edison,
Castle Rock, Colorado, (May 9, 2007).
60 Barton, et al.,170-175.
25


The next dominant beast to graze on the High Plains grasslands, Bison antiquus,
multiplied rapidly and a new hunter/gatherer culture flourished at the same time. The giant
bison displayed an enormous set of horns, massive head, and body far outweighing the
puny bison of today. Hunters probably worked in coordinated units driving the beasts into
makeshift corrals, surprising the animal from behind blinds strategically placed at water
holes, or stampeding them over bluffs. Man made projectile points and bones from Bison
antiguus were first discovered together near Folsom, New Mexico, giving the new weapon
its name, Folsom Point. Hunters in this era continued to use an atlatl, only now the spear
point was smaller and thinner than the Clovis Point. Another innovation added to the
Folsom Point was a pair of fluted-channels along both cutting edges. Many experts agree
the channels allowed for the blood letting of the animal. Folsom sites existing all along the
Rocky Mountain Front Range, High Plains, and as far north as Montana, indicate a pre-
historic culture thrived in the region centuries after the glaciers retreated.61
The Pleistocene climate slowly changed into the seasonal one recognizable today.
Summers became slightly hotter and drier; winters colder and snowier. An average temp-
erature increase and precipitation drop impacted the bountiful tall grass, short grass and
woodland ecosystem. Woodlands receded to the east, clustered tightly to the riparian
corridors and only survived in the cooler/wetter foothills and mountains. The lush, tall
grasses gave way to arid short grass and sagebrush/yucca prairie. The genetic dwarfing of
Bison antiquus evolved into todays modern bison and colossal herds roamed from the
61 West, Contested Plains. 20; Chris Scarre. Past Worlds: The Times Atlas of
Archaeology, (London: Times Books Limited, 1988), 207.
26


Platte River to Canada, the Arkansas River to Mexico, and across the plains of eastern
Colorado.62
>
A Last Stand of the Old West in
Douglas County, Colorado
In northern Douglas County a little known sanctuary for the Old West exists on
1,000 acres of prime real estate owned by the City of Denver. From Daniels Park uncom-
promised views unfold of downtown Denver, the Front Range, Cherokee Ranch and
Castle, and a majestically sculptured Plum Creek Valley. The original thirty-seven, acre
site was donated to the city of Denver in 1920 by Florence Martin and named for Major
William Cook Daniels, co-founder of the Daniels and Fisher Department Store.63
Seventeen years later, George C. Cranmer, Denver's famous parks and improvements
manager, accepted the rest of Miss Martins one thousand acre ranch completing the
formation of the Park.64
Daniels Park, along with several other Denver Mountain Parks, reflects the
planning and design of legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, with the
pavilion and shelter house, once part of an active picnic grounds, created by Denver's
Jacques Jules Benoit Benedict.65 Daniels Park Road, a hilly, winding gravel road, closely
62 Robert H. Brunswick, Jr., Paleo-lndian Environments Paleoclimates in the
High Plaines and Central Rocky Mountains, S. W. Lore: Journal of Colorado Archaeology
vol. 58, No. 4, (Winter 1992), 14-19.
63Peg Ekstrand and Holly Wilson, Daniels Park Listed in the National Register of
Historic Places. Colorado Historical Society News Release, Denver Colorado Historical
Society, (July 26, 1995), 9.
64 Donor of 1,000-Acre Park Site to City is Miss Florence Martin, Rocky Mtn.
News, (Jan. 28, 1937).
65 Ekstrand & Wilson. Daniels Park Listed..., 10.
27


follows the old Territorial Road alignment from Denver to Colorado Springs.66 The park, in
1995, received acceptance by the National Park Service on the National Register of
Historic Places.67 Within a fenced in portion of the park a bison herd, with an impressive
pedigree, stands as witness to the fabled West.
One of Americas surviving bison herds in the late 1890s existed in Yellowstone
Park. In 1913 Denver purchased fifteen head of bison from this herd to bolster the
endangered species.68 City authorities placed the animals in newly created Genesee Park
just west of Denver. During the 1930s promoters and planners moved some of the
expanding herd to Daniels Park.69 Both herds multiplied successfully and their lineage
traces to the turn of the century Yellowstone Bison. Today observers can see both herds
grazing in an enclosed environment. Park managers attempt to keep the herd size con-
trolled by keeping twenty-four adult cows and two bulls at both Genesee and Daniels
Parks.70
Is it a buffalo herd or a bison herd? European immigrants popularized the name
as buffalo. Today's scientists, major commercial associations, and purists call the animal
by its proper name, a bison, in fact a buffalo refers to the cape and water buffalo found in
Africa and Asia. North America claims the subspecies of bison, the Plains Bison (Bison,
66 Tripp-Addison, "Historic Designation of Daniels Park Road," Denver Mountain
Parks Memorandum, Denver Mountain Parks, (January 13, 2000), 1.
67 Peg Ekstrand and Holly Wilson, "Daniels Park Listed in the National Register of
Historic Places," Denver Colorado Historical Society, (July 26, 1995), 1.
68Karen Bowers, Denver Auctions Part of its Buffalo Herd, Rocky Mountain News,
(March 5th, 1985).
69 "The Buffalo Herd," Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, Golden,
Colorado.www.buffalobill.org./buffaloherd.htm. (accessed April 25, 2009), 1.
70 Ibid., 1.
28


bison, bison) and Wood Bison (Bison, bison, athabascae).71 That said, how does the
name Bison Bill Cody sound rolling off the tongue. Most likely, tradition will prevail and
the legendary William F. Codys well-earned nickname will stand.
Estimates place the number of historic buffalo/bison herds once roaming the West
at approximately sixty million.72 Nearly all the Native Americans living on the Great Plains
hunted bison. By 1800 the animals population was shrinking drastically east of the
Mississippi, but bison still lived in astonishing numbers in the vast grasslands between the
85th and 115th meridian.73 After the Civil War the destruction of the bison herds increased
at a tremendous pace until by 1893 estimates placed their number at just over three
hundred.74 The three decades of slaughter left the Plains Indians in a starving and
powerless state. Devastation reigned not only because the animal was their direct source
of food, clothing, and shelter but also since it provided both a major trading resource and
represented wealth within their society.75 Dee Brown author of the classic, Bury My Heart
at Wounded Knee, adds the following perspective:
Of the 3,700,000 buffalo destroyed from 1872 through 1874, only 150,000
were killed by Indians. When a group of concerned Texans asked General
Sheridan if something should not be done to stop the white hunters whole-
sale slaughter, he replied: Let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is
71 "Bison and Buffalo," Bison Specialist Group-North America,
www.notitia.com/bison/Buffalo.htm, (accessed April 25, 2009), 1.
72 Buffalo-Bison, National Bison Association-Denver,
www.americanwest.com/bison/buffindx.htm. (accessed April 25, 2009), 1.
73 Elliot West, Contested Plains:.... 69.
74 Buffalo-Bison, National Bison Association-Denver.
75 Steven Cassels ed., Steven G. Baker, Richard F. Carrillo, and Carl D. Spath,
Colorado History: A Context for Historical Archaeology, (Denver: Colorado Council of
Professional Archaeologists, 2007), 93.
29


exterminated, as it is the only way to bring lasting peace and allow
civilization to advance.76
An earlier form of General Sheridans version of civilization landed on the shores of
Chesapeake Bay with the early Jamestown colonists and conflicts between Native
Americans continued for over two centuries all across the North American frontier. Many
historians refer to the 270 years of conflict between Native Americans and Anglo-
Europeans as the nations Longest Civil War.77 In Colorado the warfare ended in 1869 at
the Battle of Summit Springs in the northeastern comer of the state.
The Cheyenne in the early 1800s were divided into two distinct groups, the
Northern Cheyenne, north of the South Platte River and the Southern Cheyenne between
the South Platte and Arkansas Rivers, todays eastern Colorado. The Cheyenne, Arapaho
and other Plains tribes lived in small, nomadic bands, thriving in large part due to the few
remaining wild bison herds. The Cheyenne organized into ten bands each with four chiefs.
Warrior societies existed within each band such as the Wolf-Soldiers, Bull-Soldiers,
Bowstrings, and others. The Dog Soldiers represented the elite of the warrior castes. As
the century advanced the Southern Cheyenne witnessed the trapper and trader, U.S.
soldiers, gold prospectors, homesteaders, and ranchers passing by with each new wave
staying longer and longer. Patriotic for their cause, the warrior societies struck back
raiding, robbing and ravaging the intruders. The Sand Creek massacre and similar events
76 Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and
Winston, 1970), 265.
77 Thomas J. Noel and Duane A. Smith, Colorado: The Highest State, (Niwot,
Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1995), 83.
30


played into the hands of the militant members of each band and consequently groups like
the Dog Soldiers gained in popularity.78
Chief Tall Bull, a legendary warrior, commanded the Dog Soldiers in the summer
of 1864 and along with other resistant bands refused to follow Colorado governor John
Evans order to give up their arms and peaceably go to the Sand Creek Reservation
northeast of Fort Lyon and the Arkansas River. Most Southern Cheyenne preferred living
free, camping in the middle of their hunting grounds, the lush meadows and cottonwood
stands of the upper Republican River. Soon anger exploded on both sides with
homesteaders arming and Indians striking at will. Innocents were killed on both sides. In
early December dozens of survivors from an unforgettable massacre drifted into Tall Bulls
camp. They carried news from Sand Creek. Soon the despicable deeds carried out by
Col. John Chivington and Colorados Third Regiment on the morning of November 29,
1864 came to light. When the shooting ended around noon only ten of the volunteers were
dead. Cheyenne and Arapaho deaths exceeded one hundred-sixty. Colorados troopers
committed despicable atrocities raping and mutilating Indian women and shooting children
for sport. The bloody Thirdsters even brought back trophy-scalps to display in a Denver
theater and to drape around mirrors in saloon. Descriptions of the horrific episode spread
like a wild fire. A seething rage must have filled every Native Americans heart. In re-
taliation, warriors swept down on Julesburg, Colorado attacking and burning it twice.
Eastern Colorado and the territorial town of Denver lived under a state of siege during
1865 and more military campaigns became a necessity against the hostile Indians.79
78 Carl Abbot, Stephen J. Leonard, and Thomas J. Noel, Colorado: A History of the
Centennial State, 4th edition, (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2005), 21.
79 Ibid., 70-71.
31


Three years later Lieutenant Frederick H. Beecher and Cheyenne Chief Roman
Nose both died during a nine-day siege on the Arikaree Fork of the Republican River.
History records the event as the Battle of Beecher Island. A few months later some of the
survivors from Sand Creek, including Chief Black Kettle and his wife, died at Washita
Creek in western Oklahoma Territory when an ambitious George A. Custer and his
Seventh Cavalry stormed through their camp. Cheyenne Dog Soldier raids and cavalry
patrols increased in 1869 leading to another tension filled summer. Again U.S. officials
ordered Chief Tall Bull and his warriors to the reservation and again they refused. Chief
Tall Bull replied:
...Our lands are where our dead are buried. We are willing to be friends
with the white man. The buffalo are fast diminishing. The antelope that
were plenty are now few. When all are gone, we shall be hungry. But we
shall never make peace that forces us to settle down. We have always
been a free nation, and we will remain so or die...80
Facing a desperate situation Chief Tall Bull planned on leading his band across the South
Platte to join the Northern Cheyenne and Sioux just fresh from victories over the U.S.
cavalry in the Powder River region of Wyoming.
Before crossing the South Platte, Tall Bull and his followers stopped to rest and
look for a better crossing not counting on the persistence of Major General Eugene Carrs
Fifth Cavalry who continued tracking Tall Bull after three hundred grueling miles. In the
vanguard of Carrs contingent rode a battalion of Pawnee, eager to destroy their mortal
enemies, the Cheyenne. Another participant was the young scout, William F. Cody,
already known as Buffalo Bill, for the hundreds of bison he killed to feed the railroad
crews.
80 Claire Martin, Honoring Native roots: Tall Bulls great-grandson raised Denver
awareness, Rocky Mountain News, (December 29, 2002), 5B.
32


Some of the Cheyenne crossed the South Platte but Tall Bull and a small
contingent of warriors waited behind with exhausted tribal members, his family, and two
white women held as hostages. On the morning of July 11, 1869 Carrs force rode down
on a surprised Tall Bull:
...The Pawnees and the soldiers hit the camp like a thunderclap, raining
bullets down on the scattering Cheyenne. The valley overflowed with the
screams of women, the cries of horses and warriors, the crack of gunfire.
Many escaped on foot grabbing nothing but their children. Others were
shot dead where they stood... Tall Bull went back into his tepee and shot a
woman hostage in the chest, Follow me, he shouted and led a group of
20, including his wife and a daughter, into a series of ravines... My heart
is bad, Tall Bull told his wife, knowing now there could be no escape. I
cannot endure this.... He thrust a knife into his horse and moved his
family back. He climbed the loose rock to the top of the wash. He raised
himself over the edge, shot at a soldier on horseback and ducked back
down...Frank North swung out of his saddle and dropped to one knee. He
aimed his rifle at the spot where the shot had come from. He waited. And
then a warrior came up, and North pulled the trigger, Tall Bull fell back into
the abyss, a bullet through his head...81
Tall Bulls wife and daughter surrendered while a fierce Pawnee warrior, Traveling Bear,
stormed into the ravine killing and scalping the remaining Cheyenne resistors.82 Tall Bulls
fellow Dog Soldier and friend, Wolf with Plenty of Hair, died a heroic death as possible by
staking himself out and fighting to the death. Historian Elliot West described the warriors
demise in his book Contested Plains, ...his body, riddled but still tethered, was found after
the firing finally stopped.83
81 Mike Anton. Ambition unleashed, Rocky Mountain News, (Sunday, July 25,
1999), 2M.
83 Eliot West, Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado,
(Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988), 316.
33


With the Battle of Summit Springs Southern Cheyenne resistance in Colorado
ended. Dee Brown author of, / Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee, echoed their elegy in
his book:
...Roman Nose was dead; Black Kettle was dead; Tall Bull was dead. Now
they were all good Indians. Like the antelope and the buffalo, the ranks of
the proud Cheyennes were thinning to extinction...84
An era from the Old West passed into legend. Eastern writers soon told the exploits of
Buffalo Bill and the Indian Wars in popular dime novels. William F. Codys very own Wild-
West Show recreated the battle of Summit Springs before adoring audiences back east
and in European capitals.
Despite tragic losses, decimating diseases, and corruption on reservations the
Cheyenne persevered. Generation after generation survived reservation life and stifling
discipline at boarding schools. Today their language and history remain in tact thanks to
modern ancestors including former Denver resident, Richard TallBull.
Great grandson of the famed Dog Soldier chief, Richard TallBull grew up in
Oklahoma Indian country during the Great Depression. After several unhappy years at the
Indian boarding school he dropped out to enlist in World War II and served in the Army
Signal Corps. Keeping with tradition Richard TallBull replaced his grandfather as sub-chief
for the Southern Cheyenne Dog Soldier Society. After the war he trained as an auto
mechanic using the G. I. Bill. TallBull and his wife Gertrude moved their family to Denver
in 1960. Over the next several decades he became one of Denvers leading activists for
Indian Rights and a cofounder of the White Buffalo Council.85
84 Dee Brown, / Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee, 174.
85 Claire Martin, Honoring Native roots, 6B. (Richard inherited his great
grandfathers surname, Tall Bull, but the army combined the name into one word, Tallbull.
Richard kept the name change so people wouldnt think his middle name was Tall. He
added the capitalized B. The memorial grounds goes by the title of Tallbull).
34


For nearly twenty years the White Buffalo Council held their annual summer pow-
wows at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds and planned to move to Evergreen until fearful
local citizens blocked them in the mid-1970s.86 Richard TallBull and a group of friends
persuaded then Denver mayor, Bill McNichols, to set aside some land within city-owned,
Daniels Park for the "exclusive use of Indian religious and social groups."87 They named
the site in honor of Richard's great-grandfather.
A Twenty-First Century Treaty, of Sorts
On Memorial and Labor Day weekends, hundreds of Indian and non-Indians attend
pow-wows at the Tallbull Memorial in Douglas County. Attendees look forward to escaping
from modem-day pressures and recreating elements of a threatened heritage. The White
Buffalo Council builds arbors for dancers; other groups use a sweat lodge hidden in the
trees and sometimes the Native American Church holds meetings on the grounds.88 Linda
Willie, coordinator of the Heal Our Mother Earth Program, takes Indian children to the
memorial grounds where they leam to gather native plants:
They are taught to gather in the traditional way, you know, to make an
offering so they are not just ripping it out...It just gives the children an
opportunity to reconnect, an opportunity they don't get in the city.89
86 Jay Ambrose, City Finally OKs Indian powwow grounds, Rocky Mountain
News, Sat. (Oct. 15, 1977), 8.
87 Ibid., 8.
88 Tina Griego, "A Special Place on 80 pristine acres in Douglas County," Denver
Rocky Mountain News, Sunday, (March 7, 1999), 40A.
89 lbid.,40A.
35


In 1997, Mayor Wellington Webb gave the White Buffalo Council an extension to
continue using the Tallbull Memorial Grounds through the year 2022.90 However, existing
with Douglas County's rapid growth soon proved to be difficult. As early as 1988 the
County's commissioners supported a development agreement south of Highlands Ranch
and ten years later considered rezoning the land adjacent to Daniels Park.91
By the late 1990s an urban corridor stretched out on east-west running County
Line Road and C-470 along Douglas County's northern border. Subdivisions moved
steadily southward closing in on Daniels Park and the Tallbull Memorial. When Shea
Homes, the current developer of Highlands Ranch, and the Highlands Ranch Community
Association initiated plans for rezoning the 8,200 acre Open Space Conservation Area
(OSCA) adjacent to the northern and western boundaries of Daniels Park alarms went up
within Denver's Native American community.
For several months during the spring and summer of 2000 public hearings allowed
citizens to weigh in on the issues. The pro-development faction got behind a carefully
crafted staff report by the Douglas County Planning Department:
... The primary purpose of the plan is to establish appropriate land uses
for the 8200 acre Open Space Conservation Area (OSCA). The plan also
identifies specific areas for open space, wildlife habitat, public facilities,
and public and private recreation and educational facilities including parks
and trails...92
The County's Planning Department went on to define public facilities as police, fire,
90 Griego, 40A.
91 M.E. Sprengelmeyer, "Projects on sacred site worry Indians," Denver Rocky
Mountain News, Wednesday, (March 15, 2000), 26A.
92 Douglas County Planning Commission, Highlands Ranch Open Space
Conservation Area Plan-Staff Report Castle Rock: Douglas County Planning Department,
(February 17, 2000), 4.
36


governmental, and educational buildings along with radio, television and communication
facilities.93
During the public hearings many citizens advocated for protecting the Memorial
Grounds. Some of the more passionate pleas centered around the spirituality and
sacredness of the place. Ms. Kelly Roy, a Denver resident, "...stated there are family
members buried on the Tallbull Memorial Grounds..."94 Concerns about increased traffic,
noise and vandalism were also expressed. Another Denver resident, Steve Newcomb,"...
stated his opposition to this plan considering that historically all of Douglas County is
American Indian land and the Board has an ethical obligation to consider the cultural
survival and needs of the American Indian peoples within the Colorado Area..."95
At the April 5, 2000 hearing, Delmar Hamilton, president of the Tallbull Memorial
Council, and dozens of supporting Native Americans presented a memorandum to the
Commissioners. In the document the council made their case opposing the OSCA plan:
...We want to preserve the land and the animals without development by
keeping the area in as pristine a condition as possible. In saying this, we
are speaking for those who have no voice, the land, animals, plants, the
trees, and waters. We have been entrusted with the responsibility to care
for the land, as it cares for us. In saying this, we have in mind all peoples,
Native and non-Native alike, as well the future generations of all our
families and communities...96
Another point raised in the memorandum reminded the Commissioners that the city and
93 Ibid., 5.
94 Douglas County Commissioners Special Hearing Meeting, Minutes of a Special
Hearing Castle Rock: Douglas County Board of Commissioners, (March 13, 2000), 10.
95 Ibid., 10.
96 Douglas County Commissioners Special Hearing Meeting, Minutes of a Special
Hearing Castle Rock: Douglas County Board of Commissioners, (April 5, 2000.) a
Memorandum from The Tall Bull Memorial Council (Delmar Hamilton, President),
(prepared March 6, 2000), 1.
37


county of Denver owned Daniels Park and through their donation of the land charged the
Tallbull Memorial Council with the care and upkeep of the grounds. They went on to
propose that a one-mile buffer zone be established between the OSCA and Daniels Park.97
Ava Hamilton, an Arapaho, whose ancestors once lived freely along the Front
Range, summed up her feelings several months before the negotiations:
... It would be a shame to see houses instead of trees, to hear traffic in-
stead of songs. It's a wonderful feeling to be here instead of in our com-
munities where most of us are the only Indians. Here we wake up and we
are all Indians!...98
After nearly nine months of meetings, hearings, negotiations and on site visits the two
sides reached an amicable agreement on the OSCA Plan and it went into place on June 1,
2000.99
Negotiated revisions to the development guide recognized a 7,000-year window of
occupation by the indigenous people and required the Tallbull Council be consulted before
"disposition of significant artifacts."100 Canceled construction, on a nearby recreation
center and regional trailhead, satisfied Native American concerns about increased traffic
and noise. The requested one-mile buffer zone stayed intact everywhere except in the
north-east comer. There approved development gained access up to within one thousand
feet of Daniels Park Road.
97 lbid.,1.
98 Tina Griego, "A Special Place on 80 Pristine Acres in DC," Rocky Mountain
News, (March 7, 1999), 38A.
99 Conservation Area (OSCA) Plan, Douglas County Government, 100 Third
Street, Castle Rock, Colorado, 2009. www.doualas.co.us./ooensoace
/Conservation Area (OSCA1 Plan.html. (Accessed April 17, 2009),1.
100 Douglas County Planning Commission, Highlands Ranch Open Space
Conservation Area Plan-Staff Report Castle Rock: Douglas County Planning Department,
(April 5, 2000), 1-2.
38


Twenty-first century recognition of the needs and concerns of Native American
cultures far outshines the actions and attitudes practiced by our western forbearers.
However, two questions deserve our attention. Will this vital remnant of Western heritage
survive in a rapidly changing Douglas County? How will future generations view the
importance of the Daniels Park Bison and Tallbull Memorial Grounds? For the time being
the bison still graze and the Tallbull Memorial Grounds continues to be a site for pow-
wows, sweat lodges and a place, where the late Richard TallBull once said, "we Indians
{can} get together and make some noise!101
Tina Griego, A Special Place on 80 Pristine Acres In DC, RMN, (March 7,
1999), 38A. (Richard TallBull passed away on December 20, 2002 in Denver at age 84.
He was among the last of a generation who heard the story firsthand from survivors of
Summit Springs At the time of his death he was survived by two sons, two daughters, a
brother, long-time companion Suzanne Wilson, 11 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren,
and 2 great-great grandchildren).
39


CHAPTER THREE
DOUGLAS COUNTY IN THE WAKE OF THE WAR
Sirens blared for an hour. Jubilant citizens emptied into the streets and paraded
behind the towns fire truck. Overlooking the celebration atop the communitys namesake
butte burned a large letter V erected by the volunteer firemen. Dancing and revelry went
on late into the warm summer night. The citizens of Castle Rock, a tight-nit Front Range
community of a few hundred Westerners, celebrated along with millions nationwide that
Tuesday evening, August 14,1945. The Japanese accepted the unconditional surrender
terms of the Allies, news the whole world anxiously waited to hear.
Four months earlier word of President Franklin D. Roosevelts death sent shock
waves through the nation and an untested Vice President, Harry S Truman, became the
thirty-third president of the United States. On the last day of April, German dictator Adolph
Hitler and his close NAZI compatriots committed suicide in a Berlin bunker with the Soviet
army closing in. The official surrender occurred on May 7, VE Day. Two of the three Axis
powers now were defeated leaving the horrors of the concentration camps exposed and
the inevitable sinking of Japans rising sun.
In Castle Rock and all over America, young and old alike recalled the aggressive
German attacks over the past six years, the strength of the English during the London Blitz,
Japans treachery at Pearl Harbor and Bataan, the heroics at Guadalcanal, Midway, Anzio,
Normandy, Iwo Jima, Bastogne, Okinawa, and countless other battlefields across Europe,
the Pacific, and Asia. The war ended with a vengeance in August 1945 when the United
States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. During the six-year catastrophe approx-
imately forty-eight million people died and over half were civilians. Americans lost an
40


estimated 405,000 soldiers and a relatively low number of civilians, 2000.1t)Z For American
families and local communities the 44-month ordeal was brought home with the solemn
display of blue and gold stars seen hanging in picture windows or on doors. Each blue star
represented a family member serving their country and the gold star recognized a family
member who died during the war.
According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Douglas County suffered the loss of
fourteen servicemen during WWII. Their names were:
Frederick L. Angel
Eduard Lee Arment of Larkspur
Dorsey Cain of Larkspur
Thomas P. Chrisman
Bernard John Curtis
Walter D. Edwards of Larkspur
Keith Melvin Gordon
Byron Higgins of Parker
Donald Robert Nelson of Sedalia
Jack Charles Nipho of Castle Rock
Toney Perez of Castle Rock
Edson Monroe Raymond of Larkspur
Raymond J. Woodbury of Parker
Alton L. Wyatt of Sedalia
Larkspur, a tiny hamlet south of Castle Rock, suffered the highest proportion of battle
deaths and three tragically came in May, 1945 during some of the Wars final battles. At
the epic battle of Okinawa on May 11,1945 kamikaze attacks claimed the lives of Eduard
Arment aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Evans and Edson Raymond on the aircraft carrier
USS Bunker Hill. Just sixteen days later, on May 27, 1945, Walter Edwards died on 102
102 Gary B. Nash, American Odyssey: The United States in the Twentieth Century,
(New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1999), 515.
41


Luzon, the largest island in Philippines. He was buried on the island at the Santa Barbara
cemetery along with hundreds of other infantry comrades.103
Alton Wyatt died in Germany on April 13,1945 during a closing campaign in the
European Theater. He grew up on Jarre Creek raising cattle with his family and attended
Douglas County High School in Castle Rock. The following news story appeared in the
local paper in June 1945:
{Earlier}...He wrote home that he had been in ten different countries and
as always he seemed to be getting the most out of life. At another time,
he wrote of entertaining the boys by riding every stray horse they came
across... Alton was always the life of the party here at home and his young
friends felt deep loss when he left, for it was as I heard some one remark,
'the dances dont seem to have any pep without Alton...104
The class of 1943 at Douglas County High School remained active throughout the
year as World War II raged. At the beginning of the school year students and staff formed
the Victory Corps, a club organized to promote patriotism at DCHS. Throughout the year
the club sponsored contests between classes in selling war stamps, ran silk stocking
drives, and collected other necessary items for the war effort. Sophomore and freshman
classes made scrapbooks to be sent to hospitals. Another patriotic group found at the high
school was a branch of the Y.W.C.A. called the Girls Reserves. Under the direction of
Miss Werschky the organization participated in many worthwhile activities, including
inspirational meetings, assisting a national clothing drive, and various social affairs. In
103 V.F.W. Post 4664 assisted by the Castle Rock and Community Business Men,
Service Record Book of Men and Women of Castle Rock, Colorado and Community,
Marceline, Missouri: Walsworth Brothers, circa 1948.
104 Record Journal, Two Douglas County Boys Reported Killed," (June 22,
1945),1.
42


athletics DCHS won the Class B championship in basketball by defeating the Aurora
Trojans, 35-33, at the City Auditorium in Denver.105
Three Western Citizens
Douglas County residents, displaying true western grit, held up under the adversity
and consistently rallied on the home front. Colorado farmers and ranchers kept up with the
nation in breaking production records. The local War Finance Committee organized bond
drives spreading the cost of war over a longer period of time. The Record Journal,
Douglas Countys local newspaper, ran syndicated patriotic stories accompanied with
various artists renditions of war scenes. A number of women entered the work force
taking shifts at the DuPont Dynamite factory in Louviers, the Remington Arms Plant in
Lakewood, and other war related industries along the Front Range. Consumers kept older
automobiles running despite the shortage of mechanics and rubber rationing that forced
drivers to squeeze more miles out of their old tires. Local ranches entertained conval-
escents, disabled veterans made artificial poppies encouraging citizens to wear them, in
remembrance, every Memorial weekend, and frequent blood drives involved citizens in the
war effort. Retired nurses were encouraged to re-enter the profession freeing up younger
nurses to work overseas. Among the many contributions of local Red Cross chapters one
included sending parcels of food, clothing, and medical supplies to American P.O.W.s.
105 Evelyn Monk, interview with Fred Edison, (September 16, 2007); (Notes taken
from Evelyns 1943 Douglas County High School Yearbook, Kirk Barber, a sophomore at
Douglas County High School wrote the paragraph about the Class of 43, for a Colorado
History Project).
43


Even Castle Rocks Christmas star remained dark throughout the war to preserve
electricity.106 107
Elizabeth Bette Gilbert Saunders, a third generation Douglas County resident
bom on October, 31, 1914, grew up on a ranch/dairy farm in Cherry Valley, and began her
adult life in war-time Castle Rock. The Noyes family on her mothers side had roots going
back to the pioneer ranchers in the Greenland area. Her father, David Gilbert, became a
Douglas County Commissioner and later mayor of Castle Rock. Along with the war Bette
witnessed the affects of some of the twentieth centurys biggest stories on Castle Rock.
Starr Oberlin, of the Castle Rock Historical Society, sat down with her in the 1990s and
helped produce an oral history sharing Mrs. Saunderis experiences.
Bette married Ben Saunders in December of 1945. Both attended Castle Rocks
Douglas County High School. Throughout the war Bette held down jobs as a telegraph
operator for both the Denver Rio Grande and Santa Fe Railroads. Some of her memories
of World War II came out during the interview with Starr:
...everything was rationed nearly. Gasoline was rationed, shoes were
rationed, the meat was rationed, sugar, flour, coffee and uh you do with-
out. You make over. And we didnt go out and recklessly, with gay and
reckless abandon, take photographs. We couldnt get film half the time.
But we all nearly, every family had a map, and watched and we listened to
the radio and we read the newspapers to keep up with what was going
___107
on...
In the 1940s Castle Rock was the only incorporated town in Douglas County.
Families living in a rural setting outnumbered their counterparts in town. Lamont Johnson,
106 Record Journals, 1945. (Stories from several newspapers were used for the
information in this paragraph).
107 Elizabeth Bette Gilbert Saunders, interview by Starr Oberlin, (April 13,1992),
interview 3 transcript, Castle Rock Historical Society Oral History Project, Douglas County
History Research Center, Castle Rock, Colorado,
httD://www.doualascountvhistorv.ora/voices/saunders/bettesaunders.htm. (accessed
September 22, 2009).
44


in a 1947 Western Farm Life article touted todays corridor between Denver and Colorado
Springs as a natural environment for raising livestock:
...Douglas is not a large county, nor one heavily populated. It squares off
at About 30 miles long, north and south and 25 miles wide through the
center to make it somewhat over 1,000 square miles in area, or one-fifth
the dimension of Las Animas or Moffat counties. Its largest town is Castle
Rock, around 600 population. Of the other communities, Parker has 100
people, and all others have less than that, with a great many of the county
residents living on their farms...108
Two towering residents established their careers in Douglas County during this
era. Both remained attached to the rural community throughout their distinguished
careers. One worked as a butcher, became the personification of a western banker, and
eventually developed into one of the areas rare philanthropists. The other grew up with
ranching in his veins. His lifelong work promoted the cattle industry and he exhibited a
desire to pass that heritage on to future generations.
In the spring of 1943, Philip S. Miller, director of the fledgling Bank of Douglas
County, purchased the Briscoe Ranch located two miles south of town. Cole Briscoe, one
of Castle Rocks early pioneers and Democratic state legislator, sold the property to Mr.
Miller. In 1950 Philip and his wife, Jerry moved on to the historic property and built their
dream house overlooking the town they loved to the north. Once on the ranch Mr. Miller
pursued a coveted hobby in purchasing some of Joseph Winklers prize-winning cattle
herds. Today the Plum Creek subdivision and golf course covers the site where Shorthorn
108 Lamont Johnson, Douglas County: Natural Cattle Country," Western Farm Life,
(1947), 3, reprint in the Agriculture, Ranching, and Other Business in Early Douglas
County, Clippings Notebooks, Douglas County History Research Center, Castle Rock,
Colorado.
45


cattle once grazed and the Millers once stood. Some of Castle Rocks most important
business deals came to fruition over a glass of ice tea on Philip and Jerrys porch.109
Debbie Buboltz-Bodls book, Philip Simon Miller-Butcher, Banker, and Benefactor:
His Life and Legacy in Douglas County, Colorado, provides a detailed look at the Millers
lives and offers a glimpse into Castle Rocks twentieth century history. Debbies father,
Willie Buboltz, worked as Mr. Millers right hand man at the Bank of Douglas County for
forty-two years and both father and daughter knew the Millers well. Debbie described
Philip and Jerrys property and the views they enjoyed in chapter twelve:
In the summer, bright, colorful wildflowers would dot the landscape for as
far As the eye could see while the cactus and yucca would give the im-
pression of a desert. Twisted sagebrush and scrub oak lined East Plum
Creek as it meandered through the central section of the property and then
cut west while sparkling streams and tributaries provided irrigation for the
grasslands and water for the future herds...Because if all the large picture
windows and the design of the house, they had a sweeping view of Pikes
Peak and the southern mountain ranges, which could be enjoyed from
inside as well as outside...To the north, the view was quite different.
There was the precipice of Castle Rock itself, visible for miles, towering
high above the rolling hills and prairie lands, while beneath it the little
country town was nestled in the protective shadow of The Rock. During
the next thirty-three years, Mr. and Mrs. Miller watched, through their very
own windows, this sleepy little village waking up and growing up, as it
changed and expanded...110
Philip Miller met Jessie Jerry Ethel Stewart at a dance in Parker in 1916. The couple
married a few years later and moved to Castle Rock. Philip ran a meat market, managed
the Bank of Douglas County, operated the Philip S. Miller Insurance Agency, and enjoyed
seeing Castle Rock grow and prosper. The Millers donation of water rights on a part of
their ranch allowed the town of Castle Rock to drill new wells, enabling the growth during
109 Debbie Buboltz-Bodle, Philip Simon Miller-Butcher, Banker, and Benefactor: His
Life and Legacy in Douglas County, Colorado, (Phoenix: Phoenix Publishing Group, 1998),
139-143.
110 Ibid.,141-143.
46


the 1980s. The Millers legacy lives on in the memories of long-time residents and the town
continues to benefit from the civic causes they championed.
Throughout the post war era the Millers helped the County Fair and 4-H programs.
Their philanthropy helped finance the first Douglas County Library at 303 Gilbert Street and
the next two subsequent sites. Todays Castle Rock branch of the Douglas County Library
proudly displays the title Philip S. Miller on the front. Other entities in town and along the
Front Range continue to draw on Mr. Millers perpetual charitable trust set up in 1980.
Denvers Childrens Hospital, the Shriners Hospital, the Town of Castle Rock, Douglas
County government and library, Douglas County High School, the Castle Rock Fire
Department, 4-H Council, and the County Fair Association each receive a proportion of the
trust which hovered at thirty million dollars in the late 1990s.111
The Miller and Faber Meat Market supported the 1921 Douglas County Fair by
taking an ad out in the fair book. Philip Miller continued his support over the next seven
decades even through the lean 1930s. During World War II the fair was canceled but local
citizens organized summer rodeos, horse shows, and exciting chariot races.112 In 1946 the
Fair Board planned on reopening the event in September but a polio epidemic led to a
precautionary decision to cancel the fair once again. That year Charles E. Kirk accepted
the position of Douglas County extension agent.
For generations the Kirks worked sawmills in the Black Forest and ranched in El
Paso, County. Charles E. Kirk, a third generation Coloradan, attended school in Ft. Collins
at Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College (Colorado State University today) and
fought in World War I. Charles married Gertrude Moynihan in 1925. He found employ-
111 Ibid., 256-257.
112 Ibid., 195-196.
47


ment as a cattle herdsman while the couple raised a family and operated ranches near
Monument and Peyton through the 1930s and World War II. During the decades after the
war Mr. Kirk became a respected figure as County Agent. He offered advice and assis-
tance to countless farmers and ranchers, wrote articles for the local newspaper, and
tirelessly promoted the education of Douglas County youth.113
When Mr. Kirk became County Agent he remembered bales of cotton filling up
buildings at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. The WPA used the cotton to make
mattresses during the Depression. With the fair closed the local chariot races soon
became a popular event out at the fairgrounds. A typical Sunday sometimes attracted
around two thousand spectators packing the grandstand and overflow areas around the
fences watching a hundred cowboys and cowgirls perform.114 Charles Kirk recalled the
memorable races in a Douglas County News article:
...They were the last thing on the agenda on the rodeo and race night
program. You couldnt pry anyone out of their seat before those races...
Kirk explained that the racers were all local people no professionals, and
many of the horses were part thoroughbred, bred to U.S. Army thorough-
breds kept in the state to breed to ranch mares for cavalry mounts...
Those horses made wonderful chariot horses. It used to be the feature,
but it died out as the horses died off and were not replaced by any-
thing...115
Any researcher would be hard pressed to find another individual more know-
ledgeable about cattle, horses, and Front Range crops than Charles E. Kirk. The National
Western Stock Show knew him well as general livestock superintendent from 1965 1979
113 Charles E. Kirk-Obituary, Douglas County News Press, (August 11, 1981).
114 Race Meet Well Attended, The Record Journal, (July 19, 1946), 1.
115 Jeanne Adkins, Through snow, wars, Depression, fair goes on, Douglas
County News, (August 1981), 3A.
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and handler of the Catch A Calf Contest and Junior Show.116 Today in Castle Rock, Kirk
Hall houses 4-H exhibits during the County Fair and Charles Kirks legacy lives on through
the nearby Colorado State University Extension Office.
Charles Kirk knew how the nineteenth century homesteaders, mostly of German
ancestry, established dairy fanning in the Countys well-watered valleys and how they
supplied several historic creameries in Castle Rock, Larkspur, Littleton, Parker, and
Williamsville. By the 1940s beef cattle surpassed dairy herds in numbers. According to
Mr. Kirk, beef cattle numbered 20,000 head in the late 1940s.117 This far surpassed
Douglas Countys human population of 4000.
Round a Rural Community in 1946
Herefords, Angus, and Shorthorn stock made up the majority of the Countys 1940
beef cattle herds thriving on native grasses growing along Plum and Cherry Creeks. The
largest and best-known commercial Shorthorn herd in the County belonged to Josef
Winkler, Austrian born patriarch of the Winkler family. Their 200 Shorthorn cattle won
numerous awards throughout the twentieth century. Today the famous GE brand,
originated by fellow Austrian George Engl, still identifies this historic herd inhabiting the
pristine valley above the ruined Castlewood Dam just south of Franktown. However, to the
west Fred Noes Eagle Mountain Ranch probably ran the oldest registered herd of Short-
horns dating back to when his grandfather trailed in herds. Large Angus breeders included
E.W. Serrell, Norman Smith, and Paul Brown in the Larkspur area, William Rogerson of
116 Thomas J. Noel, Riding High: Colorado Ranchers and 100 Years of the
National Western Stock Show, (Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing, 2005), 97.
117 Lamont Johnson, Douglas County: Natural Cattle Country.
49


Parker, and Ed Stevens of Castle Rock. The largest commercial Hereford herd in the
county, 1,500 breeding cows, belonged to Lawrence C. Phipps, Jr. of Highlands Ranch.
Ed Seidensticker also owned registered Herefords along with growing 3,000 acres of
wheat in the Lake Gulch region.118
Dairy farms, beginning in the north included Joe Bloders and John Bowdens
south of Littleton; up the Cherry Creek valley through Parker and Franktown were Lester
Rose, Clayton McClain, and the Taylor Brothers. Along East Plum Creek, near Castle
Rock, Ivan Cramer, Frank Woodhouse, and Max Binford and their families got up before
dawn to milk their Holsteins and Guernseys. With the exception of wheat, ail the crops
raised in Douglas County were for cattle. Alfalfa and native hay led the list. The Douglas
County Livestock Association bought a spraying outfit used to attack grubs, flies, and other
insects. Soil conservation districts supervised construction of stock water ponds and
replanting programs in both the Plum Creek and Cherry Creek Districts. Many Thanks-
giving and Christmas tables in Denver relied upon turkeys raised on farms outside Castle
Rock and Sedalia. The 1947 Douglas County turkey population outnumbered residents
nearly ten to one.119
With more livestock than people and fewer than two persons per square mile,
Douglas County exemplified what many experts view as a twentieth century western place.
One room school houses, homes without electricity, telephone wires strung on fence posts,
seldom graded gravel roads, and intersections devoid of stoplights seemed the norm in this
Front Range county. The small town of Castle Rock serviced the agricultural/ranching
hinterland covering the northern slope of the Palmer Divide, western Elbert County, lower
118 Ibid., 3-6.
119 Ibid., 7-9.
50


Plum Creek and Cherry Creek valleys, and eastern portions of the Pikes Peak National
forest. If one wanted a night out or to spend the day shopping at big department stores a
challenging drive on the hilly North/South highway or U.S. 85 awaited. The heavily
traveled two-lane thoroughfare, between Denver and Colorado Springs, rightfully earned
the nickname, The Ribbon of Death for the many automobile accidents that frequented
the route.
On the eastern side of the County a rich history defines the Cherry Creek Valley.
Remains from prehistoric hunter/gatherer camps dot the valley. Indians, fur trappers,
military expeditions, gold prospectors, and stagecoach lines pounded the Cherokee Trail
alongside the historic creek. A series of way stations clicked off the distance to Denver for
northbound travelers. Twenty Mile House, Seventeen Mile House, Twelve Mile House,
Nine Mile House, and Four Mile House all offered the dust-covered 19th century traveler
refreshment, food, lodging, entertainment, and a fresh change of horses before reaching
Cherry Creeks confluence with the South Platte River. The crossroad settlement of Parker
slowly grew near the site of Mr. and Mrs. Longs Twenty Mile House.
On February 1,1946, at the site where the historic Twenty Mile House once stood,
a ceremony attended by Dr. LeRoy Hafen, state historian; Dr. Margaret Long, author of the
soon to be published Smoky Hill Trail; Edith Parker Low, daughter of James S. and Mattie
(Martha) Parker attracted attention.120 A new monument, built from the regions renowned
petrified wood, locally known as Parker Wood, collected by local school children, stood
several feet tall on the northwest comer of Parkers Mainstreet and Parker Road (State
120 Ruth L. Miller, in collaboration with F.B. McLaughlin, Larry Smith, and Lloyd
Glasier, Parker Colorado: an Historical Narrative, (Parker, Colorado: Parker Area Historical
Society, 2001), 7.
51


Highway 83). The turnout of 500 people more than doubled the post war population of the
tiny village.
Just three decades earlier Parker thrived. The community served a number of
ranchers and farmers up and down the Cherry Creek valley. Businesses sought to locate
in the growing town. The Colorado Southern Railroad ...provided the impetus and by the
turn of the century Parker boasted a hotel; the post office; two blacksmith shops, the
railroad depot, section house, water tower and pump house; three general mercantile
stores; a dry goods store; a saloon; a livery stable; a brick works; a stockyard; a creamery;
a barber shop; a school; a few dwellings. And, in nearby Newlin Gulch, gold was found.121
During the decades of decline, Parkers first rural postal carrier, Douwe Hellingas
dedication shined. Ruth L. Miller and other local historians shared the following anecdote in
their booklet, Parker Colorado: An Historical Narrative. Mr. Hellinga began delivering the
mail in 1924 and for twenty years probably knew northeastern Douglas County better than
anybody;
.. .His route was south from Parker to Bayou Gulch Road; east to Flint-
wood road north to Singing Hills Road; east to County Line Road; north
again to East Parker Road; finally returning to Parker from the east... He
made three deliveries a week and was paid a salary plus mileage. Al-
though not a contract carrier, he would carry passengers, packages,
groceries whatever as well as mail, simply as a neighborly service. This
was common practice among carriers in the old days, even though not
sanctioned by the rules...122
1946 again marked the passing of another part of Parkers history. After falling ill and
being forced to retire Mr. Hellinga soon passed away.
The unincorporated village of Parker barely survived the 1930s and 1940s. As if
the three headed monster of Wall Streets crash, nationwide unemployment, and a decade
121 Parker Colorado: How It All Began, Parker Area Historical Society brochure.
122 Ibid., 62.
52


long drought were not enough. A tragic phenomenon, common along the Front Range and
throughout the West, flash floods, delivered shattering blows. In 1933 a wall of water
roared down Cherry Creek Valley. Thirty-three year old Castlewood Canyon Dam broke
during the middle of the night uprooting trees, ripping into the landscape, killing livestock,
and destroying property. The dam never was rebuilt. Today a portion of it still stands in
Castlewood State Park a silent reminder from the past. Two years later a Memorial Day
flash flood filled Cherry Creek and other creeks to the east taking out local railroad bridges
and even burying a locomotive. The storm rang a death knell for the struggling Colorado
Southern Railroad, forcing them to eventually go out of business. The economy of the
Cherry Creek Valley suffered. However, Parker area residents persevered just like their
neighbors to the west.
A tragic murder on the western side of the County changed history and shocked a
community just two weeks after Parker celebrated its historic mile house. A trail of events
and desperate actions led up to Castle Rocks version of a St. Valentines Day massacre.
The story began in Denver on Monday, February 11th, 1946. The next days Rocky
Mountain News covered the opening scene of the tragedy:
...{A 17-year-old}* Denver gunman, object of the greatest manhunt in
the citys history after he shot two policeman in the back, appeared last
night to have slipped through a trap laid for him between Denver and Col-
orado Springs. City, state and county peace officers, joining forces in a
posse reminiscent of frontier days, linked together a series of reports to
trace the youth, Manuel Perez, to the Colorado Springs highway. But
Perez, identified by witnesses as the youthful gunman, apparently slipped
through their fingers...123
That Monday, police officers William H. Ohruh and Thomas J. Begley appeared on the
scene of a disturbance call at 2037 Lawrence Street in Denver (just three blocks from the
123 Rocky Mountain News, (February 12, 1946). (First reports identified Manuel
Blanco Perez as an 18 yr. old but it came out in the trial that he was 17 just 5 weeks shy of
his 18th birthday).
53


Blake Street entrance at todays Coors Field). A youth, identified as Manuel Perez, was
arguing with Mrs. Maria Zapota in her home. When confronted the youth drew a revolver
and fired twice hitting each officer in the left side. The suspect fled and for the next 72
hours the search intensified. Many reports surfaced as to Perezs whereabouts with the
police concentrating on reports that the suspect was seen hitchhiking in the Littleton area.
Roadblocks immediately went up all the way to Colorado Springs and police carefully
scrutinized each passenger. Back in Littleton armed officers searched the suburban
community. Perez headed south, staying clear of the major highways, choosing to stumble
through remote fields and wild creek beds. Soon, twenty miles to the south, an even
smaller community experienced the shattering fallout of the event in Downtown Denver.124
On the evening of Thursday, February 14 Perez, cold and hungry, tried to slip into
the B & B Cafe on the corner of Fourth and Wilcox in downtown Castle Rock. In 1946, the
B & B was open in the evenings for dinner and its prime location on the main drag from
Denver to Colorado Springs kept the cafe hopping. Working in the restaurant on that
Valentines evening was proprietor Mrs. Jean Barker, her staff, and several customers
including two young war veterans, Martin Nelson and Dale Ridenour along with his brother
Perry. Recognizing the killer from a newspaper photo, customers summoned Undersheriff
Duncan Lowell and Marshal Ray Lewis from the Courthouse across the street.
Marshal Lewis soon arrived. Ray Lewis grew up in Denver and his family moved
to Castle Rock shortly after World War I. Like many others in Douglas County he was very
community-minded and lived in a small house just north of the Courthouse with his wife,
Ruth, and their four small children. At the time, Ray served as Water and Street Commis-
124
Ibid.
54


sioner along with his duties as town marshal. As custom dictated in this small, mid-
twentieth century town, local peace officers did not feel the need to carry a gun. Marshal
Lewis entered the B & B unarmed.
What happened next became etched in the long-term memory of the small western
town and is commemorated even today in the very same restaurant. The bullet holes
behind the counter and in the ceiling of the B & B Cafe remain an important reminder of the
tragedy. One of the key witnesses to the event, Martin Nelson, testified at the trial held
three months later. Rocky Mountain News articles written by a pair of reporters who
attended the two-day trial, summarized Nelsons testimony:
.. .Perez was sitting in a booth near the door of the restaurant, Nelson
said. He ordered four hamburgers and two bottles of milk and kept his
right hand in his coat pocket and kept his hat on and his face well hidden.
I watched him from a mirror behind the counter at which I was sitting. Dale
Ridenour (another Army veteran) and Marshal Lewis and I decided the
fellow in the booth was Perez and we decided we wouldnt let him get
away... Ridenour got up and shot home the bolt on the restaurant door
and we tensed ourselves for the moment when Perez would make his
move. I loaded my pistol which I had purchased a few hours before from
a friend, and we waited...125
Nelson went on to tell of Lewis heroism in confronting the suspect, of the fatal
shooting of the marshal, and the ensuing battle in which Perez was overpowered. Perez
dropped the gun and I put mine away and cracked him one on the ear with my right hand,
which had been hit by a bullet in the shooting, Nelson said.126 Perez stayed pinned on the
floor by Nelson, the Ridenours, and Gene Dodge, a railroad telegrapher. According to
Ridenours testimony, Lewis slumped to the floor and apparently died almost instantly."127
125 James H. Briggs, Perez Chews Lip as Witness Tells How He Slew Marshal,
Rocky Mountain News, (May 3, 1946).
126 Ibid.
127 Ibid.
55


At the trial, Manual Perez described the slaying while on the witness stand:
...I saw these people looking at me. I knew they would get me. I was
frightened, afraid. I got up when the hamburgers came and saw one man
wouldnt let me out. I turned around and another man was coming for me.
I saw still another man with a gun pointing at me. I became excited. I was
scared. When I knew I was going to get it, I shot at the ceiling. I shot six
bullets and one man hit me. Then they held me on the floor and wanted to
kill me...128
Undersheriff Lowell and a group of Castle Rock citizens hauled the belligerent youth next
door, slapped him in jail, and called the Denver police. Soon three detectives arrived with
leg irons and a straitjacket. Rumors began circulating that enraged citizens planned on
lynching Perez from one of the cottonwoods on Courthouse square.129 Fortunately
vigilante justice gave way to twentieth century practices and within a few days the suspect
was behind bars in Colorado Springs waiting for trial.
That weekend must have seemed like an eternity for the residents of the small
Front Range community. Castle Rock lost some innocence and a feeling of trust that day.
A young family was fatherless. A scared community drew together to support one another.
Funeral arrangements were made for Tuesday, February 19 at the towns fifty-six year old
courthouse. Around 700 people attended the service led by Reverend Noel E. Carden.
Businesses closed and nearly the entire community crowded into the rhyolite courthouse,
overflowing into the hallway. After the service members of the Castle Rock Volunteer Fire
Department served as pallbearers carrying the casket down the courthouse steps. Along
the front sidewalk a double line of forty-five Denver policemen stood at attention saluting
the fallen sheriff while the family and townspeople looked on. The funeral procession left
128 Edward Lehman II, Perez Found Guilty of Marshals Murder and Given Life
Term, Rocky Mountain News, (May 4, 1946).
129 Appleby, 18.
56


town and headed west on Wolfensberger Road. The burial took place at Bear Canon
Cemetery under a bright winter sun.130
Within days Castle Rock mayor J.A. Van Lopik chaired a fund raising committee
for the Lewis family. The Rocky Mountain News along with citizens from Castle Rock
sponsored the drive. Philip S. Miller, president of the Bank of Douglas County, managed
the account that rapidly reached five thousand dollars. A friend of Ray Lewis, C.O.
Shorty Howe the local barber, worked diligently during the campaign and sadly
reminisced, The community barber shop isnt the same now that Lewis isnt there to drop
in while making his rounds.131
The trial of Manuel Perez began on May 2,1946 at the Douglas County Court-
house directly across from the scene of the murder. At the end of the two-day trial the jury
spent very little time making a decision. Judge G. Russell Miller asked the defendant if
there was anything he would like to say to the court before sentencing was passed and
Perez replied, I am surprised by all this. I never have been in jail more than two days. Im
glad to make up for what I did. After twenty minutes of deliberation the jury reached a
verdict of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment in Canon City. Years
later Perez was killed in a prison brawl.132
Easter was on April 21 that year with the town holding their fifth annual Easter Egg
Hunt the day before at the Grandview Golf Course. Castle Rock had a golf course located
130 Colorado Stands Beside Family at Lewis Burial, Rocky Mountain News,
(February 20,1946).
131 Final Tribute to be Paid Heroic Marshal Today, Rocky Mountain News,
(February 19, 1946).
132 Perez is Found Guilty of Marshals Murder and Given Life Term, Rocky
Mountain News, (May 4, 1946); Appleby, 18.
57


on the eastern edge of town where todays South Street Elementary and surrounding
subdivision exists. The pasture-styled links, at the foot of scrub oaked covered hills and
ridgelines, made a perfect setting for the event. Over 150 children participated in the hunt
sponsored by the Lions Club. Local businessmen donated prizes for the lucky kids who
found hidden eggs. Some of the contributors included H.G. Burgess, Vincen Smith, Guy
Anderson, Henry Enderud, the B & B Cafe, Krolls Grocery, M & R Motor, Kuhnke Oil,
Standard Garage, Castle Rock Dry Goods Store, Richardson Lumber, Dr. Alexander,
mayor J.A. Van Lopik, Kings Food Store, Castle Hotel and Cafe, Ridenour Hardware, the
Bowling Alley, along with many others.133
Memories of the Easter Egg Hunt and the 1946 summer vacation soon gave way
to the specter of a nationwide polio epidemic. The late president, Franklin Delano
Roosevelts struggle with poliomyelitis remained fresh in every ones mind. FDR initiated
the March of Dimes midway into his third term as president. The charitable organization
was dedicated to finding a cure for the paralyzing disease. The year after FDRs death and
the end of World War II the first Roosevelt dimes rolled out of the mints. That same year
the March of Dimes selected its first polio poster child, six-year old Donald Anderson from
a small town in Oregon. Soon the country jumped into the campaign with nearly the same
fervor dedicated to winning the war. Marching mothers organized around the country,
Mason jars filled up with dimes, homemakers quilted polio blankets, and schools and
communities instituted March of Dimes Drives. Douglas Countys efforts kept improving
133 Record Journal, (April 19th and 26th, 1946).
58


and by the following year, 1947, volunteers netted $670.28 nearly doubling the previous
year's drive.134
By late summer the number of polio cases confirmed among the 3,500 Douglas
County residents totaled only one. But, prevailing opinions led officials to err on the side of
caution. Nationwide the situation was worse according to author David Oshinsky:
...In 1946 the number of reported cases reached 25,000, almost matching
the epidemic of 1916. From that point forward, the yearly toll would jump
more often than it fell, reaching a high of 58,000 in 1952. For children and
adolescents, polio now became the fastest growing infectious disease...135
In late August the State Polio Commission recommended that schools delay the start of
their year. Past experiences indicated that the virus spread slowed in the fall and winter.
Superintendent Herbert Allen and the School Board agreed to push back the opening of
Douglas County High School and Castle Rock Grade School to September 16. Tuesday
and Friday movie nights usually held in the high school auditorium, a tradition going back
two decades, were postponed until the reopening of school. Popular Denver radio station,
KLZ, thoughtfully programmed more childrens entertainment during the middle of the day.
Throughout the County and the State precautionary measures became the rule in cafes,
taverns, drug and grocery stores, and other public places. Officials even cancelled the
time-honored event, the Douglas County Fair. As the year ended the Colorado Depart-
ment of Health issued figures identifying 899 persons who contracted poliomyelitis with
134 David M. Oshinsky, Polio: An American Story, (New York, NY: Oxford
University Press, Inc., 2005), 82-87.; Final Report of the March of Dimes Made, Record
Journal of Douglas County, (May, 9,1947).
135 Ibid., 8.
59


fifty-four deaths attributed to the disease. Douglas County Schools opened on September
16 and the community gratefully looked forward to the upcoming colder season.136
Halloween fell on a Thursday in 1946 but the real trick or treat for Colorados
Front Range inhabitants came two days later on Saturday, November 2. A 1946 Time
magazine article described the scene:
The sun disappeared behind a grey overcast, and a great stillness fell over
the eastern Colorado plains. After that a freezing wind rose, banged barn
doors and snatched at the smoke from lonely ranch houses. It grew dark,
and salt-like snow began hissing across leagues of sere buffalo grass...As
the prairies whitened, scores of thousands of chunky Hereford cattle turn-
ed tail to the storm, lowered their heads, and began to drift disconsolately
before it. When they came to fences they turned, followed the wire. But
some time during the second night, when the snow was belly deep on the
flats and higher than a riders head in the drifts, they stopped. When the
storm ceased and the cold intensified, herd after herd stood wearily with
their breaths steaming, waiting patiently for death. Across the plains,
ranchers and cowhands tied bandannas under their Stetsons to protect
their ears, pulled on sheepskins and mittens, and began a desperate
rescue operation...137
The cyclonic early season snowstorm engulfed the Eastern Plains and Front Range of
Colorado. The event began as a cold, November rain and quickly spiraled into snow as a
low-pressure system stalled out on the southern High Plains. Snow fell for over 70 hours
straight, the second longest in duration in Colorado history and nearly matching the 1913
blizzard.138
136 Schools Will Open Here September 16th, Record Journal of Douglas County,
(August 30,1946); Public Places Asked to Help Prevent Polio and Picture Shows
Postponed Until School Starts, Record Journal, (September 6. 1946); County Fair
Cancelled By Polio Epidemic, Record Journal, (September 13, 1946); Polio Struck 899
Coloradans in 46, The Denver Post, (January 7, 1947).
137 Colorado: Blizzard on the Prairie, Time, (November 25, 1946),
www.time.eom/time/maQazine/artide/0.9171.852914.00.html Time Inc., 2009, (accessed
October, 26, 2009).
138 Nelson, Colorado Weather Alamanc, 210.
60


Most Pacific storm tracks leave prodigious amounts of snow on the windward sides
of the Sierra Nevadas, Cascades, and the Rocky Mountains Wasatch, Bitterroot, and
Front ranges. For several feet of snow to cover the leeward side of the Rockies low-
pressure center needs to stall out in northeastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, or
the panhandles of Oklahoma or Texas. When cold air drops down from Canada and mixes
with the moisture being churned up from the Gulf of Mexico, the situation is right for a
perfect storm in the West. The slower the storm moves the more snow piles up in the
foothills. November 2 through the 6,1946 entered the record books as meteorologist Mike
Nelson describes, .. .the first snow fell in Denver on September 22,1946, and the last
reported snow fell on June 11,1947an incredible 263 days from the first snow to the
last.139
Along with the tragedy unfolding on the plains Douglas County also suffered,
nearly suffocated from the weight of the five-day storm. Again Mike Nelson:
...Locals recall that the clearing by morning forecast was still being
issued as the snow piled 3 feet deep. Dairy farmers around Castle Rock
and Parker were soon out of empty milk cans as the milk trucks were
mired in the snow. Eventually, those with cream separators would use
them and separate out the oldest milk, dumping skim and keeping the
cream. Every available clean container was used to store milk for several
days before the roads were again passable...140
Forest ranger, C. L Burton, recorded 53 inches of snow on the level at the Indian Creek
Ranger Station, in the western foothills of the County by early December.141
Flying over the frozen plains, horrified airline passengers spotted hundreds of dead
cattle, horses, and antelope strewn all over the eastern third of the state.142 Several Army
139 Ibid., 211.
140 Ibid.
141 C.L. Burton, 53 Inches of Snow On Level at Indian Creek Ranger Station,
Castle Rock Journal, (December 13,1946),1.
61


C-47s began hay-bombing on a large scale, caterpillar tractors worked on the ground
clearing away pasture, distressed families tramped out S.O.S signals in the snow, and
doomed sheepherders froze to death along with their storm-driven flocks.142 143 From Lowry
Field an airlift operation aimed at stranded Rampart Range inhabitants dropped in
snowshoes, food packages, medical supplies, and even a tank-like 'weasel for emergency
ground transport.144
Many citizens complained of sore backs and limbs as the digging out started.
Castle Rock witnessed several people riding through the snow packed streets on
horseback as the countless automobiles were stuck in town and on the highway. Traffic
ceased for three days and stranded motorists soon found the towns few hotels and motels
filled. Residents, showing the best of western hospitality, opened their homes to the
wayward travelers. Even the common sound of north and southbound train whistles
seemed lacking as railroad companies found it impossible to keep their schedules. For-
tunately the only modern convenience still working were the telephones and electricity.145
Records indicate at least thirteen people perished statewide.146 In Castle Rock the
Record Journal reported on the tragic story of Mrs. Eva F. Sobey who died in the early
morning hours of Sunday, November 3:
.. .She had come out from Denver on the 1:20 AM train and started to walk
to Castle Rock from the Santa Fe Depot, despite efforts of Charles Lan-
142 Colorado: Blizzard on the Prairie, Time, (November 25, 1946).
143 Ibid.
144 Burton, Castle Rock Record Journal.
145 Record Journal of Douglas County, Worst Blizzard in Many Years Experienced
Here, (November 18, 1946), 1.
146 Nelson, Colorado Weather book, 64.
62


ders, operator at the Santa Fe to get her to stay there. Due to the old
Santa Fe bridge at the west side of town still being out, it is necessary to
come around by the north end in order to get to town. She was found
Sunday afternoon by the gate leading to the Jimmy Woodhouse ranch,
and it was thought that she had become exhausted and fallen in the deep
snow and was unable to get up...147
Eva grew up on Oaklands Ranch south of Sedaiia. She was the youngest of Charles and
Elizabeth Curtis thirteen children and graduated from Douglas County High School in
1922. Eva and Robert Sobey of Englewood married in 1931 and the couple had two
children, Lorna Cecile and Robert Evan. After four years the young family moved to
Sedaiia. The Douglas County native worked as a local teacher, Deputy County Clerk, and
finally for a title company in Denver.148
1946 witnessed a number of Republican victories in the November mid-term
elections. American voters seemed ready to support a conservative message after four-
teen years of New Deal policies. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin held an iron grip over the
occupied Eastern European countries and former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
delivered his famous Iron Curtain Speech. U.S. policy makers began gearing up to
contain Communism. The Chinese Civil War flared up again with the eventual victory
belonging to communist leader Mao Tse-tung. Fear spread across the nation and raised
the curtain on the bitter years of McCarthyism.
The Blizzard of 1946 may have had more of an impact on Douglas County politics
than many of the ongoing worldwide events. Ever since the election of 1932, when the
County followed the landslide led by FDR, almost everybody in the Courthouse was a
147 Mrs. Eva F. Sobey Dies In Blizzard, Record Journal of Douglas County
(November8, 1946).
148 Mrs. Eva Sobey Laid to Rest On Tuesday, Castle Rock Record Jounal,
(November 15,1946).
63


Democrat.149 For most of the past decade and a half two out of three commissioners
leaned toward the Democrats. Bette Saunders, whose father had been one of the Dem-
ocratic Commissioners, shared the following humorous story about the fateful blizzard and
politics in her 1993 interview:
.. .And it, practically paralyzed the town you if you went anywhere you
had to go on foot because we had no vehicles. I think we had one little
road grader that would. Im not even sure we had that to clean the streets
at that time. And I, also remember that it was election time and I was on
the election board and I had to wade in snow up to my knees over to the
court house to get the election supplies and by then people were
beginning to move around, some of the younger people had jeeps and
they would go out and get people and bring them in to vote. Turn out was
very poor, because people just couldnt get out and get to it... But they
always did say that it was the it was a turning point in the county ad-
ministration. Up until that time it had been solid democrat, and then, the
republicans had the jeeps and they got out and worked and got their
people in...150
Choose to believe it or not but ever since that day Republican politics have dominated
Douglas County.
149 Elizabeth "Bette" Gilbert Saunders, interview by Starr Oberlin, May 6, 1993,
interview 3, transcript, Castle Rock Historical Society Oral History Project, Douglas County
History Research Center, Castle Rock, CO.
http://www.douglascountyhistory.org/voices/saunders/bettesaunders.htm (accessed
December, 10, 2009).
150 Ibid.
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CHAPTER FOUR
FROM RAILROAD DEPOTS TO CLOVERLEAFS
On the opposite sides of Interstate Highway Twenty-Five, cutting through the
middle of Castle Rock, Colorado, stand the sticks and stones of two historic railroad
depots. On the west side of the highway exists a stick-built skeleton of the once proud
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe depot. Across the highway, in rock solid-contrast, is a
rhyolite stone structure that once was the depot for one of Colorados homegrown
railroads, the Denver and Rio Grande. While one stands deserted, in ill-repair, and the
other is carefully preserved, housing the memories of a western towns fading past, both
stand as a testament to the people and events that defined a town and developed a state.
During a late summer morning in 1871 Denver residents watched a shiny new train
roll up the tracks alongside the South Platte River. The newly constructed railroad was the
creation of General William Jackson Palmer, and the inaugural trip, carrying dignitaries
from Denver, was headed seventy-six miles south to Palmers town of Colorado Springs.
The post Civil War era witnessed this ex-cavalry officer, and others like him, lead the way
in railroad building in the West. The next three decades became the heyday for the
railroad industry, and in Colorado the high mountain passes soon met their match. The
Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, (D & RG), led this endeavor. Nicknamed The Baby
Road, this narrow gauge railroad was General Palmers brainchild. The tracks were three
feet wide instead of the standard four feet, eight inches. The smaller size allowed for
smaller rails and smaller, less expensive, locomotives and railroad cars. With lighter
equipment, the construction crews could build sharper curves and use less fill (rocks and
65


dirt) in building the switchbacks needed to negotiate Colorados ten to twelve thousand foot
passes. The narrow gauge technology allowed the D & RG to be the states leader in track
mileage by the 1880s.
All this would play a role for the twenty years of Colorados railroad boom, but for
this day, William N. Byers, Nathan C. Meeker, Owen J. Goldrick a pioneer schoolteacher,
and the other invited passengers were climbing alongside Plum Creek through the western
portion of Douglas County.151 This train trip was the first of many to wind through the
county and pass by the base of the rock formation known as Castle Rock.
Eighty-nine years later, another traveler recalled the same railroad line. However,
this time the train rolled northbound and the passenger attended the Colorado Womens
College in Denver. Johanna Harden remembers her trip from San Antonio, Texas, to
Denver, Colorado, in the late summer of 1960:
The trip from San Antonio, Texas took two days. You rode a Missouri
Pacific train called the Cady to Dallas... The next day we arrived in
Pueblo, Colorado. From Pueblo north, the scenery became familiar. As
we climbed into Colorado Springs everybody wanted to see the view of
famous Pikes Peak. From Colorado Springs to Denver the scenery
became very familiar because we had previously lived in Colorado...
coming around the Rock was quite remarkable... the train was going, it
seemed, fairly fast, and you could look right up and see it and you wanted
the train to slow down so you could get a better look at it.152
Johanna knew that being in Castle Rock meant she was almost to the end of her journey.
In 1874 the small settlement at the base of the famous rock faced a common
western dilemmagrow and prosper or dry up and become just another Colorado ghost
town. Castle Rocks big three founding fathers or speculators, Jeremiah Gould, John H.
Robert Athearn, The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, (Lincoln,
Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1962), 2.
152 Johanna Harden, interview with Fred Edison, Castle Rock, Colorado, Nov. 5th,
2004. (Johanna is as archivist at the Douglas County Research Center, PS Miller Library,
Castle Rock, Co).
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Craig, and Philip P. Wilcox, along with a few other concerned citizens took on General
Palmer and the railroad. Earlier that spring Castle Rock became the county seat, via an
election, by receiving 315 of the 597 ballots cast. Frankstown the original county seat only
received 16 votes in the election. Within days Jeremiah Gould sold a portion of his home-
stead to the County Commissioners for one dollar and Castle Rock was bom.153
Despite the towns political victory the D & RG remained unimpressed. In a letter,
dated July 4,1874, to the Douglas County Commissioners General Palmer stated, ...there
would be no station built in Castle Rock as those were arranged when the line was initially
located.154 Railroad capitalism, entrepreneurial speculation, and local government
seemed destined to collide, a scenario re-enacted again and again throughout the history
of the West with railroads usually rolling over local interests.
Palmer and the D&RG had a very strong case. The railroad already had infra-
structure in place. Two miles north of Castle Rocks town site was New Memphis and two
miles to the south was Douglas. Both sites already had operational sidings and buildings.
From the business view of a railroad company, why lay out the expenditure for a new
station? The D&RG suggested that the county buildings and offices be located in Douglas,
site of the up and running Madge Stone Quarry.
Silas Madge a rancher two miles south of Castle Rock, near the town of Douglas,
noticed the buttes near his homestead covered in a pinkish-gray volcanic rock. The
lightweight and durable stone called rhyolite soon proved to be an excellent building
material. Madge began quarrying in 1872 and eventually became known as the Father of
153 William S. Kirby, Castle Rock- Douglas County: 125 Years of Partnership
1874-1999, (Castle Rock, Colorado: Douglas County Board of County Commissioners and
the Castle Rock Town Council, 1999), 6-7. (Other communities receiving votes in the
election included Sedalia with 164, Glade 63, New Memphis 30, and Douglas 9).
154 Ibid., 26.
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Castle Rocks Rhyolite Industry. The political and business dealings that summer of 1874
proved to be crucial for Castle Rocks future.155
How did Castle Rock convince General Palmer and the D&RG to build at their
site? Author William Kirby suggested rumors of scandal and bribery flourished around
Jeremiah Gould's offer to donate land to the railroad for the vital siding but nothing has
ever been proven.156 New Memphis offered the same thing. Were their bribes greasing
palms (or Palmers)? Were there conflicts of interest? Or, were Castle Rocks town
boosters simply more competent and persuasive in their quest for railroad service? For
whatever reasons, Castle Rock's bottom line drew complete with a track siding and new
train depot in 1875. But the story gets more interesting. So wrote Josephine Lowell Marr in
her classic work, Douglas County: A Historical Journey:
.. .The actions of the Denver and Rio Grande have not always been as fair
and just as they might have been. Especially is this true of the treatment
that Castle Rock received in the early days when citizens had to pay the
company to get them to put in a sidetrack; and they also had to furnish the
rock that was put in the depot before the railroad would consent to build
it...157
Castle Rock appeared to be just one more notch in the Generals belt, however this time
local residents and a fledgling western town prevailed. The depot did indeed get built out
of the rhyolite from Silas Madges Quarry commanding a site on the west side of the D &
155 Susan Appleby, Fading Past: The Story of Douglas County, Colorado, (Palmer
Lake, Colorado: Filter Press), 2001, 8. (The Madge along with several other quarries will
become one of Castle Rocks signature industries. Castle Rock rhyolite was used to build
the Cantril School, Keystone Hotel, the County Courthouse, and several other buildings in
Castle Rock; 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).
156 Kirby, Castle Rock Douglas County: 125 Years of Partnership, 5.
157 Josephine Lowell Marr, Douglas County: A Historical Journey, (Gunnison,
Colorado: B & B Printers,1983),157.
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RG tracks, in what would become the heart of town. A block west, Perry Street served as
Castle Rocks first main street with such classic western businesses as hotels (the Owens
House and City Hotel), a saloon, printing shop, drug store, dry goods shop, and a
grocery/meat market.158
Douglas Countys Railroad Depots
Depots in general served as vital commercial links and portals to the outside world.
Along with the two in Castle Rock several others were found throughout Douglas County.
Other depots on the thirty-mile D & RG route sprang up in the heyday of western railroads.
The stations from north to south included Acequia, named for a National Land and
Improvement Company water ditch. Louviers, site of Dupont's dynamite plant beginning in
1906. Sedalia, founded as Round Corral by John Craig. Larkspur, named for the areas
delphiniums; and Greenland, described by Helen Hunt Jackson when she viewed the
surrounding countryside via train.159 Other former whistle stops and sidings on General
Palmers railroad line included Gann, between Louviers and Sedalia; New Memphis, a
short-lived farming colony just north of Castle Rock, eventually replaced by Citadel in 1877;
Douglas, an important loading site for local rhyolite quarries; Glade, site of a one-room
school house; and Spruce, on the Palmer Divide, one of two places within the County
where the D&RG and Santa Fe tracks crossed each other.160
158 Appleby, 10.
159 Ray Shaffer, A Guide to Places on the Colorado Prairie: 1540 1975, (Boulder,
Colorado: Pruett Publishing Company, 1978), 104-110.
69


Castle Rock like many small Colorado ranching towns, mirrored the statewide
growth of the 1880s. Soon, an archrival of the D & RG, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa
Fe (AT & SF) entered town on a separate, mostly parallel grade. Throughout the spring
and summer of 1887 the buzz around the County focused on the rival railroads track
laying prowess and the benevolent tendencies of the Kansas interlopers. Josephine
Lowell Marr also narrates the coming of this railroad to the County:
June 1st The Denver and Santa Fe Company has thus far, showed a
disposition to treat people fairly. They are paying a just price for the right-
of-way and compensating settlers for all damage done...
August 17th Pile drivers commenced work this side of Palmer Lake on
Santa Fe crossing over D & RG. (this was one of two locations in the
county where they crossed over one another, the other being near
Sedalia)... Grading of Santa Fe & Denver in this county is practically
completed; many camps have pulled out...
September 14th Denver & Santa Fe track layers reached the station
grounds here last night. Castle Rock now has two railroads, one on each
side....161
The new railroad ran along the west side of East Plum Creek and gained access to
town via a wooden bridge built with the help of the AT & SF in 1890. Unfortunately a fire,
caused from sparks flying from a passing locomotive, destroyed the relatively new, literally
made out of sticks, frame depot two years later.162 Soon the AT & SF rebuilt following
their architectural pattern of a larger, more permanent, wood frame structure usually
consisting of three rooms.163 The dimensions of Castle Rocks second Santa Fe depot fit
the companys smallest standard style. This second, all-wooden, structure also
1b1 Marr, 157-158.
162 Castle Rock Journal, (April 20, 1892).
163 Robert Pounds, Santa Fe Depots: The Western Lines, (Dallas, Texas: Kachina
Press, 1984,) 17.
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succumbed to the same fate in 1910. Miraculously, the operator saved the Railroads
records and a few other items before the building went up in flames.164
In the spring of 1911 the Santa Fe went about building a new station. Local
community needs encouraged the railroad to adjust their Standardized # 3 style depot.
The new building cost $4,000 and consisted of three large rooms, one for waiting pas-
sengers and two for freight with an inclined ramp leading from the tracks to the loading
door. The station manager worked out of a spacious office located between the waiting
and freight rooms. Dimensions of the finished depot ran sixty-four feet in length by twenty-
eight feet in width. Quite wisely the Santa Fe Company now required metal roofs covering
their structures. Distinctive Santa Fe architecture graced the exterior with horizontal board
siding, decorative brackets supporting the overhanging gable roof, unique doors, and a bay
ticket window. Beadboard walls and ceilings with metal suspended light fixtures
brightening up the interior for customers. Passengers as well as freighters approached the
depot across a wide brick platform. Once again, Castle Rock had two fully operational
depots, on both the town's eastern and western flanks.165
This basic, stick-built depot style was used well into the twentieth-century and
similar style buildings, with the trade mark Santa Fe logo, appeared all over the West,
opening up communities to the outside world. The Santa Fe branch line from Pueblo to
Denver competed with the pioneer D & RG route until the dictates of war required the
United States Railway Administration (USRA) to assume operations of all U.S. railroads in
the fall of 1918. Colorados two Front Range lines became known as the Joint Line. In a
combined effort both railroads worked in cooperation to remove flyover bridges, straighten
164 Castle Rock Journal, (October 21, 1910).
165 Town of Castle Rock Historic Assessment, Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe
Depot. Schueber and Darden Architects LLC, (May 20, 2009), 3-4.
71


out the route, and share responsibility for track ownership.166 After 1918, new guidelines
were established on the Joint Lines tracks. The old D & RG line became the northbound
tracks and the Santa Fe line became the southbound tracks.167 Castle Rocks rhyolite
stone depot and stick-built Santa Fe counterpart admirably served as the towns gateways
to the world.168
During the heyday of Colorados pioneer railroad building Douglas County boasted
three other Santa Fe depots to compliment Castle Rocks. One of the smallest structures
in their system, the Greenland depot was a one-story, 14 by 39 foot wooden structure
decommissioned in 1935 and eventually destroyed. The even tinier, Larkspur depot
survived an 1888 move from Taylor, once a site on the old Pueblo-Canon City Line, and
served the area from 1905 until 1954. Since then the 532 square foot historic-building has
been part of a local residence near the railroad tracks. Northbound trains heading out of
Castle Rock used to stop, after seven-miles, at Sedalia where a combined passenger and
freight depot operated until 1947. Smaller sites along the branch line were served by
makeshift railroad cars acting as replacements for actual depots.169
166 G. Steve Patterson, interview with Fred Edison, Arvada, Colorado, (Nov. 18th,
2004). (Steve Patterson is a retired locomotive engineer and currently the co-ordinator of
Operation Life Saver for the BN&SF Railroad. Each 15-20 years the new contract
would be renewed. Finally in 1996, the C&S/SF merged into the BN&SF then there was no
need for a Joint Line).
1fi7
Kenton Forrest, interview by Fred A. Edison, Golden, Colorado, (November,
6th, 2004). (Kenton is the archivist at the Robert W. Richardson Library, Colorado Railroad
Museum in Golden, Colorado).
168 Marr, 154.
169 Robert Pounds, Santa Fe Depots: The Western Lines, (Dallas, Texas: Kachina
Press, 1984), 92.
72


Two other historic railroads also claimed depots in Douglas County. The first,
perilously climbed the South Platte River south of Denver, required construction crews to
blast and grade roadbeds along Waterton Canyons precipitous walls. The narrow-gauge
Denver, South Park and Pacific (D, SP, & P) Railroad leapfrogged from Jefferson to
Douglas and back to Jefferson County reaching thirty-two miles southwest of Denver as
early as 1878. The pioneer line provided a mail route and served Jefferson and Douglas
County ranchers, farmers, miners, and lumbermen. Just over four miles into the canyon
the tracks crossed the South Platte into Douglas County on the Mills Gulch Bridge.
Several miles upstream from the crossing Cecil A. Deane established a resort that soon
contained a 551-foot siding, a stone freight depot, and a grand, two-story European style
hotel. The sight also claimed medicinal-mineral springs and shortly after the turn of the
century Deansbury became Strontia Springs, a world famous spa and resort. A local
stagecoach line served the nearby settlements of Nighthawk, Trumbull, Daffodil (Deckers),
Pemberton, and West Creek, all remote communities in Douglas Countys rugged
mountainous region. During the summer season Fish Trains dropped off anglers and
campers along the line within walking distance from their favorite spots on the river. Up
river from Deansbury/ Strontia Springs the railroad re-crossed into Jefferson County on its
route into South Park. The Colorado Southern Railroad took over the D, SP, & P rails in
1899 and operated through the canyon until 1942. Today the Strontia Springs reservoir
inundates the once lavish resort.170
Douglas Countys first standard gauge railroad followed the historic route along the
lower Cherry Creek Valley south to Parker. Former Colorado Territorial Governor John
Evans provided the impetus for the Denver & New Orleans (D & NO) Railroad beginning in &
170 Marr, 234-240; Tom Klinger and Denise Klinger, C &S Platte Canon Memories
& Then Some, (Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Printing, 2007) 9-11.
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1881.171 After crossing Cherry Creek just below James S. Parkers Twenty-Mile House the
route arced to the east avoiding D & RG territory. At Parkers House the trains faced the
most challenging grade along the line. Hill Top, well over one thousand feet above
Denver. The short-lived D & NO then entered Elbert County making stops at Elizabeth,
Elbert, Eastonville, and Falcon while eventually reaching Pueblo. Excursion trains leaving
Denver in 1882 passed through Parkers newly constructed station consisting of a small
depot, track siding, a stone building, and water tank.172 Josephine Marr describes the next
stop to the east:
...With the settling down of these eastern plains, the tiny settlement of Hill
Top served the cattlemen, sheep men, and the homesteader alike. In
1888, it was coming to the front with a new school, a new store, and a
new railroad station on the Denver and New Orleans Railroad, a link with
the outside world. Originally called Belleview, the Hill Top name came into
being with the coming of the railroad, for it was the top of the hill. It took
two engines to make the 1000-foot grade from Denver to Hill Top. One
would sidetrack at Hill Top and return to Parker, while the other pulled the
train onward to Elizabeth...173
By the end of the 1880s the line eventually made connections with the Gulf of Mexico via
Fort Worth, Texas, even though Evans pet railroad went into receivership in 1884.174 In its
heyday, the D & NO Railroad boasted 10 locomotives, 13 passenger cars and 200 freight
cars.175 Like the D, SP & P in the South Platte Canyon the old D & NO fell under control of
171 Clayton B. Fraser and Jennifer H. Strand, Railroads in Colorado, 1858-1948:
The Historical and Technological Evolution of Colorados Railroads 1858-1948, (Loveland,
Colorado: FraserDesign, 1997), 55. (State Historic Preservation Office and United States
Department of the Interior National Park Service-National Register of Historic Places
Continuation Sheet).
172 Marr, 76.
173 Ibid., 86.
174 Fraser and Strand, 55.
175 Town of Parker Official Website,
http://www.parkeronline.ora/index.aspx?NID=167. (accessed November 16, 2009).
74


the Colorado & Southern. C & S trains ran through Parker and Hilltop until 1935 when a
devastating flood washed out most of the trestles. Parker historian, Larry Smith, describes
the demise of the Colorado & Southern in a brief for the Parker Area Historical Society:
The Colorado & Southern Railway was chartered on December 20 1898...
The C & S made an agreement that would allow the C & S to use the main
line of the Santa Fe between Denver and Pueblo saving time and money
for the C & S. This agreement marked the beginning of the end for the old
D & NO line... By 1900 unnecessary sidetracks began to come up. Ser-
vice on the old line, South of Falcon, became nonexistent... After the flood
of 1935, line abandonment seemed to be the only course of action by the
ownership, which was the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy... A petition for
closing the Parker Depot was granted effective April 10,1931... The C & S
surrendered its mail contract on Dec. 16 1935 and Elbert trucker Grant
Vail was awarded the contract to haul mail to Parker, Franktown, Eliz-
abeth, Kiowa and Elbert. In 1936 a C & S petition for line abandonment
was granted and track removal began on the Falcon branch. Scrappers
completed rail removal operations to Hilltop on Oct. 27th and within two
weeks had passed mainstreet in Parker... 76
Mass transit visionaries tried to bring electric rail lines into northern Douglas County in the
early twentieth century. The proposed line was to be from Cherry Creek Boulevard in
Denver to Parker. Although Denver went with electric trolley cars, the Parker route only
progressed to the survey stage.176 177
As late as the 1950s and 1960s passenger train travel was a reality along the
Denver and Colorado Springs corridor. Castle Rock had as many as two passenger trains
each way per day.178 Freight trains rumbled through in even greater numbers. However,
176 Larry T. Smith, Parker Area Historical Society-Official Website,
http://www.parkerhistorv.orq/railroad.html. (updated January 2009, accessed November
16, 2009). (Information for this brief was taken from the book, Denver & New Orleans, in
the Shadow of the Rockies by James R. Jones, & the book, Gulf to Rockies by Richard C,
Overton).
177 Castle Rock Journal, (July 23,1909); Jerry Patterson, Charlie OBrien takes
reader on historical tour of Parker, Douglas County News-Press, (August 21,1981).
178 G. Steve Patterson, interview by author, Arvada, Colorado, (Nov. 18th, 2004).
75


mid-century changes sounded death knells for passenger train service. By the early 1960s
the only surviving stations along the Joint Line served as whistle stops for rapidly down-
sizing railroads. As trains approached the D & RG depot they slowed down enough so the
station manager could hook the mailbag perilously hanging to the side of train. Schedules
seldom allowed time for passenger pickup. The station manager hung a red flag alerting
the engineer that a ticketed customer awaited at the depot. Postwar Douglas County
citizens, along with the rest of the nation quickly abandoned passenger trains and jumped
in their automobiles for road trips along some of the Front Ranges historic travel corridors.
The Ribbon of Death and a Bridge to Nowhere
With more livestock than people and less than two persons per square mile,
Douglas County at mid-century appeared to be taking baby steps out of a Louis LaMour
novel or a textbook authored by Turnerians. One room school houses, homes without
electricity, telephone wires strung on fence posts, seldom graded gravel roads, lonely train
whistles, remnant train depots and intersections devoid of stoplights seemed the norm in
this Front Range county. The small towns and communities of Castle Rock, Deckers,
Franktown, Larkspur, Louviers, Parker, and Sedalia provided basic services for the
agricultural/ranching hinterland covering the northern slope of the Palmer Divide, western
Elbert County, lower Plum Creek and Cherry Creek valleys, and eastern portions of the
Pikes Peak National forest. If one wanted a night out or to spend the day shopping at big
department store a challenging drive on hilly U.S. 85 awaited. Notoriously nicknamed the
(Steve is the coordinator for Operation Life Saver for BN&SF and a retired locomotive
engineer).
76


Ribbon of Death for the number of automobile accidents that occurred on the heavily
traveled two-lane thoroughfare between Denver and Colorado Springs.
The WPA Guide to 1930s Colorado compiled by federally funded writers described
the route in their Tour Twelve (Cheyenne, Wyoming to the New Mexico line). The portion
passing through Douglas County enters from the north via U.S. 85 or Santa Fe Drive and
the suburb of Littleton:
...South of Littleton the highway swings away from the South Platte Valley
and crosses a country of broken rocky hills. To the west rise the even
walls of the foothills, with the glistening cone of Mount Evans beyond...At
20.9 m. is the junction with a dirt road. Right on this road is Louviers, a Du
Pont powder town...The highway traverses broken hill country, most of it
belonging to the Diamond K Ranch, last of the great cattle holdings in this
section, and skirts Sedalia, 24.1 m. (6,000 alt., 202 pop.) (Then) the high-
way crosses broken foothills to Castle Rock, 31.2 m. (6,000 alt., 478 pop.),
seat of Douglas County, named for the high outcrop of salmon-colored
stone that served Indians, explorers, and early settlers as a landmark
...South of Larkspur, 42.2 m. (6,580 alt., 150 pop.), the road ascends the
divide separating the drainage basins of the South Platte and Arkansas
Rivers. Here the route, winding through pine-clad hills, approaches the
mountains. This area is subject to sudden violent storms...179
The highway followed the Plum Creek and East Plum Creek riparian corridor, closely
paralleling William Jackson Palmers groundbreaking D & RG railroad right of way.
Ever since Denvers David W Brunton ran his Columbia electric-carriage on the
streets of Denver in the spring of 1899 more and more Front Range residents clamored for
the horse-less carriage.180 Fifteen years later when Henry Ford started building Model Ts
on his assembly line in Detroit the automobile became affordable to countless numbers of
179 The WPA Guide to 1930s Colorado, (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press,
1987) 368-370.
180 Associated Cultural Resource Experts of Littleton, Highways To The Sky: A
Context and History of Colorados Highway System, (Denver, Colorado: Colorado
Department of Transportation, April 24, 2002), 5-9.
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Americans. Located between the rapidly growing cities of Denver and Colorado Springs
an unsuspecting Douglas County became ground zero for state road building projects.
A trip along the Great North and South Highway in the 1910s, running over
basically the same route described in the WPA Guide, often took five and a half hours.
The roadbed consisted of gravel and sand dominated by ruts, chuckholes, and mud when
it rained. Fence lines and telephone poles bracketed the former territorial stage road.
Steep hills and sharp turns dominated the stretch, sending many a tin lizzie off the path.
Despite the hardships traffic steadily increased on the Denver to Colorado Springs road
from an average of 253 cars per day in 1915 to some counts as high as a 3,500 cars per
day by 1923.181
Using a combination of state and federal matching funds the Colorado State
Highway Department moved into action. Money from Federal Aid Project # 1 went to
laying the first stretch of concrete pavement south of Denver, a four-mile slab along the
North/South Highway to Littleton, in 1918.182 The local paper revealed plans for the paving
project to reach within a mile of Castle Rock by 1924:
...With the completion of this project paving will be completed to a point
where it will be necessary to decide whether or not the highway will con-
tinue on through Castle Rock on its present location or be changed to run
east of the Rio Grande railroad tracks, according to a statement by En-
gineer Maloney of the Highway department... It is of course the wish of
Castle Rock citizens that the highway retain its present location through
the town...183
181 Ibid., 5-12,23.
182 Ibid., 5-23.
183The Record Journal, November 30, 1923,1.
http://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.ora/Repositorv/aetimaae.dll?path=TRJ/1923/11/30/
1 /Ima/Ar0010601 .png (accessed November 20, 2009).
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Throughout the 1920s more and more cement found its way onto State Highway
#1. On August 9,1928 a ribbon cutting ceremony opened the 73-mile stretch. Castle
Rock resident Ruth Hooper, dressed in the best flapper-style of the decade, christened
the paved highway with a bottle of mineral water as two thousand spectators cheered.
Motorists reveled the culprit, Dusty Roads, and burned an effigy representing the
nuisance. Colorado heralded State Highway #1 as the fourth longest stretch of unbroken
cement pavement in the world.184
Within a decade the road acquired the designation of U.S. Highway 85, a route
running from El Paso, Texas to the U.S.-Canadian border. By the 1930s U.S. Highway 87
also shared a portion of the right of way between Denver and Pueblo. With the growth
came an increasing demand on the highways even during World War II when building
funds rapidly depleted. Mark U. Watrous, Chief Engineer for the Colorado Department of
Highways from 1946 to 1963, along with his deputy, Charles E. Shumate, inherited the
monumental task of keeping up with the States postwar growth. A survey conducted in
1949 found most of Colorados major north-south highways inadequate.185
One of the inadequate north-south arteries was U.S. 85-87 between Denver and
Pueblo. In the 1920s the highway represented state of the art engineering when the speed
limit only topped out at thirty-five miles an hour.186 By the 1940s increased traffic volumes
and faster drivers found the narrow, hilly, slippery, and dark highway without guardrails a
risky drive. Locals started calling the once historic stretch of concrete the Ribbon of
184 Commemorating the Opening of the Monument Valley Freeway-Colorado
Springs, Colorado Department of Highways, (July 1, 1960), 2.
185 Key North-South Highways in State Rated Inadequate, Denver Post, (October,
23, 1949), 3.
186 Ribbon of Death, Rocky Mountain News Editorial, (March 2, 1946), 12.
79


Death for the nearly continuous yellow line down the middle of the pavement.187 The
Rocky Mountain News had this to say about the road in March of 1946:
...Ghosts bom of reckless driving, speeding and outmoded engineering
haunt every quarter mile of Colorados ribbon of death- the Denver-
Colorado Springs highway. Seventy-two persons-one for every mile
between Denver and Colorado Springs have lost their lives since Jan. 1,
1940, on the narrow concrete strip that is the states busiest highway...188
A year and a half later the deadly situation continued and again the Rocky Mountain News
reported on the story with an article titled Deaths on Highway 85 Laid to Roads Defects:
...More than 50 percent of the automobile accidents in the rural area of El
Paso County in 1946 occurred on Colorados ribbon of death- U.S. High-
way 85... Accidents on the highway injured 95 persons, almost half the
total number of injuries reported from all other highways and roads in the
county... The most serious violation on the highway, and the cause of the
majority of accidents, was driving on the wrong side of the road... Other
major causes of accidents were following too closely and improper passing
... Sixty-three of the accidents on the highway involved more than one
automobile. Forty-three resulted from automobiles running off the road
and 24 were caused by automobiles hitting fixed objects...189
Along with the carnage the infamous Ribbon of Death left an ominous reputation for post-
war Douglas and El Paso Counties. Highway planners, politicians, and newspaper editors
weighed in on the problem. The Colorado Statehouse debated the issue of how to end the
slaughter on the Ribbon of Death. Some advocated improving the current highway, while
others pushed for construction of a modem highway through Franktown and south to
Colorado Springs along the historic Cherokee Trail. In efforts to solve a crisis situation
187 Jerry Kopel, http://www.ierrvkopel.com/a/ribbon.htm. (Accessed December 28,
2009).
188 Colorado Springs Road Ribbon of Death, Rocky Mountain News, (March
1,1946), 5.
189 Dan Cronin, Deaths on Highway 85 Laid to Roads Defects, Rocky Mountain
News, (October 10, 1947).
80


their influence and decision making turned out to have a lasting effect on the future growth
of Douglas County.
Efforts to improve the Cherry Creek road for automobile traffic go back to pre-
World War I days. Farmers and residents of the Parker area touted the State Primary
Road as potentially one of the greatest business roads of the state" and requested
legislatures to grant more money for improving the route.190 By the 1930s, the new
Colorado Highway 83 had been paved through Parker and all the way to Franktown.191 A
direct route south of Franktown required crossing rugged Wildcat Canyon, ascending a
former stagecoach/ wagon trail through Cherry and Spring Valley and over the South
Platte/Arkansas Divide, then a descent into Colorado Springs through the Black Forest,
with an awe inspiring view of Pikes Peak along most of the route. This project stalled in
the smoke filled rooms of political power brokers and Douglas County was left with the
curious story of the Bridge to Nowhere.
About five miles south of Franktown Cherry Creek cuts a picturesque gorge the
early settlers called Wildcat Canyon (renamed Castlewood Canyon in the 1920s).
Sometime in the late 1940s the 232-foot wide-chasm was spanned by a graceful bridge
held up by two 46-foot deep arches supporting a series of concrete pillars.192 Highway
The Record Journal, (May, 2, 1913), 1.
http://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.ora/Repositorv/getimaae.dll?path=TRJ/1913/05/02/
1/lma/Ar0010301 .png (accessed December, 28, 2009).
191 Colorado State Parks. Castlewood Canyon State Park Bridge to Nowhere.
Brochure.
192 Ibid. (A discrepancy in the completion date of the bridge exists. The
Castlewood Canyon State Park brochure identifies 1946 as the year the bridge was
completed since a plaque under the bridge so indicates. Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
the engineering firm who supervised the recent rebuilding of the structure claims the
original bridge was completed in 1948. The 1949 Denver Post article compliments the
workers for finishing the project during that year. For this paper a time period from 1946 to
1949 identifies the illusive completion date of the often, postponed project).
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planners intended the $144,000 bridge to be a key link on a super highway from Denver to
Colorado Springs and the project appeared to be well on its way. But, by 1949 the Denver
Post reported the highway stopped on the north side of the bridge:
.. .Workmen were complimented on the excellent bridge construction job
Tuesday as they removed lumber scaffolding and supports and worked to
complete a twenty-foot fill on the approach to the span... It ought to be
good, one of the men remarked. Its taken long enough to finish it. It
shouldnt be more than a month now before you can drive across the
bridge. The trouble is you would wind up in a cow pasture and you
couldnt go any farther. It will probably be along time before the road
will take you anywhere...193
The Highway Departments expensive foray in Douglas County continued to bring
considerable criticism from Denvers press.
Some downtown merchants and newspaper editors wished to see the Valley
Highway built along Cherry Creek bringing traffic into downtown. Creative, but not so
practical minds, proposed the creek be diverted into nearby Sand Creek, so that a below
street level thoroughfare could replace the old water course and run right through the heart
of downtown.194 Land developers along Douglas Countys Cherry Creek Valley also began
lining up. The Rocky Mountain News editor seemed adamant about scrapping the old
Ribbon of Death as early as 1946 and building the rest of Colorado Highway 83:
...Plans of the Highway Department call for elimination of the Ribbon of
Deathbut not quickly enough... The engineering has been done to make
the main DenverColorado Springs artery over what is now U.S. 83,
which skirts the Castlewood Dam and goes through the Black Forest. The
program would relinquish the present road for local use... Yet this years
expenditure on the highway that is needed so badly will be $300,000 only
of which $100,000 is to go for a bridge across Cherry Creek!... That sum is
insignificant in view of the urgent need. With the highway budget approv-
ed, however, it is probably the most that can be got... It is clear, however,
193 Bert Hanna, Nowhere Road Still Goes Nowhere, Denver Post, (June
8,1949),1.
194 Editorial, Denver Post, (October 1,1946), 10.
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that the job should be completed next year. The narrow, winding highway
has claimed too many lives. The Ribbon of Death must go...195
But, for whatever reason Chief Engineer Mark Watrous and the Colorado Highway
Department changed their minds right in the middle of the Castlewood Canyon Bridge
Project. Waltrous and others pushed through the plan to run the new Interstate Highway
from Denver to Colorado Springs along the U.S.85/87 route, the old Ribbon of Death.
The $1.2 million set aside for the Cherry Creek route was eventually dispersed to other
underfunded highway projects.196
Possibly some influential state and local leaders persuaded the Highway
Department to change their mind. In a 1946 debate at the Statehouse, W.M. Williams,
executive director of the State Advisory Board, made an argument that switching the main
highway to the Cherry Creek Valley would not solve traffic congestion since the towns of
Louviers, Sedalia, Castle Rock, Larkspur, and Monument were already established on U.S.
85 and a good amount of traffic would still continue down that road.197 Former Lieutenant
Governor and State Representative William E. Higby, a Monument resident and son of
John William Higby the founder of the Greenland Land and Cattle Company, owned some
prime real estate along the proposed Denver to Colorado Springs highway. Higby allowed
an important piece of the new highways puzzle to fall into place as the Rocky Mountain
News reported in 1948:
William E. Higby, former lieutenant governor, yesterday agreed to sell to
the state for $9,000 property needed for the new Denver-Colorado Springs
road.. .Cost of the property ran high because it will necessitate tearing
195 Ribbon of Death, Rocky Mountain News Editorial, (March 2, 1946), 12.
196 Bert Hanna, State Builds Road That Goes Nowhere, Denver Post,
(September, 1, 1948).
197 Rocky Mountain News, State Officials Debate How to End Slaughter on
Ribbon of Death, (March 3, 1946), 5.
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down a bam and silo... The rest of the right-of-way for the section of the
road between Larkspur and Monument must be obtained from Lou Higby,
Williams brother, who owns a section of property north of that purchased
yesterday... Lou is asking $12,000 form the highway department and it is
expected than an agreement with him will be reached some time
today...198
Three generations earlier General William Jackson Palmers surveyors led their railroad
through much of the same terrain where Waltrous highway engineers soon would be lay-
ing out the heavily anticipated and vital Interstate Highway. The face of Front Range
Corridor would forever change ushering in a new chapter in the West.
Build it and They Will Come: Interstate 25
While construction crews put the finishing touches on Castlewood Canyons
Bridge to Nowhere state officials started studying a new travel corridor between Denver
and Castle Rock. Entering Douglas County along the Plum Creek/Cherry Creek Divide the
new route directly connected to the recently completed Valley Highway and its southern
terminus at the Colorado Boulevard Exchange. Demands for improving the old route, The
Ribbon of Death, motivated Mark Watrous and the State Highway Department to seek
solutions:
...Watrous said his department will assemble an aerial map of the road to
determine if the topography is suitable for such a project... If the map
shows the project feasible and it is approved by the advisory board, con-
struction could begin by the middle of August {1947}... The proposed
highway would have an island in the middle, which in some places might
be as wide as a half a mile, he explained. This would eliminate danger of
head-on collisions... When the two new lanes are complete, necessary
198 Rocky Mountain News. $9000 Deal Adds to Right-of-Way, (September, 2,
1948), 26.
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repairs would be made on the present road. Curves would be widened
and grades improved...199
In an ominous statement imbedded in the same article, Chief Engineer Watrous, assured
the readers that construction on the Denver-Franktown-Colorado Springs highway would
continue; however the project would move to secondary status with the departments
attention focusing on widening and straightening out the Ribbon of Death.
In June of 1952, a three-million-dollar, Denver to Castle Rock highway finally open
to traffic after two years of construction. Numbered state highway 185, the new route
extended from the intersection of East Colorado Avenue and South Colorado Boulevard to
a point just north of Castle Rock, a forerunner to the present day alignment of Interstate 25.
The 21.3-mile stretch of two-lane concrete road broadened to four lanes on ascending hills,
delivered motorists directly into Castle Rock bypassing the yellow lined, U.S. 85 or Santa
Fe Drive. The new highway modernized a centuries old travel corridor once used by a pre-
historic hunter-gatherers, fur traders, and railroads alike.200
During the same year, 1952, the Colorado Highway Department initiated a major
reorganization. Apart from changing its name to the Department of Highways and aligning
their fiscal calendar to the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads June 30 ending date, two other
developments made an impact immediately. One, the 1952 act allowed the department to
adjust the state highway system. Over the past three decades the number of state roads
had become both too costly and unwieldy. The law relinquished nearly 4,000 miles of state
roads back to the counties, allowing Colorado to focus on the ever-increasing number of
State and U.S. Highways. A more manageable system resulted. The second key change
199 Dan Cronin, Ribbon of Death May Become One-Way, Four-Lane Highway,
Rocky Mountain News, (June 18, 1947), 5.
200 Robert Stapp, Denver-Castle Rock Highway to Open for Traffic in June,
Denver Post, (May 18,1952), 3A.
85


witnessed the creation of a new position, administrative engineer, under the auspices of
the Chief Engineer. The dynamic Charles E. Shumate stepped into this new role, immedi-
ately lightening the department load. The administrative assistant took over supervision of
all field district offices. The streamlining set the table for implementation of the massive
interstate program looming on the horizon.201
Ever since the First World War, an era when railroads were partially federalized, a
number of American leaders and organizations pushed for an interstate highway system.
While World War II raged, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Highway Act
of 1944 authorizing an interstate highway system. Two years after the end of World War II
President Harry S Truman set in motion legislation establishing a National System of
Interstate and Defense Highways.202
President Dwight D. Eisenhower did more than any other president to champion
the cause of connecting America together through interstates. Apart from being one of the
nations great war-heroes Eisenhower rightly laid claim to being born a westerner.
Throughout his life Eisenhower held on to values forged in the frontier town of Abilene,
Kansas and expanded on his many trips to Colorado. Ike married Mamie Doud, the
daughter of a prominent Denver businessman and consequently spent many enjoyable
vacations in and around the Mile High Citys environs. Ike loved fishing along with many
other outdoor pursuits. In Denver: Mining Camp to Metropolis authors Stephen Leonard
and Thomas Noel relate the following story tying the Presidents fly fishing into support for
Colorado highways:
201 Marion C. Wiley, The High Road, (Denver: Colorado State Department of
Highways, 1976), 33-34.
202 Highways to the Sky, 7-7,8.
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...Governor Ed Johnson took the states plight directly to President Dwight
D. Eisenhower, who vacationed in Colorado. Johnson gave the president
Colorado Fishing License No. 1 along with an elaborate presentation book
that made the case for I-70. The president smiled and later helped per-
suade Congress to approve a 90 percent federal match for state
funds...203
In 1956, the U.S. Congress passed and Eisenhower signed the National Interstate
and Defense Highway Act. The new law proposed a 42,500-mile system of limited access
expressways connecting major cities and areas of national strategic importance. Through
traffic would be able to maintain their speed because grade level crossings were virtually
eliminated on the new freeways.204
Historian, Kenneth T. Jackson, summarized President Eisenhowers rationalization
for building Americas Interstate Highway System in his book, Crabgrass Frontier: The
Suburbanization of the United States:
...President Eisenhower gave four reasons for signing the measure: cur-
rent highways were unsafe [for example the Ribbon of Death]; cars too
often became snarled in traffic jams; poor roads saddled business with
high costs for transportation; and modern highways were needed because
in case of atomic attack on our key cities, the road net must permit quick
evacuation of target areas.. .205
Interstate advocates failed to expound on or even realize some of the adverse effects the
new roads would have on inner cities, public transportation, by-passed small communities,
bisected farms and ranches, and the environment. America seemed destined for suburban
sprawl.
203 Stephen J. Leonard and Thomas J. Noel, Denver: Mining Camp to Metropolis,
(Niwot, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1990) 272-273.
204 Highways to the Sky, 7-7,8.
205 Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the Untied
States, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 249.
87


The birth of Interstate 25 began with the Valley Highway through Denver.
Constructed between 1948 and 1958 the thoroughfare, free of cross-flow city traffic,
covered approximately eleven miles from west Fifty Third Avenue to the new Denver/
Colorado Springs Highway at East Colorado Avenue and South Colorado Boulevard.
Denver consulting firm Crocker & Ryan prepared a seventy two-page study that called for
extensive excavation, 62 bridges, 54 miles of two-lane traffic with ramps and service roads
included, 73 miles of pipes and sewer lines, placing five million cubic yards of earth in
embankments, 130,000 cubic yards of concrete for infrastructure alone, and 100 miles of
wire carrying conduits. Total cost ran upwards of thirty-three million dollars in postwar
currency and that was only the beginning.206
Two other primary Front Range cities completed their expressway systems during
the next two years, Pueblo and Colorado Springs, added another 21 miles to the system.
The 67-mile stretch from Pueblo to Monument came on line in 1961 for the most part
paralleling Fountain Creek. Construction of the northern portion of Colorados I-25 to the
Wyoming border wrapped up with completion of a 17-mile stretch north of Wellington in
1966. Douglas Countys sections of I-25 were finished from 1963 to 1968 despite a
crippling flood in 1965 that destroyed most of the work.207
As with all new highway construction the efforts of purchasing right-of-ways on
private land always leads to contention. The issue goes back to when western railroads
206 Colorado Department of Highways. Commemorating the Opening of the
Denver Valley Highway. CDOT Historical File, (November 23, 1958). The History of I-25
in Colorado: Interstate Construction Completed,
httD;//www.dot.state.co.us/50anniversav/l25.cfm (updated May 12, 2008, accessed May
12, 2008).
207 Ibid.
88


usurped lands once occupied by Native Americans and turned a nifty profit from federally
subsidized land grants. Fortunately for Colorados highway builders, economical land
prices in the1950s dictated compensation packages rather than the exorbitant land values
in Douglas County today. In 1962 a Land Economic Study, completed by the Colorado
Department of Highways, tabulated the selling price of land along a two mile-wide corridor
providing a right-of-way for the new Interstate 25. From the Arapahoe County line to the
junction of US 85/87 just north of Castle Rock the Highway Department purchased land
ranging from eleven dollars/acre up to eight hundred-fifty one dollars/acre during this time.
A 1,245-acre parcel located in northern Douglas County attracted the highest selling price
of $351,801.208
In 1963, with the right-of-way established, the high speed, Interstate 25 finally
connected Castle Rock with the Valley Highway. Within 35 minutes a motorist could whisk
into downtown Denver enjoying an un-crowded roadway. A western bedroom community
and a realtors dream were bom overnight. The towns of Castle Rock and Larkspur
straddled the new limited access freeway. Other towns such as Louviers, Sedalia, Parker,
and Franktown remained, for better or worse, off the major thoroughfare.
The southern section of Douglas Countys Interstate 25 from Monument Hill,
through Greenland Ranch, and into Larkspur opened in 1965. The nine-mile stretch from
Larkspur to Castle Rock proved more difficult to complete mostly due to a natural catast-
rophe. Laurence C. Bauer, deputy chief engineer of the Colorado Highway Department,
described the effects of the 1965 Flood on Douglas Countys brand new, Interstate 25:
...the first contract in that section was let in late 1964. Construction work
was at its height when flood waters churned over the banks of East Plum
Creek the night of June 16, 1965...The flood knocked out six bridges at
208 Colorado Department of Highways and U.S. Bureau of Public Roads. Colorado
Land Economic Study: Interstate 25 Southeast of Denver, 1962.
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Castle Rock. It bit off huge chunks of pavement. It weakened the gravel
foundations under the roadbed and tore away an entire lane near Castle
Rock... The highway crews had to rebuild the damaged roads before they
could get around to finishing the new construction... the State Highway
Department will be just as happy as motorists will be to see the road
finished...209
Good old western perseverance, coupled with modem highway engineering,
eventually won the day. Even a hundred-year flash flood, something as inherently
western, as bison, Native Americans, and railroad depots, failed to stop Colorados Front
Range from entering into the modem age. Soon Douglas County residents joined the rest
of America in a rush to the automobile showroom. The personal convenience of the car
quickly rose in popularity when compared to the railroads rigid schedules and communal
passenger accommodations. To the delight of middle class Americans, car dealerships, oil
and tire companies, the steel industry, repair shops, insurance and real estate agents,
cement plants, motel owners, fast food chains, drive-in theater proprietors, and millions of
seemingly liberated teenagers life in the 1950s and Douglas County began to change.
Railroad Depots Today
By the 1960s, passenger train service in Castle Rock was at best skeletal, with
only a couple full stops at the two depots. Flag stops in Castle Rock became the norm as
travel by train continued to starve and diminish. To travel on the D & RGs premier
passenger train the Royal Gorge, a person needed to flag the train down at either the
Sedalia or Larkspur stations. The four hours required for traveling to the Royal Gorge
made trains less appealing in the age of fast Chevy station wagons, modem highways, and
25 cent/gallon gasoline. Families elected to drive instead of waiting for the train.
209 Fred Brown, Interstate 25 Work Near Completion, The Denver Post,
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The arrival and success of the airline industry drove another nail in the coffin of
passenger train travel. Denver expanded its Stapleton Airport several times from the
1950s to the 1970s. Airline passenger service reduced travel time drastically. A flight from
Denver to Grand Junction arrived in under two hours, whereas the same trip by train
required almost twenty four hours.
Accompanying the death of passenger rail service was the closing of Castle
Rocks two depots. The Santa Fe retired its depot in 1947; however, trains honored flag
stops and picked up a few passengers as late as the 1960s. In the early 1950s Miguel
Garcilaso purchased the depot and renovated it for his wife Josephine and their eight
children. The Garicilasos remodeled the building into two stories with a total of 1240
square feet, and a 480 square foot attached garage. As young children Miguel and
Josephine escaped the Mexican Revolution during the era of Poncho Villa. They lived with
their respective parents in Larkspur and Cripple Creek. The two met at a dance in
Colorado Springs and married in 1929. Finding work hard to come by during the Great
Depression they moved to California, then to Mexico, and eventually to Castle Rock.
Some of the many jobs Mike held down were as a shoe repairman, running a gasoline
station, working at the Reddy Chevrolet Garage, with the railroad, and for Douglas County
as a mechanic. The Garcilasos became fixtures in Castle Rock with their children
attending Douglas County Schools. Five generations of Garcilasos have called Castle
Rock and Douglas County home.210
Descendants of Miguel and Josephine eventually sold the depot to the Town of
Castle Rock. As of 2010 town plans call for restoring the old Santa Fe Depot and possibly
(September 4, 1968), 9.
210 Robert Pounds, Santa Fe Depots: The Western Lines, (Dallas, Texas: Kachina
Press, 1984), 92; Douglas County Assessor Property Profile Online; Castle Rock Atchison
Topeka and Santa Fe Depot Historic Structure Assessment, 3.
91


relocating the structure. Public access to the current site remains restricted because of
railroad rights of way. Once a proper site can be found the city, without a lot of historic
preservation in mind, may use it for the Water Departments Water Wise classes.211
The D & RG depot watched its last passengers and freight leave her siding decks
in 1965. For several years it, too, sat abandoned next to still-used tracks. The descendant
of the D & RG, the Denver and Rio Grande Western (D & RGW) threatened the community
with demolition unless something could be done to utilize it. Again, in shades of General
Palmer, the railroad company demanded Castle Rock pay to find a use for the still-sturdy
stone depot, just as it had to pay to have the small fortress built those many years ago. In
1970 the Douglas County News ran an article about the arrival of two relocated Denver
citizens purchasing the depot and moving the historic structure possibly saving it from an
ignominious fate:
Castle Rock took on the air of a Roman festival Tuesday morning an
event, long awaited in the lives of 30-year old Joyce Murray and her hus-
band Bill, 31, to say nothing of the people of Castle rock, finally came to
pass. The Castle Rock depot, a landmark on the towns long history was
finally moved to its permanent home at 4th Street and Elbert...Murray stat-
ed that he thought the town would be pleased to think that so important a
landmark would be saved from being razed... Late August, the Murrays
were given 90 days by Rio Grande to move the building... Tuesday was
cloudy and crowds of people appeared from nowhere... The move itself
was not without problems. Wires had to be cut and a few trees around
town are minus a few limbs...212
The Murrays moved the building to the west several blocks where it stands today at 420
Elbert Street. Prior to the Murrays purchase the graceful old depot was played in and
vandalized. Many of the artifacts were stolen. The Murrays did find some old posters,
211 Historic Structure Assessment, 4.
212 Douglas County News, (July 9, 1970).
92