FROM INDIAN LANDS TO DENVER MOUNTAIN PARK
Jennifer Elizabeth Bryant
B.A., University of Colorado, 2003
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Jennifer Elizabeth Bryant
has been approved
Bryant, Jennifer Elizabeth (M.A., History)
Genesee: From Indian Lands to Denver Mountain Park
Thesis directed by Professor Thomas J. Noel
Genesee Park, the first of the Denver Mountain Parks has a long and
varied history. Although this land is now owned and operated by the City and
County of Denver, for many generations it was home to various Native American
tribes and was the site of one of the first toll roads heading into the Rocky
Mountains from the settlement known as Denver. The history of Genesee is not
widely known, yet it boasts events such as ski competitions, hiking, and camping.
To understand the past of this park it is important to realize the park was
formed at a time when cultural movements collided and three pieces of legislation
united to allow for the possibility of a city to own and operate lands outside its
boundaries. Additionally the history of this park revolves around the history of
this region and the people who blazed the trail for the expansion of Denver, from
toll roads to interstate highways.
Although the majority of Genesee Park is undeveloped land and hiking
trails, another aspect of Genesee allowed the park to be placed on the National
Register of Historic Places in 1990. In addition to having 2,404.7 acres of open
space, Genesee is home to twenty-six contributing resources and twelve non-
contributing resources consisting of buildings, sites, structures, and objects. The
most well known of these contributing resources is Chief Hosa Lodge, a 1917
building of Rustic or Mountain Architectural style, designed by Denver
architect Jules Jacques Benois Benedict. Constructed of stone and timber, the
Lodge has a symmetrical fa?ade and is built into the hillside. In addition to the
Chief Hosa Lodge, Genesee is home to the Patrick House, and a shelter house
constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Genesee also influenced the
creation of a subdivision and two business parks.
It is important understand the history of this site and to discover as much
as possible about how it became a Denver Mountain Park. Genesee is the
meeting of cultural ideals, legislative power, and the inspiration of a man who
hoped to make Denver a leading city of the world.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Thomas J. Noel
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Native American Historiography................................6
City Beautiful Historiography................................12
Denver Mountain Parks Historiography.........................15
2. EARLY SETTLEMENT AND NATIVE CONTACT.............................18
The Utes and Colorado........................................19
The Cheyennes Meet the Arapahoes.............................21
The Arapahoes and Their Influence on Colorado................24
Chief Little Ravens Legacy of Peace.........................26
White Settlers in Genesee....................................33
3. THE CITY BEAUTIFUL AND MAYOR SPEER..............................36
The Role of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr........................37
City Beautiful Ideals........................................41
Mayor Robert W. Speers Denver...............................51
The Convergence of Threes....................................54
4. GENESEE AND THE DENVER MOUNTAIN PARKS...........................59
Chief Hosa Lodge and Jacques Benedict........................60
Skiing at Genesee...................................68
Preservation in Genesee.............................71
Running and Maintaining Genesee.....................73
5. GENESEES IMPACT ON COLORADO..........................77
A. MAP OF DENVER MOUNTAIN PARKS IN JEFFERSON
AND CLEAR CREEK COUNTIES.........................86
B. FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED, JR.S LETTER TO THE
BOARD OF PARK COMMISSIONERS......................87
C. FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED, JR.S TABLE OF LANDS
RECOMMENDED FOR ACQUIREMENT......................89
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
Located in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains about twenty miles
west of Denver along the 1-70 corridor, is a peak known as Genesee Mountain.
Standing 8,284 feet above sea level with a 360 view of the surrounding area, the
summit of Genesee looks to the north at Longs Peak, to the south at Pikes Peak, to the
east the Colorado plains are visible and to the west lies the Continental Divide. Due
to this location, Genesee Mountain serves as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains.
Although Spanish explorers visited Colorado during the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, they did not find the treasure they sought nor easily cultivated
fields to plant, and chose not to challenge the Native Americans living in the region.1 2
As a result, the Spanish claimed the land, yet did not attempt to settle the region
which is now Denver and the front range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. In 1806-
1807, Zebulon Pike led an expedition to explore the central Rockies, agreeing with
the Spanish concerning the lands inability to support agriculture. Despite these
claims, westward expansion continued and white settlers began traveling across the
Great Plains and Colorado on their way to the west coast during the 1830s and 1840s.
1 Lyle W. Dorsett. The Queen City: A History of Denver. (Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing
Company, 1977), xiii.
2 Doris Monahan. Destination: Denver City, The South Platte Trail. (Athens: Ohio University Press,
The California Gold Rush of 1849 led to an increased number of settlers crossing the
lands of Colorado and in 1858, gold was discovered in Cherry Creek.3
The discovery of gold in Colorado led to the Colorado Gold Rush of 1858 and
increased the number of settlers in Colorado. By 1870 the population of what was
being called Denver City grew to 4,759 yet the numbers of people passing through
the city looking for gold is estimated to be between 100,000 and 150,000 during the
1860s.4 These numbers greatly increased the interaction between white settlers and
Native Americans during these decades. Over the eleven years between 1859 and
1870 it is estimated that over $27 million in gold was discovered and removed from
the mountains and rivers of Colorado.5 During these years, those who sought their
fortune in gold passed through and settled on the lands claimed by the Cheyennes and
Arapahoes who pushed the Utes out of the eastern foothills of Colorado to the
western slope. Genesee Mountain, or shining valley was part of these lands, and
became the site of a toll station in 1860.
The steady stream of settlers to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains led to
conflict between the tribes and the new white settlers, yet not all of the conflict ended
in violence. Under the leadership of Chief Little Raven, the Southern Arapahoes
chose to remain peaceful in this time of turmoil, even befriending a number of
3 Richard White. It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own, A New History of the American West.
(Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), 148. Dorsett, The Queen City, xiii-xv.
4 Dorsett, The Queen City, 8.
5 Dorsett., 8.
Denver citizens. Although the relations between the settlers and the Arapahoes were
for the most part peaceful, that did not stop the settlers from pushing the Southern
Arapahoes from their lands in the foothills and around Denver. Around the time of
the creation of the Patrick House toll station in 1860 on Genesee Mountain, the
Southern Arapahoes chose not to return to their lands in the foothills as a result of
pressure from the United States government.
Control of the Patrick House toll station remained in the Patrick family
through the 1880s when a neighboring saw mill run by Ed Heatley and his two
partners at the base of the north slope of Genesee Mountain near the Genesee ski run,
took control of the land.6 In 1911 the property Denver businessmen purchased the
land to save it from the sawmill, and in 1913, the businessmen donated the land to the
City and County of Denver.7 Since 1913 Genesee Mountain and the surrounding
2,404.7 acres of undeveloped land has been part of the Denver Mountain Park System
and known as Genesee Park. In 1916 Denvers Mayor Robert W. Speer
commissioned Denver architect Jules Jacques Benedict to design and construct a
lodge to be built on Genesee Mountain and serve as a gathering place for the park.
Completed between 1917 and 1918, the Chief Hosa Lodge was named after
Chief Little Raven of the Southern Arapahoes who kept the peace between his people
and the early white settlers of Colorado. The connection between the early settlers of
6 Georgina Brown. The Shining Mountains. (Gunnison, Colorado: B&B Printers, 1976), 166.
7 Carole Lomond. Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway within the Colorado Heritage Area. (Golden,
Colorado: Views Publishing Company, 2002), 32.
Denver and the foothills and the Native Americans of the area is an important
reminder of the history of the region and settlement. It is rare that a peace chief such
as Little Raven has been recognized, especially during the early years of the twentieth
century. It is important to note the relationship between the Native Americans who
first settled the region, the white settlers who then took over the region, and the
expanding movements of the United States as a society. Each of these portions of
history allowed Genesee to become the first Denver Mountain Park.
Although an important step in the expansion of Denver, Genesees
significance did not end with its creation. Instead Genesee serves as an example of
what can be accomplished when people work together toward a common goal.
Genesee Park is both the first and largest of the Denver Mountain Parks, yet that is
not its defining characteristic. Genesee has served the public in a number of ways,
not the least of which is the recognition of the importance of Native Americans to the
culture and history of Denver. Genesee and Chief Hosa Lodge could have been
named for any settler, town official, or important figure in United States history, yet
they were not. The Denver Mountain Parks system chose to retain the name Genesee
when determining the name for their first park, and when Mayor Speer chose to name
the lodge after Chief Hosa, he was making a concession to the importance of Native
Americans in the growth of Denver and the surrounding area. This recognition came
at a time when people still remembered with vivid clarity the Indian Wars of the
Plains. By acknowledging the peaceful aspect of the Southern Arapahoes and Chief
Little Raven more specifically, Speer opened the door for a new outlook on the
interaction between white settlers and Native Americans in the American West.
Genesee is also socially important due to its appeal to a large, urban based
population. At one time Genesee Park was said to be the first auto camping area in
the United States. Despite the improbability of this claim, Genesee did encourage
urban dwellers to travel to the mountains and explore the wilderness just beyond the
city. The park became home to various skiing competitions, campground sites, the
Chief Hosa Lodge, as well as a flagpole which sits at the summit of Genesee
Mountain and was erected by the Peace Pipe Chapter of the Daughters of the
American Revolution as part of their Flag Day celebration.
Despite Genesees importance to honoring relations between settlers and
Native Americans, skiing history, and outdoor recreation, very little is written about
the site. In order to learn about Genesee, the Denver Mountain Parks, or Chief Little
Raven, a variety of sources must be studied, and their brief mentions of these topics
compiled in order to create a complete history of the region. Very few sites can claim
to be the origin of an important social, cultural, and political movement, yet Genesee
with its connection to Native Americans, the expansion of Denver, and the City
Beautiful movement can claim just that. So the question remains, why is there such a
lack of information about this site, and how does that impact the way in which the
Denver Mountain Parks are viewed? 8
8 Peace Pipe Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, History,
http://www.coloradodar.org/chaDters/peaceDipe (accessed March 1, 2007).
Native American Historiography
The complicated relationship between white settlers in Colorado and the
Native American tribes in the region comes from a history of interaction in which the
United States maneuvered the tribes out of their lands by promising them
compensation which was often forgotten by the government as soon as the treaties
granting them control of the lands were signed. While many Native Americans do
not believe in owning lands, only claiming them as their homelands, the United States
government believed ownership was necessary to expand the country and gain access
to the natural resources present in the western lands. It is this dichotomy of though
which led to many of the tensions experienced by white settlers and Native
Americans during the settling of Colorado in the 1800s.
By examining the three main tribes in Colorado, the Utes, the Cheyennes, and
the Arapahoes as well as how Native Americans were viewed by the United States
government and people it is possible to understand just how important the naming of
Chief Hosa Lodge was in its time. During the nineteenth century, the broadest
understanding of Native Americans came from the work undertaken by
anthropologists studying the Plains Indians. At this time the tribes were seen as
having individual cultures that were complex and fulfilling. This image of Native
Americans changed as the nineteenth and twentieth centuries evolved bringing with it
a strong dislike of all things Native American and an altered view of the individuality
of tribes. The inability to understand cultures which did not have a permanent tie to
the land such as a house or farm caused settlers to view the tribes as lacking culture.
Although this was not true, its preponderance grew as Native Americans were forced
to give up their ways and move to reservations and adopt American culture.
During the years between 1831 and 1837, an American bom lawyer and
painter, George Catlin traveled among the Native Americans of the American West in
order to study their culture, customs, way of life, and beliefs. His in-depth study of
Native Americans examined the differences between tribes and their individual
cultures. Through this examination, he described tribes who were intelligent,
engaging, and family-oriented. Instead of focusing on the similarities between the
tribes, Catlin looked to their unique individual traits and discovered a land full of
people as different from each other as the countries of Europe. Indeed Catlin
remarked that Mr. Brazeau, who had lived among the Native Americans for an
extended time could not trace a resemblance between the language of the Blackfeet,
Cheyennes, Crows, and Mandan tribes.9 Although this lack of resemblance may not
seem significant, Brazeau and Catlins ability to view each tribe as a separate culture
added greatly to the United States knowledge of Native Americans of the Plains, and
by association other Native American tribes settlers came into contact with during the
9 George Catlin. North American Indians. (New York: Penguin Books, 1989), 52.
Additionally, Catlin viewed Native Americans as being a vital aspect of the
American West. Indeed to Catlin there would be no wilderness without having
Native Americans living throughout the land. Although this thought seems unusual
to modem thought, it was a theory held by multiple educated men at the time
including, Henry David Thoreau and John James Audubon.10 The idea that the West
would no longer be the West without the presence of Native Americans is a result of
these mens inability to separate the wilderness from the people who inhabited the
land. To them, the lack of Native Americans in the West would result in the lack of
wilderness and thus a lack of interest. Although this idea was held by various
intellectuals of the nineteenth century, it was not the only theory concerning the
wilderness and Native Americans, or even the most popular among the larger
While Catlin, Thoreau, and Audubon were important men in their various
fields of study, it is Frederick Jackson Turner who has been most readily identified as
the leader of the study of the American Frontier and by association the American
wilderness. Unlike Catlin, Thoreau, and Audubon who felt having Native Americans
living free within the American West was a vital part of the way in which the West
was to be viewed, Turner felt Native Americans only served the purpose of uniting
10 Mark David Spence. Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National
Parks. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).
Americans under a common goal.11 First read as a paper at the July 12, 1893 meeting
of the American Historical Association, The Significance of the Frontier in
American History, became the overriding historical theory of the American West for
the next fifty years.12 At the time of its reading in 1893, the United States had been
operating under the belief that the frontier had been officially closed for three years as
a result of the 1890 Census which stated,
Up to and including 1880 the country had a frontier of settlement,
but at present the unsettled area has been so broken into by isolated
bodies of settlement that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line.13
This belief in many ways frightened the American people who had claimed a frontier
for three hundred years. At a time when advancements were being made in the fields
of electricity, automobiles, and other such technological inventions, the lack of a
place to escape the rigors of the city was a new and not fully appreciated
development. For generations people had been told to head west and expand the
country, now that expansion was complete according to Jackson and the American
public was unsure how to handle this changing world.
One such way was to unite behind the belief that Native Americans needed to
be Americanized and have their wildness driven from them. As a result of this need,
the United States government furthered programs which took Native American
11 Frederick Jackson Turner. The Frontier in American History. (New York: Dover Publications, Inc.,
12 Turner, 1.
13 Turner, 1.
youths from their families and installed them into government run educational
facilities to teach them the ways of the United States. This alteration in the education
of Native American youth served to distance the new generation from the ways of
their parents and instead incorporate them into the beliefs of the United States.
For many Americans during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth
century, a commonly held belief was that all Native Americans were warriors who
had to be constantly at war with others. The government run schools were one way in
which to change this cultural phenomenon. However, the argument that Native
Americans were as a culture all warlike was furthered by famed Western historian
Walter Webb.14 His assertion that Native Americans were simply warriors and had
no cultural significance was shared by many others during his time; however, cultural
anthropologists of the era held different beliefs as to how Native Americans fit into
the social and cultural mode of the United States.
One of the leading cultural anthropologists of the twentieth century, Franz
Boas viewed the differences between Native Americans and Americans of European
descent as being based primarily on the idea of race instead of the actual differences
between the two sectors of society. Although the differences in genetic features
between those of European descent and those of Native American descent is fairly
apparent when looking at individuals, Boas surmised that this difference was in part
14 Walter Webb. The Great Plains. (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1931), 507.
brought about not by an inferiority as was the common belief at the time, but instead
that they were caused by environmental conditions.15
As a result of this changing view of Native Americans and race, historians
began looking at Native Americans in a different light. The long-held belief that
Frederick Jackson Turner was correct in his assertions about the nature of the
American West and the role of Native Americans began to lose support during the
1960s, and 1970s. By the time people such as John Edward Weems, Dee Brown,
Patricia Limerick, and Elliot West began their work on the American West in the
1980s, the idea that Native Americans were inferior, warrior-centered societies whose
only use was as a way to unite the American people was highly debated. These new
western historians look to the history of their interaction with white settlers and the
United States government and attempt to shed light on the reasons for the warfare
between the cultures. However, one downfall of the new view pertaining to Native
Americans in the twentieth century is the tendency to view them as completely
innocent. Although Native Americans were not fully to blame for what occurred
between the tribes and the United States government, neither should their actions be
Instead, the new generations of historians examine both sides of the battles
between Native Americans and the United States in order to understand the extent of
hostility held by each side. Additionally this new study has allowed people to view
15 Franz Boas. Anthropology and Modem Life. (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1962), 34, 52.
Native Americans as having individual cultures and examine the actions taken by the
tribes during the tenuous years of settlement in order to decide for themselves
whether or not those actions were justified.
City Beautiful Historiography
Another area of history which is important to the creation of the Denver
Mountain Parks System and the history of Genesee comes in the form of the City
Beautiful movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Unlike the
cultures of many Native American tribes, the culture of the United States has
revolved around the ownership and development of land. It is this need not only to
possess but also to alter the landscape which led to the creation of the City Beautiful
movement. The movement focused on the need to create a functional, yet beautiful
civic landscape. This need lead to the creation of civic centers and the inclusion of
natural areas amidst the hustle of the city. It was the hope of the City Beautiful
movement to reclaim the city from the expansion of the industrial age and recapture
the grace of European architecture.
For many years, it was believed the City Beautiful movement stemmed from
the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. One historian who was a staunch
believer of this is Christopher Tunnard. He believes the influence of the 1893
Exposition on the architecture of the United States and the incorporation of Frederick
Law Olmsted, Sr.s park-like design at the Exhibition was the catalyst for the
expansion of the City Beautiful movement. In more recent times, the movement has
been criticized for its expense and the overall lack of need associated with creating a
visually appealing cityscape. As he says, it is easy enough to criticize the City
Beautiful movement because it created so much that we now see around us.16 His
assertion of the influence of the City Beautiful is true; however, it is also important to
note this opinion arose during the post World War II years when the growth of
suburbs was exponentially higher than the growth of cities. Thus his opinions are
based on the large housing expansion instead of looking at the way in which cities
themselves are expanded.
Although there are still historians who believe, like Tunnard, that the City
Beautiful was a response to the 1893 Columbian Exposition, another group of
scholars argues that this is not the case. One important City Beautiful scholar,
William H. Wilson believes the City Beautiful movement truly began in the mid-
nineteenth century with individuals such as Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.17 His
assertion is based on the impact of Olmsted, Sr. and other landscape architects
contributions to the urban landscape. Although it is typical to associate the City
Beautiful with neoclassical architecture, as the movement progressed more and more
cities also focused on the idea of open spaces or parks within their limits. As Wilson
16 Christopher Tunnard. A City Called Beautiful. The Journal of the Society of Architectural
Historians 9, no. 1 / 2 (Mar.-May 1950): 35.
17 William H. Wilson. The City Beautiful Movement. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press,
asserts, Olmstead was not a City Beautiful figure, yet he is closely associated with the
movement. This is due in part to his plan for New York Citys Central Park, as well
as other key areas which influenced the path of the City Beautiful movement.
Although these are not the only City Beautiful scholars, they are two of those
who focus on the movement as a whole instead of looking at the way in which the
City Beautiful affected a single city. Wilsons The City Beautiful Movement also
includes case studies of individual cities, yet he uses these cities as a way to support
his views on the City Beautiful movement, not as the only examples of the
movement. Through examining each city, Wilson focuses on his assertions of the
ideals of the City Beautiful and the way in which different cities expanded these
ideals. Instead of describing the City Beautifuls impacts on these cities, he instead
studies the way in which these cities were designed around the ideas of the City
Case studies of individual cities such as Wilsons are the most common form
of literature pertaining to the City Beautiful movement as seen when looking at its
impact on Denver. In the book Denver: The City Beautiful the role the City Beautiful
movement played in the architecture of Denver is readily apparent. However, this
book does not examine the history of the movement, instead focusing on its
importance to a single city.18 It is through this focus that the book is able to examine
the true influence of the City Beautiful movement on individual cities. As a result of
18 Thomas J. Noel and Barbara S. Norgren. Denver: The City Beautiful. (Denver: Historic Denver, Inc.,
this study of Denver, an important aspect of the Movement is discovered, its ability to
influence the creation of city parks. In the case of Denver this influence expanded
beyond the typical city park to a series of mountain parks which are located outside
the city boundaries of Denver. By combining the information gained in Denver: The
City Beautiful and The City Beautiful Movement a broader understanding of the way
in which this movement impacted the creation of the Denver Mountain Parks System
can be gained.
Denver Mountain Parks Historiography
Unlike Native American history and the City Beautiful movement there are
very few resources for studying the Denver Mountain Park System. This could be
due in part to its position as a regional system or the fact that very few people outside
the state of Colorado realize Denver has such a system. However, this lack of
knowledge does not diminish the importance of the Mountain Parks. Instead it
creates the question of why has this system been largely ignored by books about
Denver and the surrounding area? Part of this could come from the general lack of
information pertaining to the park system. Even the City of Denver does not readily
flout its Mountain Parks System. The parks are mentioned on their city website, yet
the history behind their creation is never examined, nor is the information pertaining
to individual parks expansive. Instead they are almost an afterthought, a portion of
the city which is basically ignored in favor of the well known, easily spotted city
Generally books that mention the Denver Mountain Parks do so in passing as
part of the overall expansion of Denver instead of focusing on their role in that
expansion. Additionally any books which focus on the parks, such as Patrick
Gallavans History of the Denver Mountain Parks are usually less than thirty pages in
length and do not examine the larger issues of their importance on the Denver
landscape. These books tend to be pamphlets trying to encourage visitors to come to
the Denver Mountain Parks instead of in-depth studies of the parks themselves.
When looking to the history of Denver there are more possibilities for
examining the role of the Denver Mountain Parks; however, these books do not
explain the individual parks, instead focusing on them as a single unit. Although each
park has an individual history which makes it unique and interesting, overall it is
easier for people to focus on the parks as a single entity. Studying each park would
take more time than most people would be willing to give for a small portion of their
book. One book which does an admirable job mentioning the Mountain Parks is Phil
Goodsteins Robert Speers Denver, 1904-1920. In part this could be due to
Goodsteins focus on Denver during the reign of Robert W. Speer who initiated the
City Beautiful movement in Denver and was a key player in creating the Denver
The importance of Native Americans, the City Beautiful movement, and the
Denver Mountain Parks to the history of Genesee Park is evident when studying the
creation of the park. Without understanding the Native Americans which first
inhabited the land known as Genesee and their influence on the area, the future of the
park would be impossible to interpret. Additionally it was the presence of Native
Americans at Genesee which lead to the naming of the Chief Hosa Lodge as well as
the use of the word Genesee for the park. It was as a result of the influence of the
City Beautiful movement that Denver was able to create the Denver Mountain Park
System. Without the Movement the system would not have gained the necessary
support for its creation, let alone the general idea of having a park system outside the
citys boundaries. Finally, in order to understand Genesee it is necessary to have a
knowledge of how the Denver Mountain Park System evolved. Without this system,
Genesee would not exist in its current form, nor would it have the same impact on the
CHAPTER 2: EARLY SETTLEMENT AND NATIVE CONTACT
The land known as Genesee has been claimed by many Native American
tribes during the years since European exploration of North America began in the
1500s. At one point or another during the subsequent four hundred years three of
these tribes were pushed from their lands in Colorado by the aggression of other
tribes or United States expansion in the 1700s and 1800s. During Spanish exploration
of the Rocky Mountain region, the Utes lived on and around the land known as
Denver and Genesee, traveling south to interact and trade with the Spaniards. By the
middle of the eighteenth century the Utes had relocated to the Western slope of the
Rocky Mountains, clearing the way for the Shoshones, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes.
However, the Shoshones did not linger in the foothills of the Rocky
Mountains, instead moving north of Denver into the hills. By the time of the
Colorado Gold Rush of 1858-1859, the Cheyennes and Arapahoes had established
themselves as the strongest of the tribes living in the Denver area. Each tribe utilized
the area known as Genesee for its mild climate and the animals which frequented the
area. Known for its abundance of prey, the area also boasts water sources as well as
land appropriate for camping. As such, Genesee served as a campground for the
Utes, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes during the hunting season
The Utes and Colorado
The Utes are typically associated with the Great Basin region of the United
States, the area consisting of Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and parts of Oregon, California,
Arizona, and Wyoming.19 Prior to the influx of European explorers and settlers, the
Utes utilized the lands of the eastern Rocky Mountains, including the area now
known as Denver. The earliest known interaction between the Utes and the European
explorers came in the form of trade between the Spanish and the tribe which was
typically conducted by other tribes in the southwest. In 1626 the Spanish first made
note of the Utes and by 1637 the two cultures had already come into conflict when the
Utes raided Spanish settlements in the Southwest. The first treaty between the Ute
sand the new European explorers dates to 1670 when the Spanish in the southwest
decided a treaty of peace would be preferable to continued warfare. During the
Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Spanish were forced out of New Mexico for a period of
twelve years during which the Utes added to their powerbase and by 1700 were
conducting regular raids into Spanish territory in the southwest.
During the 1700s, Ute tribal lands encompassed present day Denver and the
foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Known as a warring tribe, the Utes have long been
through to be a branch of the Shoshone nation. As early as 1706, the Utes allied with
19 Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. The Indian Heritage of America. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991),
their Shoshone cousins, the Comanches or Lords of the South Plains.20 21 While the
Comanches laid claim to the Southern Plains, the Utes claimed Colorado and the
lands at Genesee. As a branch of the Shoshone tribe, the Utes territory encompassed
the Rocky Mountains, venturing south to the lands of New Mexico only after the
introduction of horse culture to the Shoshones. Like all tribes associated with the
Shoshones, the Utes belong to the Uto-Aztecan linguistic group, one of the seven
largest linguistic groups belonging to the Native American cultures.
Tribal lands for the Utes ranged from current day New Mexico into southern
Wyoming, Colorado and a large portion of Utah. By the time of white settlement in
Colorado, the combined forces of Cheyennes and Arapahoes had forced the Utes onto
the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Not only did the Utes loose their control
over Denver, but they also lost their claim to the camping grounds at Genesee. In
their place came the Cheyennes and Arapahoes. By the 1840s control of Genesee had
transferred to the Southern Cheyennes and the Southern Arapahoes. Once on the
Western slope of the Rocky Mountains, the Utes became less combative and in 1868
they signed a treaty with the United States creating a Ute reservation on the western
third of Colorado, letting control of their lands in eastern Colorado come under the
20 Gerald Betty. Comanche Society Before the Reservation. (College Station: Texas A&M University
Press, 2002), 49.
21 Bill Yenne and Susan Garratt. North American Indians. (Baltimore: Ottenheimer Publishers, Inc.,
purview of the United States.22 23 Unfortunately the land they ceded to the United
States, including the lands at Genesee, were claimed by Cheyennes and Arapahoes by
the time of the 1868 treaty.
The Cheyennes Meet the Arapahoes
Unlike the Utes who had ties to the mountains of Colorado, the Cheyennes
came to the Rocky Mountains from the East. Tradition states that the Cheyennes
migrated to Minnesota around 1700 from their homelands around the Great Lakes and
Hudson Bay. While in Minnesota the Cheyennes were known for their agriculture
and pottery and lived in permanent villages. After the introduction of horse culture to
the Plains in the 1700s, the Cheyennes moved southwest to travel with the nomadic
Arapahoes and hunt buffalo. It was during this migration that the Cheyennes split
into the Northern Cheyennes and the Southern Cheyennes. This differentiation into
two distinct Cheyenne tribes accompanied a similar split among the Arapahoes who
were located between the two tribes on the eastern plains of Colorado.24
During their time on the Great Plains, the Cheyennes came into close contact
with the Arapahoes, another Algonquian tribe hunting bison on the plains following
22 Peter R. Decker. The Utes Must Go! American Expansion and the Removal of a People. (Golden:
Fulcrum Publishing, 2004), 38.
23 Clyde A. Milner II., Carol A. OConner, and Martha A. Sandweiss. The Oxford History of the
American West. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 31.
24 Josephy, The Indian Heritage of America, 117.
the introduction of the horse to Indian cultures. As a result of their close connection
during the early days of white contact, the Cheyennes and Arapahoes are often
referred to in one breath as though they make up a Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe. During
the United States expansion westward, the Cheyennes and Arapahoes were two of
the Five Tribes of the Plains alongside the Comanches, Prairie Apaches, and Kiowas.
When the Cheyennes chose to move onto the Great Plains, part of their
decision rested on the ability to avoid conflict with their enemies. However, the
Cheyennes did not avoid conflict by moving to the Plains, instead they simply
changed the tribes with which they feuded. By the early 1800s the Southern
Cheyennes allied themselves to the Southern Arapahoes while the Northern
Cheyennes allied themselves with the Northern Arapahoes. The two northern tribes
continued to battle the Lakotas and other tribes located in the Black Hills and the
northern Rocky Mountains while the Southern Arapahoes and Southern Cheyennes
found themselves at war with the southern Plains tribes. Although the Lakotas were
noted warriors, the Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches the Southern Cheyennes and
Arapahoes encountered were known for their ability to strike fear into settlers and
tribes alike. For a time the Cheyennes and the Kiowas warred constantly leading to a
climax in the 1839 battle at Wolf Creek, Oklahoma where the Southern Cheyennes
were joined by the Southern Arapahoes and the Kiowas joined with the Lords of the
South Plains or Comanches.25 All sides suffered losses and in 1840 the tribes agreed
to coexist peacefully.
This agreement to peacefully coexist altered the relationship between the
tribes and the white settlers. Instead of fighting each other, the tribes focused their
energies on the new arrivals to the Plains and furthered their reputations as raiders.
During the 1840s, 1850s, 1860s and 1870s the tribes of the Southern Plains raided
settlements from the Gulf of Mexico into the foothills of Colorado; however, during
this time the Southern Cheyennes and Southern Arapahoes were able to maintain a
rather peaceful existence alongside the settlers in the Denver region.
Although the Southern Cheyennes and Southern Arapahoes are typically
referred to as a single nation, in reality these two groups are still separate tribes which
chose to relocate to the reservations in Oklahoma together. Both tribes maintain their
cultures individually and seek to retain a working knowledge of their languages;
however, their long history of friendship led them to create the Southern Cheyenne
and Arapaho nation during the twentieth century.
25 Betty, Comanche Society, 7. William T. Hagan. United States ~ Comanche Relations: The
Reservation Years. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), 119.
The Arapahoes and Their Influence on Colorado
Like many other Plains tribes, the Arapahoes appear to have migrated to the
Great Plains following the introduction of the horse. Their original home lands are
debated, yet most scholars agree they originated near the western shore of Lake
Superior in the Red River Valley of Minnesota. At that time the Arapahoes appear
to be a sedentary tribe farming the surrounding lands for com, beans, and squash. It
appears they had traveled to the northern Plains by 1650, as a result of overpopulation
or increased hostilities with neighbors and by the late 1700s the tribe had split into
two distinct groups, the Gros Ventres who moved to the north and the Arapahoes who
The Arapahoes arrived in Colorado shortly after their split with the Gros
Ventres, who moved north to the Saskatchewan River in Canada, and identified the
nearby Cheyennes as a related tribe as a result of their language, yet the differences in
the dialects required the use of sign language by both tribes. Although the
Arapahoes were typically peaceful with white settlers in the region, they were known
for fighting with Shoshones, Utes, Pawnees, and Navajos tribes in order to expand 26 27 28
26 Sally Crum. People of the Red Earth: American Indians of Colorado. (Santa Fe, New Mexico:
Ancient City Press, 1996), 198.
27 Crum, 198.
28 Crum, 201. Loretta Fowler, The Columbia Guide to the American Indians of the Great Plains. (New
York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 143.
their territory. This warfare ceased around 1840, and the Arapahoes have been at
peace with the other tribes of the Plains since that time.
Of the five divisions of the Arapaho tribe, only two have significant
importance to the history of Genesee. When the Arapahoes first moved to the Plains
they claimed land between the Northern and Southern Cheyennes, a placement which
would influence the future of the Arapahoes. Their location between these two tribes
of Cheyennes also helped create the permanent separation between the Northern and
Southern Cheyennes that is apparent today. During this time in the early 1800s, the
Arapahoes found themselves separating into Northern and Southern divisions as a
result of their interactions with the Cheyennes as well as their land division.
The separation of the Arapahoes into the Northern and Southern divisions
appears to have been a gradual movement which solidified around the time of the
creation of Bents Fort in 1833 along the Arkansas River in southern Colorado.
Following the establishment of Bents Fort, the Northern and Southern divisions of
the Arapahoes seem to have become permanent.29 The Northern Arapahoes separated
from the Southern Arapahoes and allied with the Northern Cheyennes. Similarly the
newly formed Southern Arapaho tribe allied with the Southern Cheyennes, a union
which can be witnessed in modem times by the creation of the Southern Cheyenne-
Arapaho reservation in Oklahoma.
29 Margaret Coel, Chief Left Hand. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981), 11.
The Southern Arapahoes claimed the lands surrounding the area known as
Auraria as well as lands east and west of this site. Although allied with the Southern
Cheyennes, the Arapahoes acted on their own ideas concerning the new settlers
encroaching on their lands. These ideas were fostered and supported by the actions of
Southern Arapaho Chief, Little Raven.
Chief Little Ravens Legacy of Peace
Bom around 1804, Little Raven entered a culture which had already made the
change from being a farming society to that of a horse based culture. As a male,
Little Raven would have been taught to hunt, to value his culture, and to fight. In a
typical Arapaho family these traits would have been passed to the children through
the lessons of their grandparents. Much like families in the United States, the
children absorbed their culture through daily exposure to the ways of their family and
surrounding tribe, as such the new generation would hold the knowledge necessary to
continue their way of life.
Although little is known about the early years of Little Ravens life, it appears
Little Raven first encountered white men around 1824.30 31 At this time he would have
been a young warrior, not yet achieving the role of chief among his people. By 1837
30 Donald Lee Walker, Jr. Chief Little Raven of the Southern Arapaho. Masters Thesis (University
of Colorado at Denver, 2000), 16.
31 Walker, 24.
at the Battle of Wolf Creek, Oklahoma it seems Little Raven, who was at this time
around thirty-three years old, had been identified as a strong warrior and respected
leader.32 33 Although there is no mention of Little Raven for the next decade, he
appears to have increased his status within the tribe during these years. At the time of
the 1851 signing of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, Little Raven is mentioned as the
representative of the Southern Arapahoes.
This treaty stated that the borders of the Southern Arapaho and Cheyenne
lands would be between the North Platte and Arkansas Rivers and from the
Continental Divide to the central plains of Kansas.34 A condition of this treaty laid in
the Southern Arapahoes and Cheyennes agreement to remain at peace among
themselves as well as with the whites in the region. Little Raven signed this treaty in
good faith, and like the other chiefs present was not aware of the alteration to the
treaty that occurred in Washington, D.C. that shortened the period of time the tribes
would receive goods from the United States government from fifty years to fifteen
By the time of the Colorado Gold Rush in 1858-1859, Little Ravens actions
at the Treaty of Fort Wise had allowed the settlers to view him as a peace chief.
32 Walker, 31.
33 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Annual Report of the Commissioner of
Indian Affairs, 1851 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1851), 288-290.
34 Charles J. Kappler, ed. Treaty of Fort Laramie with Sioux, etc,. 1851, September 17, 1851.
(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904), 594-596.
Although it is uncertain as to when he gained the position of chief within Arapaho
society. Unlike other chiefs of the period, Little Raven was able to convince his
people to remain at peace with the miners and settlers entering their territory. In
1864, Little Raven and a Kiowa chief by the name Yellow Buffalo spoke to Major
Anthony of their belief that the Lakotas would attach emigrant trails along the
Arkansas and Platte Rivers during the spring of 1864. Instead of joining the Lakotas
in this revolt against white settlers, Little Raven and Yellow Buffalo asserted their
wish to stay at peace with the white settlers and have nothing to do with this attack.35
Unfortunately soldiers were unable to distinguish between friendly and hostile Native
Americans and opened fire on many non-warring tribes during this time. Despite the
actions taken against peaceful Arapahoes and Kiowas, Little Raven kept control of
his people and maintained peace.
In 1864, Southern Cheyennes and Southern Arapahoes camped along Sand
Creek after being told to relocate to this area by government officials. Camped at this
site were the bands of Southern Arapaho Chief Left Hand as well as Southern
Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle. On November 29, 1864 Colorado militia under the
command of Colonel John Chivington attacked the Southern Cheyennes and Southern
Arapahoes camped at Sand Creek. This event, known as the Sand Creek Massacre
led to increased violence between the Plains tribes and the Colorado and National
governments. At the time of the massacre, Chief Little Ravens band of Southern
35 Crum, People of the Red Earth, 207.
Arapahoes were camped away from the site, yet this did not deter Chivingtons men
from pursuing the band. After burning the village at Sand Creek on November 30
and December 1, 1864, the militia set out for the Arkansas River and Little Ravens
band of Southern Arapahoes. Despite their determination to discover Little Ravens
band, the militia was unable to encounter the group and eventually chose to stop
pursuing the Southern Arapahoes. Although the Colorado militia sought to eradicate
Little Ravens band, he was able to maintain a peaceful interaction between two
cultures, and in 1867, he was present at a meeting at Medicine Lodge Creek in
Signed October 28, 1867 and ratified in July of the following year, the
Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 pushed for the movement of Native Americans onto
lands set aside by the government for the purpose of farming. Although the Arapaho
had originally been com farmers, for around one hundred years, they had operated as
bison hunters leading a nomadic lifestyle. Additionally this treaty advocated the need
for Native American children to attend schools operated by the government. In
essence, the Medicine Lodge Treaty formed the reservations where the Cheyennes
and Arapahoes would live in later years. Signed by eight Arapaho chiefs including
Spotted Wolf and Little Raven and fourteen Cheyenne chiefs including Black Kettle 36
36 Monahan. Destination: Denver City, 197.
and Little Robe, the treaty was one of the last large land cessions by the Native
Americans of the Great Plains.
Little Ravens ability to understand what the whites wanted from his people
allowed him to keep the peace with the whites and negotiate with Indian affairs
officers and other military men to help aid his people when it came to the distribution
of goods. Additionally, Little Ravens ability to merge his culture to the needs of the
white settlers created a comfortable relationship between the Southern Arapahoes and
the white settlers around their camping grounds at Auraria.
Although important to his people, very little has been written about Chief
Little Raven since his death in Canton, Oklahoma in 1889. This could be due to his
position as a peace chief. It appears much less is known of the peace chiefs than their
warring counterparts since they were not as apt to be the focus of newspaper articles
of the time. Despite this, the Rocky Mountain News remarked that Little Raven was
believed to be the most influential of the Arapaho chiefs by the white man. In 1871,
he was able to visit Washington, D.C. and meet with President Ulysses S. Grant as
well as travel to New York to speak at the Cooper Institute. 37 38 39
37 Charles J. Kappler, ed. Treaty with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, 1867 (Washington: Government
Printing Office, 1904), 984-989.
38 Rocky Mountain News, The News, April 29, 1861, page 2.
39 Walker, Chief Little Raven of the Southern Arapahos. 89.
Despite his death in 1889, some twenty-three years before the creation of the
Denver Mountain Parks, Chief Little Ravens legacy impacted Mayor Robert W.
Speers view for the parks. Following the creation of Genesee Mountain Park, Speer
had a lodge constructed on the side of the mountain and named it Chief Hosa Lodge
in honor of Chief Little Raven. Although referred to as Hosa by the white men, it is
not apparent that Little Raven was ever called this by the Arapaho. Former Chief
Hosa concessionaire David Peri claims Hosa is Arapaho for, one who fights to
protect the innocent, or works for peace, although this has not been substantiated by
any Arapaho language dictionary.40
Part of this confusion relating to names could be the result of the appearance
of another chief by the name of Little Raven. In 1804 when Meriwether Lewis and
William Clark encountered Native Americans on what has been called the Lewis and
Clark Expedition, they met a Mandan Chief on the west bank of the Missouri River
four miles south of the Knife River, by the name of Little Raven, or Little Crow.41
His appearance some thirty-five years before the Southern Arapaho Little Ravens at
the Battle of Wolf Creek has influenced how people identify these two men. A
photograph of Southern Arapaho, Little Raven taken between 1868 and 1874 by
William S. Soule is an example of this confusion. Titled Little Raven, Head Chief
of the Arapahos, the photograph includes the names Hosa and Young Crow in its
40 Adam Cayton-Holland. Chief Concerns. The Westword, April 20, 2006.
41 Bernard DeVoto, ed. The Journals of Lewis and Clark. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1953),
heading.42 This photograph is one of the first times Little Raven is referred to as
Hosa. A possible answer to why Little Raven has been called Hosa by white men
could come from his Arapaho name, Oh-has-tee. When spoken quickly this name
could be misunderstood as sounding like Hosa to white men unaccustomed to the
language of the Arapaho.
Understanding the importance of the history of the land known as Genesee
and the people who inhabited it prior to white settlement is a first step in being able to
explore the diverse history of the land itself. Although Genesee is now owned by the
City and County of Denver, it is interesting to note that it had previously been
claimed not only by white settlers in the region, but also three distinct tribes. In
addition to being a natural setting for a wide variety of animals such as elk, deer,
bison, and other small game animals, this land was also utilized as a campground. Its
functionality as a campground was further noted by the Denver Mountain Park
System which created a campground on the mountain which is still in use.
42 William S. Soule, Little Raven (Hosa, Young Crow), Head Chief of the Arapaho; three-quarter-
length seated. (National Archives and Records Administration, 2007), American Indian Select List
White Settlers in Genesee
Shortly after the discovery of gold in Cherry Creek in 1858, settlers began
moving through Genesee. Although this area was home to Southern Arapahoes and
Southern Cheyennes at this time, the white settlers in the region felt one had to own
the land, not simply occupy it from time to time. As such, in 1859 a family by the
name of Patrick took up residence on Genesee Mountain, opening a toll station in
1860. Led by John D. Patrick, the Patrick family came to Colorado from Missouri,
receiving a twelve year charter from the Kansas Territorial Legislature to create the
Genesee Wagon Road Company.43 44 On Genesee Mountain, John Patrick marked 800
acres for his family and the toll station he created and set about building a two-story
frame house and bam. Open for business even before the house was completed, the
Patrick House toll station served as a midway point between the Mount Vernon toll
station at the east end of the canyon and Cold Springs Ranch stage stop west of the
As the gold rush continued, upwards of fifty teams were reported to pass
through Mount Vernon Canyon each day. This large number of settlers increased the
tensions between Native American tribes and white men; however, Chief Little Raven
was able to keep the peace despite this increased tension. By the mid-1860s the
43 Brown, The Shining Mountains, 162.
44 Brown, 163.
Leadville Free road bypassed the Patrick House toll station, creating another route
from the entrance to Mount Vernon Canyon to the lands west of Genesee.45 When
this occurred, the Patrick House toll station begem to falter. Despite this, the Patrick
House toll station is remembered as being a unique stop for travelers. Instead of
simply serving as a toll station, the Patrick house also served as a source of
entertainment. It is said that John Patrick sat on his porch playing his guitar and used
his foot to operate a pull rope attached to the gate instead of walking to the gate every
time a wagon approached.46
During their time at Genesee, the Patrick family controlled the main
thoroughfare in Mount Vernon Canyon. By 1878, John Patrick and his wife
Elizabeth had both died, leaving control of the estate to George Miller.47 48 Although
the Patrick family seems to have lost possession of Genesee during the 1880s, the
land did not sit vacant. Instead a sawmill took control of the site and operated on the
north slope of the mountain until the land was purchased in 1911 by Denver
businessmen. Additionally at some point during the thirty-three years between the
death of Elizabeth Patrick and the time it was purchased by Denver businessmen,
Genesee served as a mink/chinchilla farm.
45 Brown, 163.
46 Brown, 164.
47 Brown, 164.
48 Carole Lomond, The Genesee Foundation. http://www.citvmtnviews.com/NBH-Genesee.php4
(accessed February 23, 2007).
Similar to the way in which various Native American tribes took possession of
the land from other tribes, white settlers in the region took control of the lands at
Genesee. Although Genesee Mountain served as a site for a toll station, a sawmill,
and a mink/chinchilla farm during the early days of white settlement in the region,
Genesee is known for its history as an example of the influence of the City Beautiful
movement. However, even this portion of Genesees history lacks attention from
historians of the City Beautiful movement or the history of Denver.
CHAPTER 3: THE CITY BEAUTIFUL AND MAYOR SPEER
The City Beautiful movement thrived in the United States in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth Centuries fostering memorable cityscapes and
landscapes. Although many people have heard of the City Beautiful movement, few
realize the extent of its impact on the design of the cities of the United States.
Considered part of the Progressive Era in the United States, the City Beautiful
movement has not gained the same amount of recognition as its contemporary
movements such as the National and State Park movements, also known as the
Conservation movement as well as the various movements associated with the New
Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelts term as President. Despite this lack of study, the
City Beautiful movement had a strong impact on the way in which modem cities are
During the years of the City Beautiful movement, cities around the United
States sought to create a modem, yet classic urban setting to counteract the rising
number of people living in the city. Additionally the Movement hoped to minimize
the effects of the industrial age on the city. Instead of being surrounded by factories
set in the heart of town, the Movement hoped to create open spaces with beautiful
buildings which would allow workers to see the city as a peaceful place to live and
work instead of an industrial center. This way of thinking led to civic centers which
boast large neoclassical buildings surrounded by landscaped open space around which
the citys government functions.
The Role of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.
Called the father of the City Beautiful movement by historians such as
William H. Wilson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. was bom on April 23, 1822 in
Connecticut. Olmsted, Sr.s early career gave no indication of his future in landscape
architecture. Instead he took to the sea to travel the world. In so doing, Olmsted, Sr.
suffered from seasickness and did not enjoy his time at sea as he might have hoped,
and chose to focus his future on enhancing the beauty of the land.49 After studying
the farming methods of the time, Olmsted, Sr. utilized the skill he learned working on
farms to further his knowledge of landscape architecture.50 The fact he began his
work as a landscape architect in 1858, almost forty years before the movement gained
any momentum does not diminish his importance to the movement itself. Indeed it is
as a result of his work that the City Beautiful movement was able to grow and prosper
at the turn of the twentieth century.
49 Lee Hall. Olmsteds America: An Unpractical Man and His Vision of Civilization. (Boston:
Bulfinch Press, 1995), 18.
50 Hall, 24.
In 1858, Olmsted, Sr. and Calvert Vaux submitted the design for New Yorks
Central Park.51 This design led to a thirty-seven year career as a landscape architect,
first for the City of New York and then as a private consultant working in Boston.
During this time, Olmsted, Sr. utilized natural landscapes to enhance the appeal of
urban areas and interest people in examining their landscape. Upon his death in 1903,
the consulting firm Olmsted created passed to his son Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and
his stepson John C. Olmsted.
Although Olmsted, Sr. died during the height of the City Beautiful movement,
his legacy can still be seen when looking to the projects undertaken by its endorsers.
His legacy can be broken into three categories, the Parks and Parkway system, his
intellectual legacy, and the legacy of consulting. Never a proponent of neoclassical
design, Olmsted, Sr. instead envisioned a city full of parks and open spaces which
called to a persons love of nature. As a result, his overarching legacy comes in the
form of the creation of a park and boulevard system found in many cities involved
with the City Beautiful movement. Changed to the park and parkway system under
the City Beautiful, this idea focused on creating natural settings within urban cities.
Olmsted, Sr. viewed nature as bountiful scenery for the public to appreciated.
However, he also felt that beauty did not have to be separate from efficiency. Indeed
beauty and efficiency were two sides of life which were meant to work together. As
such, Olmsted, Sr.s beliefs supported the later City Beautiful movement and added to
51 Hall, 11.
the supporters idea of creating a civic center area in urban areas to unite beauty and
utility. In many ways this idea curtailed with Olmsted, Sr.s belief that a park should
serve as a meeting ground for urban dwellers. He believed that if given the
opportunity to meet in a beautiful, open space urban society would adjust to its
Having a meeting site for urban dwellers was important to Olmsted, Sr.
because he believed urban growth would continue without decline. This belief
came to pass during the early twentieth century when urban populations began
outnumbering rural populations. Due to the increased population in urban centers,
Olmsted, Sr. felt parks and boulevards would be the key to creating and maintaining a
functional city. As a result of Olmsted, Sr.s view of nature, he was hired by Denver
investors in 1890 to create their city on a hill. This city was to be located on
Lookout Mountain where the group owned 2,389 acres.52 53 54 The investors chose not to
follow through with Olmsted, Sr.s plan; however, in 1905 a British real estate
developer by the name of Rees Vidler accomplished Olmsteds plan after acquiring
water tap rights from the city of Golden.55
52 Hall, 31.
53 Hall, 32.
54 Lomond. Lariat Loop, 22.
55 Lomond, 22.
Although Olmsted, Sr.s plans for a park on Lookout Mountain were not
approved, the decision to hire a landscape architect to create a park plan set a
precedent which would be utilized by Mayor Speer in 1914. Quite possibly the most
important contribution Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. made to the future of the City
Beautiful movement as well as urban life is the idea of a consulting firm. Instead of
leaving the planning of a city to people who know nothing about creating an inviting
landscape, Olmsted, Sr. believed landscape architects could add a great deal to the
creation of cityscapes. As such, he left his consulting company to his son Frederick
Law Olmsted, Jr. and his stepson John C. Olmsted upon his death. Following his
fathers footsteps, in 1914, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. was contacted to produce a
plan for the creation of the Denver Mountain Parks.
The second Olmsted plan for a park system in Colorado received a larger
amount of attention and resulted in a formulate plan for the Denver Mountain Park
System. Although Speer and his associates did not utilize all aspects of Olmsted, Jr.s
plan for the Mountain Park System, they did incorporate aspects of the plan such as
the creation of roads and the amount of acreage purchased for the system. Without
the success of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.s consulting firm, it is probable that
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. would not have been hired by the city of Denver to create
a plan for their Mountain Park System. Additionally, it is questionable as to whether
or not the idea of a Mountain Park System would have been approved had the idea of
parks not been expanded by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.
City Beautiful Ideals
The impact of the City Beautiful movement can be seen in the cityscapes of
towns such as New York City, Kansas City, San Francisco, and Denver. These cities
fostered the idea of a unique mixture of urban and rural within the boundaries of the
city. Despite its connection to the Progressive Era, the City Beautiful movement is
rarely identified as a strong faction within that era by historians such as Steven J.
Diner and Alan Dawley. As a result, the City Beautiful is often viewed as a mere
portion of the overall reform society of the era and fail to note its strength in uniting
communities around a common goal: to become a beautiful city in the eyes of
City Beautiful historian William H. Wilson asserts that there are ten key
ideologies which created and maintained the City Beautiful movement during its
reign in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. According to Wilson these
ideologies were the structure which allowed the City Beautiful movement to succeed
during its time and its properties to continue through to the modem era. It is these
principles which altered the cityscape to create the vision of the modem world. In
order to understand these ideologies as Wilson calls them, it is important to
understand the world in which they were created.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, the city had a larger concentration of
people than the countryside and the advances being made in technology as well as an
increased level of immigration led to an influx of people moving into the city from
the country. As a result, the city was filthier than in earlier times and had lost its
visual appeal. The first ideology of the City Beautiful, as laid out by Wilson,
addresses this issue. It was believed that the City Beautiful, by transforming the
buildings and open spaces of a city could be a solution to the urban problems of
overcrowding and filth.56 A dedicated capitalistic and commercialistic society, the
United States promoted the idea of private property. The idea of creating open spaces
and having backyards added to the idea of private property and allowed society to
support the movement. It is probable that the Movement could have stalled with this
single ideology; however, the wealthier citizens of the cities felt an attachment to the
land and overcame any opposition by their sheer presence and wealth.
The second of the ideologies supported by the City Beautiful movement
comes from the awareness that cities were not perfect entities, but instead were
flawed in multiple ways, including their functional and aesthetic aspects.57 As such,
City Beautiful leaders sought to recognize these shortcomings and use them to their
own advantages. Where a city might have been aesthetically unpleasing prior to
adopting a City Beautiful movement, once the movement was adopted, it created
visually pleasing vista for those visiting or living in the city. It was believed that
these open spaces would sit in the middle of town and create a better environment in
56 Wilson, The City Beautiful Movement. 78.
57 Wilson, 78.
which to work; however, it is questionable as to whether or not this aspect of the City
Beautiful was of any use to those not working near these sites.
The City Beautiful movement itself was not the catalyst for these changes
within the city. As Wilson explains, the Movement was seen as the outgrowth of the
ideas supported by environmentalists and Progressives of the age. For the most part
those who supported the City Beautiful were already proponents of nature and
creating a serene environment within the hustle of the city. These supporters felt
beauty went hand and hand with health, and that by creating one, the other would be
influenced. As such, they sought to create playgrounds for children as well as open
air parks for adults living within cities. Denvers use of city parks is an example of
this ideal. Throughout Denver, Mayor Robert W. Speer created parks to utilize the
natural beauty of the area and encourage Denvers citizens to appreciate their city.58 59
Although this might not be the original intent of the City Beautiful movement, the
ability to appreciate the beauty of the city is a lasting example of how the Movement
Wilson, and other historians such as Daniel M. Bluestone and Christopher
Tunnard, also believe the Movement is the result of the belief that social control
needed to be asserted at this time. During this era, many environmentalists and
Progressives were middle to upper class individuals who had the time and resources
58 Wilson, 79.
59 Phil Goodstein. Robert Speers Denver, 1904-1920: The Mile High City in the Progressive Era.
(Denver, Colorado: New Social Publications, 2004), 12.
to support their thoughts and actions pertaining to altering the city. Although not
professionally involved in the creation of the City Beautiful, these individuals
supported the Movement. In many ways this can be seen as the upper and middle
classes attempting to alter the way in which the lower classes lived and assume the
role of benefactor. By creating a peaceful, well maintained, clean environment, the
lower classes would see what life could be, and thus would not be tempted to behave
in inappropriate ways. While Wilson claims this is the result of City Beautiful
reform, in reality this is an example of Progressive Era reform in general.
This idea was transferred to the youth of cities as well as the adults in the
Movements emphasis on the creation of playgrounds. These areas would serve as a
way to socialize children of all backgrounds as to how to act appropriately in mixed
company.60 If taught at an early age what was and was not appropriate in society,
people believed there would be fewer ill-behaved adults in future generations.
Although this seems to be placing an inordinate amount of pressure on the idea of
parks being the way in which to mend social problems, the environmentalists and
movement supporters at the time put their faith in that very thought.
Another aspect of the City Beautiful movement came in the form of parkway
systems. Instead of focusing entirely on open air parks set aside from other venues,
the City Beautiful thought to create open spaces along thoroughfares. As a result, the
fourth ideology of the City Beautiful movement came in the form of allowing beauty
60 Wilson, The City Beautiful Movement, 81-82.
and utility to work in connection with each other.61 62 In addition to creating parkway
systems along which automobiles and other vehicles could travel, this ideology of the
City Beautiful also addressed the ability to walk through a beautiful setting for those
who traveled on foot. In some ways this ideology influenced the way in which
Central Park was designed in New York City, although its design predates the
emergence of the official City Beautiful era.
Although social control and beauty were two of the key ideologies of the City
Beautiful movement, another equally important aspect was the idea of having an
efficient civic center in which to conduct business. Identified as the fifth City
Beautiful Ideal, the planning of civic centers around open areas and having all city
business conducted within these areas, the Movements endorsers felt civic business
would be conducted in a more efficient manner. As such, the City Beautiful sought to
produce visually appealing buildings alongside open parks in the heart of downtown
areas in order to accomplish this goal.
This ideal is seen in the creation of Denvers Civic Center. Originally
designed to include four buildings as well as an open-air assembly area, Civic Center
was meant to be used by members of the middle class.63 While it appeared the
Progressive Era reform of the time hoped to blur the lines between the classes, it
61 Wilson, 82.
62 Wilson, 83.
63 Goodstein, Robert Speer's Denver, 1904-1920, 237.
appears Denvers Mayor Speer and other government officials hoped to continue this
delineation. As such, Denvers City Beautiful did not accomplish the goals of uniting
the classes, instead serving to increase the distance between these groups.
In association with the fifth ideology comes the sixth of the City Beautifuls
ideologies, the idea that expertise would serve as a solution to the problems of urban
life. In other words, experts should be found at all levels of government, including
those dealing with the idea of parks, civic engineering, as well as other positions
within civic business.64 It is this idea that most closely relates to the Progressive
Eras obsession with the expert. The creation of Parks and Recreation departments
within city governments was in part due to this ideology. Instead of trusting the care
of parks to unstudied policy makers, cities sought to utilize landscape architects,
gardeners, and other similar professions in maintaining these newly created parks and
The seventh ideology of the City Beautiful can be closely traced to the reasons
behind the creation of the Denver City Beautiful movement. This ideology is not
simply an idea but an awareness of social needs. Instead of denying the reality of
social classes within all aspects of American society, the City Beautiful sought to
create communities which dealt with the individual needs of society no matter their
station. Unlike the middle and upper classes living in urban settings, it was difficult
for the lower classes to escape the city for more natural settings. As a result, the City
64 Wilson, The City Beautiful Movement, 83.
Beautiful utilized the idea of parks bringing nature into the city in order to allow the
lower classes the same feeling of freedom and nature other classes could experience.
Although Wilson separates this need for parks from his delineation of
playgrounds, in many ways the two ideas are related. While playgrounds relate to the
socialization of youth, parks can be seen as a place for the socialization of adults. As
such, these two ideals could be combined into a single goal of socializing people no
matter their station in life. However, as evidenced by Denvers Mayor Speer this idea
did not necessarily apply to anyone below the middle class. Despite this lack of
social awareness, when Mayor Robert W. Speer emphasized the importance of having
parks for urbanites to visit, he was focusing on this aspect of the City Beautiful
movement. However, his ideas concerning parks did not limit themselves to the city
limits. Instead, Speer sought to bring the people to nature through the advent of
mountain parks.65 In addition to bringing tourists to Denver, Speer believed that all
citizens should be able to utilize the mountains just outside Denver as parks. This
idea was a key aspect of Denvers City Beautiful movement.
The idea that it was possible there would always be social classes within
American society expanded into the eighth ideology of the City Beautiful movement.
With the idea of classes comes the inevitable problem of social conflict between those
classes. Supporters of the City Beautiful believed the beauty of this newly formed
park and parkway system as well as the neoclassical architecture of the movement
65 Goodstein, Robert Speers Denver, 1904-1920, 237.
would create a common ground between the classes and allow for the ceasing of
hostilities.66 67 In other words, the movements followers felt they could overcome class
conflict through the common goal of creating a more beautiful city. Although this
seems to simplify the problems of social conflict, there is no doubt that supporters of
the Movement truly believed beauty could overcome the harshness of urban life.
While this appears to be a simplistic theory of how to overcome the conflicts
apparent in cities of all sizes, during the Progressive Era people sought to overcome
these problems and advance life within the United States. As a result the City
Beautiful movement was able to create another avenue of city reform to further this
goal. In Denver this belief in beautifying the city in order to create a common goal
for citizens of all classes is seen in the creation of tree day. This annual event
allowed citizens to claim trees in order to plant them on the street in front of their
homes. Although open to all citizens of Denver who had land near a street, this
program did not alter Mayor Speers ultimate view of Denver as a city for the middle
The ninth and tenth ideologies of the City Beautiful movement seem to be
afterthoughts, almost added once the movement began and utilized in order to
continue its success. Wilsons ninth ideology focuses on the American need to
66 Wilson, 85.
67 Charles A. Johnson, Denvers Mayor Speer, (Denver, Colorado: Bighorn Books, 1969), 52.
rediscover European and earlier American Federalist architecture.68 It was during
this era that the United States began to once again look to Europe for ideas on
architecture and city development. During this time, neoclassical architecture was
making a revival and the people of the United States were quick to support this return
to a classic style of building. It was not only the idea of architecture which appealed
to the advocates of the City Beautiful movement, but also the association with historic
times. City Beautiful supporters believed historic cities were less of a blight on the
landscape than the modern industrial city. This idea that historic cities were less
dirty than their newer versions lends itself to the thought that City Beautiful
supporters envisioned the past in an unrealistic manner.
The premise that cities are large blights on the landscape serves as the tenth
and final ideology of the City Beautiful movement as proposed by Wilson.69
Supporters of the movement believed that by beautifying the city they would be able
to return the landscape to a more natural state. Once this was accomplished, people
would enjoy living and visiting urban areas. This idea fostered the creation of civic
centers, parks, parkways, and a more natural landscape for urban areas as exhibited in
Denvers Civic Center.
Despite their similarities, each of Wilsons ten ideologies of the City Beautiful
movement affected different aspects of this era. While part of the overall Progressive
68 Wilson, The City Beautiful Movement, 85.
69 Wilson, 86.
Era, the City Beautiful movement can be seen as a localized fight for the urban
centers of America as well as a national and international movement. This ability
allowed cities across the United States to adopt the movement as their own and alter
their cityscapes. However, these ideologies would not have the same importance or
support without the actions of a single man, landscape architect Frederick Law
Olmsted, Sr. While many landscape architects are associated with the City Beautiful
movement, none are as easily identifiable as Olmsted, Sr. whose work to beautify
cities began decades before the advent of the City Beautiful movement.
Although Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. is seen as an early proponent of the City
Beautiful movement, other important influences on the reform came from architects
and planners Edward H. Bennett and Burnham Hoyt, industrial designer Paul
Phillippe Cret, and Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.s sons John C. Olmsted and Frederick
Law Olmsted, Jr., both landscape architects.70 This expanse of knowledgeable
individuals supporting the Movement allowed for the creation of multiple City
Beautiful models used throughout the United States. One such model is seen in
Denver, Colorado where Mayor Robert W. Speer sought to create a city respected
around the world.
70 Daniel M. Bluestone. Detroits City Beautiful and the Problem of Commerce. The Journal of the
Society of Architectural Historians. Vol. 43, No. 3 (Sept., 1988), 246.
Mayor Robert W. Speers Denver
Bom in Pennsylvania in 1855, Robert W. Speer traveled to Denver in 1878
hoping the dry air of Colorado would ease his tuberculosis.71 By 1890, Speer had
opened his own realty company and was becoming a key figure in Denver politics.
By the time of his election to the position of Mayor of Denver in 1904, Speer had
received presidential and gubernatorial appointments to positions such as postmaster
of Denver, member of the fire and police board, police and fire commissioner, as well
as president of the board of public works.72 Upon his election as Mayor, Speers
vision of placing Denver onto the international scene of beautiful cities became his
primary goal. In 1860, shortly after its founding, Denver boasted a population of
around 2,603 people, by the time of Speers administration the population of Denver
numbered between 106,713 and 213,381.73 This increase in prominence led Speers
determination to create a world renowned city.
This goal was enhanced following Speers trip to Europe in 1911. During his
trip, Speer visited many European cities and the visions of wide boulevards and
71 Noel and Norgren, Denver: The City Beautiful. 2.
72 State Historical and Natural History Society of Colorado. History of Colorado, Biographical,
Volume V. (Denver: Linderman Co., Inc, 1927), 478.
73 Denver Public Library. Denver Parks Collection, Denver Parks Timeline.
htto://historv.denverlibrarv.org/collections/denverparks timeline.html (accessed April 5, 2007).
magnificent public buildings remained with him upon his return.74 With this
memory in place, Speer sought to expand the boulevards and public buildings in
Denver, yet he also hoped to take his plan a step further. Instead of simply focusing
on the city, Speer hoped to impress upon Europe the sheer scope of Denvers place in
Colorado by controlling lands outside its city boundary. At the time Denver was still
in its youth having only come into existence as a result of the Colorado gold rush.
Due to its position in the West, Europeans and urban centers in the eastern United
States viewed the city as being full of outlaws and lacking the decorum of eastern
urban centers. In many ways Speers tendency to simply push his way through
obstacles epitomized this view of a morally corrupt West, yet it was this very ability
which allowed for the creation of Denvers City Beautiful. As William H. Wilson
mentions Denver was a city, where a boss politician sensitive to civic needs
produced magnificent City Beautiful improvements.75
Starting in 1905, Speer instituted a yearly tree day, dedicated to enticing
Denver citizens to plant trees along the main boulevards in town to create the tree-
lined vistas which Olmsted suggested in his city projects.76 77 By the time tree day
ended in 1913, over 110,000 trees were given to Denver citizens. As a result of this
74 Johnson. Denver's Mayor Speer, 158.
75 Wilson, The City Beautiful Movement, 5.
76 Johnson, Denvers Mayor Speer, 52.
77 Johnson, 52.
annual event, the large expanses of tree-lined parks and boulevards are still present in
many areas of town.
Speers visit to Europe expanded his determination to create Denvers Civic
Center, an area which sits between the Capitol building and the City and County
Building including a park boasting a neoclassical Greek Theater and open area.
Although Speer consulted Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in the creation of the Civic
Center in Denver, Speer did not accept Olmsted, Jr.s plans as a result of the cost of
purchasing lands adjacent to those already owned by the city.78 Once Speer had
successfully gained the support of the city for City Beautiful additions to Denver, his
plans for a mountain park system became his next goal.
However, in order to achieve success, Speer knew he could not gain support
in the same manner as he had when attempting to create Civic Center. Instead, he
needed to mention the idea to the right individuals and let it grow with them.
Although the idea of a mountain park system was first proposed by John Brisben
Walker in 1901, it was not until Speer mentioned the idea in 1910 that it gained
ground with the people of Denver.79 At an assembly of men concerned with the
future of Denver, Mayor Speer decided to advance his growing interest in the idea of
a mountain park system,
78 Wilson, The City Beautiful Movement. 247.
79 Edgar C. MacMechen, ed. Robert W. Speer, A City Builder. (Denver: City and County of Denver,
1919), 71. Noel and Norgren, Denver: The City Beautiful, 26.
A splendid opportunity is presented for [some one] with means to
secure and present to the city beautiful valleys, canyons, streams,
cliffs, and scenery unsurpassed, where the masses may spend a
happy day and feel that some of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains
belongs to them.. .Denver would be the attractive American city; within
its sight would be opened the scenery of Switzerland and the valley of
the Nile, which must be connected with first class railways.. .Denver
needs them to send our new people and tourists out to see the wonders
surrounding us, and Denver should help pay for them.80
Although this was not a motion to create the parks, it did influence a campaign to
study the feasibility of the mountain parks. By May 2, 1912, a group of Denver
citizens including the Denver Motor Club were lobbying for the passage of legislation
necessary to the creation of the Denver Mountain Park system.
The Convergence of the Threes
This group of concerned citizens realized it would require more than Speers
support for the Denver Mountain Parks System to become a reality. Indeed it took
the convergence of three separate yet related movements and three different pieces of
legislation to create and maintain the Denver Mountain Parks. The three movements
which united to create the background for the Denver Mountain Parks came about at
different times during the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries yet allowed the Denver
Mountain Park System to flourish in the early part of the nineteenth Century. The
first movement necessary for the Denver Mountain Parks was the City Beautiful
80 MacMechen, Robert W. Speer, A City Builder, 71.
movement. Through the auspices of creating a new Denver, Mayor Speer used the
City Beautiful as a way to educate the citizens of Denver on how parks could increase
their style of life.
Once Denverites agreed to the City Beautiful it was full steam ahead to the
National and State Park Movement, or Conservation Movement. This movement
supported the ideas of creating, maintaining, and enjoying parks throughout the
United States. It swept the country in the latter portion of the nineteenth Century and
early decades of the twentieth Century. In 1906, the first National Park in Colorado
opened at Mesa Verde. The site of the ruins of the Anasazi, or Ancestral Puebloan
civilization which inhabited the region around 1300 A.D. quickly became a tourist
destination with people searching for a connection to the past.81 This site was
followed in 1915 by the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park, an open space
designed to keep the area as natural as possible.
Although these two events happened on either side of the creation of the
Denver Mountain Parks, they are nonetheless important to understanding how this
type of system could evolve. It is apparent that the United States had begun to view
landscapes as culturally significant and worthy of preservation by this time. As early
as 1858, people in the United States began to purchase lands and structures toward
the idea of preservation and conservation. By the time the Denver Mountain Parks
Duane A. Smith. Mesa Verde National Park: Shadows of the Centuries. (Boulder, CO: University
Press of Colorado, 2002).
were proposed, this idea had firmly implanted itself in society. The success of parks
such as Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain National Park lent support to Mayor
Speers belief that Denver could have a successful park system in the foothills of the
Rocky Mountains. Additionally the country was open to the idea of parks as a way to
indulge in the wilderness of the American West, and where better to have a park than
at the gateway to the west in Colorado?
The third movement which affected the Denver Mountain Parks was the
Civilian Conservation Corps. Organized as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelts New
Deal, the CCC as the Corps was known, set about putting unemployed Americans to
work during the years of the Great Depression. Primarily composed of young men
from cities around the country, the CCC sought to perform massive undertakings.
During their time in Colorado members of the CCC worked on projects as small as
building a stone structure and as large as shoring up unstable roadways. Although the
Denver Mountain Park System was well established by the time of the CCC in the
1930s, the Corps added to the success of the System through the creation of shelter
houses, road maintenance, and other small projects for the Park System.
Additionally, CCC workers built Red Rocks Amphitheatre, another Denver Mountain
Park near Morrison, Colorado.
While the City Beautiful movement and the National and State Park
movement were necessary in allowing the public to view parks as being an important
aspect of the landscape, the use of the Civilian Conservation Corps furthered the
resources of the Denver Mountain Parks. During the era of the City Beautiful
movement and the National and State Park movement, there were other important
actions that had to take place before Denver could purchase land outside its borders.
These actions were all legislative in nature and ranged from city ordinances to
national laws. The first of these legislative issues was the passage of a .5% mill levy
tax in the 1912 elections allowing for the hinds to create a Mountain Park System to
be raised through taxes. Once implemented, this tax allowed Mayor Speer and the
city of Denver to purchase the acreage that, when added to the donated lands of E.W.
Merritt and associates, would become Genesee Park.
The second of the legislative actions which needed to occur for the creation of
the Denver Mountain Parks came as a state resolution which allowed the City of
Denver to create the park system. Passed on April 13, 1913, this resolution allowed
any city in Colorado to purchase lands outside their limits for the creation of parks,
pleasure grounds, parkways, boulevards, and roads.82 Without this legislation Denver
would have been unable to purchase lands outside its city limits and therefore unable
to operate a mountain park system. The final necessary legislation was Senate Bill
5197, authorized in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson. Following the passage of
82 National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Nomination for Denver Mountain Parks
(United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1988), 4.
this bill which allowed cities to purchase federal lands, the city of Denver purchased
7,047 acres of Federal land for $1.25 per acre to create the mountain parks.83
The convergence of three movements and three pieces of legislation allowed
for the creation of the Denver Mountain Park System, the first such system in the
United States. Prior to Denvers actions no other city had taken the necessary steps to
create a park system outside their city limits. However, following Denvers model
other cities throughout the United States decided to begin their own park systems.
83 National Register of Historic Places, Multiple Property Nomination, 4. Noel and Norgren. Denver:
The City Beautiful, 26.
CHAPTER 4: GENESEE AND THE DENVER MOUNTAIN PARKS
Following the passage of the 1913 state resolution, Denver acquired the first
land to create the Mountain Parks System in the form of Genesee Mountain.
Purchased in 1911 by E.W. Merritt and a group of investors to save the ecosystem
from possible destruction by a sawmill-timber company, the lands surrounding
Genesee Mountain were donated to the city of Denver in 1912.84 At that time, the
1200 donated acres created not only the first of the Denver Mountain Parks, the
largest of the parks. Between 1912 and 1937, Genesee expanded to an estimated
acreage of 2,402.7.85
Genesee Mountain stands 8,284 feet above sea level and has a 360-degree
view from its peak. To the north is Longs Peak, to the South Pikes Peak, to the East
lay the eastern plains of Colorado and to the West sits the Continental Divide. The
term Genesee comes from the Seneca tribe and means, shining valley. Although
primarily found in the Northeast, specifically Pennsylvania and New York, it is not
surprising the term Genesee is also found in Colorado. The Seneca come from the
Algonquian linguistic stock, a language group whose original location appears to be
84 Jefferson County City and Mountain Views, A Brief History of Mount Vernon Canyon,
http://www.citvmtnviews.com/historv.php4 (accessed March 14, 2007). Noel and Norgren, Denver:
The City Beautiful, 26.
85 Mundus Bishop Design, Inc. Denver Mountain Parks and Jefferson County Open Space Recreation
Management Plan. 2002, 3.
in the Northeast region of the United States. Similarly, the Cheyenne and Arapaho
are also from Algonquian linguistic stock. Following its purchase in 1913, the city of
Denver chose not to rename the area, but instead call it Genesee Park in deference to
the mountains placement inside park limits. When first donated and then added to
through land purchases, Denvers city government seemed unsure of how to utilize
this property. As a result, in 1916 Mayor Speer commissioned Denver architect Jules
Jacques Benois Benedict to design and construct a lodge at Genesee to encourage
visitors to the park.
Chief Hosa Lodge and Jacques Benedict
Completed in 1917, Chief Hosa Lodge became the largest structure in a
Denver Mountain Park, and the most expensive at a cost of $ 10,000. Additionally the
Lodge is an example of the Mountain Rustic style of architecture which grew in
popularity following the completion of the Lodge.86 This popularity is in part a result
of the designs of Jules Jacques Benois Benedict, the Denver architect who designed
Chief Hosa Lodge.
Well known for his European styling, including features from Italianate,
French, and Mediterranean architecture, Jacques Benedict received his education at
86 The Denver Post, Genesee Lodge, on Lookout Highway Erected by City at Cost of $10,000
November24, 1917, frontpage.
the lEcole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.87 After finishing his education, Benedict
returned to the United States, settling in Chicago where he worked for three years.
After his time in Chicago, Benedict moved to New York and worked on projects such
as the New York City Library. After moving to Denver in 1909, Benedict chose not
to join an established firm but to open his own firm where he could choose the
projects he designed. Some of the most well known of Benedicts buildings include
the George Cranmer House, the Woodbury Branch Library, and the mountain homes
of various well known Denver citizens.
As a result of the placement of the Chief Hosa Lodge within the foothills of
the Rocky Mountains, Benedict decided to alter his design to fit the landscape.
Unlike other structures designed by Benedict, the construction of Chief Hosa Lodge
required the use of local stone and timber, creating the appearance of a building
which grows out of the land. Built into the side of Genesee Mountain, Chief Hosa
Lodge faces west providing an uninhibited view of the Rocky Mountains. This new
style allowed Benedict to discuss his idea of Mountain Rustic Architecture in front of
the American Institute of Architects (A.I.A.) conference in Chicago in 1922.88
Although Benedict refused to join the A.I.A., he was not opposed to adding his
knowledge to that held by other architects. Benedict himself remarked on the
Mountain Rustic style when he described Chief Hosa Lodge,
87 Noel and Norgren, Denver: The City Beautiful, 188.
88 National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Nomination for Denver Mountain Parks, 17.
Hosa Lodge was always there. It lay about before ones eyes
as surface rock and spruce trees growing on the very ledge upon
which it stands today, as a sort of collection of waste material at
hand. We simply piled up the rock in layers, leaving some openings
for light. When we had enough rock and openings we laid the felled
trunks across the top and called it a lodge, and it suffices. Its
interior is no better than its front or back, so it does not have the fault
of disappointing one on further acquaintance. It remains rock and
red bark like its setting.89
The ability for the Lodge to appear as though it has always been there is a
unique change from the typical neoclassical design seen in the City Beautiful. Instead
of focusing on reminders of Europe and early Federalist American design, Chief Hosa
Lodge serves as a refreshing example of the purpose Mayor Speer sought for the
Mountain Parks. Acquired in order to help Denver citizens embrace the wilderness
around them, the Parks are meant to be examples of life in the mountains. By
focusing on a new design style, Chief Hosa Lodge embodies the change the Mountain
Parks experienced as they moved from being an outgrowth of the City Beautiful
Movement to an entity all their own.
When first constructed the City of Denver planned to open the Lodge as a
restaurant to feed the travelers who ventured to Genesee Park.90 However, not all
sources agree on this use for the Lodge. A publication written for the Greater Golden
89 J.B. Benedict. Impressions and Reveries of a Mountain Motorist. In Denver Municipal Facts, 17,
90 The Denver Post, Genesee Lodge, on Lookout Highway Erected by City at Cost of $10,000
November 24, 1917, front page.
Tourist Convention Industry Committee by Mary Fanning in 1977 says Chief Hosa
Lodge was to be used as a summer home for the American Legion.91 Fannings
account of the summer house for the American Legion remains the only report
concerning this possible use for Chief Hosa Lodge.
Although it is apparent the Lodge had specific uses over the years since its
construction, the extent of these uses is not well known. Additionally there is a lack
of information as to why the use of the Lodge changed. The history of Chief Hosa
Lodge itself is as difficult to determine as the history of Genesee Park. When it was
originally built the center portion of the Lodge housed the restaurant and dance floor
remembered by Janice Stewart Alden as being open in the summer of 1924 92 It has
been suggested by local Golden historian Carole Lomond that Chief Hosa Lodge
served as a World War I museum, a gambling hall-bordello, a scout camp, and a
youth hostel.93 Although it is difficult to substantiate these earlier claims, Chief Hosa
Lodge has served as an event center and wedding site since 1988.94 In more recent
times, the adjacent Chief Hosa Campgrounds have served as the destination for many
followers of the Grateful Dead, or Dead Heads. On the occasions when the Grateful
Dead played at Denver Mountain Parks Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a large group of
91 Mary Fanning. For the Golden Times. (Denver, Colorado: John Waddell Press, 1977), 73.
92 Janice Steward Alden, written account of Chief Hosa Lodge.
93 Lomond, Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway, 33.
94 Lomond, 33.
their followers chose to camp at Chief Hosa Campgrounds and incurred the ire of
many nearby residents. Despite its importance to the Denver Mountain Parks System,
Chief Hosa Lodge and Campgrounds are not the only draw for Genesee Park.
While the creation of the parks had received support from leading citizens of
Denver as well as been approved through the 1912 mill levy, when the time came to
fulfill the Denver Mountain Parks plan, the people of Denver became involved.
Although a committee, formed in 1911 to establish the functionality of creating a
Denver Mountain Park System, determined the parks were feasible, the position of
Genesee within Jefferson County created a slight problem for the city of Denver. As
early as 1913, citizens of Jefferson County made public statements explaining that
since Denver technically owned Genesee it would be up to them to properly police
the area and ensure the safety of those visiting or living near the park.95 Additionally,
the original plan for the Denver Mountain Parks, as suggested by Frederick Law
Olmsted, Jr. calls for the creation of a great road to be used to view the scenery as
well as travel to the Mountain Parks.96 The addition of a roadway to the Denver
Mountain Parks System increased the cost of the parks. By 1914 the cost of these
roadways, the first of which, Lariat Trail an expansion of an earlier toll road, began to
95 Colorado Transcript, Proper Policing of Mountain Park, January 30, 1913, front page.
96 Colorado Transcript, Plans Outlined for Mountain Park, January 2, 1913, front page.
take on more than a passing interest for citizens of Denver.97 As of January 1, 1914
over $10,000 were spent working on the Genesee Mountain road alone.98
The Lariat Trail was not the first roadway to cross the lands known as Mount
Vernon Canyon and Genesee, yet it was the first constructed by the city of Denver.
By mid-December 1859 a toll road, constructed by earlier settlers to the region, led
from Auraria through Mount Vernon Canyon to Bergen Ranch, southwest of
Genesee.99 At the time of its creation, the toll road had as many as two toll stations
along its path, the first at Mount Vernon Towne (located at what is now Exit 259
along 1-70). From this toll station the traveler had to traverse three miles and 2000
feet in altitude before reaching the Patrick House toll station.100 This toll road is only
one of many which passed through the region during the years before the Lariat Trail.
Each toll road led to a different ranch or community within the foothills of the Rocky
Mountains, allowing settlers to follow a variety of paths to reach their destination.
In addition to creating roadways to facilitate traveling to the Denver Mountain
Parks, the City of Denver created a wildlife refuge for bison and elk on 160 acres of
Genesee Park. Originated in 1914, the Denver Herd was composed of seven bison
and twenty-three elk, transported from Yellowstone. The bison transferred to
97 National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Nomination for Denver Mountain Parks, 9.
98 Colorado Transcript, Interesting Figures in County Road Report, January 1, 1914, front page.
99 Brown. Shining Mountains 35.
100 Lomond. Lariat Loop, 22.
Genesee from Yellowstone were seven of the remaining 500 bison which had been
moved to Yellowstone in order to preserve the species as early as 1905. In that year
William Homaday, a New York zoologist founded the American Bison Society in
order to breed and restore the population of bison in the United States.101 In August
1914, the Colorado Transcript remarked on this addition to Genesee Park,
Commissioner of Property Thum has instructed E.S. Letts, superintendent of
the mountain parks, to make arrangements for fencing a large tract of city and
park property on Genesee mountain to be used as an elk corral. The park
department plans later to install a big herd of elk at Genesee as an added
scenic attraction for tourists and visitors.102
Although the park also included bison, at the time of its creation the people of Denver
appear to be more interested in the addition of elk to the Rocky Mountains. The
success of the herd at Genesee caused the enclosure to be expanded to five hundred
acres by the 1930s. By this time a second bison herd at Daniels Park, a Denver
Mountain Park in Douglas County, with a 900 acre enclosure had been created.103
After successful attempts at breeding the bison at Genesee the herd was enlarged to
forty animals and has retained its numbers despite disease and the addition of the 1-40
highway in 1937. When 1-40 and subsequently 1-70 broached Mount Vernon
101 Lariat Loop Mountain Gateway Heritage Area, home of Central Colorados favorite gateways to
the Rocky Mountains. As submitted to the U.S. Library of Congress, January 2000.
102 Colorado Transcript, Local Paragraphs August 6, 1914, page 8.
103 Denver Government, Bison and Elk Herds,
http://www.denvergov.org/Mountain Parks/BisonElkHerds/tabid/391217/Default.aspx (accessed
January 24, 2007).
Canyon, the highways split Genesee Park into northern and southern areas, making it
necessary to create a tunnel under the highway in order to allow the bison to cross
from the northern portion of their enclosure to the southern.104
In addition to the bison herd, Genesee Park is also the home of a flagpole
erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Built in 1911, the flagpole is
used by the Peace Pipe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in their
yearly Flag Day ceremonies. Since the first ceremony on June 14, 1911, the chapter
has given two flags to the City and County of Denver through the Superintendent of
Parks and Recreation.105 Organized in 1910, the Peace Pipe Chapter of the Daughters
of the American Revolution chose to be known by the name Peace Pipe as a result of
the historical significance of the term to the development and expansion of the
west.106 This connection to the Native American history of the region is reflected in
the term Genesee and the naming of Chief Hosa Lodge.
During the early years of its existence, Genesee Park served as a large
entertainment site for many urban dwellers in Denver.107 Between June and August
1917, over 300,000 visitors drove through the new mountain parks, specifically
Genesee. Mary Fanning asserts that this number is larger than the figures recorded
104 Lomond, Lariat Loop, 33.
105 Peace Pipe Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, History,
106 Peace Pipe Chapter, http://www.coloradodar.org/chapters/peacepipe
107 Colorado Transcript, Plans Outlined For Mountain Park. January 2, 1913, front page.
for all National Parks for that duration.108 While this may not be entirely true, the
early days of Genesee noted a large number of visitors each year both in the summer
as well as in the winter.
Skiing at Genesee
Beginning as early as 1914, the citizens of Denver discovered another use for
the acreage owned and operated by the Denver Mountain Park System: skiing. The
Denver Rocky Mountain Ski Club, created following the blizzard of 1913, chose to
utilize Genesee as the site of their ski jump competitions.109 During the early years of
skiing in Colorado, a ski mountain did not have the groomed slopes that are now
typical of a ski resort. Instead, skiers piled snow into long runs that they then skied
down, and returned to the top of the run by motor vehicle. Although other ski
mountains existed in the area around Genesee, the Rocky Mountain Ski Club utilized
Genesee for many ski jump competitions. By 1921, the National Ski Championships
were held on Genesee Mountain by the Denver Rocky Mountain Ski Club. It was
during this event that Norwegian, Carl Howelsen won first prize in the pro category
108 Fanning, For the Golden Times, 73.
109 Colorado Ski Museum, Ski Hall of Fame. Colorado Ski History Timeline: 1900-1950s
http://www.skimuseum.net/cotimline.htm (accessed March 15, 2007).
110 Colorado Ski Museum, Ski Hall of Fame. Colorado Ski History Timeline: 1900-1950s
In addition to being a world renowned skier, Carl Howelsen was a member of
the group of skiers who chose to ski down Capitol Hill during the Blizzard of 1913
and cause George Cranmer to discover a love for winter sports.111 Cranmer served as
the manager of Denver Parks and Improvements from 1935 to 1947 and during that
time lobbied for the Denver Mountain Parks to purchase Winter Park to serve as an
official Denver ski area.112 However, prior to the addition of Winter Park, Genesee
served as a Ski Jump from 1921 to the mid 1930s.
Also in 1921, the Rocky Mountain Ski Club chose to hire a Telemark
instructor, Lt. Albizzi a former Italian Army officer to instruct skiers at Genesee.113
This addition of a ski instructor served to formalize the atmosphere on Genesee and
allow skiers to view the mountain as an official ski area. On January 1, 1924
Norwegian skier Thor Groswold, a Denver merchant won a ski jumping tournament
at Genesee.114 In 1925 the first official Colorado state ski meet of the Colorado
Amateur Skiing Competition was held on the mountain and in 1928 a United States
Western Ski Jumping Competition was also held at Genesee.115 Well known as a
111 Colorado Ski Museum, Ski Hall of Fame. Colorado Ski History Timeline: 1900-1950s
112 Noel and Norgren. Denver: The City Beautiful, 57. Johnson, Denvers Mayor Speer, xii.
113 Colorado Ski Museum, Ski Hall of Fame. Colorado Ski History Timeline: 1900-1950s
114 Jerry Groswold. Thor Groswold, One of the Sports Greatest Early Salesmen.
http://www.skiinghistorv.org/Groswold.html (accessed March 15, 2007).
115 Groswold. http://www.skiinghistorv.org/Groswold.html
merchant, Groswolds skis were used at various ski competitions around the world
and his presence at the Genesee competitions added to the prestigious nature of
competitions at Genesee.
Most ski jump competitions were held on the north side of Genesee mountain
where the original ski runs can still be seen. Although a portion of the events held by
the Denver Rocky Mountain Ski Club took place on private property to the east of
Genesee, most competitions were held inside Genesee Park. It appears that Genesee
Mountain was in use through at least 1953. A gas-powered tow rope was installed in
1947 allowing for the University of Denvers ski teams to use Genesee for ski
Preservation in Genesee
In 1988 Colorados State Historic Preservation Officer signed off on the
National Register of Historic Places nomination form for a multiple property
nomination for the Denver Mountain Parks, including Genesee Park. Approved in
1990, Genesees designation includes twenty-six contributing resources, or resources
which add to the historic value of the property, and twelve noncontributing resources,
116 Helen Taylor, Mountain Sites Genesee...Colorado Ski Mecca.
or resources which do not add to the historic value of the property.117 Categorized as
a district, Genesee Parks resources range from buildings to structures and sites, and
although most of the Denver Mountain Parks have supporting structures, few have the
number of structures located at Genesee Park. One of the most unique structures in
the Denver Mountain Park system is the Patrick House. Originally constructed by the
John D. Patrick family as a combination toll station and house in 1860, the house has
served as the caretakers cottage for the bison herd since 1914.118 This structure is the
oldest in the Denver Mountain Parks system and has been preserved in its original
form.119 120 Instead of altering the house to fit the changing architecture of the region,
the Denver Mountain Parks maintain the wood-frame building and its 1860s
architecture, thus adding to the historic value of the site.
The importance of the Patrick House is not just its history as a toll station, but
also the history of the family who operated the station. From their purchase of a
twelve-year charter to create the Genesee Wagon Road Company from the Kansas
Territorial Legislature in 1859 to their multiple appearances in the Golden courthouse
to rule on instances of familial disagreements, the Patrick family had a lasting impact
on the history of Genesee. The house itself is still visible from 1-70, sitting on the
117 National Register of Historic Places Nomination for Genesee Park. (United States Department of
the Interior, National Park Service, 1988), 1.
118 National Register of Historic Places Nomination for Genesee Park, 3.
119 National Register of Historic Places Nomination for Genesee Park, 3.
120 Brown, The Shining Mountains, 162-167.
northeastern side of Genesee Mountain and hidden behind a small stand of pine trees.
Close to the house is a bam structure which is used to house the equipment needed for
the maintenance of the bison herd and the road around Genesee.
While architecture and wilderness are two well known portions of Genesee
Park, there are other important aspects of this Denver Mountain Park. In addition to
being a wilderness area and animal enclosure, Genesee served as a motoring
campground as early as the 1920s. Additionally, tent colonies constructed on the
mountain allowed those without a vehicle to camp on the grounds as well.
Constructed around the time of Chief Hosa Lodge, some of these tent colony sites had
concrete foundations and running water in order to bring civility to the wilderness.
Although the tent colonies are no longer in use at Genesee, campers continued to use
the site into the early years of the twenty-first century. This new generation of
campers utilized the open spaces through tent and motor vehicle camping much the
same way as the earlier campers.
The National Register Nomination for Genesee and its surrounding Denver
Mountain Parks claims the importance of Genesee comes from its position as the
convergence of the three movements: the City Beautiful, National and State
Parks/Conservation, and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Although this is true, the
nomination fails to mention the importance of the park as a connection to the history
of Genesee and by association Denver and Jefferson County. There is no mention of
the history of the region in regards to the Native Americans who lived here or the
impact their presence had on the way in which Genesee developed. Additionally,
there is no mention of Chief Little Raven or the description of Chief Hosa Lodge by
Jacques Benedict. Without this information, the history of Genesee is not fully
understood, yet even with this lack, the area surrounding Genesee is an example of
the long-lasting influence the park has on Colorado.
Running and Maintaining Genesee
Until the 1980s, the city of Denver operated Genesee Park and Chief Hosa
Lodge without any outside interference; however, that changed in 1988 when they
signed an agreement allowing David Christie to serve as the concessionaire for Chief
Hosa Lodge and Campgrounds. This decision put the control of the Lodge into
Christies hands, who then paid the city of Denver for its use. The City and County
of Denver leased Chief Hosa Lodge to David Christie for a term of three years.
During this time Christie is said to have taken out business loans using his house as
collateral in order to restore the Lodge. His ability to create a functional business as
an event center and wedding site allowed him to retain the lease of Chief Hosa Lodge
In 1999, the city of Denver decided to open bidding for the position of
concessionaire at Chief Hosa Lodge and in January of 2000 David Peri of Periscope
121 Cayton-Holland, Chief Concerns.
Marketing took over control of the Lodge.122 It was during this time that David Peri
began to have issues with David Christie concerning the success of the Lodge and
Campgrounds. When he took possession of the Lodge on January 3, 2000, Peri
claims the building had been effectively destroyed through destruction of the property
and the kitchen gutted. In order to restore the lodge and surrounding campgrounds
Peri spent around $420,000.123 After controlling the Lodge for five years Peri quit his
position of concessionaire and filed a suit against the city in 2006.124
Additionally in 2002, the Denver Mountain Parks and Jefferson County Open
Space united to create a management plan for the new century to better utilize the
parks and open spaces within Jefferson County. The overall plan suggests that the
Denver Mountain Parks could regain popularity by expanding their hiking trails,
camping facilities, and discovering new uses for the wilderness areas that will not
impact the land or wildlife in a detrimental fashion. The plan examines the
population trends of the surrounding areas as well as the impact that population has
had on the maintenance of the parks. Although the plan calls for the expanded use of
the natural resources of Genesee Park, it does not mention future plans for Chief Hosa
122 Cayton-Holland, Chief Concerns.
123 Cayton-Holland, Chief Concerns.
124 Cayton-Holland, Chief Concerns.
Since the city of Denver regained control of Chief Hosa Lodge in 2006, the
future of the lodge and Genesee has remained uncertain to a degree. Although the
Lodge is still used as a wedding and special event site, it is not apparent whether or
not the campgrounds will reopen. A structural reinforcement assessment and repair
was performed at the request of the city to maintain the stability of the structure.
Conducted by the White Construction Group, this reinforcement placed tightly fitted
steel pipes to the interior of the log structure and the log roof. This restoration serves
to increase the longevity of the building and ensure the safety of those inside. As a
result, the city is still able to utilize the building for a variety of functions. The
preservation occurring at Genesee and Chief Hosa Lodge adds to the way in which
the city of Denver can utilize the park.
Although owned and operated by the city of Denver, there are other groups
dedicated to ensuring the Denver Mountain Parks are maintained. One such group is
the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation. Incorporated on October 26, 2004, the
Foundation serves to restore the parks as well as advocate their importance to
Colorado.125 At this time, the Foundation is raising funds in order to compensate for
the lack of funding from the city of Denver. Although the Mountain Parks
encompass over twenty-two square miles of land and consist of over seventy percent
of the parks and open space owned by Denver, they only receive around one percent
125 Bart Berger. The Background. http://www.denvermountainparks.org/ wsn/page4.html (accessed
March 6, 2007).
of the annual Denver Parks and Recreation budget.126 This lack of funding has led to
an inability to maintain all Denver Mountain Park lands at the same level. The
preservation at Chief Hosa Lodge as well as its counterpart, Pahaska Tepee at
Lookout Mountain Park, is a step in the right direction for the future of the Denver
Mountain Parks. Through the efforts of the city of Denver as well as the Denver
Mountain Parks Foundation, the future of Genesee and its surrounding parks will be
126 Bart Berger. Denver Mountain Parks Foundation, Restoring the Legacy is our Gift to the Future.
Denver Mountain Parks Foundation. (Denver, Colorado, 2007).
CHAPTER 5: GENESEES IMPACT ON COLORADO
Although Genesee Park opened to the public in 1913 following its purchase
by the City of Denver; the park is not the only important site in the region. Another
property which was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in 2002
lies on the eastern side of Genesee Park on private property. Called the Sculptured
House, or the Sleeper House, as a result of its use in the Woody Allen move
Sleeper, this structure was designed by Charles Deaton and constructed between
1963 and 1966. Sitting at 7,800 feet above sea level and constructed of curving
walls and glass panels, the house allows for an undisturbed view of the Denver
skyline to the east and a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains to the west.
The structure does not resemble the Mountain Rustic design common in the
area, yet serves as an interesting example of architectural interpretation as noted by
Deaton, on Genesee Mountain I found a high point of land where I could stand and
feel the great reaches of the Earth. I wanted the shape of it to sing an unencumbered
song."127 128 The house is meant to interpret nature in its simplest and most natural form,
much the same way as Chief Hosa Lodge was meant to be a part of the mountain on
127 Lomond, Lariat Loop, 30.
128 John Huggins. The Sculptured House. http://citvmtnviews.com/sculptured hs.php4 (accessed
August 15, 2006).
which it stands. This diversity of opinion as to what is natural only adds the history
of Genesee, allowing people to have a variety of ideas concerning the land and its
meaning. Similarly, this dichotomy of styles adds to the tourist appeal of the area.
The Sculptured House has been called a Denver Landmark by its current owner John
Huggins, and has intrigued people around the world.
Along the east boundary of Genesee Park lays the Genesee residential and
commercial center. Approved in 1973, the Genesee Master Plan proposed by
Genesee Associates calls for 1,500 clustered residential units as well as a commercial
area to be surrounded by 1,200 acres of open space.129 130 In order to maintain this
property the Jefferson County Commissioners required the presence of water and fire
protection districts. As a result, the Genesee housing addition has three special
districts, fire protection, water and sanitation, as well as emergency health service.
Additionally, due to Genesees location in unincorporated Jefferson County, all police
protection and street maintenance is conducted by Jefferson County.131 The
Foundation administers 900 properties and has received international acclaim for its
wildfire mitigation as well as its forest stewardship.132 Residents are required to go
before the Foundations board whenever they plan to alter their propertys exterior
129 John Huggins. The Sculptured House. http://citvmtnviews.com/sculptured hs.php4
130 Lomond, Lariat Loop, 23.
131 Lomond. http://www.citvmtnviews.com/NBH-Genesee.Dhp4
132 Lomond, Lariat Loop, 23.
and then post the changes for a period of time before preceding with their plans. This
process is meant to ensure the covenants of the housing addition are maintained by all
structures and that any alteration to a house does not affect the surrounding open
space. Although this has been termed one of the most difficult homeowners
associations in the nation, the Genesee Foundation has succeeded in maintaining the
integrity of its Master Plan.
A result of the Genesee Master Plan and the growth of the region was the
creation of the non-profit organization Canyon Area Residents for the Environment
(C.A.R.E.). This group numbers around 10,000 residents of the five mountains
surrounding Mount Vernon Canyon. Like the bison enclosure, 1-70 separates the
northern and southern sides of this community. Formed in 1987, C.A.R.E.s state
charter asserts that the organizations goals are to preserve and enhance the
community and environment, to promote awareness, and provide a forum for
community deliberation.133 134 In the past, the group has worked to stop the placement
of towers on Mount Morrison and Lookout Mountain, as well as to preserve the open
space in Mount Vernon Canyon. Although they were unable to stop the placement of
towers, they have been successful at maintaining the open space within Mount
Vernon Canyon. As a result of its non-profit status, C.A.R.E. members are volunteers
133 Lomond, The Genesee Foundation. http://www.citvmtnviews.com/NBH-Genesee.php4
134 Canyon Area Residents for the Environment. Early History of C.A.R.E. http://www.c-a-r-
e.org/about new.htm (accessed January 5, 2007).
from the community hoping to raise state awareness of their area and preserve it for
In addition to the residential impacts of Genesee is the idea of maintaining
open space for further generations. In 1972, Jefferson County, where the vast
majority of Denver Mountain Parks are located, chose to pass a tax of one-half of one
percent for the acquisition and maintenance of open areas within the county.135 Over
51,000 acres of land have been acquired as a result of this tax, at a cost of over $285
million.136 In 1998, another bond issue providing $160 million in order to acquire
priority lands which have not yet been purchased by Jefferson County, passed.137 138
According to Jefferson County these priority lands contain attributes such as scenic
and unique land form values, cultural resources, natural areas, habitat area, buffer
zones, trail corridors, recreational values, development pressures, as well as city and
park recreation district priorities.
Part of the funds collected by Jefferson County Open Space have been utilized
in order to save another historic property in western Jefferson County, Hiwan
135 Jefferson County Colorado Government, Open Space
http://www.co.iefferson.co.us/openspace/index.htm (accessed March 3, 2006).
136 Jefferson County Colorado Government, Distribution of Funds
http://www.co.iefferson.us/openspace/openspace T56 R50.htm (accessed March 3, 2006).
137 Jefferson County Colorado Government,
http://www.co.iefferson.us/openspace/openspace T56 R50.htm
138 Jefferson County Open Space. Clear Creek Canyon Location Map. (Golden, Colorado: Jefferson
County Board of Commissioners, 2002).
Homestead, constructed between 1893 and 1918.139 This site was purchased by the
Jefferson County Open Space in 1974 along with two acres adjacent to the house.
Like Chief Hosa Lodge, and the Sculptured House, Hiwan Homestead achieved
National Register of Historic Places nomination as a result of its architecture and its
importance to the history of Evergreen.140 This site opened as a museum in 1975 and
has been operated as a joint effort by the Jefferson County Open Space Program as
well as the Jefferson County Historical Society.
Although the Lariat Loop Byways construction in 1913 came before the
creation of Chief Hosa Lodge, it was built by the city of Denver in part as a manner in
which to access Denvers new mountain parks. The Loop itself is a forty-mile long
circle which takes drivers past destinations such as Lookout Mountain, Bergen Park,
Red Rocks Park, Mount Falcon, and Genesee Park.141 Twelve years after Genesee
Park was recognized as a National Historic Place in 2002, the Lariat Loop Scenic and
Historic Byway became Colorados twenty-fourth Scenic and Historic Byway. In
order to maintain this area the Lariat Loop Heritage Alliance was created in
partnership with over twenty-five other organizations to preserve this area.142
139 Hiwan Homestead Museum. Hiwan Homestead Museum Touring Manual, 8.
140 Hiwan Homestead Museum, 9.
141 Lariat Loop. A Guide to the Lariat Loop Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway. Gateway to the
142 Lariat Loop Heritage Alliance. About Us. http://www. lariatloop.org/about.Dhp (accessed October
Additionally the success of the Denver bison herd at Genesee Park has led the
way for other animal enclosures and sanctuaries in Colorado dedicated to maintaining
and increasing the number of endangered animals. The city of Denver created the
Daniels Park enclosure in Douglas County as a result of Genesees success and the
open spaces surrounding Genesee Park allow a number of elk, deer, fox, mountain
lion, lynx, and other wild animals to live in their natural environment.
The importance of Genesee Park has reached far beyond its place as the first
and largest of the Denver Mountain Parks. As a result of the actions taken at Genesee
the surrounding area has been developed in connection with the natural landscape of
Mount Vernon Canyon. Instead of building large commercial structures, many of the
buildings in the commercial portion of Genesee are constructed of wood in order to
blend into the wilderness. Additionally the open space incorporated into the Genesee
subdivision allows the area to remain as natural as possible within the constraints of a
While the original plan of the City Beautiful Movement did not call for the
maintenance of large tracts of natural landscapes, the lands known as open spaces or
parks, have allowed numerous individuals to experience the mountains of Colorado in
settings which attempt to keep the land as natural as possible. Mayor Speers vision
for the Denver Mountain Park system may not have accounted for the forty-seven
parks which now make up the system and the over 14,000 acres that have been
accumulated since 1913, yet it was his vision and persistence which allowed for this
The national recognition of Genesee Park as being historically important has
led the way for other sites in Colorado to seek this distinction no matter their size or
position in the government. The unique architecture of Chief Hosa Lodge and
Jacques Benedicts interpretation of the Mountain Rustic style add to the individuality
of Genesee Park. While Genesee is an outgrowth of the way in which the City
Beautiful Movement came about in Denver, the normal neoclassical designs are not
apparent in the park. Instead Benedict sought to create a building which incorporates
the surrounding lands. This idea later transferred to the shelter houses built in many
of the Denver Mountain Parks and designed by Jacques Benedict. In addition to
Chief Hosa Lodge, the presence of the Patrick House in Genesee Park adds to the
historic importance of this area. By utilizing the Patrick House as a caretakers
cottage for the bison enclosure, the city of Denver maintained a historic building
which could otherwise have been lost.
Although the importance of Genesee Park can be traced directly to the
origination of the Denver Mountain Parks, there is another factor which contributes to
its place in the history of Colorado. When Mayor Speer chose to name Jacques
Benedicts Lodge Chief Hosa in remembrance of Southern Arapaho Chief Little
Raven, he acknowledged the role of Native Americans in Denver history. Although
not mentioned in the National Register of Historic Places Nomination for Genesee,
this connection with the Native American past of the region is important to
understanding the history of Genesee.
The land known as Genesee has changed hands numerous times during its
known history. The first known occupants of the area, the Utes were pushed from the
region by the Southern Cheyennes and Southern Arapahoes. After the Southern
Cheyennes and Southern Arapahoes took over the land, they were pushed from the
area by the early white settlers, including the Patrick family. Although the Patrick
family claimed Genesee for a period of around twenty years, the land then became
part of a sawmill operation. In 1911 concerned Denver investors sought to save the
land from the sawmill and purchased the property with the idea of donating it to the
city of Denver for the Denver Mountain Parks. Since the creation of Genesee Park in
1913, the land has been owned by the city of Denver, yet even during this time
Genesee and Chief Hosa Lodge have proven to be highly sought after entities. Since
David Christie took over as concessionaire at Chief Hosa Lodge, Genesee and the
Lodge have again been argued over by people hoping to gain control of the property.
Genesee Park is the product of three movements and one mans inability to
fail when he was determined to achieve. Throughout the era of the City Beautiful
Movement, the Conservation Movement, and the Civilian Conservation Corps,
Genesee served as a way to incorporate national ideas into Colorado. Although it is
important to note the history of the park, its ability to influence the surrounding
region grew out of its mere presence. Indeed, Genesee Park stands as an example of
what can be accomplished when an idea is put into action.
Map of Denver Mountain Parks in Jefferson and Clear Creek Counties
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.s Letter to the Board of Park Commissioners
Denver, Colo., July 17, 1912
Board of Park Commissioners
In pursuance of your instructions, I submit the following memorandum in
regard to the matters brought to my attention during my present visit to Denver: -
MOUNTAIN PARK PROJECT
I need not enlarge upon my keen appreciation of the importance and value of
the project as a whole, but will at once offer certain suggestions as to procedure.
Withdrawal of Public Lands
The first line of work to take up is to follow up the action of the previous
unofficial committee in approaching the State and federal authorities with a view to
safeguarding temporarily all the existing State and federal lands in and near the
region from alienation and from any encumbrance or injury that might be likely to
embarrass the most perfect and complete realization of the project. I suppose this
means, first, getting into personal touch with the proper State officials, and, second,
with the local representatives of the Department of the Interior, to whom the
authorities in Washington will undoubtedly refer back any questions for report, and
without whose lively and friendly interest prompt action by the Government will be
difficult to secure. But it means also, of course, following the matter through the
Departmental channels at Washington and securing (if it has not already been done)
the temporary withdrawal from entry of all the Government land in question. In this
connection, also, it is desirable to get in touch with the local and the Washington
officials of the Forest Service, so as to get from them and from the Department of the
Interior a clear understanding of the situation in respect to present and prospective
Forest Reserves, National Parks and National Monuments within a considerable
radius about Denver. It would be well also, in this connection, at the proper time, to
see that the Colorado congressional delegation and other influential people accessible
to you are properly posted in regard to the excellent bill now before Congress, with
the backing of the Administration and the support of the American Civic Association,
for the organization of a Bureau of National Parks in the Department of the Interior,
intended to provide proper administrative machinery in place of the present chaotic
condition under which the National Parks are administered.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.s Table of Lands Recommended for Acquirement
Table of Lands Recommended for Acquirement.
Relative importance shown thus:
i st *
Areas approximate only
** South Golden Parkway 30
* L. Lookout Mountain tract 1000
* G. Genesee Mountain tract 3260
** Creswell 20
** B. Bergen Mountain tract 9600
*** S. Squaw Mountain tract 2200
*** M. Black Mountain tract 9960
*** V. Upper Cub Creek tract 2920
*** H. Hester Mountain tract 900
** Kawatha and 3 Sisters Ridge 190
* I. Bear Mountain tract 4060
** Eden School tract 130
*** C. Conifer Mountain tract 1120
*** North & South Turkey Creeks fragments
*** W. Legault Mountain tract 1360
* T. Lower Turkey Creek tract 1570
** F. Mt. Falcon tract 1570
** Lower Bear Creek tract 400
* Turkey Creek at the Hogback 40
* Wards Lake tract 140
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