In January, long-time county resident Laura Miller donated her collection to the Jefferson Co. Archives. Archivist Ronda Frazier was pleased to receive the well organized boxes of clippings and records from more than 50 years of county history. Laura Miller is a former state legislator and education advocate who helped organize the R-1 school district in 1950. She was named to the Jeffco Hall of Fame in 2009.
Last year’s magazine, which is now online, featured several articles on central Jeffco’s historic quarries. We covered only a fraction of the resources and hope to have more stories of our rich mineral extraction history online here in the coming months.
In 2014, the magazine will have a similar feature emphasis on historic floods, and most likely a bit on our epic floods of September 2013. We invite you to submit stories and photos to us via email (jeffcohistory AT gmail DOT com) if interested.
You may also wish to submit articles for our Writers’ Award. Cash prizes are given in the Youth, Adult Short (less than 1500 words) and Adult Long (1500 to 2500 words) categories and are due by May 1. Download contest application here.
This website was established back in 2004 to provide access to historic and JCHC information found on the official Jeffco website and other locations. Please bear with us as we track down and fix bad links created by the county’s 2013 website changes. We’re working on it!
The Historical Commission’s new homepage at Jeffco.us is available here.
Additional information on county history is available at Jeffco archives.
The Historical Commission has downsized (by attrition) to the County-established size of 11, and with a recent resignation, now has one vacancy. If interested, fill out and submit the application in our sidebar.
JCHC has decided not to present its annual historic preservation symposium in 2014, but will continue to work with other historical societies to support their efforts. Look for a new HP symposium in 2015. These events are hosted around the county in coordination with historical groups.
Open Space was celebrated throughout the evening, as long-time OSAC chair Greg Stevinson received Hall of Fame honors and the Colorow Ute Council Tree became the newest county landmark.The Hall of Fame event is the culmination of annual efforts of the Jefferson Co. Historical Commission. This year’s event was held at Mt. Vernon Country Club with more than 100 guests in attendance. See more photos from the festivities in our online gallery. Our thanks go to photographer Matthew Lewis for generously sharing these photos. In addition to the above awards, the Hall of Fame event celebrates new county landmarks, National Register sites, and Writers’ Award winners. The 2013 edition of our annual Historically Jeffco magazine was also distributed on this occasion. Review the magazine’s contents here; the entire issue will be online in February 2014. Look for copies at your local historical society; they are free to members.
With a theme of Embracing Our Agricultural Past While Shaping a Sustainable Future, you might say it was a delicious conversation, ranging from Pascal celery to heirloom apples, and touching on genetically modified crops along the way. In 1868, according to handouts from the Wheat Ridge Historical Society, farmers along Clear Creek produced oats and other grains, corn, potatoes, other vegetables, and strawberries on more than 800 acres, and, of course, wheat on another 517 acres. They have an impressive agricultural past to embrace!
After greetings from Wheat Ridge’s mayor, Jerry DiTullio, our symposium also covered historic preservation, with a presentation on Restoration and Adaptive Reuse of the Fruitdale School by Gerhard Petri and Jessica Reske of Slaterpaull Architects, Inc.A nice lunch by Pietras followed, during which Michelle Chichester and Rachel Parris of Colorado Preservation Inc. provided an update on CPI projects. A few more memories were shared, then participants went off to an afternoon of tours, including Wheat Ridge Historic Park (via a geocaching exercise), Fruitdale School, and the newly restored James Baugh house.
“Open mike” memories were a highlight of the day. Kudos go to JCHC’s Mary Lindsey and her committee, and great appreciation to the City of Wheat Ridge and the Wheat Ridge Historical Society for hosting a most interesting symposium. Here, Claudia Worth, right, provides some historical stories.
About those carnations
Carnations graced every table during the symposium, a reminder of the role this area once played in the flower industry as well. Since 1970, Wheat Ridge has celebrated its carnation glory with an annual Carnation Festival (history page). The last carnation grower in the area was Novacek Greenhouse, where carnations were grown from 1949 until finally phased out in 2008, a family occupation that spans three generations. Novaceks continue to grow bedding and garden plants at 26th and Youngfield. Read more about the history of Novacek Greenhouse.
What killed the Colorado carnation industry that once employed 2,000 people, produced 400 million flowers a year, and made Colorado THE Carnation Capitol of the World? We got the story from Westminster City Council member Bob Briggs, once a carnation grower himself. The answer lies in international trade, dating to the days of the “Great Society,” in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson wanted to give Colombian drug producers an alternative crop. By exporting the greenhouse technology and plant material and giving Colombia “favored nation” status, Congress enabled the flowers to enter the U.S. duty-free and costing “little more than the price of the box,” said Briggs. As these competitive imports blossomed, the local industry declined.
In 2005, Colombia provided 89% of the fresh-cut chrysanthemums, standard carnations, anthuriums, and orchids; 69% of cut roses; and 35% of other cut flowers imported into the U.S.—a total of almost $400 million in trade, according to the U.S. Dept of Commerce (Table E-3). However, “most U.S. cut flower producers recognize that the U.S. market has evolved over the last 25 years and that the abundance of low-priced cut flower imports has worked to increase awareness and consumption of flowers in the United States,” according to the same report. Bouquets of carnations are available in grocery stores today, but expanses of greenhouses full of them in Jefferson County are now relegated to history.
Note: The Landmark Designation Committee approved this application at its meeting in May. The Landmark Program allows for the designation of significant natural features; this is the first time a natural site or object has been so designated in Jefferson County.
The Landmark Designation Committee received a landmark nomination for the Ute Council Tree, located on Jeffco Open Space property at Alameda Pkwy and the hogback (Dinosaur Ridge); the nomination was approved by the Board of County Commissioners on April 30th. The area was formerly part of the Rooney Ranch. This large ponderosa pine tree has long been remembered as a place where original settler Alex Rooney (I) met with Colorow and other Utes and also reportedly negotiated peace between the Utes and neighboring Arapahoes. In later decades, the Red Rocks Lions Club and other local groups held gatherings on a stone patio and picnic area that was built by the Rooney Family next to the tree. During this period, the tree was also known as the Lighted Tree.
The nomination was proposed by historian Dr. Beth Simmons, author of a book on the Rooney Family. She also encouraged Open Space staff to investigate the age of the tree. A partial core taken recently suggests the tree is at least 400 years old, and possibly much older, and thus was definitely alive during the lifetime of Chief Colorow (approximately 1813 to 1888*). The tree appears to be healthy, although part of the interior is hollow.
Golden historian Richard Gardner remarked that the tree could be worthy of landmark listing on the basis of its more recent cultural uses by latter-day residents of the area, as well as its pre-settlement history of use by local tribes. The Committee noted that the landmark designation includes the cultural site as a whole, rather than the tree alone.
* See “Chief Colorow Dead,” The Day newspaper, Dec. 13, 1888. He was reported to be 75 years old.
Photos by Clare Marshall, courtesy Friends of Dinosaur Ridge.