Friday, July 29, 2011

History of the Elk Meadow

How many times have you driven past the Elk Meadow and looked at those old buildings out there? Ever wondered the history behind them? Well I have and I finally got on the Jefferson County Open Space web page and found out a bit about our lovely meadow!

Long before this barn was built the meadow was visited by Utes, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe tribes who came through for summer hunting. They also found Lodgepole pine here and used them to make tepee supports.

In 1858, Robert Strain built a hand-hewn log cabin on the land and in 1870 he filed for the 160 acres through the Homestead Act. Through later land sales the area was purchased by Ted Johnson in 1905. It is his barn that still stands in the Elk Meadow near Painter's Pause Trail.

On a personal note, about the time our little cabin was built, Tulsa oilman Darst Buchanan bought the property that became Hiwan Ranch. Less than 10 miles apart, but representing two distinctly different lifestyles! The aristocratic Denver society of Hiwan and the modest, homesteading folk of my current neighborhood!

So beyond the lovely and abundant elk herds that we see on an almost-daily basis, perhaps next time you drive by you can envision the acreage as it once was. Close your eyes (oh wait, pull over first and then close your eyes!). This land was once inhabited by Indians or Homesteaders. Can you see the tepees? Smell the campfires? Or envision the hay fields, ducks & turkeys, and all that would comprise a thriving ranch? I can!

Then entire history can be found at:

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