Evergreen Our Mountain Community
In 1803, the land of “Evergreen” was sold by Napoleon as part of the Louisiana Purchase. But in reality, it was still Indian country, part of the hunting grounds of the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapahoe. By 1821, fur trappers and traders began passing through, but it wasn’t until 1858 when gold is found near Cherry Creek and the South Platte that things began to change and prospectors lose no time pushing deeper and deeper into the mountains.
In 1859, Thomas Cunningham Bergen is seized by the passion of the times and decides to go west to seek opportunities for his growing family. He brings ten strong men with him and builds a log cabin, naming the area Bergen Park. Evergreen’s emergence as a community separate from Bergen Park, began in 1877 when Amos Post, one of the strong men who came west with Bergen, opens a trading post on what is now Main Street and marries Bergen’s daughter Sarah. Post goes on to build a general store and the area of Evergreen is called simply “The Post.” D.P. Wilmot, acquired a large acreage in the Buffalo Park area around 1875. Wilmot was so impressed with the pines, spruces and firs on the land that he began calling the area “Evergreen.”
By 1880, Evergreen makes its appearance in the Colorado State Business Directory and is listed as a small settlement on Bear Creek with a population of 100. Mining hopes are fading and the future turns to logging, farming and ranching. At the same time, the area also begins to serve as a refuge from the heat of plains for those wealthy enough to afford a getaway in the mountains. Mary Neosho Williams acquired her land for “Camp Neosho,” today Hiwan Homestead Museum, in the 1880s. Some of the early stage stops and lodging houses, like Troutdale-in-the-Pines, also made the transition from overnight facilities to extended summer boarding houses and cottages.
Nothing did more to accelerate the trend towards becoming a summer community than the establishment of Denver Mountain Parks in 1911. The parks were to be places of beauty along a loop from Golden to Morrison (part of the Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway today). Accessible by the new motorized automobile, it gave tourists free and perpetual access to mountain playgrounds. The acquisition by Denver Mountain Parks of the 420-acre Dedisse Ranch and the gift of 18 acres (including an 18-hole golf course) from the Troutdale Hotel was the first milestone in the development of Evergreen.
The introduction of the City and County of Denver to Evergreen brought a new governmental entity to supplement basic Jefferson County services. Denver helped to improve the roads, acquire more parks and thus protected lands from development. The activity also brought new subdivisions of cabins and wealthier individuals who purchased large acreages to build more substantial homes. This trend continued until the 1960s when Evergreen became a commuter community of mostly year round residents. Although, the first mountain commuter according to the Denver Post was Lucius Humphrey, the copy editor for the Denver Post. He purchased Kinnikinnick Ranch in 1920, which is now the Humphrey History Park and Museum, and made the twice daily, two hour trip.
Evergreen has not changed much through the years and still remains one of Colorado's best kept secrets. But this little community offers year round residents and summer visitors alike an array of parks, art galleries, theatre, restaurants, entertainment, museums, and a variety of outdoor activities sprinkled with its own brand of charm.
For more information, please see:
Jefferson County Historical Society
Jefferson County Historical Commission
Hiwan Homestead Museum
Humphrey History Park and Museum
Lariat Loop Scenic Byway
Evergreen Chamber of Commerce
Registered Historic Places in Evergreen include:
- Bergen Park
- Dedisse Park
- Evergreen Conference District
- Fillius Park
- Hiwan Homestead Museum
- Humphrey Historic Park and Museum on Kinnikinnik Ranch