The earliest recorded European explorers in northeastern Colorado were led by the Spanish Explorer Francisco Vasquez whose expeditions reached the Great Plains in 1540. In the early 1700's, however, the French violated earlier Spanish claims by trading with the Native Americans. In an effort to discourage the French infiltration, in 1720 Pedro de Villasur led a military expedition into northeastern Colorado. After Villasur and his party were killed by the Pawnee Indians, the French activity increased. Finally in 1800, the French acquired the Territory from Spain through the Treaty of San Ildefonso. In 1803, the Louisiana Territory was purchased by the United States from the French and what we now know as Larimer County was included as part of that purchase.
The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory coupled with the introduction of the beaver hat, better known as the 'stovepipe' hat stimulated explorations of the newly purchased land by private parties, specifically trappers. The great demand for the pelts needed to satisfy the haberdashers in London, Paris and New York brought trappers to the Cache la Poudre Valley. The geographical location, being on the eastern edge of the foothills, slightly south of an easy pass through the mountains and south of the Oregon Trail, insured its use as a pathway for many travelers. Evidence of trapper migration is captured in the naming of two of our local lakes. One lake was named Trap Lake because it was a popular spot for the mountain men to set their traps along the water's edge and along the creek that feeds into it and the second is Chamber's Lake. By 1840, fashion statements had shifted from the 'stovepipe' hat to the Buffalo robe. Wagons were now needed to transport the bulky commodity. With the abundance of Buffalo in the area, the Cache la Poudre Valley maintained its popularity with the mountain men. In 1858, Robert Chambers and his son set up camp by the now named Chamber's Lake. Shortly after their camp was established, Robert was killed by the Indians. His son then decided to leave the family business and went to work for the Union Pacific Railroad in Wyoming. In the course of conversation about the railroad tie lumber availability in Wyoming, Robert's son informed the Tie Contractor of the great timber found in Poudre Canyon. Union Pacific investigated, set up camp, harvested timber for the railroad and officially named the lake to honor Chamber's father. Although the fur trade lasted only a couple of decades, the positive impact left by these mountain men was far reaching. They were a key in the exploration of the area, discovering natural resources, establishing paths and trails and there were even reports of scattered gold discoveries in the area.
The news of gold discoveries in the Cache la Poudre area brought various parties in search of the precious metal. William Green Russell found a small amount of gold just south of the present day Denver. News of this discovery brought in influx of prospectors to the area. In 1859, three large load claims were made in the present day Gilpin, Clear Creek and Boulder Counties. Word spread quickly throughout the Nation. It had been estimated that 100,000 gold seekers set out for Colorado in 1859. The influx of prospectors, merchants, and promoters quickly turned Denver into an important regional center. Larimer County served as an important pathway to the gold camps and an important agricultural supply center. Antoine Janis, like many mountain men who knew the trails and passes of the West, became a guide for prospectors heading for Pike's Peak country. The large numbers of prospectors migrating to the area motivated Janis to further legitimize his initial claim in 1844 by building a cabin on the north side of the Cache la Poudre in 1859. Reportedly the Arapaho Indians agreed to donate to him, Elbridge Gerry and his brother, Nicholas the land from the foot of the mountains to the mouth of Box Elder Creek. You can visit his cabin at the Fort Collins Museum, just one of the many attractions within close proximity to Archer's Poudre River Resort.
With the area growing, the settlers brought with them a desire for organized government. In the fall of 1860, a Claim Club was established with rules and regulations for the prospectors and their claims in Cache la Poudre and Big Thompson valleys. In 1861, Congress responded by establishing the Colorado Territory. The first Territorial Legislation Act was to name, Larimer County after Denver's Founder William Larimer in November of 1861. During 1862, the growing conflict between the Anglo Americans and the Native Americans was intensifying. This hostility was directed at the Overland Mail and Express Company stage routes. Ben Holliday responded to this hostility by shifting the stage route from following the North Platte Route out of Wyoming to the South Platte Route in Colorado.
Not content with being just a pathway to the gold camps in Denver, Fort Collins businessmen hired 3 experts of mining activities to search Larimer County for precious metals in 1886. By October of that same year, the men located claims in the forested highlands outside Poudre Canyon. In 1887, a town was platted called Manhattan. Many influential people lived among the 300 people residents. Later John Zimmerman along with his brother started to prospect around Cameron Pass. However, John decided to take his German process of ore reducing skills that he learned when he worked in Austin City, Nevada and open his own Gold Reducing Stamp Mill in October of 1890. Just 4 days after opening his business and putting through 30,200 pounds of Ore, he stopped the mill so he could gather up the Amalgam and reduced the retorts to an estimated value between $ 1,000 and $2,500. The Larimer County paper concluded that "Larimer County is destined to be the richest mining county in the state" Unfortunately when the retorts were actually tested, it was determined that most of the precious metal was copper, not gold. The next year, John sold his business, but remained in the area taking on other ventures. In 1891, John was working in the field when he heard a roar up the canyon, instinctively he knew what that sound was and immediately jumped on his horse and covered 3.5 miles to Poudre City to warn then of the approaching waters. All 13 people living at the Mill sight and Poudre City were evacuated. The Mill was lifted off it's foundation and the wall collapsed leaving only the stone chimney as witness to what had happened that day.
In the early years of freight and mail development along the Poudre, freight, passengers and mail left Fort Collins going North and West through LaPorte following what is now the road to Laramie Wyoming. Coachmen drove their team on a dirt road leading past Ted's Place then turned West at Forks Hotel and went on to Livermore. Livermore, Co was the official U. S. Post Office established in 1871. As the demand for travel increased, so did the number of stage lines. Poudre Canyon had 3 stage lines to handle the mail and freight. The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage company and the Ogeden and Giddings Stage Lines operated daily. In 1896 Casper Zimmerman started Zimmerman's Stage line which ran 3 days a week.
Poudre Canyon had another transportation alternative, Stewart's Toll Road. Stewart had already improved the hazardous "Narrow Gauge" track on Pinegree Hill to accommodate the growing traffic. So the Cache la Poudre and North Park Toll Road Company teamed up with Stewart in 1879 and built a wagon road along the river from the foot of Pinegree Hill up past Chamber Lake and over Cameron pass. A.H. Patterson, S.B. Stewart, and L.R. Rhodes served as the company's board of directors. May 31, 1881, the Fort Collins Courier described this road as "a splendid road to the mines" The prices charged for the use of this road is as follows:
Business flourished for a few years until 1902 when the road was opened to the public.
Fun Fact : The first digit of a four digit address or the first two digits on a 5 digit address tells us the distance from the mouth of the canyon
Building south from Wyoming, the rails reached Fort Collins in 1877. The railroads actively encouraged immigration by advertising the region. By 1878, Fort Collins was in the midst of a new period of prosperity and development. An influx of Midwestern settlers soon took advantage of the rail transportation. Union Pacific incorporated a second railway in January of 1881 in response to survey activities by the Denver, Salt Lake and Western railroad to lay tracks in Poudre Canyon. By February of 1881, Union Pacific had conducted their survey and had construction teams in the area. With the Railroad industry picking up steam and the progression of equipment, Poudre Canyon met the rails growing need. In the years from 1929 through 1931, the cutting operation had evolved with the times. Chain saws were used to cut the trees; they were squared at the saw mill and the trucked to Ted's Place for shipping. The owner of the Ted's Place was Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury under President Herbert Hoover.
Just as Ted's Place served as a gateway to the canyon first as a stopping point for weary stage coach traveler's and then a shipping destination for the railroad system, you can stop off at Ted's Place today to fuel your transportation or refresh yourself as you continue on your short jaunt to Archer's Poudre River Resort. Our resort offers you the opportunity to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views, participate in one or more of the outstanding recreational opportunities. Or tour around the Resort area and take in some of that wonderful Poudre History! Call toll free at (888) 822-0588 or 1-970-881-2139 to make your reservations now!