Historic Communities in the I-70 / Clear Creek Expansion Corridor

Year Listed: 2005
County: Clear Creek County
Construction Date: Various
Threat When Listed: Highway Expansion

Numerous communities abutting, sometimes straddling I-70 in the Clear Creek Valley from Idaho Springs to Graymont attest to the 19th and early 20th century history of mineral, milling, timber and railroad industries in Colorado. Idaho Springs has been designated a National Register District and Georgetown/Silver Plume is a National Historic Landmark District. Hundreds of other structures and sites in the area are believed eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The Coalition of Clear Creek Communities, consisting of citizens and leadership in Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Silver Plume, and others, want the State of Colorado to take a serious look at the negative impact of proposed widening of I-70 will have on adjacent communities. A solution is needed that will enhance, not detract, from features people travel to see. In May 2005, public comments in this regard were submitted to the Federal Highway Administration and Colorado Department of Transportation in response to a draft Programatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) and are now under review for a final alternative and Record of Decision. This will finalize the PEIS and pave the way for Tier 2 activity on the project. A consultant has been hired for the Section 106 process, and has met with consulting parties, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Colorado Preservation, Inc., to begin looking at historic resources in the area, as well as potential effects and mitigation. This process will become more detailed during Tier 2 planning for the road project. FHWA and CDOT have agreed to apply the Context Sensitive Solutions method to this project and held a workshop for stakeholders in January 2006.

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Featured Project

4 Bar 4 Ranch

Homesteaded in 1895 by Dick McQueary to provide a stop for the Georgetown Stage Line, the 320-acre 4 Bar 4 Ranch has strong ties to Grand County and Colorado's heritage. The Georgetown Stage Line traveled on the road through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch from Idaho Springs to Hot Sulphur Springs over Berthoud Pass. In 1895 a roadhouse and stage stop were constructed on the ranch. The hotel and barn were constructed using trees from the Ranch property, and the hotel remained open for travelers coming over Berthoud Pass by horseback and wagon until 1913. With the coming of the automobile, the roadway over Berthoud Pass and through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch was considered an integral part of the Trans-Continental “Midland Trail” highway. Following the closing of the stage line, the ranch continued to host travelers until 1912 or 1913 when it was purchased and converted into a Ford Motor Company . Ford vehicles were sold here until 1917, when Harry Larkin purchased the ranch site. Today emergency efforts are underway to ensure it survives through the winter. Donations are in need. To learn more, contact Jennifer Orrigo Charles at jorrigocharlges@coloradopreservation.org.

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