Sunday, July 20, 2008
Preserving green in Greenland
Locally, you would be remiss in considering “green’ activities without including a healthy dose of the town of Greenland and the Greenland Ranch Open Space system. The system establishes a relatively untouched and contiguous stretch of ground all the way from Monument Hill to Larkspur.
The open space was patched together from a number of large parcels including the original townsite of Greenland and now encompasses roughly 21,000 acres on both sides of Interstate 25 that will always remain ‘green’ with abundant wildlife and working ranches because of conservation easements.
Basically, that leaves it looking much like it did when the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad arrived in 1871. Douglas County and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), which generates funds from the Colorado Lottery, have shared the cost and ponied up nearly $20 million to pay for elements of the conservation effort.
“The name of Greenland was given to a magnificent stand of timber a few miles north of Palmer Lake,” according to a Sept. 13, 1973 account in the Douglas County News, by Mrs. John Marr, member of a local pioneer family.
“ A town soon sprang up there. This town of Greenland was the trading center for many of Douglas County’s earliest and greatest pioneers – among them were these names – Sam Johnston, Noe, Higby, Lamb, Allis, Riggs, Best Killin.”
The widely acclaimed author Helen Hunt Jackson is often tabbed as the naming party for Greenland -- or at least the first to write it down.
The town flourished.
An 1883 advertisement for J.P. Riggs store in Greenland reads as follows:
“I desire to invite the attention of the ranchmen of the Divide to my increased stock of Dry Goods, Hats, Caps, Boots & Shoes. Also a large and well-assorted stock of Staple and Fancy Groceries, a full line of duck goods. I have recently enlarged my stock and am prepared to supply the Divide trade with as good and cheap goods as can be obtained in the county.”
The nearby Greenland Ranch also became famous for its cattle. An 1888 advertisement tells some of the story.
“Greenland Breeding Farm. Colorado raised, purebred Shorthorn and Galloway. The Union Real Estate, live Stock and Investment Company have for sale, at Greenland, Douglas County, Colorado, (47 miles south of Denver, on the D & R.G and A.T. & S.F. Railroads,) a fine lot of young thoroughbreds, of the best English and Scottish strains. Good individuals and good pedigrees. Lyman of Mount Leonard, a pure Galloway bull, Vicecount Richmond, a pure Craickshank bull, Winsome Duke 4th, a pure Bates bull, head our heard. Come to see what we have. Visitors welcome, Correspondence solicited. Address, Wm. B. Berger, manager, Denver, Colo., or Isaac J. Noe, Supt., Greenland, Colo.”
Greenland eventually became one of the largest shipping points for livestock in the state, according to information provided by Penny Burdick of the Larkspur Historical Society, and the ranch, which included more than 15,000 acres is the longest continuously operating cattle ranching operation in Colorado. It was homesteaded and assembled between 1870 and 1875 and later purchased by the John Higby family in 1906.
I.J. Noe, the early superintendent mentioned in the previous advertisement, married Jennie Higby and founded nearby Eagle Mountain Ranch just west of the Greenland Ranch.
“Mr. Noe’s brand is the oldest in Colorado… “ according to Larkspur Historical Society. Descendent Ida May Noe still lives on the property on Noe Road.
The landmark red barn on the Greenland Ranch was built in 1922 to replace a larger one that was struck by lighting and burned to the ground (delaying train traffic for hours), according to the Larkspur Historical Society information. The “new” barn is 25 feet shorter than the original one which was built in the late 1870s.
In January of 1996, Milton Taylor who owned the majority of 96 lots of the Greenland townsite, sold them to Douglas County to be preserved as open space, according to a January 24, 1996 edition of the Douglas County News-Press.
“Its home. It’s where I grew up as a kid,” Taylor was quoted in the article.
Chuck Higby, who was born and raised on the Greenland Ranch, also recalled the town of Greenland in the same article.
“It was a horse-and-buggy town,” Higby said at the time and further noted that it had two grocery stores, a hotel, a post office, a one-room schoolhouse and a warehouse.
“But the residents of the town have changed very little over the years,” Higby said.
The Board of County Commissioners approved the purchase of the Greenland townsite in December of 1995 for approximately $160,000 and funded the acquisition with the open space, parks and trails sales and use tax which was approved by county voters in 1994, according to the News Press. That same year, the county spent more than $1 million to buy the 268-acre parcel of Prairie Canyon Ranch.
The county’s purchase of these lots, though it was one of its smallest open space purchases, was significant because of its history and key location. It allowed open space to grow into the huge collection of properties that now encompass the I-25 conservation corridor.