Geological Survey Bulletin 707
Guidebook of the Western United States: Part E. The Denver & Rio Grande Western Route
MAIN LINE OF RAILROAD FROM DENVER TO COLORADO SPRINGS.
Elevation 5,193 feet.
Soon after leaving the Union Station at Denver, on
the main line of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, the
train crosses Cherry Creek near the place where Gen. Larimer built the
first house, in 1858. As this creek heads out on the plains it is
intermittent in its flow; in dry seasons little or no water runs in it
at the surface, but when "cloudbursts" occur on its upper course a
tremendous volume of water comes down, engulfing everything in its way.
Such a catastrophe occurred in May, 1864, when great damage was done.
Recently the channel of the creek, where it passes through the city, has
been cemented, so as to prevent the loose sandy soil from washing away,
and a boulevard bordered by trees has been constructed along it, giving
its banks here the appearance of a park.
8The figures given for population
throughout this book are those of the United States census for 1920; for
places that were not incorporated the figures given represent the
population of the election precinct, township, or other similar unit;
such figures are marked with an asterisk (*)
The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad
traverses the manufacturing part of Denver, and at Burnham, 2 miles out
from the city, it passes the shops of the railroad system. About half a
mile beyond the shops is the interesting though unpretentious laboratory
building erected by the National Radium Institute for experimental work
in cooperation with the United States Bureau of Mines to devise a
cheaper method of extracting radium salts from the ores found in
Colorado. This work has been accomplished, and the plant has now passed
into the hands of a private company to continue the work of extracting
9The National Radium Institute was
organized by Dr. Howard A. Kelly, of Baltimore, and Dr. James Douglas,
of New York, not for private gain but for the purpose primarily of
studying the curative properties of radium and secondarily to show that
radium can be produced here at a much lower cost than abroad. When the
institute was organized radium was selling for as much as $120,000 a
gram. As Congress had failed to reserve for public use the land
containing radium ores or to foster the development of the radium
industry in this country, the National Radium Institute undertook to
provide the ways and means for experimental work to determine whether or
not the ores could be reduced at a smaller cost than abroad and thus to
place radium within the reach of hospitals throughout the country.
The Bureau of Mines had already reached the
conclusion that such a reduction in cost was possible, and an agreement
was reached by which the bureau was to cooperate with the institute
for the benefit of the people. The Institute leased claims in Paradox
Valley, in southwestern Colorado, and the Bureau of Mines mined the ore
and shipped it to Denver for treatment by the bureau. The work has been
successful, and the bureau has patented a process by which radium was
produced at a cost of about $40,000 per gram, or one-third its selling
price. This patent may be used free of charge by anyone who cares to use
it for the benefit of the American people.
All this valuable work has been done in the
unpretentious plant at Denver. For further information the reader is
referred to Bureau of Mines Bulletin 104.
A short distance farther along South Platte River may
be seen on the west (right), and the railroad runs up its valley for a
distance of about 15 miles. The valley is well irrigated and contains
many fine farms and country places. Loretto Academy stands out clear and
distinct as one of the landmarks of the upland on the farther side of
the river. Fort Logan, just beyond, is a regimental Army post
established about 25 years ago.
Elevation 5,372 feet.
Denver 10 miles.
Littleton is the county seat of Arapahoe
(a-rap'a-hoe) County, so named from a tribe of Indians that formerly
inhabited this part of the country. It stands in the midst of a rich
agricultural district and has become popular as the suburban home of
many of Denver's business men. Near Littleton are the W. F. Kendrick
pheasantries, which are said to be the largest game preserve in the
world. Here all kinds of wild fowl are raised, and golden pheasants may
be seen wandering by the roadside like chickens on an ordinary farm.
A short distance beyond Littleton the traveler may
obtain a charming view on the right, across the broad, well-tilled
valley of the South Platte, studded with clumps of cottonwood trees, to
the Front Range, towering in the distance. Wolhurst, a fine country
place built by the late United States Senator Edward Wolcott, is farther
along on the right, just beyond milepost 13. After the death of Senator
Wolcott the place was purchased by the noted mining man the late Thomas
F. Walsh. It is now occupied as a country home by one of Denver's
At the small station of Acequia the railroad crosses
the High Line Canal, one of those great irrigating ditches that are
characteristic of the semiarid regions, which takes water from the South
Platte and carries it far to the northeast, irrigating at least 100,000
acres of land that would otherwise be arid and unprofitable. The
railroad follows the valley of South Platte River to a point a little
beyond milepost 15, where it leaves the main valley and turns to the
south (left) up Plum Creek. This creek also flows in a broad, flat
valley, and the traveler, unless he observes closely, may not realize
that the railroad has turned from the main valley into that of a
Near milepost 15 the entrance to South Platte Canyon
may be seen in the mountain front, on the right. Here, in 1820, the
exploring expedition of Maj. Long first came to the mountains, although
it had traveled from the north for many miles. in front of and nearly
parallel with them. The men were eager to climb the mountains, explore
their wonderful peaks and valleys, and see the country that lay beyond,
but a few days of hard climbing up the rocky slopes satisfied them that
they could not reach the summit of the range in a short time and that
mountain climbing was not so easy as it appeared from a distance; so
they were content to proceed southward along nearly the route that is
now followed by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. The
entrance to the canyon may be seen from the train, but, owing to its
many bends, the canyon does not appear to be an open cut through the
In many places at the foot of the mountains the
steeply dipping sandstone forms sharp hogbacks, which may be seen from
the moving train, and, as the sandstone is mostly red, the traveler
will soon learn to associate red sandstone and hogbacks with the
foothills of the mountain front. These beds are very prominent near the
mouth of Plum Creek and may be seen to good advantage from milepost 17,
about 1-1/2 miles up the creek.
The scenery of the lower part of the valley of Plum
Creek is smooth and uninteresting. The surface is a rolling upland,
which can not be irrigated from the South Platte because it lies too
high above that river, and it consequently appears rather barren to
those who are accustomed to a more humid climate. The only railroad
station in this part of the valley is Louviers, which is merely a
shipping point for the DuPont Powder Co., whose plant for the manufacture
of high explosives is on the west (right) of the track.
Elevation 5,675 feet.
Denver 21 miles.
Above Louviers Plum Creek swings eastward, and it is
bordered on its east side by bluffs and mesas of white
sandstone.10 Although but a short distance from the upturned
rocks along the mountain front, these sandstones lie practically
horizontal, a fact which indicates that they are near the middle of the
great downfold of the rocks east of the Front Range. Figure 6 represents
the edges of the upturned rock beds as they would appear if they had
been cut by a giant knife at right angles to the trend of the mountain
10All the rock seen near the railroad
track from Denver to a point beyond Palmer Lake is composed of fragments
derived from the decomposition of the granite and gneiss of the
mountains. This material, which consists mostly of quartz and feldspar,
is known to geologists as arkose. The formation is called the Dawson
arkose, and it is of the same geologic age as the formations about
Denver that have been called the Denver and Arapahoe formations.
Richardson, in the Castle Rock folio (No. 198) of the Geologic Atlas of
the United States, describes the rock as follows:
"The Dawson arkose, derived from the Pikes Peak
granite and associated rocks, was laid down under various continental
conditions, chiefly as wash and fluviatile [stream] deposits accompanied
by local ponding. During the accumulation of the arkose this region may
be conceived of as a piedmont [foot of the mountain] area having a moist
and temperate climate, an area in which the vegetation was characterized
by the presence of many fig trees, palms, magnolias, poplars,
willows, oaks, maples, etc., and which was occupied by
Triceratops (huge three-horned dinosaurs), crocodiles, turtles,
and other reptiles and by primitive mammals"
In other words, the material derived from the
mountains was carried out on a nearly flat surface and deposited by the
streams in much the same way as the streams of to-day are carrying the
waste of the mountain rocks and spreading it over the low parts of the
Elevation 5,835 feet.
Denver 25 miles.
The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, which
has been on the east (left) side of the train since it left Denver,
passes over the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad at the town of
Sedalia. The upland on the east is here nearer the track than it is
farther north, and it stands out as a plateau with a steep or even
vertical front. Some of these steep slopes are merely projecting points
of the highland, but others are parts of hills that have been isolated
from it by the cutting of the streams. Such isolated remnants of a once
extensive plateau are very conspicuous on the west (right) of the
road. A hill of this kind in the East would not be called by any special
name, but in the West, and especially in the Southwest, a flat-topped
hill is almost universally called by the Spanish name mesa, meaning
table. Near Sedalia are the forks of Plum Creek, one of which comes from
the south and the other from the east. The one that comes from the south
offers the more direct course for the railroad, but the one that comes
from the east is the longer and has the better grade, so it was
selected, even though its course is more roundabout.
FIGURE 6.Section at mouth of Platte Canyon.
The most prominent of the mesas is Castle Bock, which
may be seen far ahead on the right soon after the train passes Sedalia.
When first seen it is so far away that it seems to be only a small hill,
but as the train proceeds it becomes more conspicuous, until at a siding
called Plateau it appears on the right as a very prominent conical hill
surmounted by a thick, square block of rock. This mesa was first
mentioned in the report of the exploration of Maj. Long, in 1820, and on
account of its resemblance to an old ruin was called Castle Rock.
Elevation 6,218 feet.
Denver 33 miles.
As the train approaches milepost 32 the traveler may
see that the railroad is built around the foot of Castle Rock mesa,
which is about 300 feet high and has a cap rock 60 or 70 feet thick.
This mesa is shown in Plate XI, A, and in figure 7. The lower
part of the mesa is composed of soft, friable beds of the Dawson arkose,
but the cap rock is a coarse conglomerate of pebbles and boulders of
crystalline rocks of all sorts that have been washed out from the
mountains and of a volcanic rock (rhyolite) which caps also some of the
adjacent mesas. These materials were washed out of the mountains by
streams of water and dropped as sheets of gravel and boulders upon the
surface of the land. The county seat of Douglas County, named in honor
of Stephen A. Douglas, stands at the base of the mesa and bears the name
Castle Rock. It was formerly noted for its stone quarries, the remains
of which still disfigure the mesas, but the increasing use of cement in
construction work has so depressed the market for ordinary building
stone that the quarrying industry has nearly disappeared. Samples of the
stone may be seen in the Douglas County High School building, on the
right as the train enters the town, and in the station building of the
Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.11 This stone was
once molten lava that was poured out as a thin sheet over the surface of
the country, after the Dawson arkose was deposited but before the coarse
materials of the Castle Rock conglomerate were spread over the plain.
FIGURE 7.Castle Rock from the north.
11According to Richardson the rhyolite is said to have been
first quarried about 1876, and it is reported that up to 1914 about
30,000 carloads had been marketed. The stone has been extensively used
for building in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo, where it has given
general satisfaction. The quarries, to which railroad spurs have been
constructed, are near the town of Castle Rock. The stone is readily
accessible, is easily worked, is of pleasing gray to pinkish color,
stands the weather well, and is sufficiently strong for ordinary
purposes, although the more porous varieties are not adapted for use
where great strength is desired. In recent years the production of this
stone has fallen off because of the competition of other building
In following the valley of Plum Creek from Sedalia to
Castle Rock the railroad swings far to the east of a direct line from
Denver to Colorado Springs. After passing Castle Rock it turns back
toward the mountains, its course being nearly due south to Palmer Lake,
and the prolongation of this course would lead almost directly to Pikes
Peak. This majestic mountain is too nearly straight ahead to be visible
at many points, but here and there as the train swings around some of
the numerous curves it may be seen in the distance towering far above
the surrounding summits.
To those accustomed to the more humid regions of the
East, with their dense cover of vegetation, the open spaces of the
West, the red rocks, and the strong yellow light of the plains are here
the most striking features. The wonderful color effects of this region
are beautifully expressed by Helen Hunt Jackson, Colorado's most gifted
Colorado is a symphony in yellow and red. And as soon
as I had said the words, the colors and shapes in which I knew them
seemed instantly to be arranged in my thoughts; places miles apart began
to knit themselves together into a concerted and related succession;
spots and tints I had only vaguely recognized became distinct and
significant, each in its order and force; and more and more as I looked
from the plains to the mountains and from the mountains to the plains,
and stood in the great places crowded with gay and fantastic rocks, all
the time bearing in mind this phrase, it grew to seem true and complete
Mesas composed of white arkosic sandstone are seen on
both sides of the railroad, but one on the right, 2 or 3 miles beyond
Castle Rock, is the most prominent. This mesa, which is known as Dawson
Butte, furnished the geologic name of the formationthe Dawson
arkose. Just beyond milepost 37 there appears, seemingly from behind
this mesa but in reality far beyond it, a jagged mass of red granite,
which towers 1,000 feet above the general level of the Front Range
plateau. This rugged mountain, known as Devils Head, is utilized by the
Forest Service as a lookout station for the detection of forest fires.
(See Pl. XV, B, p. 31.) On its lonely summit is stationed,
throughout the summer, an observer whose duty it is to scan continually
the surrounding mountain region for forest fires, and if he discovers
one to notify at once, by telephone, the superintendent of the Pike
National Forest, so that all the rangers can be called together to
fight the fire. A more extended description of what the Government is
attempting to do for the conservation of the forests is given below by
Smith Riley, former district forester.12
12Colorado lies in the zone of slight
precipitation and hence of irrigation, and the supply of water for this
purpose comes from the mountains, where the moisture falls as snow
during the winter. The presence of trees controls and prolongs this
stream flow by preventing erosion and retarding the melting of snow in
the spring and early summer.
The forest on the mountains is composed of many
different species of trees, and the range in elevation of these species
is controlled largely by moisture and temperature. The piñon or nut pine
and cedar trees are found near the plains or in the zone of smallest
precipitation. Above this zone, as the precipitation increases, is that
of the western yellow pine (Pl. XIV, C) and Douglas fir, with blue
spruce on small tracts. Above the zone of yellow pine is the zone of
lodgepole pine (Pl. XXXVI, B, p. 76) and above this, extending to
timber line, is the zone in which Engelmann spruce (Pl. XIII, B)
and alpine fir are intermixed. Throughout the zones of yellow and
lodgepole pine and even in that of Engelmann spruce, quaking aspen
occurs in abundance. This tree, which presents a wonderful richness of
autumnal coloring, has a marked tendency to seed quickly areas that have
been severely burned. As it grows rapidly it soon forms a cover and acts
as a "nurse tree," under which conifers that require more moisture
start to grow and ultimately take possession of the area and kill out
the aspen. Several varieties of cottonwood are found in the moist
stream bottoms, in the zones of the yellow pine and piñon, and out on
One of the white or five-needle pines grows on
exposed slopes high in the zone of the yellow pine. This tree, which is
called limber pine, has little commercial value but is very picturesque
because of its gray-green foliage and whitish bark. Its pale-yellow
cones are larger than those of any of the other pines in this region,
and many of the trees are distorted into curious and picturesque shapes
by the severe climatic conditions under which they grow.
In the zone of the lodgepole pine and on the more
exposed ridges there is another five-needle pine called bristlecone or
sugar pine. This tree derives its names from the recurred prickles or
thorns at the extremity of the cone scales, and from the exudations of
resin on the surface of the needles or leaves, which when dry look very
much like particles of sugar.
To maintain a cover for an even stream flow and
protect the supply of timber all the more extensive drainage basins of
the United States have been included in national forests. There are
seventeen such forests in Colorado, comprising over 13,000,000 acres of
A forest, which is based upon natural subdivisions
and administrative lines, contains from 400,000 to 1,600,000 acres and
is in charge of a forest supervisor and a corps of assistants. Every
forest is further divided into ranger districts, each containing from
50,000 to 200,000 acres. Such districts are in charge of rangers, who
police them and look after all business pertaining to the national
The Pike National Forest includes the mountains west
of Denver and Colorado Springs. It includes most of the drainage basins
from which Denver, Colorado Springs, and many smaller towns, having
altogether a population of about 350,000, derive their domestic water
supply. In addition to this supply its streams furnish water for
irrigating 400,000 acres of rich agricultural land at the foot of the
The region now included in this forest furnished an
immense amount of timber during the early development of local
industries, about 500,000,000 feet b. m. having been cut prior to its
establishment as a national forest. In the mountains farther west,
particularly at Howard, travelers may notice rows of domelike
structures looking like large beehives of the old-fashioned wicker type.
(See Pl. XIV, B.) These are charcoal kilns. They represent all
that is left of the charcoal industry, which, before coke was
available, furnished fuel for smelters, greatly to the detriment of the
timber stands of the regions.
In Gilpin County considerable areas of forest land
were practically denuded, for trees of all sizes and even stumps were
removed and utilized. This cutting was followed, from time to time, by
fires which fed upon the "slash" left on the cut-over areas and killed
the remaining trees. The bare hills then permitted a rapid run-off of
water after heavy rains, which caused considerable destructive erosion.
Similar conditions mark other parts of the Pike National Forest, but
erosion has not cut so deeply into the slopes, and owing to generally
favorable conditions, many areas have naturally become reforested.
In the early days all ranch buildings were
constructed of logs, and even furniture was made by the settlers. The
trees also furnished the entire supply of fuel. In many localities they
serve the same purposes to-daythe ranchers and new settlers put up
their own buildings of logs obtained from the national forest under
free-use permits, or established ranchers can purchase at a low price,
equal to the cost of administering the sale.
From 1875 to 1895 most of the railroads of the
mountain region were built, and practically all construction was done
with local timber. Most of the cutting was done by small operators,
with sawmills of 6,000 to 10,000 feet b. m. daily capacity, who would
locate or purchase a small tract of timber land and then cut not only
that but the timber on adjoining Government land. The operators of that
day paid little or no stumpage for their timber and cut only that which
was the most easily obtained or which was best suited to their
Since 1905, when the forests came under the
jurisdiction of the Forest Service, the Government's timber has been
sold to private purchasers at fair rates of stumpage, and cutting has
been restricted to trees whose removal would benefit the remaining
stand. The stumpage price charged in each sale is the difference between
the market price of the product and the estimated cost of production
plus a liberal allowance for profit to the operator.
The amount of timber cut in the Pike National Forest
for the year ending June 30, 1921, was 3,420,000 feet b. m., for which
$4,900 was paid the Government for stumpage. In addition, about
1,000,000 feet b. m., mainly of dead material, was granted free to
settlers and miners for their own use.
The area of the Pike National Forest is 1,256,112
acres, of which 162,956 acres is patented or privately owned, and
108,000 acres is above timber line. The present stand of timber in the
forest is estimated to be 1,100,000,000 feet b. m., of which 620,000,000
feet b. m. is considered to be in commercial stands and 480,000,000 feet
b. m. in protection stands.
The following list gives the species in the order of
their abundance in the present merchantable stands, the names in
parentheses being those often used by local timbermen: Engelmann spruce
(white spruce), yellow pine (immature timber is called blackjack),
Douglas fir (red spruce), lodgepole pine, white pine, limber pine (white
pine or piñon), bristlecone pine (sugar pine or piñon),
alpine fir (white fir), white fir (balsam or black balsam), Colorado
blue spruce (water spruce), and aspen (quaking asp). Of these, Douglas
fir is the most valuable for railroad ties and lumber for other
purposes, and yellow pine second.
When an application for a timber sale is received by
the Forest Service it is first necessary to determine whether the timber
applied for should be sold. Where dead timber is available and will
answer the purpose its use is encouraged. The object of cutting green
timber is to improve the stand by the removal of the mature and
defective trees, which are growing very slowly, and to thin crowded
groups of trees, leaving a stand of younger thrifty saplings and poles
with plenty of growing space and permitting young trees to come in
wherever there is not already a sufficient stand. In order to improve
the stand and keep it in the best of condition for future growth it is
necessary to base the time and method of cutting on the needs of the
forest rather than on the desire of the operators. In the slow-growing
stands of this forest it will generally be from 30 to 50 years or more
after the first cutting before the area should be cut over again.
PLATE XII. A (top). RESULT OF A RECENT FOREST FIRE. Scarred and
blackened tree trunks and half-burned logs mark the path of a recent
fire through the national forest. Photograph by the U. S. Forest
B (bottom). RESULT OF AN OLD FOREST FIRE. An old "burn"
in a national forest. Its pathway is marked by the white skeletons of
the dead trees, which are ready to fall in a hopeless tangle when struck
by a hard wind. Photograph by the U. S. Forest Service.
PLATE XIII. A (left). MARKING MERCHANTABLE TIMBER. Marking trees
in midwinter for a national forest timber sale. Photograph by the U. S.
B (right). ENGLEMANN SPRUCE. A typical stand of
Englemann spruce, which grows only at high altitudes. Photograph by the
U. S. Forest Service.
In a Forest Service timber sale each green tree to be
cut is designated by blazing and stamping it with a "U. S." stamp. This
marking is necessary in order that the trees which are to form the basis
of the future stand will not be destroyed. (See Pl. XIII, A.)
After the marked trees are cut and skidded or hauled to a central point,
the material is scaled or measured by a forest ranger and there sawed
into lumber by a small mill. Contracts for the sale of green timber
provide for the disposal of the brush and debris resulting from the
cutting. Where there is a serious menace of fire the purchaser is
required to pile the brush and burn it when there is no danger of the
fire spreading. Where the danger from fire is not so great, or where
some protection of the soil is needed to induce reproduction, the
purchaser is required to trim the tops and scatter the brush so that it
will lie close to the ground, where it will absorb moisture and decay
rapidly. The proper disposal of brush is the most necessary measure
for the protection of a cut-over forest from fire.
In the early days of settlement in this country the
forest suffered considerably from fires. (See Pl. XII, A and
B.) The present fire-fighting methods and organization were
unheard of. In 1869 a fire started by hunters on Pikes Peak is said to
have burned intermittently for eight months and to have covered many
thousands of acres, though there were several times during this period
when a small crew of men could have extinguished it. Similar fires
covered about 250,000 acres in the Pike National Forest, and of this
area 60,000 acres is not restocking but must be reforested.
While visiting Colorado Springs the traveler will
notice burned-over areas on the slopes of Pikes Peak. Several cities and
towns procure their water supply from the slopes of this mountain, so
it is of great importance that the forest growth be extended and
maintained. An agreement has been entered into between the Forest Service
and the cities of Colorado Springs, Manitou, and Cascade that the
service shall reforest these slopes as rapidly as the funds available
will permit. Already about $100,000 has been expended in this work, and
complete plans have been formulated for its continuation until tree
growth has been established upon the entire area suited to the purpose.
In making the trip to Pikes Peak over the automobile highway the
traveler passes through several of these plantations.
PLATE XIV. A (top). A FOREST NURSERY. The Monument nursery of the
U. S. Forest Service, in which young trees are grown from the seed. This
nursery contains 1,729,000 seedlings and 810,000 transplants, which
later will be used for reforesting some of the burned-over areas.
Photograph by the U. S. Forest Service.|
B (middle). OLD CHARCOAL KILNS.
Into such kilns as these much of the forest of the Rocky
Mountains has disappeared. The charcoal which it made was used before
coke became available for smelting ores. Photograph by the U. S. Forest
C (bottom). YELLOW PINE. Typical stand of yellow pine in
the Pike National Forest. Photograph by the U. S. Forest Service.
In order to accomplish this planting a nursery has
been established just west of the town of Monument (Pl. XIV, A).
At the present time over 1,500,000 tree seedlings and 600,000
transplanted trees are growing in this nursery. These trees will be
planted in the mountains when they are two to three years old at a
distance of 6 to 8 feet apart. During 1920 the area thus reforested
comprised 738 acres and the planting required 570,000 trees.
Forest fires still cause great destruction in the
national forest. (See Pls. XII, A, B, and XV, A.) The
possibility of fires in the Pike National Forest is great, because eight
railroads traverse it, 5,000 people live in it, and 250,000 tourists
seek recreation within its borders. On the summit of Devils Head
Mountain the Forest Service has established a fire-lookout station
(Pl. XV, B), at which an officer is detailed to watch for fires
during spring, summer, and autumn. This officer is in direct
communication by telephone with the supervisor's office in Denver and
with the rangers whose districts he overlooks. As soon as a fire is
discovered he gives its location promptly and accurately so that the
rangers can start with men, tools, and supplies to fight it.
PLATE XV. A (top). A PLACE FOR ARTIFICIAL REFORESTATION. A tract
on the mountain back of Palmer Lake burned so severely that artificial
reforestation is necessary. The mountain top here is almost a perfect
plain (a peneplain). Pikes Peak, in the distance, rises nearly a mile
above its surface. Photograph by the U. S. Forest Service.|
B (bottom). FIRE-LOOKOUT STATION. On Devils Head Mountain, in the Pike
National Forest. The observer stationed here is on the lookout for all
forest fires occurring in an area of 600,000 acres. In case of fire he
notifies by telephone the superintendent at Denver and the local forest
rangers, who at once endeavor to put out the fire before it spreads and
destroys valuable timber. Photograph by the U. S. Forest Service.
Elevation 6,668 feet.
Denver 43 miles.
Above Dawson Butte the railroad continues up the
valley of East Plum Creek, winding around a projecting spur of the
plateau on the east to the village of Larkspur, from which a stage line
runs to the resorts in Perry Park, 4 miles to the west. This is a
natural parklike area at the foot of the mountains, made picturesque by
natural monuments of tilted and highly colored sandstone. Although less
known than the Garden of the Gods, near Manitou, it is similar in
general appearance and by many is regarded as fully equal to it in
natural beauty. In these castellated rocks those who have a vivid
imagination can see mystic monuments and towers, battlemented walls,
minarets and steeples, and the remains of vast cities that still reflect
in the massiveness of their ruins some of their former grandeur. To the
geologist these buttes and plateaus are also the ruins of a former age,
but instead of being carved by man and representing cities that have
passed away they were carved by water and wind from an older and higher
land surface that carried its own particular types of plants and
animals and that had a climate which may have been very different from
the climate of to-day. Compared with these remnants of this old land
surface the most ancient ruined cities are as the works of
Elevation 6,919 feet.
Denver 47 miles.
Elevation 7,237 feet.
Denver 52 miles.
Larkspur Butte on the east and Raspberry Butte on the
west are small remnants of this old surface. Beyond them the upland has
been cut away, leaving a rather broad valley in which stands the hamlet
of Greenland. After passing this village the train turns more toward the
southwest and pursues a direct course toward the low gap which separates
the headwaters of East Plum Creek on the north from those of Monument
Creek on the south. This gap is at the foot of the mountains and is
marked by Palmer Lake, the highest point on the line between Denver and
Pueblo. This lake and its relation to the mountain front are well shown
in Plate XVI, B. The lake and town were named for Gen. Palmer,
the organizer, first president, and inspiring genius of the Denver &
Rio Grande. Railroad. A more extended account of Gen. Palmer and his
work will be found on pages 54-60. The town of Palmer Lake is
composed largely of cottages for summer guests who come here for health and
recreation. The railroad station is 1,957 feet higher than Denver and
1,248 feet higher than Colorado Springs. Glen Park, an assembly ground
modeled after the famous Chautauqua of New York, is about a mile from
the station. The mountain front west of the lake rises abruptly, as
shown in Plate XVI, B, to a height of 1,800 feet above the level of the
lake. The summer cottages nestle in the ravines at the base of the
mountain and afford the inhabitants the advantages and attractions of
both the plains and the mountains.
The mountain front rises abruptly from the plain
without foot hills of any kind. The reason for the absence of foothills
is that the rocks of the plains, when they were bent by the upthrust of
the mountains, could not stand the strain to which they were subjected,
and in many places they broke and the lower crystalline rocks of the
mountains were forced up into direct contact with the broken edges of
the soft, flat-lying rocks of the plains, forming what is called a
fault. The positions of the rocks and their relations are shown in
figure 8. The effect of this fault has been much the same as that of the
small faults shown in Plate LXXXVII, A and B (p. 216).
FIGURE 8.Sketch section through Palmer Lake,
showing fault. The granite on the west has moved up (see Pl. LXXXVII, p.
216) with reference to the rocks of the plains.
Elevation 6,972 feet.
Denver 56 miles.
From Palmer Lake to Colorado Springs the railroad
extends down the valley of Monument Creek, so named from the pinnacles
and columns of white sandstone (Dawson arkose) that are left by the
irregular weathering of prominent outcrops. The first conspicuous
example is on the east (left) of the road, where a mass of the sandstone
has weathered into a form resembling an elephant. (See Pl. XVI,
A.) On account of this resemblance it is generally known as "The
Elephant." The valley immediately south of Palmer Lake is narrow, but
in a short distance it swings to the east and at the village of Monument
is broad, irrigated, and well farmed.
PLATE XVI. A (top). "ELEPHANT ROCK." Just after passing Palmer
Lake the guide on the train will call attention to the "Elephant" one of
the grotesque remnants of the Dawson arkose which has weathered into a
form resembling an elephant. Photograph by G. B. Richardson.|
B (bottom). PALMER LAKE. On a hot day in summer one of the most
refreshing sights between Denver and Colorado Springs is the little
sheet of water known as Palmer Lake. It lies on the divide between the
Arkansas and the Platte and also at the foot of the Front Range, which
shows on the right. Photograph furnished by the Denver & Rio Grande
Last Updated: 16-Feb-2007