Cultural Resources Program
Welcome to the Cultural Resources Webpage!
Hike Through History: Virtually Visit the City of Boulder's Open Space and Mountain Parks' Cultural Resources
Enjoy one or all of these self-guided hikes which are written for people of all ability levels who want to enjoy the outdoors and learn about some of the last 150 years of Boulder history*! The hikes range in ability levels from easy to difficult. We want you to enjoy your cultural resources, but, please stay on trail and be respectful as you do so. Please refrain from climbing on features, collecting artifacts, or otherwise disturbing these important cultural resources.
*Due to legal and ethical constraints meant to protect sensitive cultural resources, these guided hikes do not include locations or descriptions of resources associated with indigenous communities.
View the Cultural Resources Story Map.
All historic-age photographs used in the story map are courtesy of the Carnegie Library for Local History, and are part of either the Carnegie library or Boulder Historical Society collections.
Weiser House is now on the National Register of Historic Places!
The home of open space and conservation proponent Ricky Weiser was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in October, 2013. Students from the Preservation Technology department of the University of Colorado Denver prepared the nomination which focused on the architecture and history of the building. Ricky Weiser was the first woman director of the Boulder Shakespeare Festival, and worked tirelessly to promote natural and cultural resource conservation in the community. The City of Boulder OSMP purchased a conservation easement on the property before her death in 2002. When her sons decided to sell the property, OSMP purchased the 240 acre property, including the house, in 2011. The house was built in 1963 in the height of Boulder’s mid-century modern architectural movement. She chose local architect L. Gale Abels because she liked the way he integrated the natural surroundings into the house design.
Because of its proximity to a federal bald eagle nesting closure, the property can only be visited August through October. Guided tours of the property are offered at www.naturehikes.org.
Flood related Cultural Resource News
While our recent floods devastated much of the Front Range of Colorado, the cultural resources on the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountains Parks properties held up surprisingly well. Here are a few highlights:
Flagstaff Mountain Cultural Landscape District:
The structures in this Boulder County Historic District were almost unscathed. There are some places that will need minor repair at the Sunrise Amphitheatre, but Green Mountain Lodge, Stone Shelter, Halfway House, and the Halfway House restroom were undamaged by the flood.
However, while Green Mountain Lodge was undamaged, the road from Realization Point was completely destroyed. Similarly, the stone structures like the cattle guard and stone switchback along Chapman Drive held up very well, but much of the road itself was destroyed.
The short stretch of road connecting Green Mountain Lodge with Realization Point and Gregory Canyon was originally built as a wagon road in the 1860s to provide access from Central City gold mines to Boulder merchants.
One spot that washed away revealed a wooden pole with some rusted wire attached to it – could it be part of the original road? Maybe….we will probably never know, but the floodwaters did uncover cultural resources all along our system.
One of the most heavily damaged areas on OSMP was the Sanitas Valley trail system. The stone structures were undamaged, but the historic Silver Lake Ditch was filled with sediment (it has since been removed). A dump, perhaps dug by the original Boulder Sanitarium staff, was uncovered and revealed glass, broken pottery, pots and pans, and other items.
Enchanted Mesa Bridge
There are many places in the mountain backdrop that have been altered forever by the flood, but one of the most astonishing sights was the Enchanted Mesa Bridge along the McClintock Trail. Enchanted Mesa Bridge. The bridge, also called a culvert here at OSMP, is near the Chautauqua Auditorium and just above the Mariposa neighborhood. Our records indicate it was probably built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and then rehabilitated and strengthened in about 1997. The neighborhood now refers to it as the ‘hero bridge,’ as it stopped a river of boulders from continuing on to the neighborhood and perhaps even into the auditorium. A visit to the site just after the flood found the Enchanted Mesa Road heavily damaged because boulders and mud lined the original creek bed and water was now forming the creek where the road used to be. At first glance, the upstream side was not visible as the wall of the bridge was covered with boulders and other debris. About a foot of mud settled onto the bridge and then some vegetation was found on the downstream side.
Xcel crews cleaned of the bridge and were very careful to keep as much of it in tact as possible. The bridge suffered some damage and loss to the masonry, especially on the upstream side, but overall the ‘hero bridge’ is in good condition. Well done, CCC!!!
Students work to nominate historic agricultural district
The view west from the top of Davidson Mesa is much like it was 100 years ago. The open spaces which belong to the City of Boulder have long been used for agricultural purposes and the fact that it is used for its historic use even today makes it a very special place. ‘City dwellers’ don’t have to drive far to see agriculture at work – here, it’s carried out every day by our agricultural lessees, the Hogan brothers.
In fact, drivers on Cherryvale and South Boulder Road are occasionally stopped by cowboys on horseback as they drive cattle across the road. The infrastructure used by the ranching lessees is much as it was when it was originally built. In the case of the Viele/Van Vleet Ranch, that means the buildings have been unchanged since their construction in the 1880s.
Students enrolled in the UCD Preservation Technology program have been working on a National Register nomination to include the approximately 1,640 agricultural acres along Cherryvale as a National Cultural Landscape. The nomination is quite complex, as it includes 11 historic ditches, scores of standing structures, and a number of structures in ruins. It is expected to be ready to present to the Colorado State Advisory Board in the spring of 2014. If it is approved by the Board, it will be sent to the National Register Keeper at the National Park Service office in Washington, D.C. where final determination will be made.
Restoration work on these buildings is made possible by funds from the Colorado Lottery
and a generous grant from Boulder County.
Let's go hiking!
Enjoy one or all of these self-guided hikes which are written for people of all ability levels who enjoy the outdoors but want to learn about Boulder history, too! They range in ability levels from easy to difficult. We want you to enjoy your cultural resources, but as you do, please stay on trail be respectful of the resources. Refrain from climbing on resources, collecting any artifacts you may find or vandalizing the properties.
Below are only five of the many potential "historic hikes" in our system. Enjoy these for starters and keep an eye on this website for more in the near future!
- Hiking in Mount Sanitas: easy to moderate/difficult; health, sanitarium themes
- Chautauqua Historic Loop: moderate 3.5 mile hike; Chautauqua, flagstone quarry; community involvement and Civilian Conservation Corps themes
- Goshawk Ridge Historic Trek: moderate; railroad, agriculture, recreation and geology themes
Doudy Draw Picnic Area: easy; homesteading theme
South Mesa Trailhead Cultural Landscape: easy to difficult; homesteading, agriculture and summer recreation themes
Flagstaff Summit Adventure: easy to moderate; New Deal Construction, Civilian Conservation Corps, Boulder history and recreation themes
For more information or "What's that building on the such and such trail":
For more information about the program, to ask a question about a resource on OSMP lands or to share your own knowledge of our cultural resources, please email Julie Johnson, Cultural Resources Coordinator.