The History of Bear Creek

Bear Creek, known far and wide for its beautiful scenery, has a storied history worth exploring.
Let’s roll back the years and revisit the history of Bear Creek, from the very beginning to more
recent developments.

Early Bear Creek

Various accounts describe the original inhabitants of the Pikes Peak region as the Ute Indians.
The Ute lived in Colorado as well as Utah and parts of Arizona and New Mexico.

One particular band of nomadic Utes came down from Pikes Peak into the western valleys
where they camped for the summers. The camp was near Glen Eyrie which means the band
probably hunted for food in Bear Creek Canyon.

The name the band gave themselves was “Nuche” which translated to “the People.” They were
the ones who early pioneers credited with establishing the first trail to Pikes Peak’s summit. The
trail was called the Old Bear Creek trail and it was the primary route to the summit of Pikes
Peak for many years.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the beginnings of Bear Creek Regional Park were
established. First, El Paso County bought the Liebig Ranch. This land would later become the
Bear Creek Regional Park.

The following year, the county built a Poor Farm facility on the ranch. Today, the Park
Headquarters stands where that Poor Farm facility once stood.

Gold and Mining

As with many of the surrounding areas, it’s impossible to discuss the history of Bear Creek
without bringing up gold and mining.

Alexander Rooney was one of the first white settlers in the region in the mid-1800s. He
established Rooney Ranch which extended into what is now Bear Creek Lake Park. Though it
was the abundance of water and trees in the area that attracted him to it, coal became a major
player in the success of the ranch.

Rooney leased his land to several mining companies so they could take advantage of the
abundant natural resource deposits. Mining in the area was no easy feat. Miners used Bear
Creek Trail to get up Bear Creek and, at the time, the trail went through an incredibly rugged
canyon. The miners needed ropes and dynamite to create horizontal shelves they could use to
get up the vertical walls.

In 1901, builders completed the Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railroad (aka “the
Short Line”) that runs through Bear Creek Canyon. The main purpose of the railroad was to
transport gold ore to a mill in Colorado Springs, though it also became a popular means of travel
for tourists, including President Teddy Roosevelt.


As more and more settlers came to the Bear Creek region to live, towns and small
neighborhoods began to crop up.

One of those small villages is Idledale, CO. Idledale was known as Starbuck Heights until 1933
when a terrible storm hit. In the rebuild, the town was renamed Idledale. The town is perhaps
best known for its historic Dunafon Castle which was constructed in the 1930s and 40s. Today,
it’s a popular wedding venue.

Conifer is yet another Bear Creek region town that went through a name change. It was
originally known as Bradford Junction back in the 1860s, but the name became Conifer in the
early 1900s. Back in the day, the area was a stagecoach stop for travelers headed to South
Park. The establishment of the railroad cut down on travel through the area, though, and the
town dwindled for a while.

If you’re looking for a true Old West town, Golden is the place to be. During the Pike’s Peak
Gold Rush, the town was originally founded as Golden City and it was a popular place for
miners to settle. Eventually, the town name was simplified to just Golden.

Evergreen is another historic neighborhood in the Bear Creek area. It was one of the areas that
the Ute Indians used as hunting grounds. Later, settlers came to the region and created a
booming economy through the lumber trade. The Evergreen Reservoir, created in 1928, made
the town even more popular.

Kittredge was always a tiny town near Bear Creek known for its camping and fishing options.
Of all these towns, Morrison is the one most closely related to Bear Creek since it runs directly
through the town! The creek created a large, flat piece of land that was ideal for building on and
settlers took advantage of that. In 1872, businessmen came to the area and brought prosperity
with them. After the construction of the railroad, Morrison was frequently used to transport
materials back and forth to Denver.

Need Towing in Bear Creek?

Bear Creek Towing is proud to serve the Bear Creek area with premier towing services. Towing
may not make the history books but it’s a necessary service nonetheless and we’re happy to
contribute to Bear Creek however we can. Call us anytime for towing, recovery, roadside
service, and more!

Related Posts