Archive for Colorado History

The Hayman Fire

Posted in Our Heros, The Big Chili Cook-Off, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 11-16-2011 by thebigchilicookoffevergreen

The Hayman Fire was a forest fire that started between the Kenosha Mountains and Pikes Peak on June 8, 2002, and became the largest fire in Colorado’s recorded history. Hundreds of forestry officials and firefighters fought the fast-moving inferno, which caused nearly $40 million in damages, burned 133 homes and forced the evacuation of 5,340 people. Smoke could be seen and smelled nearly 200 miles away. The fire wasn’t contained until July 2, 2002 and was finally brought under control on July 18, 2002.

It was determined that the fire was started by arson when a federal forestry officer named Terry Barton attempted to burn a letter from her estranged husband inside a campfire ring, ignoring a fire ban being enforced because of severe drought. She also wanted to play the hero by saving the forest, but that is far from what happened. The results of her actions were tragic. The fire quickly spread out of the campfire ring and eventually torched over 138,000 acres and burned across four different counties. The fire she started killed not only animals but also five firefighters and Ann Dow, a mother of three who died of an acute asthma attack caused by smoke inhalation.

A federal grand jury indicted Barton on four felony counts of arson.  Barton ultimately pleaded guilty to the arson charge and was given a six-year sentence in federal prison. She was also ordered to reimburse the federal government $14.6 million. The State of Colorado sentenced her to 15 years probation in addition to her federal sentence.

The trees and vegetation will grow back. The animals will return. The property will eventually be rebuilt, but there is nothing Terry Barton can do to make up for the loss of life caused by her rash actions that June day in 2002. And although we can’t bring back those who have been lost, we can honor them … by remembering.


Humphrey Memorial Park & Museum

Posted in 2011, Around Town, The Big Chili Cook-Off, USA with tags , , , , , , , , on 07-18-2011 by thebigchilicookoffevergreen

Nestled on 35 pristine acres of mountain and meadows, the Humphrey Memorial Park & Museum offers a tranquil setting for visitors. Inside the historic homestead, now a museum, the Humphrey family’s treasures are viewed just as they lived with them. Each item that belonged to the family is still housed here nearly exactly as the last resident, Hazel Lou Humphrey left them. The Humphrey family bought the ranch in 1920, and continued to occupy the home until Hazel Lou’s death in 1995.

During her lifetime, Hazel Lou attained national historic status for the buildings and envisioned that one day, her ranch and home would become a museum for the community to enjoy.  She left a trust fund and will that created what is now the Humphrey Memorial Park and Museum. The Park and Museum represents one of the finest examples of ranching life in late 19th and early 20th Century Colorado. The ranch buildings are indicative of Old West architecture. In addition to the architecture and setting, the museum contains many of Hazel Lou’s grandmother’s treasures from her travels around the world, including art, textiles, china, porcelain, furniture and other collectibles.

Hazel Lou Humphrey was an accomplished horsewoman and was very civic minded, participating in many clubs and organizations during her lifetime. Many Evergreen residents remember that she was one of the founders of the Jefferson County Historical Society and helped save what is now the Hiwan Homestead Museum from being torn down for development. The museum and park are an ildyllic getaway, right in the heart of Evergreen, and many events are sponsored by the museum throughout the year. If you aren’t familiar with the Humphrey Memorial Park & Museum, you can get information here to plan a visit and step into Colorado history.

Hiwan Homestead

Posted in 2011, Around Town, The Big Chili Cook-Off with tags , , , , , , , , on 07-11-2011 by thebigchilicookoffevergreen

Dr. Josepha Williams was one of the first female doctors in Colorado in 1889, operating her own sanitarium in Denver for tubercular and lung ailment patients. The mountain getaway that is now Hiwan Homestead Museum was intended to be her place of refuge. Josepha and her mother acquired the property in 1893, using the property as a summer getaway.

The homestead originated as a hay barn, which wasn’t demolished, but refurbished. Dr. Jo, as she was known, hired a Scottish carpenter who harvested materials for the restoration from the local mountain area. The only items imported were rosewood windows in the upstairs chapel. Everything else, including pine and fir wood, was locally collected. 

In 1938, Dr. Jo died and her husband Charles, an Episcopal priest, died a few years later. The home was purchased by the Buchanan family which also acquired additional land for a cattle ranching business that spread to 30,000 acres. By 1973, most of that land had been sold for housing. Fearful that Hiwan would be demolished, Jefferson County bought it with an eye toward making it into a museum, and in 1974 it was added to the register of Historic Places.

Hiwan Homestead now houses a beautiful Native American collection, a historical library, photo collection, and archives. One may participate in guided tours and educational programs. The quirky feel of the home, which was enlarged over the years room by room, as well as the lovely art and furninshings (many purchased by the original owners) make a day at Hiwan feel like a visit to a friend’s home. It is easy to imagine the people who lived in these rooms and chose these things to decorate them. Step in to Hiwan Homestead, and step back in time to touch a piece of Colorado History.

Hiwan Homestead Museum is at 4208 South Timbervale Drive (just off Meadow Drive) in Evergreen, Colorado.