Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Denver's Mountain Parks

Whenever friends or relatives came to visit the Gallagher’s in Denver from anywhere outside of Colorado, the first place my father took us was to a Denver Mountain Park, Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum. My dad spent his early years growing up in Tabernash near Winter Park and a fisherman from youth with all his gear and tackle and trim, he knew every great fishing hole in Grand County. He loved Colorado’s mountains and streams and always caught his limit of those rose moled and all in stipple and speckled trout. He would sometimes catch some for other fishers. My dad enjoyed telling visitors the story of Buffalo Bill Cody’s passing and how the city of Cody, Wyoming named for him, threatened to come to Denver and steal his corpse and bury him at his ranch in Cody. Cody knew a good tourist attraction when they saw it. So the city fathers buried Bill under 5 tons of cement so those Cody body-snatchers could not rob him from the rightful grave right here in Colorado. His wife, who weighed over 300 pounds, was further buried on top on him. All this encouraged my father to joke: “Old Bill’s going to have one hell of a time getting out of that grave on the final day, getting through all that’s buried to keep him in Colorado.”

Encrusted like jewels in the crown of the Queen City of the Plains, Denver’s Mountain Parks boast unbridled beauty unmatched by an other American city. Mayor Robert Speer had the vision and started the acquisition of mountain sites to be official Denver Parks way back in 1912. Speer wanted people from Denver to be able to get away from the hurly burly of the city and escape to the treasures of mountain parks beyond the city limits. Today, Denver has 46 mountain parks affording visitors fishing, picnic sites with grills and shelters, bird watching, buffalo watching; hiking trails; horse shoes; geologic sites explained and marked; spectacular views and camera opportunities. Mayor Speer wanted the old Interurban Street Car which snacked its way from Denver to Lakewood in Jefferson County to be expanded to reach some of our early Denver Mountain Parks. But Jefferson County objected to all those Denverites trudging through their county even if they were trying to get to land owned by the city.

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