Platte River - Henderson, CO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
N 39° 55.511 W 104° 52.564
13S E 510590 N 4419460
Quick Description: This marker explores the impact of the Platte River on the development in the area.
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 8/25/2012 1:53:48 PM
Waymark Code: WMF58R
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Miles ToGeo
Views: 2

Long Description:
The marker reads:

Text Block 1

Jack Henderson

If, as explorers proclaimed, this region was the “Great American Desert,” you couldn’t have proved it by Jack Henderson. He founded one of the South Platte Valley’s first ranches right here in 1859 and watched an agrarian paradise blossom around it, full of fat grass-fed cattle and irrigated farms whose crops fed Denver’s hungry gold rushers. Henderson left within a few years, having neglected to file the proper papers on his claim, but his successors prospered into the twentieth century, selling to nearby Brighton’s canneries, flour mills, and Great Western Sugar Company plant. In 1908 the Colonel’s old spread became the city of Denver’s “poor farm,” sustaining the indigent and unemployed until 1947. Still a centerpiece of the community, it is today the site of the Adams County Fairgrounds and Museum.

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The South Platte River

Author James Michener once derided the South Platte as “the most miserable river in the West.” But the West—Colorado in particular—would be miserable without it. Though unnavigable by boat it was a natural commercial corridor; mid-nineteenth-century traders ferried their wares back east along its banks. In the 1860s a torrent of gold seekers, farmers, and enterprisers came to Colorado along the South Platte Trail—50,000 in 1860 alone, by one estimate. These settlers relied on the river to irrigate their crops; it has supported one of the nation’s most productive agricultural regions for more than a century. Even the muddy, gravelly streambed has proven valuable, providing construction material for roads and buildings. Shallow and muddy it may be, but the South Platte has made its mark deep and clear on Colorado.
Photo: Painting of River

Crossing the Ford, Platte River, Colorado, Worthington Whittredge, about 1871
Colorado Historical Society

Photo: Ditch

In 1910, onlookers watch water pour through the Burlington Ditch, part of a canal system built by Adams County farmers to irrigate their fields. Off to the side sits equipment used for tapping another South Platte resource—gravel and sand for cement production.
Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Photo: Color “panorama” of poor farm

In the mid-1910s, the word poor was dropped and the institution (seen here in 1935) was known simply as the Denver Farm.
Courtesy Adams County Historical Society

Photo: men with Kuner boxes

In 1916, the Kuner Pickle Factory relocated its headquarters from Denver to Brighton. By the time of this 1952 Adams County Fair photo, the company and its products dominated the Rocky Mountain region.
Courtesy Adams County Historical Society

Text Block 1

Between 1900 and 1910 approximately two thousand Japanese immigrants came to the South Platte valley, many recruited to work on the railroad, irrigation projects, or tilling the region’s sugar-beet fields for the Great Western Sugar Company. Many of these families settled permanently in Adams County, forming a tight-knit, well-organized community. Though confronted with restrictive laws and outright racism, the Japanese persevered and prospered, buying farms or moving into other middle-class occupations. They formed their own agricultural cooperatives and unions (in part because established organizations excluded them) and maintained a rich cultural life; Brighton alone had a Japanese-language newspaper and school, a large Buddhist temple, and a Japanese Hall. Some of the families that arrived from Japan in the early 1900s have now been in Colorado for three or four generations, blending into their communities while retaining a distinct cultural identity.

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Truck Farms

With its fertile soils, excellent irrigation system, and proximity to Denver, Adams County offered an ideal environment for truck farms. These five- to ten-acre operations proliferated during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, providing urban grocers and canning factories with the bulk of their fresh fruits and vegetables. Many sold directly to consumers from roadside stands. Their small size kept capital and labor requirements at a minimum, making truck farms attractive opportunities for working-class families, particularly immigrants; many of Adams County’s truck farmers were Japanese or Italian (the latter concentrated near the town of Welby). Truck farms faded after 1960, as supermarket chains turned to large-scale growers and industrial sprawl consumed much of this region’s best agricultural acreage. But a few remain, supplying Denverites with fresh tastes from the past.
Photo: Truck and farm stalls

City Market, Denver, about 1918. Vegetables from the mainly Italian community of Welby in southern Adams County were famous. To ensure the best possible prices, area farmers formed the Vegetable Producers Cooperative Association in 1923 under the leadership of Caesar Gerali.
Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Photo: Japanese men

In 1903, Harry Hokasano recruited more than 500 Japanese laborers to the Adams County area to work for the railroads and mines, and on irrigation and agricultural projects.
Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Photo: Japanese School

Courtesy Emi Chikuma

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Rocky Mountain Arsenal

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal surely helped win World War II. Built in 1942 on former farmland approximately seven miles southeast of here, it produced millions of pounds of munitions and served as an important mid-continent distribution point. It also enabled the Coloradans who worked here, especially women, to make a real difference in the war effort. During the Korean and Vietnam conflicts the Arsenal primarily made chemical weapons (they were never deployed) and later leased portions of the land to manufacturers of pesticides and jet fuel. With as many as 14,000 employees, the facility helped trigger Denver’s postwar economic explosion, but its years of intensive production had an unintended effect—though all tenants complied with prevailing disposal regulations, the groundwater and soil had become polluted. Since the mid-1970s, there has been no military or industrial production at the Arsenal. The site’s only mission is the cleanup and transition of the land into a national wildlife refuge.

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Wildlife Refuge

During the Arsenal’s years of operation, a buffer zone of undeveloped land surrounding the manufacturing facilities became a haven for various species of wildlife. In 1986, with the discovery and subsequent study of bald eagles at the Arsenal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service realized the importance of Arsenal lands as wildlife habitat. In 1992, Rocky Mountain Arsenal was designated a national wildlife refuge—one of the country’s largest in a metropolitan area providing habitat for almost 300 species including bald eagles, mule deer, coyotes, prairie dogs, hawks, and burrowing owls. Once known only for its toxicity, the Arsenal today is considered a model of environmental restoration, a wild sanctuary in the heart of an urban setting.
Photo: Family and house

The Egli family, about 1920. Their farmhouse still stands near the Arsenal’s Visitor Center.
Courtesy Public Relations Office, Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Photo: Aerial View

South Plants, a former chemical manufacturing complex at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, 1964. Today all 200 structures that comprised South Plants have been demolished. When cleanup is complete the area will be restored and reseeded with native prairie grasses and wildflowers.
Courtesy Public Relations Office, Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Photo: Deer with Buildings in Background

Progress continues on the safe, timely, and cost-effective environmental cleanup and transition of the Arsenal from a World War II munitions manufacturing plant to a premier urban wildlife refuge. When complete the site will become one of 504 national wildlife refuges in the United States.
Courtesy Public Relations Office, Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Photo: Boardwalk

Lake Mary was created in 1959 as a fishing spot for the children of Arsenal employees. Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses the lake to teach visitors about prairie, wetland, and upland communities.
Courtesy Public Relations Office, Rocky Mountain Arsenal (from (visit link) )
Group or Groups Responsible for Placement:
Colorado Historical Society, Colorado Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Adminstration

County or City: Adams

Date Dedicated: 2000

Check here for Web link(s) for additional information: Not listed

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