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Place-based Essays

Essays in SAH Archipedia are broadly grouped as either place-based or thematic. Place-based essays include overviews of architecture in specific U.S. states and cities. Thematic essays examine architectural and urban issues within and across state and regional boundaries. Like individual building entries, essays are accompanied by rich subject metadata, so you can browse them by style, type, and period. SAH Archipedia essays are comprised of peer-reviewed scholarship (born-digital and print-based) contributed by architectural historians nationwide.

Minturn

By: Thomas J. Noel

Minturn (1885, 7,817 feet), named for a railroad official, grew up around a D&RG roundhouse and remains a blue-collar town strung out along the tracks. Locals once worked on the railroad, in Battle Mountain mines, and at lumbering, but most now labor in nearby resort communities....

Red Cliff

By: Thomas J. Noel

Red Cliff (1879, 8,750 feet) was founded after silver strikes on Battle Mountain drew a swarm of miners from Leadville. They found a place level enough to plat a town where the Eagle River Canyon broadened at its junction with Homestake and Turkey creeks. By 1881 Red Cliff boasted a...

Garfield County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Garfield County's main street, the Colorado River, has cut into the Flat Top Mountains the 2,000-foot gorge of Glenwood Canyon. This corridor for Amtrak and automobiles allows passengers a grand view of the cliffs of sandstone, limestone, and granite.

White settlers came in...

Glenwood Springs

By: Thomas J. Noel

A huge hot springs pool, a restored Victorian bathhouse, and a grand hotel make the county seat (1883, 5,765 feet) Colorado's favorite place to “take the waters.” The Yampah (big medicine) attracted the Utes for centuries before Captain Richard Sopris found the hot springs....

Glenwood Canyon

By: Thomas J. Noel

The Colorado River dug this 12.5-mile-long chasm through gray Mississippian and green-gray Devonian limestones, brown Ordovician dolomite, and light and chocolatebanded Cambrian quartzites to reach the foundation of pink Precambrian granite. This natural masonry, exposed and...

Carbondale

By: Thomas J. Noel

Carbondale (1888, 6,181 feet), named for a coal mining town in Pennsylvania, became a railroad town that tapped many area coal mines. Basking in the glow of nearby Aspen, it has a handsome, healthy main street of one- and two-story buildings. The post office (1987), 655 Main Street,...

Parachute

By: Thomas J. Noel

Parachute (1886, 5,095 feet) took its name from the creek that joins the Colorado River here. The creek's forks supposedly resemble the cords of a parachute. Renamed Grand Valley between 1904 and 1980, it is the birthplace of the oil shale industry and a classic twentieth-century boom-...

Rifle

By: Thomas J. Noel

Rifle (1884, 5,345 feet), named for Rifle Creek, was originally a cow town which claimed to load more cattle into rail cars than any community in Colorado. The Rifle Bridge over the Colorado River (1909, Charles G. Sheely), 1 mile south of Rifle off I-70 (NR), is the longest (430 feet)...

Silt

By: Thomas J. Noel

Silt (1898, 5,432 feet) was named for the soil deposited here by the Colorado River. At the Silt Wickiup Village, Ute Indians built their traditional shelters by lashing poles to trees and covering them with animal skin and brush. Silt had wooden water pipes and only one paved street until...

Pitkin County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Prospectors poked into the Roaring Fork River country as early as the 1870s. Their finds gave birth to the towns of Ashcroft, Aspen, and Independence and led to the creation in 1881 of a county named for Governor Frederick W. Pitkin. After the 1893 silver crash, Aspen and Pitkin County...

Aspen

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1880, 7,908 feet) offers architecture enthusiasts a wealth of Victoriana, Alpine shops and chalets, sleek Bauhaus-influenced structures, raw Mine-shaft Modern curiosities, and various Modernist and Post-modern residences. Some of America's most expensive resort structures...

Redstone

By: Thomas J. Noel

John Cleveland Osgood, president of Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, built Redstone (1898, 7,180 feet) as a model company town where coal was made into coke for the furnaces in Pueblo. Remains of 144 of some 250 beehive ovens still line Colorado 133 in this Crystal River valley village...

Snowmass

By: Thomas J. Noel

Snowmass (1904, 6,899 feet), initially a railroad siding with live-stock pens, became a post office community in 1904. The drive up scenic Snowmass Creek Valley passes scattered ranch houses, among them many old and new examples of log construction. In a spectacular mountain setting...

Mesa County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Grand Mesa—the world's biggest flat-topped mountain—gave its name to the county created in 1883. Ute was another name considered after the tribe was pushed out in 1881. Today few traces are left of the Utes except the trade beads which old-timers recover by screening sand from anthills....

Grand Junction

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat, Grand Junction (1881, 4,586 feet), initially promoted as Denver West, was named for its site at the confluence of the Grand (renamed the Colorado in 1921) and Gunnison rivers. Following the removal of the Utes in 1881, George A. Crawford and others founded the...

Collbran

By: Thomas J. Noel

Collbran (1891, 5,987 feet) was named for Henry Collbran of the Colorado Midland Railroad in the vain hope of attracting a rail line. A ranching town and former stage stop, it retains a quaint, false-fronted main street. The most impressive structures are the Collbran General Store (c....

Whitewater

By: Thomas J. Noel

Whitewater (1883, 4,660 feet) is a ranching center named for rapids in the Gunnison River west of town. The barren badlands between Whitewater and Delta inspired a local wag to post a homemade sign, “Stinking Desert National Monument.” The Bradbury Ranch (1895, Daniel Bradbury), 4614...

Fruita

By: Thomas J. Noel

Christened for the orchards that made Mesa County the fruit basket of Colorado, Fruita (1884, 4,498 feet) was platted by William E. Pabor, a D&RG publicist and one of Colorado's early proponents of agriculture. Pabor promoted Fruita as a producer of almonds, apricots, apples, grapes,...

Rio Blanco County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Rio Blanco County (1889) is named for the White River, which flows through both Meeker and Rangely, the only sizable towns. Approximately 6,000 people reside in this rural county, which had a considerable prehistoric population. Among many pictographs, fortifications, and dwellings...

Meeker

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1885, 6,249 feet) was named for Nathan Meeker, who was found after the Ute attack on the White River Ute Indian Agency with a barrel stave driven through his throat. After this bloody episode and the ouster of the Utes, an army cantonment here evolved into a pleasant,...

Rangely

By: Thomas J. Noel

Rangely (1884, 5,224 feet) remained a small ranching town until the 1902 opening of the Rangely Field, the sixth largest oil field in the United States. As the hub of oil production for northwestern Colorado, Rangely has become a jumble of quonset huts and other pre-fabricated...

Moffat County

By: Thomas J. Noel

The Moffat Road, which began as the Denver, Salt Lake & Pacific and became the Denver & Rio Grande, never reached the last two destinations incorporated into its original name. But it did get to Craig, which became the county seat when the northwest corner of Colorado became...

Craig

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1889, 8,113 feet) was named for the minister who started the handsome First Christian Church, 601 Yampa Avenue. Churches notwithstanding, Craig became a “yee-haw” Saturday night town for cowboys, railroad workers, and oilfield roughnecks, with stops such as the still rowdy...

Brown's Park

By: Thomas J. Noel

This broad valley on the Green River, also known as Brown's Hole, was a rendezvous point for fur trappers. Fort Davy Crockett (1838–1844), on the east bank of Green River in Brown's Park National Wildlife Refuge, was described by Thomas Jefferson Franham in 1839 as “a hollow...

Dinosaur National Monument

By: Thomas J. Noel

President Woodrow Wilson in 1915 set aside 80 acres around a dinosaur bone quarry in Utah as a national monument that was expanded into Colorado by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938. Primarily semiarid land with extreme temperature fluctuations, the 326-square-mile...

Routt County

By: Thomas J. Noel

John L. Routt, Colorado governor from 1875 to 1879, gave his name to the county created in 1877. Gold initially attracted argonauts and gave birth to the towns of Clark, Columbine, and Hahns Peak. Coal—the black gold excavated at Oak Creek and many other communities—became the prime...

Steamboat Springs

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1875, 6,695 feet), at the junction of Soda Creek and the Yampa River, was established by James H. Crawford and named for the chugging sound of one of its more exuberant springs. Crawford and a group of investors platted a grid town which captured the county...

Clark

By: Thomas J. Noel

Clark (1889, 7,721 feet), a stop named for stage operator Worthington Clark, became a ranching and mining center. The Clark School (1915), a stone and clapboard schoolhouse with an open belfry, does not hide its pedagogical origins although it has been remodeled as a private residence....

Hahns Peak

By: Thomas J. Noel

Routt County's oldest town, Hahns Peak (1862, 8,120 feet) was the county seat for thirty-three years until replaced by Steamboat Springs in 1912. Joseph Hahn, who found gold here in 1866, died of exposure before his camp boomed in 1874 and absorbed the nearby camps of Bug Town (later...

Hayden

By: Thomas J. Noel

Hayden (1875, 6,336 feet) was named for Ferdinand V. Hayden, the U.S. Geological Surveyor who camped near here while doing fieldwork for the first Geological and Geographical Atlas of Colorado (1877). Founded as a ranch center, Hayden became a rail town in 1913. This quaint, tree-...

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