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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.

Limon

By: Thomas J. Noel

Limon (1888, 5,366 feet), named for a railroad foreman, prospered as the junction point of the Union Pacific and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroads. Here, where the Smoky Hill trail split and the Rock Island Rocket passenger train divided, I-70/U.S. 40 and U.S. 24 now part...

Washington County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Huge herds of Texas longhorns began cropping the grass in Washington County in the early 1870s, and dry-land farmers arrived with the railroad in the 1880s. One of the biggest jokes among early farmers was the story of an emigrant who shipped a stump puller from his home in the East...

Akron

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1882, 4,462 feet), platted as a railroad grid town, was christened by a Burlington official's wife for her Ohio hometown. As the Greek word for high point or summit, Akron seemed appropriate for this division point on the crest of the divide between the South Platte and...

Otis

By: Thomas J. Noel

Otis (1886, 4,335 feet) was founded by the advancing Burlington line and platted and developed by that railroad's acreage arm, the Lincoln Land Company. The Otis Clipperthrived by publishing notices required for final proof on homesteads, preemptions, and timber claims. The two-...

Elbert County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Elbert County (1874) is named for Colorado territorial governor Samuel Hitt Elbert, the son-in-law of an earlier territorial governor, John Evans. Evans's Denver & New Orleans Railroad ran from Denver through Elizabeth and Elbert, towns he also named for in-laws, in the west end of...

Agate

By: Thomas J. Noel

Agate (1876, 5,458 feet) was originally known as Gebhard for local rancher Henry Gebhard and was renamed for the chalcedony agate stone found in the area. Another local legend has it that a large, A-frame gate at the townsite suggested the name for this town of around 400. The Agate...

Elbert

By: Thomas J. Noel

Begun as a sawmill settlement, Elbert (1860s, 6,715 feet) moved to its current site in 1882. Located in the county's “rain belt” at the edge of the Black Forest, Elbert was a premier potato growing district until a blight wiped out crops in the late 1920s. Since then, farming around...

Elizabeth

By: Thomas J. Noel

Elizabeth (1859, 6,478 feet) began as a small hamlet after brothers named Weber started a sawmill. In 1881 John Evans named the town, by then a stop on his Denver & New Orleans Railroad, for his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Gray Kimbark Hubbard. Today Elizabeth is luring city dwellers...

Matheson

By: Thomas J. Noel

Matheson (1886, 5,786 feet) was named for its original settler, Duncan Matheson, a young Scottish immigrant who raised sheep on the site. After the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad arrived, the town gained a post office and a general store and became a trading center for live...

Simla

By: Thomas J. Noel

Simla (1887, 5,966 feet) started as a Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific siding, which a railroad official's wife named after a town in northern India. In 1907 Michael Altman, from nearby Ramah, was encouraged to move his saloon, the Lumberjack, to Simla. Soon afterward Altman persuaded...

The Arkansas

By: Thomas J. Noel

These planks that were a town Lie warping in the sun
As if a barrel tumbled down the peaks
Were shattered into staves.
You always wish these wasted towns were older...

—Thomas Hornsby Ferril, “These Planks”

Flowing 1,450 miles from...

El Paso County

By: Thomas J. Noel

A bristling military presence, elegant homes and public buildings of Colorado Springs, the well-preserved resort town of Manitou Springs, and Colorado's ultimate resort hotel distinguish El Paso County's built environment. One of the original counties of 1861, El Paso emerged as a...

Colorado Springs

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1871, 6,012 feet) was planned by General William Jackson Palmer, whose equestrian statue (1929, Nathan D. Potter) is at Nevada and Platte avenues. Palmer, founder and president of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, planted his model town just outside the...

Colorado City

By: Thomas J. Noel

Colorado City (1860, 6,012 feet) was El Paso County's first Anglo-American settlement. It rivaled Denver and briefly captured the territorial capitol, but after the 1870s it was eclipsed by Colorado Springs, which annexed it in 1917. Colorado City became a smelting center,...

Cascade

By: Thomas J. Noel

Cascade (1887, 7,370 feet), named, like the nearby creek, for the many waterfalls in this scenic canyon, was promoted as a resort town by the Colorado Midland Railroad. The Cascade Community House (1927), U.S. 24 near Pikes Peak Road, was built as a Spanish Colonial Revival hacienda for...

Manitou Springs

By: Thomas J. Noel

Manitou Springs (1871, 6,412 feet) has the natural mineral springs for which Colorado Springs is named. It was established as a resort town by Colorado Springs founder General William Palmer and Dr. William A. Bell, vice-president of the D&RG. They platted the 640-acre site...

Pueblo County

By: Thomas J. Noel

James P. Beckwourth, Joseph Doyle, “Uncle Dick” (Richens L.) Wootton, and other mountain men built an adobe trading post in 1842 near the confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River. They called it El Pueblo (Spanish for village). El Pueblo was abandoned in 1854 after Chief...

Pueblo

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1860, 4,695 feet), a sleepy trading post, awakened in 1872 to the steam whistle of the Denver & Rio Grande. Rising with the railroad age, Pueblo had put up 185 new buildings by the end of 1873. By the 1880s, the D&RG and its subsidiary, the Colorado Fuel and Iron...

Bessemer, The Grove, and Southeast

By: Thomas J. Noel

Developed as an industrial area in the 1880s, Bessemer was named for the inventor of the blast furnace. Today most of Bessemer's smelters, mills, and factories are dead. The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, whose huge plants and soaring smokestacks still...

South Pueblo

By: Thomas J. Noel

A fine residential district occupies the bluffs looking north onto the Arkansas River. It includes three National Register districts (Adams Avenue, Argyle Avenue, and Pitkin Place) and some notable public buildings. From the 1st Street–Union Avenue exit off I-25, Union Avenue...

Beulah

By: Thomas J. Noel

Beulah (1873, 6,200 feet) is a small town and summer resort in a secluded valley with the Beulah Marble Quarry at the west end. Beulah red marble, known for its striking color and swirling patterns, was used for the wain-scoting of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. Prominent Pueblo...

Teller County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Ironically, the great Pikes Peak gold rush, which gave birth to Colorado, bypassed the richest goldfields of all, hidden just west of the peak. Cowboy Bob Womack scratched around the high-country cow pastures for years, theorizing that the surface gold he found would lead to richer...

Cripple Creek

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1891, 9,494 feet) is named for a rocky trickle notorious for crippling humans and animals. Cripple Creek lies on the lip of the crater of an extinct volcano whose lava extrusions contained gold veins that formed a “bowl of gold.” This discovery by Cowboy Bob Womack...

Florissant

By: Thomas J. Noel

This ranching community (1872, 8,178 feet) was founded by James Costello, who named it after his home in Missouri. The Colorado Midland Railroad built a depot here in 1887 on its line to Leadville and Aspen. Florissant thrived as a supply and lumber town during the Cripple Creek...

Victor

By: Thomas J. Noel

After the Cripple Creek rush began, Frank M. and Harry E. Woods of Denver platted Victor (1893, 9,693 feet) and named it for an early homesteader, Victor C. Adams. While mine owners and businessmen gravitated to Cripple Creek, Victor's working-class residents built clapboard and brick...

Fremont County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Explorer John C. Frémont gave his name to one of Colorado's pioneer counties, although he failed to negotiate its awesome Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River. In the Arkansas River valley, a few pre–gold rush settlements, including Hard-scrabble, an 1844 adobe plaza town, have...

Cañon City

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1859, 5,343 feet) lies in a broad valley where the Arkansas River emerges from the Royal Gorge. Born as a supply camp for the upper Arkansas River mines, Cañon City led an up-and-down adolescent career during local gold, coal, oil, tin, and zinc booms. The D&RG,...

Florence

By: Thomas J. Noel

Florence (1873, 5,187 feet) was founded by James McCandless, who named it for his daughter. Eleven years earlier, oil bubbling to the surface of Oil Creek had inspired Alexander M. Cassidy to dig a well. He found the first oil field in the Rocky Mountain West and supposedly the second...

Howard

By: Thomas J. Noel

A sign announces Howard (1877, 6,720 feet) as “The Home of 150 Nice People and a Few Soreheads.” The Howard Bridge (1924, Minneapolis Steel and Machinery Company), off U.S. 50 over the Arkansas (NR), is a single-span, Warren pony truss structure. The Stout House (c. 1880, William Stout),...

Portland

By: Thomas J. Noel

This company town (1899, 5,100 feet), named for its cement plant, has a D&RG railroad spur to ship Portland cement to construction projects across the state. Portland cement has been manufactured here since 1898, using local deposits of lime, silica, and gypsum. In 1901 James...

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