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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.

Del Norte

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1872, 7,882 feet) was founded at a crossing on the often frisky Río Grande del Norte. It supplanted a preexisting Hispanic town of La Loma de San Jose, founded 3 miles to the east in 1859 by Juan Bautista Silva and a settlement party from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Del...

Monte Vista

By: Thomas J. Noel

Monte Vista (1881, 7,663 feet), originally known as Lariat, prospered after the 1881 arrival of the D&RG and the introduction of irrigated farming. Monte Vista became an important shipping point for live-stock and crops, primarily barley and potatoes. The countryside is filled...

Mineral County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Silver, gold, zinc, lead, and copper gave Mineral County its name, but logging, ranching, and tourism have sustained its economy. Rio Grande National Forest and the Big Blue, La Garita, Weminuche, and Wheeler wilderness areas cover 90 percent of the land, supporting camping, hunting,...

Creede

By: Thomas J. Noel

“Holy Moses!” shouted Nicholas C. Creede upon striking a silver lode on Willow Creek two miles above its junction with the Rio Grande. His discovery in 1889 of what became the Holy Moses Mine started a rush that brought an estimated 10,000 people into this remote chasm and led to the...

Wagon Wheel Gap

By: Thomas J. Noel

Wagon Wheel Gap (1875, 8,390 feet), which started as a stage stop on the Rio Grande route into the San Juan mining regions, took its name from a pile of broken wagon wheels found along the old road. J. C. McLellan opened a hotel in 1881, and General William Jackson Palmer and the...

Saguache County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Saguache (Ute, blue earth) County (1867), with its sagebrush flats and montane borders, spans the northern end of the San Luis Valley. On the east it climbs to the crest of the 14,000-foot Sangre de Cristo range; on the west it rises into the Cochetopa Hills and the 14,000-foot San...

Saguache

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1867, 7,697 feet) was born in a gold rush and sustained by its grain mills and live-stock ranches. Otto Mears, the “Pathfinder of the San Juans,” founded one of several flour mills here, built area toll roads, and helped bring the Los Pinos Ute Indian Agency here. In...

Center

By: Thomas J. Noel

Center (1898, 7,645 feet) is a stable agricultural town of about 1,500 residents named for its location in the center of the San Luis Valley. James L. Hurt platted a grid community, which, after the San Luis Central Railroad arrived in 1913, became a major lettuce- and potato-growing...

Crestone

By: Thomas J. Noel

Crestone (1880, 7,863 feet) was founded as a gold mining camp on a spectacular foothills site at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As miners rushed in and gold poured out, the D&RG built a spur from Moffat. The town, located on the edge of a land grant, was named for the...

La Garita

By: Thomas J. Noel

La Garita (1858, 7,840 feet) was settled by Hispanics who named it for nearby La Garita (Spanish, lookout) Peak in the San Juan Mountains and began raising cattle, sheep, and crops. Newer log buildings include the La Garita Cash Store and Post Office, while the old adobe school, with...

Mineral Hot Springs

By: Thomas J. Noel

Mineral Hot Springs (1911, 7,740 feet), on the D&RG, was named for several hot springs known to the Utes long before the area was homesteaded in the 1880s. Of thirty-seven hot springs, the Chamberlain (c. 1912) was one of the first developed for tourists, but is now part...

Moffat

By: Thomas J. Noel

Moffat (1890, 7,561 feet), platted by the D&RG, was named for the railroad's one-time president David H. Moffat. Since the railroad withdrew, the town has lost most of its population. The Bank of Moffat (1897), on Moffat Way, the main street, with its original name still barely...

The Colorado

By: Thomas J. Noel

Here was the glint of the blossom rock,
Here Colorado dug the gold
For a sealskin vest and a rope of pearl
And a garter jewel from Amsterdam
And a house of stone with a jig-saw porch....
Here's where they cut the conifers and ribbed
The mines...

Grand County

By: Thomas J. Noel

A stream trickling out of Rocky Mountain National Park joins its first major tributaries—the Fraser and the Blue rivers—to become the Colorado, the mightiest canyon cutter in the world. Below Grand Lake the Colorado River valley widens into Middle Park, which occupies most of Grand...

Hot Sulphur Springs

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1874, 7,670 feet) is named for a hot spring that was a campsite for John C. Frémont on his 1853 expedition. Frémont was followed by other Euro-Americans who took a dip in what the Utes called “The Big Medicine”—sulfur-scented water that comes out of the earth...

Granby

By: Thomas J. Noel

Founded as a railroad town near the confluence of the Colorado and Fraser rivers, Granby (inc. 1905, 7,965 feet) was named for Colorado's U.S. District Attorney, Granby Hillyer, to flatter law enforcement officials concerned about the collection of roadhouses that first sprang up there....

Grand Lake

By: Thomas J. Noel

Colorado's largest natural body of water is a 400-foot-deep glacier-made bowl of sparkling water that reflects the surrounding mountains. The Utes, awed by its white mists, called it Spirit Lake, or White Buffalo Lake. Its water was perfectly clear and drinkable before the Bureau of...

Kremmling

By: Thomas J. Noel

Kremmling (1885, 7,322 feet) began with the general store of Kare Kremmling at the junction of the Blue and Colorado rivers and solidified as a town with the 1905 arrival of the railroad. It remains the supply town for a large, sparsely settled area of hay and live-stock ranches....

Summit County

By: Thomas J. Noel

“What a wonderful transformation has been wrought by man in this wonderful minerals section!” exulted the Summit County Journalin 1916. The Journalmarveled further that once only Utes had lived in a landscape where there were “no great white and brown dumps, no fuming...

Breckenridge

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1860, 9,603 feet) was named for U.S. Vice President John C. Breckinridge but changed the spelling of its name after he joined the Confederacy. Prospectors first prowled the confluence of the Blue and Swan rivers and French Gulch in 1859. Fearing the Utes and the...

Dillon

By: Thomas J. Noel

Dillon (1879, 9,156 feet) is said to have been named for Thomas Dillon, a wandering prospector. Like him, the town has been migratory. Originally on the Snake River, it was moved to the Blue River and then to a trackside location after the D&RG and DSP&P arrived in 1882.

...

Frisco

By: Thomas J. Noel

Thick stands of evergreens shaded the confluence of Tenmile and North Tenmile creeks, where “Frisco City” (1879, 9,907 feet) was platted as a stop for the DSP&P and the D&RG railroads. Frisco blossomed as a rail, ranching, and mining hamlet, but wilted after the railroads pulled...

Keystone

By: Thomas J. Noel

After the DSP&P arrived in 1883, Keystone (1879, 9,250 feet) hummed as the railhead for the logging and mining towns of Argentine, Chihuahua, Montezuma, and Saints John (named for two saints, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist). After the railroad pulled out in 1937, it became...

Silverthorne

By: Thomas J. Noel

Silverthorne (1962, 8,790 feet) traces its origins and misspelled name to Judge Marshel Silverthorn's 1881 placer claim on the Blue River. This crossroads did not boom until the 1950s, when it became a construction camp for the Dillon Dam and the Roberts Tunnel, which divert Blue...

Eagle County

By: Thomas J. Noel

High on the headwaters of the Colorado River, Eagle County boasts North America's largest ski area and some compelling contemporary resort architecture. The first tourist of note, Sir St. George Gore, eighth baronet of Manor Gore, County Donegal, Ireland, arrived in the 1850s. Jim...

Eagle

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1887, 6,600 feet) was named, like the county, for the Eagle River, whose tributaries supposedly resemble the feathers in an eagle's tail. Eagle's population has soared to over 1,600 with the booming ski industry, propelled by a 1986, $6 million runway expansion of the 1947...

Vail

By: Thomas J. Noel

Vail (1962, 8,150 feet) is the largest ski area in North America. The Gore Creek Valley was remote ranching country in 1940 when Colorado Highway Department engineers built a paved road over a pass named for Colorado Highway Department Chief Engineer Charles D. Vail.

During the 1950s...

Avon

By: Thomas J. Noel

Avon (1884, 7,430 feet) was a D&RG rail town christened by a homesick English pioneer, William H. Nottingham, for the Avon Valley of his youth. The Nottingham Ranch House (c. 1898), 55 Village Road, is a two-story, L-shaped, hewn log house with a gable roof, stone chimney, expansive...

Beaver Creek

By: Thomas J. Noel

Former president Gerald Ford, Beaver Creek's best-known resident, presided at the July 28, 1977, groundbreaking by Vail Associates for the resort town of Beaver Creek (1980, 8,100 feet). Despite opposition from environmentalists, this 5,000-acre, $600-million haven opened with 25...

Basalt

By: Thomas J. Noel

The standard-gauge Colorado Midland Railroad, steaming out of Colorado Springs through Leadville, reached this point at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers in 1886. Railroaders founded Basalt (1887; 6,624 feet), named for the nearby mountain of basaltic lava. The CM...

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