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Lyons (1882, 5,374 feet), in the valley where North and South St. Vrain creeks meet, is noted for its quarries of red sandstone, which town founder Edward S. Lyons exported to Denver for that city's flagstone sidewalks. Platted in 1882 as the Lyons Townsite and Quarry Company, Lyons began to grow after an extension of the Denver, Salt Lake & Pacific Railroad (Moffat Road) arrived in 1884 to transport the stone to markets nationwide. As the stone business subsided, tourism entered the picture, and the town became known as the “Double Gateway to the Rockies,” for the two roads up the scenic North and South St. Vrain canyons to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Many of the town's sandstone buildings, dating from the 1870s to 1917, are part of a National Register district of fifteen buildings constructed by local craftsmen from the local sandstone, which is called red, although it is usually more pink, orange, or gray. These vernacular designs range from a dynamite shed (1892), 427 High Street, to the Montgomery School (1917), 5291 Ute Road. The oldest is the Griffith Evans Homestead (early 1870s), a mile northwest of Lyons, with a two-story house and a complex that served as a stage stop, inn, butcher shop, and blacksmithy. Residences at 409, 413, and 425 Seward Street are vernacular types with gable roofs and stone gable ends. Commercial buildings of Lyons sandstone, such as the McAllister Saloon (1881), 450 Main Street; the 1890s General Store, 415 Main Street; and the Lyons General Store (1884), 426 High Street, have flat roofs behind parapets and storefronts with recessed entries. The Turner-Stevens Building (1917), 401 Main Street, is a former bank and garage with decorative cornice. One of the few non-sandstone buildings is the Meadow Park Picnic Shelter (1933, WPA), 600 Park Drive, built of rounded stones from St. Vrain Creek. The Sandstone Park and Visitors' Center (1991), southeast corner of Broadway and 4th Avenue, has sculpture, a fountain, and picnic tables made of local sandstone, as well as displays on the quarries. The public restroom provides a showcase for sandstone colors and patterns.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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