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Located, as the county seat, in the center of North Park, Walden (1881, 8,099 feet) was named for Marcus Aurelius Walden, a pioneer postmaster. The county remained largely wild until the Laramie, Hahn's Peak & Pacific Railroad arrived from Wyoming in 1911. This road, which was soon swallowed by the Union Pacific, opened up North Park for coal mining and logging. Until it closed in 1994 a large Louisiana Pacific lumber processing plant was Walden's major employer. As the only town of any size in all of North Park, this is the center for logging, ranching, farming, and tourism.

Main Street notables include the three-story, solid sandstone Odd Fellows Hall (1912, William H. Bowman), 450 Main Street, with its crenelated parapet; the First National Bank (c. 1918), 476 Main, a one-story red brick and white terracotta Beaux-Arts structure; and Jack's Auto Parts, formerly F. W. Smith Livery (c. 1910), 528 Main, with shiny new steel siding over an old frame barn enhanced by a stepped false front and side dormers. A fine stone cottage (c. 1920), 413 LaFever Street opposite the courthouse, with white quartz doorway and window trim and quoins under a steep-pitched roof, is a home worthy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Kohlman Ranch (1879), 2156 Colorado 14, and the Wattenburg Ranch (1884), 15760 Jackson County 12 West, maintain historic structures. Despite a fine site on the edge of a bluff, Walden is swallowed by its environment—the vast prairie and the big sky. The smallness and fragility of the town are accentuated by the picturesque Walden Cemetery at the south end of Main Street.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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