From farmland to suburb: Bal Swan and the Turnpike Land Co.

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

In the late 1950s, Broomfield was poised on the brink of transformation from farm and ranchland to a brand-new suburb of Denver. The people making this happen had formed a corporation called the Turnpike Land Co. This was a privately-held corporation with fewer than 20 stockholders, among whom was President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a fishing buddy of the principal owners. Continue reading

Blonger Gang brought down by honest D.A.

This article first appeared in The Broomfield Enterprise.

A century ago, Denver was a notorious haven for a well-organized machine of hucksters, thieves, and bunco artists. When summertime hit, thousands of tourists came to Colorado, looking for sunshine, recreation and fresh air. These folks were followed by dozens of crooks who wintered in Florida and migrated to Denver at the invitation of the local kingpin, Lou Blonger. Continue reading

Early schoolhouses of the Broomfield area

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

We’ve all heard of the classic one-room school houses that dotted the mostly uncivilized landscape of the Old West, and Broomfield was no exception. In our earliest days, we had two such schoolhouses, both built sometime in the 1880s. The first was the Broomfield School; the second was the Dry Creek School, which was subsequently renamed the Lorraine School. The Broomfield School was located around today’s East 10th Avenue and Main Street. The Lorraine School sat on today’s northeast corner of 112th and Pierce Streets. Continue reading

Josh’s Pond — beautiful spot has a poignant history

One of the loveliest spots in Broomfield is a place called Josh’s Pond in the Lac Amora neighborhood. Situated at the top of a hill overlooking the Front Range and flanked by a series of trails, the pond is stocked with fish and edged with cattails and the odd tangle of morning glories. In addition to hikers, bikers, and fishermen, the area is frequented by blackbirds, ducks, geese, blue herons, eagles, hawks, prairie dogs, rabbits, coyotes, and other wild critters. Continue reading

Pruden’s Ranch — Early outpost in Eldorado Springs

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

Back in the day when the Interurban tram ran from Denver to the Eldorado Springs resort, the last stop before Eldorado Springs was Pruden’s Ranch. When the line to the resort began operation in 1908, several years after the “Coney Island of the West” opened, the Pruden family had already been there for 24 years. Continue reading

Tumultuous history of Rocky Flats will be captured in new museum

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

During the Cold War, when U.S. foreign policy centered around the nuclear arms race with the U.S.S.R., the federal government decided that weapons components should be built at separate sites. One location selected in 1951 was a windswept plateau between Highway 93 and Indiana Street in northern Jefferson County. There, the government contracted Dow Chemical to operate the high-security Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, which manufactured plutonium triggers — a “steel or beryllium sphere containing plutonium 239 that triggers nuclear fission when compressed by explosives.” ( The triggers were shipped to another plant in Texas where they assembled hydrogen bombs. Continue reading

A treasure trove of grange history

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

A dusty closet at Broomfield’s Crescent Grange building has yielded a treasure trove of local history. Grange member Sage Harmos was clearing out the closet when he came upon a box of original membership applications from the Grange’s earliest days – from 1898 up to the early 1930s. Around the size of a playing card, each application had been filled out by hand and signed by the applicant. Continue reading

Frontier Broomfield crime spree — “electrical devices” send man on rampage

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

Although Broomfield has been a “place” since the 1880s, it didn’t incorporate as a town until 1961. In the 1950s, Broomfield citizens contributed enough money to hire two police officers to patrol the new Broomfield Heights neighborhood and outlying farm areas. Dispatch was handled through Longmont, and the officers drove a 1959 Ford with the not-very-reassuring nickname, the “Old Grey Ghost.” Continue reading

The blizzard of 1913 buried the state

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

Though it happened nearly a century ago, the Great Blizzard of 1913 lives on in local history books as the worst ever in Colorado. It began pleasantly enough, dropping an inch or two over the first couple of days in December.  By Wednesday, about eight inches lay on the ground. Children struggled to make it to school, many businesses began to close. On Thursday, life along the Front Range came to a screeching halt. Continue reading

Young rural postal carrier makes the rounds in the 1920s

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

The U.S. postal service has a long history in our relatively young country, with Benjamin Franklin the first Postmaster General under the Continental Congress in 1775.  Out here in the West, the first mail carriers rode for the Pony Express, which was often the only link to the outside world for those trying to make their way on the frontier. Continue reading