What’s in a name?: A guide to Grand County’s historic namesakes
What’s in a name? The answer to this question in Grand County is often a lot of history. Take, for example, Berthoud Pass as you climb the many switchbacks to reach 11,307 feet, remember intrepid surveyor, Edward L. Berthoud, discovered this pass over the Continental Divide in July 1861.
As you drive up to the world-class ski runs of Mary Jane, according to the local history, members of the Colorado Arlberg Club began clearing the runs in the 1930s. Supposedly, they named the Mary Jane Trail after a pioneer “Shady Lady,” who acquired the land on which the existing trail now lies, as payment from railroad workers and miners for her favors in the early 1900s when many new towns sprung up along with the Moffat Railroad tracks.
Many of the ski run names also have a backstory.
The first named Winter Park ski trail is Hughes, recognizing the many contributions of Berrien Hughes, a Denver attorney and huge sportsman and skiing pioneer. Cranmer is dedicated to George E. Cranmer, considered the “father of the Winter Park Ski Area,” because he was the manager and visionary for the city of Denver’s parks beginning in 1935. By 1940, he made the dream a reality.
Glide down the green Allan Phipps run named for the first chairman of the Winter Park Recreation Association Board, which operated the ski resort beginning in 1950. Phipps is also in the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. More adventurous skiers know about Bradley’s Bash. However, they might not know it is named for Steve Bradley, the very first executive director of the Winter Park Recreation Association and the inventor of the first snow-grooming machine called the “Bradley Packer.”
The city of Denver aptly named their ski area “Winter Park,” in the 1939-40 season, because it is literally Denver’s winter park. However, the name of the town of Winter Park has a long history. It was first known as Vasquez, probably named after the French fur trader, Louis Vasquez. Then, Wood’s Spur, also known as Woodstock, when Billy Woods had a lumber mill siding on the Moffat Railroad located near Vasquez Creek. Later, it was known as “Little Chicago,” because it was a popular gambling and saloon spot frequented by rail workers. As an early resort location, it was known as both Idlewild and Hideaway Park. In 1923, with the location of the Moffat Tunnel decided, the name West Portal came into being. Finally in 1978, the name Winter Park stuck.
Several neighborhoods and streets also harken to local history.
Bridger’s Cache acknowledges the famous mountain man and guide, Jim Bridger, who helped Berthoud and others in the mid-1800s. Iron Horse Way and the Zephyr Mountain Lodge give a nod to early railroading, which built a lot of Grand County in the early 1900s.
Condominiums in Winter Park such as Teller City, remind us of the booming mining town founded in 1879 and named for Colorado Sen. Henry M. Teller. Selak was an early post office opened on June 11, 1883, by brothers Fred and Frank Selak, operators of a general store and a stagecoach stop until the town of Granby was founded in 1905.
Moving down the Fraser Valley, names such as Cozens Meadow, named for 1874 homesteaders, Billy and Mary Cozens. Eisenhower Drive honors the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a frequent visitor and avid fisherman during the early 1950s. Of course, Doc Susie Avenue named for Susan Anderson, M.D., an historic physician, who started her Fraser practice in 1907.
Moving west, the early railroad town of Tabernash is named after the Ute Warrior, who was killed in 1874. In 1905, Granby was founded and named for the Moffat Railroad attorney, Granby Hillyer.
Names such as Thompson Road give an historic nod to late Granby Mayor Dick Thompson. Grand Lake honors their pioneers with named streets and mountain peaks. For example, James Cairns, 1881 merchant and pioneer rancher, is remembered with Mount Cairns and Cairns Avenue.
Another famous avenue is the main street of Hot Sulphur Springs: Byers Avenue. Named for William Byers, publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, he promoted the formation of the town in 1860. Another pioneer is Kare Kremmling, an enterprising merchant in 1881. He was recognized in this town’s official name of Kremmling in 1895.
If you are interested in learning more about all the interesting Grand County history, visit one of the county’s several local museums and visit http://www.grandcountyhistory.org. e
Penny Rafferty Hamilton, PhD, is the author of “A to Z: Your Grand County History Alphabet” children’s picture book available at the Grand County Historical Association museum gift shops and several local retailers or Amazon.com.
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With vaccine availability still limited statewide and nationwide, Grand County is seeing a different type of visitor this winter: the vaccine tourist.