THE PERFECT MIRROR OF
DENVER’S INCOMPARABLE MOUNTAIN PARKS
--from Municipal Facts, Vol. 11, July-August, l928
The taking of pictures in Denver’s Mountain Parks is always a delight and sometimes an adventure.
"If you want a perfect picture of Lake Evergreen" announced one of Denver’s mountain parks police, "be there at seven o’clock in the morning, and be on time. It will be too early before seven and it will be too late after seven because of the west wind, which starts blowing these mornings at about one minute past seven -- and sends little riffles over the lake that spoil the reflections."
And so it happened that on a certain June morning there set out from Denver a party determined as a posse after a criminal. No time to stop for anything--as eyes on the clock, we raced the sun up Bear Creek Canyon, arriving at the new Lake Evergreen at exactly ten minutes to seven, with time to set up the camera and get ready for a reflection so perfect that we could not tell where the reality left off and the reflection began. Those who miss the still early morning hours of summer are really missing the most beautiful time of a Colorado day-- for then it is that the real joy of life makes itself seen, felt and heard. Whether it is in the hush of a garden or on the banks of Lake Evergreen--in the early morning--there are discoveries in light and shadow and color for anyone with an artistic soul.
For one who delights in these early hours of the day, seven o’clock in the morning is almost lunch time; and yet, even in the mountains, where people customarily arise early, seven o’clock retains something of the quality of the early day hours. Part of the village of Evergreen was still asleep, a few enterprising shopkeepers were opening up--and in the mirror of the lake we watched sundry dwellers on the left banks as they went to and fro on errands--walking on their heads in the reflections.
The place was so still that the click of the camera sounded like a shot.
There are other hours in the day when Lake Evergreen must be just as perfect. For instance, there have been certain late afternoons when the wind has ceased and the clouds have been mirrored in one of Colorado’s magnificent sunsets. These are times that cannot be counted upon--but must just be caught--as any fleeting joy; and the lake is there for that purpose.
It is also there for the purpose of summer and winter sports. Located in the very heart of Denver’s mountain park system--Lake Evergreen has the advantage of an elevation which makes it accessible the year around. Also, while well within the Rocky Mountains, it is a part of a community that offers travelers as well as Denverites a combination of mountain and city life.
More than twenty years ago when commuting was on no such plan as it is today, Evergreen was one of Denver’s favorite summer resorts. The luxury of its pine and spruce forests attracted those who wanted to get away into the hills. In those days there was a well-traveled wagon road up Bear Creek Canon and people went back and forth on horseback, or with the old horse and buggy, taking the better part of the day for the trip. There was then quite a group of cottages, and some of the same stores that are still serving the public.
Today Evergreen finds itself on a city-maintained boulevard, that has been widened and improved until this mountain village is literally on one of Denver’s best and most picturesque streets. There is a ceaseless flow of traffic up and down the Canon, and mountain cottages have developed into luxurious residences, while all about are those comforts for which city dwellers pay.
And yet with its constantly growing popularity, the little town has kept entirely its quaint charm, and to alight at Evergreen is to begin to think back into more primitive times, to feel something of the spirit of adventure of the early days stealing over you--for automobiles and good schools and good roads and electric lights, have not taken away the call of the great outdoors which Evergreen breathes upon her visitors.
In various parts of the mountains, accessible to Denver, there are more elaborate places than Evergreen, but for those who know it best, there is no place that has a more constant appeal. Although you may travel up and down the canon every day of a summer, to and fro on your way to Denver, you will never twice see the same things, for the sun and the clouds and the shadows and trees--and the very days--change the entire landscape with every trip.
There are those who have lived and grown up in this little mountain village and others who have died there “with their boots on”, for Evergreen has been the scene of some bitter cattle fights and many a killing and hanging have resulted.
In its original development, Evergreen was a thriving saw mill and logging center--an industry which still flourishes. Today, Evergreen supplies logs for the mountain cabins, but back in the early days not only was the town itself built of these logs, but many of them were shipped to Denver. It required six-and eight-horse teams to negotiate the canyon and on at least one occasion the bridges were washed out and the horses forced to swim and the load of logs was entirely lost in the creek.
The town was also an ideal spot for the fur trapper. In this immediate neighborhood hunters as well as cattlemen thrived. The present lake site was the property of Jerry Dedisse family. These old pioneers came west in a covered wagon and settled in Evergreen in 1866. The nails for their house and its window panes were imported from Westport, now known as Kansas City. This house and barn were torn down to make room for the lake.
Another old building of interest is the old stage coach building, at the lower end of the town. This building is now being converted into a dormitory for girls in connection with the Evergreen Conference project.
Within the immediate vicinity of Evergreen are splendid resorts such as Troutdale-in-the Pines, Bendemeer, and Brook Forest, while the town itself features many shops and several excellent restaurants. Just around the bend from the town are the Episcopal Conference Grounds, which bring to the district people from all over the United States. In the conference plant is one of the most complete little theatres of America. A library and a church are other adjuncts. Another feature of interest in this locality is the Denver Municipal Mountain Parks 18-hole golf course. Here is indeed a novelty for golfers, with fascinating hazards, tees built on the top of huge boulders, and many other diverting novelties. The course is really kept in first-class condition, with an expert golfer, Mr. Stollman, as resident director. The city maintains shelter and clubhouse facilities on the golf grounds.
With all these many attractions, Lake Evergreen came into being after ten years of discussion. The lake is unquestionably the most striking development in the mountain parks. While purely for recreational and scenic purposes, Lake Evergreen will keep the canyon town busy throughout the year--for it is located in a spot accessible all year around and is ideally adapted to winter as well as summer sports. The American Society of Civil Engineers at their recent convention, passed upon the Evergreen Dam, a picture of which is shown on the front cover, and in the opinion of these experts, the dam is considered as near perfect as human science can make it. The property f or the lake cost about $25,000, while the dam was built at an approximate cost of $207,000. While only one of the many mountain parks improvements under the present administration, Lake Evergreen is attracting national attention.