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3 Historic Sites to See in Highlands Ranch, CO

November 14th, 2018 | by Ankit
3 Historic Sites to See in Highlands Ranch, CO

The modern-day town of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, consists of a planned community located 12 miles south of Denver that was built within the last 30 years. Appearances are deceiving, however, as the land itself has been the site of lots of history. While not all the history is visible, you can stop at these sites and imagine what was once there. Or you can pull up historic photos of each location on your device and figure out where things once stood. Following are three historic sites to check out while you’re in Highlands Ranch.

Chatfield State Park

Image via Flickr by sprouticus

Chatfield State Park is just to the east of Highlands Ranch and belongs to the state park system. Nowadays, it’s an all-purpose park with a lake created by the Chatfield Reservoir, but it was once part of a 5,000-acre ranch owned by the Atchison family. In 1955, the Glenn L. Martin Company, now known as the Lockheed Martin Corporation, bought the property and used it for aerospace production. The land flooded in 1965 and was purchased by the state as part of its Chatfield Dam project.

While not much remains in the way of structures from the ranch era, the Audubon Society of Greater Denver has developed the 1940’s ranch buildings into classroom space and a learning lab. Because the park offers many interesting outdoor activities, you might want to consider staying in a nearby hotel loaded with amenities so you can relax and unwind after a day of exploration.

Highlands Ranch Mansion

The land on which the Highlands Ranch Mansion stands was once the homestead of Samuel Allen Long, who served on the board of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. His modest ranch was purchased multiple times by wealthy ranchers who added on to Long’s original farmhouse. Their additions and modifications to the original structure resulted in the modern-day Highlands Ranch Mansion. Today it’s open to the public for guided and self-guided tours as well as events for the holidays and as a place for local history lectures.

Highland Heritage Regional Park

This modern-day park was once the site of the Big Dry Creek Cheese Ranch. The ranch was settled in 1879 by Austrian Immigrants who raised dairy cows and produced cheese. Today the ranch is parkland that’s been equipped with a dog park, recreational areas, and picnic spots.

A section has been put aside to commemorate the land’s history of the land. Signage in this area describes and displays photos of what was once there. An archaeological dig was once held on the site, and pictures of the artifacts and the ranch are available online to help you determine where the buildings once stood.

Highlands Ranch might be a newcomer in terms of its development, but the land it stands on is full of interesting history if you know where to look. Take time to check these sites out when you’re in town, and make sure to stop at the historical society for a list of more places to investigate.

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