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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Colorado History

- Colorado History -
The History of Littleton, Colorado

Littleton in the 1870s:
Railroads, Littleton's First Church,
The Highline Canal

August 1871
The Denver and Rio Grande railroad began laying rails east of Richard Little's homestead.

October 28, 1871
The first Denver and Rio Grande railroad train steamed down the rails near the farm of Richard Little.

Early Steam strain running trhough Littleton, Colorado

January 1872
The Rough and Ready Flour Mill was destroyed by fire. It was a $40,000 loss, but reconstruction of the mill began immediately. By autumn, the new mill had orders for fifty carloads of flour.

June 3, 1872
Richard Little filed a plat of his land, and mapped out a town-site for the village of Littleton. The boundaries of Little's land were the South Platte River on the west and the Denver and Rio Grande railroad tracks on the east - eighteen blocks of land, with some blocks subdivided into nine - twenty lots. Richard Little was now also in the business of selling real estate.

The Rocky Mountain News wrote:



A Day at Littleton

This thriving little town, ten miles south of Denver, is the center of a magnificent farming section, there being in the area - bounded by the Platte (on two sides), Bear Creek and the foothills - about thirty-five thousand acres of land, the principal part of which either is or can be irrigated. From Bradford Hill can be seen seventeen lakes, varying in size from an area of ten to two hundred acres. These lakes have been formed within a year or two by turning water from the irrigation ditches into natural depressions, making reservoirs which are very valuable to those who own them.

In the immediate vicinity of the village of Littleton are the farms of R. S. Little, G.W. Belcher, A. C. Hunt, J. W. Bowles, Henry Alhouse, J. Foster, John G. Lilley, Peter Magnes, R. T. Hussey, W. B. O. Skelton, B. N. Sanford, S. W. Brown, and I. W. Chatfield. Their farms are under the upper Platte and Bear Creek ditch, which is about six miles long and planted throughout with cottonwood. Mr. A. J. Johnson gives the following from his books as the result of last year's operation on the farm of Hon. John G. Lilley.

Returning to the village we find that thirteen buildings have been erected during the last year, the most important of which is the Rough and Ready flour mill. This building is 45 x 64 feet, and five stories high. There is a brick office 12 x 20 feet, having a fire proof vault. The machinery consists of four pairs of burrs, each driven by a centre-vent turbine water-wheel, made by Hugh Marshman of Mt. Vernon, Colorado, of a capacity (each) of thirty two horse-power; Bernard separator; Eureka smutter; Pease scourer; and Little Giant feeder, all manufactured by E. P. Allis & Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The old mill was burned January 24, 1872, and the present building was finished and the machinery running May 2, of the same year. There was one hundred and fifty thousand feet of timber used in the construction, which was got out and delivered on time by the Sloan Saw-mill company. Considering the difficulty of building at that season of the year, the distance the timber and machinery were brought, it was a feat not often equalled.

Messrs. Little, Lilley & Co. have received several special orders for large quantities of their celebrated flour from the states, and are now grinding for a shipment of one thousand barrels to be sent to Boston and sold on its merits. The barrels are brought from Kansas City in "knock down" shape, and set up here. It will be a notable event for Colorado when flour in barrels is shipped to the Atlantic states and sold in competition with the celebrated brands that have so long ruled the market. The firm have ground of last season's wheat 40,000 bushels; have 20,000 in store; and estimate that there are still about 40,000 bushels held by farmers in the neighborhood.

Some enterprising citizens of Littleton starting a hack to make daily trips to Denver and return, it being possible to finish transportation at cheaper rates than is at present afforded by the Denver and Rio Grande railroad. Two new roads to Denver will be open next season, one on the west side of the Platte - the extension of the Boulevard road - the other the extension of Broadway. These roads run parallel lines and are two miles apart, crossing the Platte at Littleton.



Littleton's first church was built on Rapp Street. Little had donated a lot near the corner of Rapp and Church streets and helped finance the building of a church. Bishop James Maxwell Randall consecrated that structure as St. Paul's Episcopal Church in April 1872. By 1874, it gained its first permanent priest, Charles De Garmo. Within a short time, a rift developed within the congregation, and a second Church was established and called the Reformed Episcopal Church. The First Presbyterian Church was organized in 1883, giving the community religious diversity.

Littleton's First Church
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Littleton's First Church

By 1873, it was decided that a brick school was to be built in Richard Little's new village, near the corner of Rapp Street and Church Street. During the late 1870s, some 70 students were attending the brick school - so many students that the single teacher had to have the help of older students who acted as monitors.

The Denver and Rio Grand depot was built in Littleton.

Rio Grande Railroad Depot in Littleton
The Rio Grande Railroad Depot in Littleton

The Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad was built west of the South Platte River. Passing west beyond the village of Littleton, its rails headed up the Platte Canyon westward - that route is today's Lowell Blvd. and Platte Canyon Road. The track was completed in 1880, and ended in Leadville. (The railroad was also known as the Colorado and Southern Railroad, and was finally abandoned in 1937.) Its depot, located west of the South Platte River, created a rival village called West Littleton, or Wynetka upon its incorporation in 1890.

A second fire destroyed the Rough and Ready Flour Mill, but it was rebuilt again - this time in stone and brick. (This building lasted until 1959.)

Rough and Ready Mill - 1908
Richard Little's Rough and Ready Mill, Pictured in 1908

Highline Canal water rights were established and canal construction began, to be completed in 1883. In 1879, a major water project was developed nearby, winding its way northward from the mouth of Platte Canyon. Known as the Highline Canal, the seventy-four mile length of canals dropped uniformly at thirty-two inches per mile. British investors supplied the capital for the project through the Northern Colorado Irrigation Company, known locally as the "English company" - the construction costs totaled $650,000. The English company proposed to place a million acres under cultivation, but they had difficulty securing sufficient water because earlier ditches held irrigation rights based on prior claims. Court cases regarding water rights resulted and dragged on for years.

Highline Canal in 1894
The Highline Canal in Platte Canyon, pictured in 1894

The History of Littleton, Colorado
1. | History of Littleton: Prehistory - 1859 Colorado Gold Rush |
2. | Littleton in the Early 1860s / Founding Fathers |

3. | 1860s: Lewis Ames, Littleton's First Teachers and School,
Indian Troubles and Early Buildings in Littleton

4. | Littleton 1870 - 1879: Railroads, 1st Church, Highline Canal |
5. | Littleton in the 1880s: Avery Gallup, First Newspaper |
6. | The City of Littleton in the 1890s: First Mayor, Pickletown |
7. | 1900s: South Arapahoe County, Littleton Named County Seat |
8. | Littleton 1910 - 1920s: Town Improvements / Industry |
9. | Littleton, Colorado in the 1930s and 1940s |
10. | The Boom of the 1950s and 1960s in Littleton, Colorado |
11. | Littleton: 1970s to Present, Concrete Pods and All |
12. | Littleton Trivia and Stuff You've Always Wondered About! |

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- Colorado History In Depth -
Lecture Notes, Reading, and Information:

| The Cheyenne Migration to Colorado |
| The Gratlan Affair, Massacre, Fort Laramie Treaty |

The Cheyenne Social Club
| A Cheyenne War Story: Wolf Road, the Runner |
| Cheyenne Traditions and Beliefs, Sacred Stories |
| Horses, Warriors, War Pipe, Sweatlodge Ceremony |
| Cheyenne War Parties and Battle Tactics |
| The Scalp Dance and Other Cheyenne Dances |

Fort Union
| The Sante Fe Trail and Fort Union |
| Sumner - Ninth Military Department / The First Fort Union |
| Early Arrivals to Fort Union, Daily Life at Fort Union |
| Captain Grover - The New Fort Union, the Confederate Threat |
| Fort Union Arsenal, William Shoemaker, End of Fort Union |

Americans from the East
| Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase |
| The Expedition of Zebulon Pike |
| Pikes Peak or Bust / Colorado Gold Rush |

Colorado's Role in the US Civil War
| The Civil War, Fort Wise / Fort Lyon |
| Mace's Hole, Colonel Canby, F.C.V.R. | Fort Weld |
| The Pet Lambs, John Chivington |
| General Henry Sibly, Battle of Valverde, Fort Union |

Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes
| The Western Federation of Miners / State Militia |
| The 1893 - 1894 Strike | The Strike of 1903 - 1904 |
| The Mine Owners Association |
| Crimes and Military Rule in the Cripple Creek District |
| Marshall Law in Cripple Creek District / End of the Strike |
Early Cripple Creek District
| Photos, Fire, and Life in Cripple Creek |
| Other Colorful Towns in the Cripple Creek District:
Gillett - Colorado's Only Bullfight, Victor, Independence
| A Guide to the Miners' Gritty Lingo |

More Colorado History Information
| Bent's Fort Photos, Personalities, Plans, and More |

| What Was Easter Like at Bent's Fort? |
| Colorado Trivia, Miscellaneous Old Photos,
Western Personalities, Forts, and More

| Lullabies for Jittery Cows - Cowboy Ballads |
| Heraldry of the Branding Iron |
| Project Aims to Clear Infamous Cannibal, Alferd Packer |
Lead Gives Alferd Packer's Story More Weight |
| Legendary Colorado Love Stories: Baby Doe Tabor & More |
| Colorado Pioneer Women: Elizabeth Byers |
| Early Denver Jokes / The History of April Fools' Day |
| History of the US Memorial Day Holiday |

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Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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