The history of Conifer lives on in the buildings and landmarks that we pass by every day. Some others are gone, but equally interesting to remember.
The 1860s homestead of George O. Kennedy was and known as Beaver Ranch. location was where the Bradford Toll Road intersected Kennedy Gulch – today the junction of Highway 285 and Foxton Road. Beaver Ranch was a favorite stop on the trail to Leadville because it had cold spring water, good corrals, and hotel space for the men and families who made their way to the mountains seeking gold. The first Conifer Post Office was located at Beaver Ranch. The Kennedy home was built over a period of 20 years, starting with 2 cabins that stood close together. A third room was then added to connect the cabins, along with a roof covering all 3 buildings. Later a second story and a porch added. The red barn close to Highway 285 was also part of the original ranch.
In 1895 Willie and Laura (Oakes) Bennett purchased Beaver Ranch. The Bennett’s hosted community events at Ranch, including rodeos with bucking bronco contests. Eventually the ranch was owned by James Quigg Newton, Sr. father of Quigg Newton, Denver mayor from 1945 to 1951. In 1939 Mr. Newton donated to the Grace Methodist Church. In 1951 a portion of the property was established as Camp Newton, a camp for both girls and boys ages eight to thirteen. The Camp was operated by the Beaver Ranch Foundation supported by the Kiwanis. The stone chapel visible from Highway 285 this time and the camp directors – H.R. and Ginnie Linville – lived in a home at the rear of the chapel.
In 1968 the camp changed its name back to Beaver Ranch and became a camp for under-privileged children, run by the Kiwanis Club. In 1995 the camp became the responsibility of the YMCA of Metro Denver.
The large parcel on the north side of Foxton Road was donated to the Denver Mountain Park System and was named Newton Park. The park was one of the last to join the Denver Mountain Park System. It features large shelters, potable water, electricity, restrooms, and recreation areas for private group retreats with spectacular views to the south.
In May 2001 Jefferson County Open Space purchased the land on the south side of Foxton Road from the YMCA and entered into an agreement with Beaver Ranch Community, Inc. to jointly manage and operate a community park. It is used for many purposes including private events and festivals.
Stay tuned for history on more landmarks!