Aside from this, there is no Indian activity of historical record on the Table Mountains. Archeological evidence is all that may reveal what they may have done oil them any further. The only native religious site in the area of the Golden valley that is historically documented was a round ruined stone and mound structure on a knell around the foot of Mt. Zion, possibly constructed by Spanish refugees in the 1680s and used by the Utes as a religious site in 1799. The Ute activity coincides with the disastrous battle which caused plains tribes to avoid the Golden valley for two centuries.
A singular known burial is also known to have taken place on North Table Mountain, that of a mountaineer found in 1908 beneath several feet of debris. His skeletal remains were discovered by quarry crews working to construct an aerial tramway to the mesa top on the west wide that year, and it is believed he was murdered in the 1840s by unknown Indians, with his body covered by rockfall debris. His remains have also since been removed. In total, three people are known to have died on North Table Mountain and six on South Table Mountain, including three by murder, five by accident and one by suicide.
At the eastern edge of the mountain a gravel quarry was opened in 1908, which coincided with the openings of another quarry on North Table Mountain and the resort. Operated by the City of Denver, this quarry was to macadamize (create paving material) for Denver's streets. Eventually it came to serve Golden's streets as well. The quarry was abandoned around the midpoint of the 20th century and has not been used since. The remainder of the eastern portion of South Table Mountain was purchased by the Colorado government for Camp George West during expansions early in the 20th century. Since that time it has been used for various military activities ranging from vehicular use to shooting ranges, but has not been extensively developed. In 1935 a stone amphitheater was carved into a gulch on the camp's property at the south side of the mountain, as well as an ammunition storage facility, which are now both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Camp George West itself is a National Historic District.
The exact time of origin for the singular road leading to the top of South Table Mountain, now known as Quaker Street, is not known. The earliest probable date might be around 1912, the year of the first known ascent of Castle Rock by automobile. From 1925-27 it was used by the many members of the Ku Klux Klan who gathered atop the mountain, and news reporters writing down the license plate numbers Flayed a role in helping bring the downfall of the greatly secretive membership. Since that time, it has been used primarily for activity at Camp George West and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This road was originally known by the far more poetic name of Lava Lane.
Aside from the abandoned quarry and continuing activity of Camp George West and the NREL, nothing much in the way of human remains are known to exist on the mountain, with the exception of the area of Castle Rock. Remains of the resort that still exist include: concrete and metal anchors for the resort buildings atop Castle Rock (1908/13); remains of the railing around the Rock (1913); the flight of 51 steps made of concrete leading from the funicular to the top of the Rock (1913); the concrete housing of the drive mechanism of the funicular at the top of its path (1913); and the remains of the path of the funicular (1913). It is probable the remains of the burro trail remain as well. No known native remains are recorded to have been found atop the Rock, though it's quite possible it has been used for native religious activity in the past. Accounts so far found of sacred activity upon the Rock is that of Protestant Christian activity.
Several human uses of South Table Mountain have for one reason or another never materialized, such as using its northeast alcove as a staging area for supersonic flight, placing a second gravel quarry on the mountain, or even its candidacy to be the home of NORAD. There have been 4 known rockfalls on the mountain, all changing the face of Castle Rock, all during the 20th century. 6 people have fallen from Castle Rock, two of whom were murdered, and two of whom survived, one without serious injury.
One permanent water spring has been known to exist on South Table Mountain, which was used to pipe water for use at what is now the Lookout Mountain School for Boys. This author has identified this spring to exist on the current property of Faith Lutheran Church, and no native remains were found at it during the church's large-scale excavation and construction about it during the mid-1980s. The remains of a coal mine, operated around the late 19th-early 20th centuries at the foot of the southwest flank slope of Castle Rock still exist in the form of two deep shaft pits adjoining the trail up the Mountain at the east end of 18th Street. Also, fossilized plant remains of significance have been found on the western slops of the mountain, which have been excavated by the Colorado School of Mines in the 19th and 20th centuries, and doubtless more remain.
While there are known historic remains upon South Table Mountain, if they remain neglected for much longer they will deteriorate beyond repair. At present the remains of the Castle Rock Resort are in fair condition and can be repaired, but are beginning to show signs of advanced deterioration that will cause them to crumble apart in the nearer future if attention is not given to them soon. The Camp George West Amphitheater is in better shape, but it also remains abandoned and neglected. While it may still be utilized as an amphitheater, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory cannot justify the budgetary expense of maintaining such a facility which is tangent to their mission of work. Therefore, it is likewise doomed to deteriorate unless, basically, someone uses it and maintains it.
Overall, it is this author's opinion that the historic remains so far documented on South Table Mountain are well worth preserving, and the historic components of Camp George West are already listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Likewise, Castle Rock itself is eligible for listing there, if anything based on the Frier designation of Quaintance's office building in downtown Golden. Castle Rock itself, with its resort remains, are potentially eligible for National Historic Landmark designation, the highest historic designation in the country, reserved solely for places of documented national historic significance. This is due to the fact that Castle Rock has been a nationally-known natural landmark in the 19th and 20th centuries, the rise of the Klan to power, the national fame of the Castle Rock Resort, and Castle Rock's longstanding recognition as a symbol and trademark dating back over 100 years.
Date: Saturday, November 28, 1998 1:43 PM
Subject: And North Table Mountain History
I have decided now is the time to go ahead and
inform all that at last my historical data on North Table
Mountain is completed, in a form I would find
satisfactory for publication. Along with it I've made an
updated version of the South Table Mountain history, as
well as that of the Castle Rock Resort and other specific
historic places on the mountains. I also have more
information on the people involved in the history of each
mountain. I believe all will find the histories quite an
interesting and enlightening thing to search through.
The most detailed version of the history, as well as
my data on the specific locations of archaeological sites
and other such sensitive data, I'll be giving to Jeffco
open space and the other permanent owners that eventually
shake out in this situation, now that I'm in extensive
contact with personnel at various points in the county
government, particularly the historic commission. It is
best not to reveal everything to the general public,
especially the archaeological site information, for
reasons I imagine you can figure out. It was wise of me
to hedge my bets as to absolutely saying no such remains
existed on South Table Mountain, because I would have
been mistaken. To the contrary, they are similar to those
I've seen and know of on North Table Mountain.
As to actually getting the historical info I have to
offer, I'll be posting it on the web shortly so that
there is a simple central place to go to to look at it.
Among the new info you folks will see will include a
revision of the earliest known white person to have
climbed one of the mountains (it is most likely he spoke
Spanish), the origin and operation of the Cliff Springs
Resort, a detailed look at the Bussert Farm atop North
Table Mountain, data on the Pipe and Wyman ranches atop
South Table Mountain, 3 more tragic deaths bringing the
overall known total between the mountains to 12; the
earliest known person we have the name of who climbed one
of the mountains (the Cheyenne chief Black Kettle, later
killed at the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864); and much
more. Right now it is all disassembled, which is how I
can say the info is complete but can't give it out in
finished form. Just keep paying attention to the GLA
portion of the Pullman House site and the history will
soon appear there.
What's held up the NTM history this long was
actually finding its most dramatic death, since I figured
it would be dishonest to talk something so tantalizing
without providing proof of its existence. I've basically
put it in rough summary form since the actual newspaper
reports were far too graphic to ever be publicly
published in this day and age. Basically put, it was the
1882 death of James Belgin, who had been hunting atop
North Table Mountain, and was descending on the rock
cliffs with a companion using his rifle to clear out ice
and snow. The rifle's hammer caught on a rock and fired;
you can probably figure out the rest. He is the one
person who has fallen the furthest down one of these
mountains in their collective history, but fortunately
died almost instantaneously from the wound.
Another tragedy is the death of a little boy from a
rattlesnake bite at the Cold Spring Ranch; but one
eventually to go with it is that of a mountaineer who
survived a similar bite on North Table Mountain by
shooting his own leg, and wrapping a tournequet to stop
the flow of poison in his body. Those two stories alone
bode much to say for future open space enthusiasts on
these mountains. Other, much happier stories abound,
including the man who fell from Castle Rock and escaped
with only minor injuries (George Silsbee); the group of
3 men who rigged up a windlass and bucket to hoist 150
pounds of honey from a hive in the cliffs of North Table
Mountain; and the bride who refused to be married until
she was saying her vows atop Castle Rock (Pauline Snook
So, I thought I'd give you folks advance notice of
what was going on. I hope in the future this serves to
eqalize attention to both mountains, as each has a
colorful history to share which is different from the
other, yet STM always seems to get all the attention. I
will be placing a number of my own photos from each
mountain at the site too, from the sides and atop both
mountains, including scenery I doubt many area people
know even exists. Anyone is free to copy what I put at
the site, if and only if I get credit for my work.
I imagine in the immediate future I will have much
work ahead of me with the county and others to preserve
and repair the historic remains on both these mountains.
For that I have the voters of this county to thank. So,
placing this history where they may see and know it is
the least I can do to thank them. I hope everyone likes
it as much as I have.
- Rick Gardner