Interstate 25, just 10 miles east of Red Mountain Open Space (RMOS), divides the Great Plains from the Rocky Mountains. It connects modern and historic commercial hubs from Cheyenne, to Denver, to Pueblo, and further. Today, this highway carries almost 200,000 vehicles daily, but few motorists consider the routes that were laid well before the interstate system was developed. Two hundred years ago, French-Canadians and Native Americans traveled through RMOS, working their way over the course of several days along the edge of the Rockies to reach the trading hub of Bent’s Old Fort. Twelve thousand years ago, humans established settlements in RMOS, taking advantage of the abundant natural resources they found there. Just 30 years ago, conservationists fended off a housing boom in the area, and successfully preserved this open space for generations to come. Today, RMOS is part of the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains conservation project that conserves more than 55,000 acres. At this ecologically unique area where the mountains and plains meet, RMOS boasts an incredible wealth of biodiversity and provides critical habitat to a wide variety of species. The area holds archaeological artifacts that share the stories of the many peoples who have lived here over thousands of years, and miles of trails weave through the striking red rocks, prairie grasses, and hidden streams that weave through the landscape.
The focus of our work is on an extant schoolhouse that shares the history of farmers and ranchers that settled here between the 1870s and 1920s. Fueled by a belief in the importance of universal education, and seeking a sense of permanence in their new home, settlers built schoolhouses for their children. According to History Colorado, early schoolhouses constructed of logs, like this one, are rare finds. We are thrilled to have been invited to do the critical work necessary to preserve it!