Douglas County History Research Center
About the Photos
Western Trails and Transportation Corridors Through Douglas County
its history, Douglas County has been a transportation corridor along
the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Cherokee Trail (which
connected the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail), the Trapper’s
Trail, and the Smoky Hill Trail were used on the east side of the
county before the Colorado Gold Rush. The Colorado Territorial Road
crossed the county before statehood. The Denver and Rio Grande and
Santa Fe railroads made transportation between Denver and Colorado
Springs faster in the 1870’s and 1880’s. U.S. Highways 85 and 87,
Interstate 25, and Colorado Highways 67, 83, 86 and 105 continue to
carry people through the county. These transportation corridors have
contributed to the building of communities such as Sedalia, Parker,
Castle Rock, Larkspur and Franktown.
The Douglas County History Research Center will create digital images and metadata for 185 aerial photographs from a 1937 series by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. The aerials show Douglas County before its explosive growth, which began in the 1960s. From these aerials, one can see traces of the pre-settlement trails, as well as railroad beds and state highways.
When the Douglas County History Research Center was formed, it inherited about 125 photographs from the Douglas County Historical Society. These photos show early buildings and scenes in the towns that grew up along the trails and the railroads: Franktown, Castle Rock, Parker, Sedalia, and Larkspur. These photos will be the first set for which we will create metadata, as they are among our most used and most researched items. Various other photos showing the 1965 flood of West Plum Creek (a branch of the Trapper’s Trail in the area of I-25), towns along the railroads and the highways will bring the total number of photographs to around 200.
The main goals of the project are: to highlight the history of transportation corridors in Douglas County, to build a web-based database of digitized images of local historical content, and to collaborate with other institutions to provide information and images for a region-wide web site about trails through the west.
The first batch of these images have been scanned and are now available online. The images in this collection include photographs of the 1965 Flood of West Plum Creek in Douglas County. The online collection also includes photographs donated to the Douglas County History Research Center by the Douglas County Historical Society showing scenes of the county from the early part of the 20th Century. An additional collection given to the History Research Center by the descendants of Guy Smith shows an early 20th Century hike to the top of Pike's Peak.
If you would like more information on sharing YOUR story, or would like to volunteer to help, call the DCHRC at (303) 688-7730.