Neighborhoods: I-70 Corridor
Approximately 350 postal addresses of 2,870 are independent of homeowner associations. These home sites were purchased and developed by individuals between 1860 and 2000. Some were replated from agriculture-zoned parcels and others are combined lots of historic plats.
The average home ownership duration for Genesee and other new areas is five years. The average duration for Lookout Mountain and other historic areas is 27 years. For more information about Mt. Vernon Canyon, obtain a copy of the "Central Mountains Community Plan" from the Jefferson County Planning Department. Existing subdivisions are:
Cedar Lake, AKA Lookout Mountain Park: #6 north of I-70 exit 256, south of Lookout Mountain Road and east of Panorama Drive. This east summit (7200 altitude) was part of the "City on the Hill" planned by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1890. Cedar Lake, AKA the Golden Reservoir, was built in 1895. The Lariat Trail and a Funicular were completed in 1914. Buffalo Bill Cody was buried adjacent to the Reservoir in 1917. The Lookout Mountain summer "resort" was amended in 1924 for hundreds of summer cabins. There are now 14 cabins and contemporary homes on combined lots adjacent to 12 parcels of nonconforming use for antenna towers. All households and some antenna companies are served by Lookout Mountain Water District taps and individual septic systems.
Chimney Creek: south of I-70, between exits 256 and 254, amended from the original 1974 Genesee Master Plan in 1982. Two homeowner associations for 120 condominiums on 119 acres enforce strict covenants. Residents share a clubhouse, swimming pool, tennis courts, waterfall and pond, grounds and exterior building maintenance. The Genesee Ski Jump (1918-1950) is visible above the development, rising to "Genesee Ridge." The chimney from the original warming house is preserved west of the entrance drive. Genesee Water & Sanitation.
Clear Creek Heights: north of I-70 exit 256 and Lookout Mountain Road, west of Colorow Road and the Lookout Mountain Nature Center. Sixty mail boxes at Colorow Road and Hess Avenue serve households originally platted as Clear Creek Heights or Rilliet Park. Charles Boettcher purchased 1915 platted "Heights" lots to build his summer "Lorraine Lodge" on 110 acres west of Colorow Road in 1917.
The Boettcher Mansion Event Center is now owned and operated by Jefferson County. The county’s Open Space program, financed by voter approval of one-half cent sales tax in 1972, built the $2 million log "Lookout Mountain Nature Center" in 1996. It is adjacent to the historic mansion which is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. The Pinecrest homeowners association and Friends of Colorow Hill are active organizations west of Colorow Road. Wells or Lookout taps with septic.
Clear View: north of I-70 exit 254, west of Mount Vernon Country Club Road and Rockland Community Church. Custom homes on 11 individual parcels were built from 1935 to 1985. Lookout Mountain water taps or domestic wells with septic.
Cody Park: northwest of I-70 exit 256, north of Lookout Mountain Road between Mt. Vernon Country Club (west) and Rilliet Park (east). The eclectic neighborhood of 60 households, on combined city-size lots platted in 1919, includes historic cabins, ranch and two-story styles, and solar underground homes. Cody Park Road homes and the upper six units on Pine Road are served by Lookout Mountain Water District taps. The remaining homes have domestic wells. All septic.
Cold Springs: south and east of Chief Hosa Lodge, I-70 exit 253. Pioneer rancher William Robson platted a large subdivision surrounded by a golf course in the valley in 1924. Cold Springs Ranch owner (1946) Fred Craig sold the undeveloped valley land in the 1970s with a density limitation of 5+-acre home sites (see Spring Ranch). The historic "Cold Springs" plat has 16 homes, east and south of Spring Ranch. Domestic wells and septic.
Columbine Glen: north of I-70 exit 254, west of Mount Vernon Country Club Road, 12 individual parcels developed from the 1800s to 1998. Lookout Mountain taps or wells, all septic.
El Rancho: south of I-70 and U.S. Hwy 40 at Evergreen Parkway. El Rancho restaurant was built in 1948 and became a popular local and tourist attraction under the management of Paul and Donna McEncroe during the 1950s through the mid 1980s. Several changes in ownership have rekindled that popularity. A Quality Inn Hotel was built north of the restaurant in 1998.
Two simulated Indian teepee buildings, south of the restaurant and U.S. Hwy 40, were a tourist attraction until they were removed by a new owner in 1970. When a Vulcan Chemical Plant was proposed for the site in the 1970s, a Denver Post editorial claimed the head of Mt. Vernon Canyon is equivalent to San Francisco Bay and ""must be protected as the keystone of our scenic, recreational, and environmental resource." Jefferson County denied the proposal.
Against strong opposition from residents of historic Swede Gulch (south of the "teepees"), the County Commissioners approved a proposed rezoning to Planned Development (retail, office and hotel) in 1988. The Evergreen land owners created a Colorado Metropolitan special district and approved a $17 million bond for developing an infrastructure in 1993. The development is half completed with a Walmart, McDonalds, Burger King, Amaco, storage facility and other enterprises. (See Swede Gulch below)
“GENESEE” is said to be a New York Native American tribe word for shining mountain. Denver's Genesee Mountain Park was first publicized in 1912 when the City of Denver acquired 800 acres (later increased to a total of 2400 acres) of Genesee Mountain. Denver built roads, picnic areas and trails, and established a pasture for seven of the remaining Yellowstone bison and 23 Colorado elk (also near extinction).
Genesee Park’s listing with the National Register of Historic Places includes the "Patrick House," the oldest Mt. Vernon Canyon building in continuous use (since 1861), and Chief Hosa Lodge and Campground. Denver built the Lodge, designed by J.J. Benedict, in 1918. It has served the public as a restaurant, a World War I museum, gambling hall-bordello and youth hostel and is now an event center.
Genesee Master Plan development, south of I-70 between exits 256 and 254, east of Genesee Mountain Park, was approved by Jefferson County in 1974. The plan divided 2,040 acres into four zones for a total of 1,700 (later reduced to 1542) residential units and 360,000 square feet of commercial building space: 1) commercial & recreation on 113 acres; 2) 450 units on 306 acres; 3) 550 units on 550 acres; and 4) 700 units on 1,411 acres. The county denied the first Master Plan proposal for 2,324 residential units on 1890 acres.
The land developers created two Colorado special districts, Genesee Fire & Rescue and Genesee Water and Sanitation, and sold platted sections to various home contractors. Since 1975, a total of 126 Genesee plat amendments have been filed with Jefferson County. All nine Mt. Vernon Canyon neighborhoods named "Genesee" have different amenities. See "A Brief History of Mount Vernon Canyon."
Genesee Business Center: south of I-70, east of exit 254 (west of Genesee Village), part of the Master Plan. The 113-acre center includes 14 office buildings, The Pines event center, Chart House Restaurant and a retail shopping center that totals 330,000 square feet (of 360,000 permitted), including the future development of Lookout Mountain Community Church. The retail Genesee Towne Centre includes business offices, a convenience store and gas station, video store and post office, liquor store, two restaurants, Christies event center, a coffee & gift shop, art gallery, veterinary hospital, fitness center, ski and bike shop, hair salon, dry cleaner, travel agency and florist.
Genesee Crossing: north of I-70 exit 254, off Mt. Vernon Country Club Road. An "honor camp" for nonviolent felons proposed by the City of Denver in 1969 was denied. Jefferson County also denied a proposal by Genesee Development Company to rezone the 23.5-acre parcel for 100 condominiums and 60 cluster homes in 1979. Today’s 42-home subdivision, served by Genesee Water and Sanitation, was approved in 1985.
Genesee Foundation: south of I-70 exit 256, south of Genesee Village off Genesee Ridge Road is the largest Mt. Vernon Canyon community of 885 units (857 built). The original 1974 Genesee Master Plan clustered homes into neighborhoods between permanent open space tracts with hiking trails. The non-profit Foundation is a homeowner association managed by full time personnel who are supervised by an elected board of directors. A homeowner fee of $110 per month finances 2 clubhouses with outdoor swimming pools, library and meetings rooms at historic Oxley House, 1 racquetball court, 1 weight room, 3 tennis courts, 2 playgrounds for children, private patrol by off-duty Jefferson County Sheriff Deputies, ongoing wildfire mitigation of open space land, maintenance of 12 miles of private trails, a monthly Genescene newsletter and social clubs. Covenants are enforced by an Architectural Review Committee that also serves Genesee Village (upon request of Village HOA Master Board). Note: The Preserve is a developer purchased subdivision within the Genesee Foundation boundary. Genesee Water and Sanitation.
Genesee Reservation: south of I-70 exit 256, east of Genesee Ridge Road near the Genesee firehouse. The original 240-acre plat, filed by the Denver Kiwanis Club in 1924, was utilized by a few summer cabins. All except approximately 22 acres were purchased by Genesee Master Plan land developers during the 1960s. An amendment to the remaining Kiwanis plat established 14 homesites (minimum 4,000 square feet) in 1990. Reservation covenants are the same as the Genesee Foundation but the board chose to exclude the units in 1994. Domestic wells and individual septic systems
Genesee Ridge: south of I-70 exit 254, east of Genesee Park at approximately 8,000 feet altitude. Homesteader Lucian Ralston (for whom the local elementary school is named) platted some of his land for summer cabins in 1917 and amended the plat for more lots in 1927. Approximately 25 multiple-lot units were developed with domestic wells and individual septic systems, from historic log cabins to contemporary castles. Residents contribute minimal fees to maintain their private roads accessed by Genesee Mountain Road which is maintained by Denver Mountain Parks.
Ralston also leased land for the 1918-1950 "Genesee Ski Jump" (above Chimney Creek condominiums) and was hired to build many roads by Denver Mountain Parks. The original Denver Ski Club House, designed by architect J.J. Benedict, was named "Twisted Pine" by the Denver Girl Scout organization, which purchased it for back taxes during the 1930s.
Agnes Tammen built "Rancho Tranquilo," an estate designed by architects Merrill and Hoyt with a private, spring-fed, water treatment system (with water rights) in 1930. It was bequeathed to Tammen’s niece, Helen Rippey, in 1942. The Rippeys operated a turkey farm on a large parcel that became part of the Genesee Foundation area.
From 1954 to 1964, the U.S. military operated a radar training annex of Buckley Air Force Base on Genesee Ridge. Some military buildings and tunnels still exist on the property.
Architect Charles Deaton designed the best known landmark in Mt. Vernon Canyon in 1963. The "Sculptured House" was leased by Hollywood actor-writer-producer Woody Allen in 1973 to film his movie "Sleeper." The sculptured house was never lived in until 2000 when the present owner completed the original design on 15 acres.
Genesee Village: north of I-70 between exits 256 and 254, originally platted as "the North Bowl" of the 1974 Genesee Master Plan. Various contractors built a total of 450 units on the 166-acre tract: 128 condominiums, 98 townhomes and 106 single family detached homes (99 completed by Richmond Homes during the 1990s). Village residents share a clubhouse, swimming pool, duck ponds, tennis courts and open space land financed by varying fees. Pinwheels, Condo I, Condo II, Lifetime Homes and Richmond Homes each have homeowner associations that send a delegate to a Village "Master Board." Genesee Water and Sanitation.
Idledale: This unincorporated "town" in Bear Creek Canyon west of Morrison, was named "Joytown" by settlers in 1866. Pioneers cut hay for cattle, grew potatoes, picked berries, and hunted wild game. There were 10 homesteads when a stage line ran through the canyon from Morrison to Evergreen during the 1890s. General stores, taverns and dance halls sprung up to satisfy "city folks who wanted to play in the mountains" during the 1910s and 20s.
Entrepreneur developer John Starbuck is said to have won large Idledale parcels in a poker game in 1906. He named the town "Starbuck" and platted Starbuck Heights, Sunset Hills, Cedar Springs, and Starbuck Ranch subdivisions for 25 x 100 summer cabin lots. He collected rent for summer tents in a "city park" alongside the creek.
The Denver Motor Club built a clubhouse, restaurant and dance pavilion there in 1916. The club also purchased one-fifth of Bear Creek water rights. In 1922, Starbuck set up a crude water system fed by wells to a "reservoir" by damming Saw Mill Gulch. The "plowed in" water system worked well until people began living there year round. This may have caused residents to change the name to Idledale.
Families built their elementary school in 1921 when carnivals, rodeos, and five dance halls attracted thousands of summer tourists. Legend says Idledale was a haven for moonshiners during Prohibition. Flash floods in 1933, 1935 and 1937 took out some taverns and all walking bridges that crossed U.S. Hwy. 74. The Denver Motor Club was destroyed by fire in 1938.
Colorado’s first fully-equipped Civil Defense fallout shelter was built in Idledale in 1950. In 1976, volunteer Idledale firefighters formed the Highland Rescue Team which expanded to provide emergency medical services for the Genesee and Foothills Fire Districts. Today’s Idledale population of 400 residents are served by a much improved Idledale Water and Sanitation, a Colorado Special District, and a U.S. Post Office. Descendants of the Braun family (settled in 1884) still live north of Idledale.
Lininger Mountain: south of I-70, east of exit 256. Dr. Gilbert Lininger, a Denver dentist, purchased a mountain west of the Grapevine Road (to Idledale) in 1936, one year before U.S. Hwy 40 replaced the historic dirt Mt. Vernon Canyon Road. Assisted by two wives and five daughters, Lininger cut roads, built bridges and constructed their family home at 8,000 feet altitude. He cut more roads and filed a plat for 40 home sites with individual well and septic in 1968.
Lininger was known to brush aside Jefferson County’s land use regulation "foolishness." He failed to convince the Colorado Department of Transportation to prevent disastrous accidents by straightening I-70 at what became known as "Dead Man’s Curve," west of exit 259. After his death in 1993 at the age of 97, he was buried on his homesite.
The northeast face of Lininger Mountain was leased for "Arapahoe East Ski area" from 1971 to 1975 when machine-made snow was no longer affordable and construction of I-70 motivated skiers to drive further west to high altitude ski resorts.
Lookout Mountain Crest: north of I-70 and Lookout Mountain Road, west of Colorow Road. The 17-lot neighborhood was formed in the 1950s, amended from the Lookout Mountain Park #5 plat filed in 1924. Homeowners maintain private roads. All Lookout Mountain Water District taps and individual septic systems.
Lookout Mountain Park: a 66-acre public park, north of Lookout Mountain Road, west of the historic Lariat Trail, purchased by Denver for a Mountain Park in 1917. Buffalo Bill Cody was buried at the park in 1917 and the Pahaska Lodge was constructed in 1921 to preserve artifacts and provide curios and food sales to visitors to the Grave. The Park, Grave and Lariat Loop "scenic drive" are listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
Lookout Mountain Park subdivisions: north of I-70, east of Paradise Road. Lookout Mountain Park #2, #3, #5 and #6 plats were amended from an original 1890 summer resort plan during the 1910s and 20s. The plats were gradually amended to form Paradise Hills, Panorama Heights, Panorama Estates, Clear Creek Heights, Lookout Mountain Crest, Lookout Mountain Park #5 and #6. Lots were combined by individuals or developers to one-acre or more home sites served by wells or Lookout Mountain Water District taps with individual septic systems.
Moss Rock: north of I-70 exit 253 and the Chief Hosa Campground, a plat for hundreds of city-size lots filed in 1921. The neighborhood developed gradually to 35 cabins and contemporary homes. Water wells and septic.
Mt. Vernon Country Club: north of I-70, between exits 256 and 254, north of U.S. Hwy 40 and Lookout Mountain Road. The Mount Vernon Place plat for hundreds of 25 X 100 foot summer cabin lots was filed in 1922. A "jollification" dinner-dance for 400 members launched the first successful residential/social/recreation foothills "resort" community. About 100 acres of the initial 600 were set aside for hiking trails, tennis courts, a golf course, children’s playgrounds, croquet and horseshow courts.
Two miles of pipeline distributed well water to cabins with individual septic systems. Two types of membership, residential (cabin owners) and associate members, enjoyed recreation and entertainment. "DO NOT PICK THE FLOWERS" signs reflected the member’s priority for preserving the natural mountain environment. When 70% of the lots were sold in 1926, Mount Vernon Country Club was formed as a non-profit corporation.
The golf course became "open space" during the 1930s. In 1939, all unsold lots were conveyed to the corporation which acted as the homeowner’s association. Tire, gas and food rationing during World War II caused the clubhouse to be closed. It was reopened in 1948 and again became popular for recreation, dining, dancing, wedding receptions and entertainment. In 1956, the board of directors passed a moratorium on new home construction restricting "residential" members to 99 homes.
The clubhouse was expanded and an Olympic-size pool, snack bar and sky deck were built in the 1960s when acquisition of more land totaled 1200 acres of permanent open space. The clubhouse expanded again in 1979. An augmentation plan and new water system (including fire hydrants) was installed by 1987. Mount Vernon Metropolitan District was established to serve residents and operate the business, water and road maintenance service in 1992. More improvements were constructed in 1996 and 2000. About 3,500 corporate and family memberships have remained constant during the past 20 years. Hundreds of local families utilize membership to Mount Vernon Country Club as a primary community social and recreational gathering place. Treated water with individual septic and a sanitation system for the business.
Mt. Vernon Village: north of I-70 exit 254, off Mount Vernon Country Club Road, a circle drive south of the Ralston Elementary School, north of Genesee Crossing. Three of the 14-homes in the subdivision, filed in 1963, are served by Lookout Mountain Water District taps and 11 have domestic wells. All use septic systems.
Mt. Vernon Estates AKA Indian Paintbrush: north of I-70 exit 256, west of Charros and south of Lookout Mountain Road. The 1985 plat for 14 custom homes was built-out by the year 2000. There are no covenants or homeowner association. All have Lookout District taps and septic.
Panorama Estates: north of I-70 exit 256 and south of Lookout Mountain Road. A portion of the original 1890 summer resort, filed as a resort hotel-summer home development in 1911, amended to become "Panorama Heights" in 1921, and amended for 63 homes in "Panorama Estates" in 1954. The subdivision is connected by the "Weller water line" of Lookout Mountain Water District taps with septic systems. When homes were built in the 1950s and 60s, the neighborhood was considered the Beverly Hills of mountain foothills development.
Panorama Heights: north of I-70 exit 256 and south of Lookout Mountain Road. Original 1890 summer resort, amended to a summer hotel-cabin resort in 1915, was amended to Panorama Heights in 1924. The lots were gradually combined by individuals or developers for 1- to 5-acre home sites served by wells or Lookout Mountain Water District taps with individual septic systems. Approximately 75 homes.
Paradise Hills: north of I-70 exit 256 and south of Lookout Mountain Road. Originally platted for 167 horse-owning family homes from 1958 to 1963, the development stalled after 83 homes were built until 1988 when the Lookout Mountain Water District was formed. The remaining 84 homes were marketed as "Genesee Point." Although both sections have different covenants, all belong to the Paradise Hills Homeowner Association. Lookout Mountain taps with septic.
Rainbow Hills: south of I-70 and north of Evergreen Parkway at U.S. Hwy 40. Gradually developed from agricultural parcels to 50 cabin-to-castle sites from 1920s to present. Access to the west end of the road was originally through historic Soda Creek Road which was not reliable. In 1928, Ray Barnard cut a new road through Genesee Park, crossing multiple private properties (without "easement" permits) to his west end home. As land was gradually purchased for home sites, he attempted to collect a toll from the new owners. In 1961, a third of the property owners, called "Red Wing Committee," contributed voluntary assessments to upgrade the road to meet Jefferson County standards.
Barnard claimed he owned the land because he had built the road and filed litigation against Denver (Mountain Parks) and property owners. The case went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court, which decided in favor of the Red Wing Committee in 1962. The City of Denver attempted to reclaim Genesee Park land used by the road by temporarily placing a chain across the road. The conflict finally ended in 1999 when Jefferson County took ownership and responsibility for the road. Well and septic.
Rilliet Park: north of Lookout Mountain Road, east of Cody Park and west of Clear Creek Heights (Colorow Road). Members of the "Nature Protection Committee" of the Colorado Mountain Club formed an association, purchased land and filed a plat for 70 lots surrounded by 200 "common" acres in 1924. A second plat added 16 lots in 1928. Roads and "park land" were dedicated for the exclusive use of Rilliet Park Association stockholders. About 40 of the 86 lots are filled with homes. Lookout Mountain Water District taps or wells with septic systems.
Denver’s “Cactus Club” organized an outdoor summer theatre from 1919 to 1931 on Rilliet (name of original homesteader) land. In 1997, stockholders donated a conservation easement of 273.5 acres to the Clear Creek Land Conservancy. The land adjoins Jefferson County Open Space, Denver’s Genesee Park and Northwoodside Foundation land that permanently protects most of the 7-mile historic Beaver Brook Trail above Clear Creek Canyon.
Riva Chase: south of I-70 exit 256, east of Genesee and west of Lininger Mountain. The 1960s Forest Hills plat of 205 acres was changed to "Planned Development" in 1973 for a 240-room motel, gas station-convenience store and 58 homes. Ownership changed many times until Anasazi & Associates consolidated an approved water district into the Forest Hills Metropolitan District in the 1980s. Several replats and rezonings were approved by Jefferson County. The Metro District provides water and sanitation service, landscape, road and entrance gate maintenance for 134 homes.
Rockland Valley: north of I-70 and south of U.S. Highway 40 at the west end of Lookout Mountain Road. The original 1860-1890 pioneer land was adjacent to Mt. Vernon Creek where shallow wells served the Rockland School (1873), Rockland Church (1880) and approximately seven families. The little white church still stands along the road that serves 12 homes ranging from historic cabins to horse-ranches and contemporary "castles".
Spring Ranch: south and west of Chief Hosa Lodge and Campground, the historic plat (see "Cold Springs") was sold by Fred Craig to developers during the 1970s with a specified density limit of 5+ acre parcels. The 60 home sites are served by wells and septic. The homeowner association maintains compliance with covenants.
Swede Gulch: south of I-70, Evergreen Pkwy and U.S. Hwy 40 (see El Rancho).
Summit Ranch:north of I-70 exit 253, and west of Moss Rock. A homestead parcel was platted in 1990 for 13 custom homes with covenants, adjacent to three historic parcels without covenants. Domestic wells and septic.