Interviewer Bob Hult
July 22, 2004
This is Bob Hult and today is Thursday July 22, 2004 and we’re in the Harris Park Community Center and I’m interviewing Mildred Betts and we’re going to be discussing her experiences here in Harris Park and in Colorado for that matter. So Mildred, where were you actually born?
Mildred: Born in Littleton, Colorado and my dad built the house and the house is still standing – I can’t believe this after all these many years.
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Oh my gosh.
Mildred: South Sheridan and Coal Mine Road.
Now had your parents been from someplace else, or had they been Colorado natives also.
Mildred: Well, they’re Colorado natives also. We have a pioneer license because my parents came here when my dad was only twelve years old, so he’s been here along time. He passed away a good number of years ago, but we found Harris Park through some friends of ours as a (inaudible) in Lakewood. We stayed overnight with them over here in the corner; we liked the area so well that we decided to buy the corner lot just south of it.
Now what year was that?
Mildred: That was ’64.
You bought the lot in 1964. Okay and you had been living in Littleton up to that point in time?
Mildred: No, we lived in Lakewood.
Oh, Lakewood, okay. That’s right, you had moved several places all in Colorado because you are a true Colorado native. Never lived any place outside of the state.
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Huh! I just got curious – your grandparents – where did they come from?
Mildred: They also come from Kansas and they lived in Loveland when my Mother died in Loveland, I lived with them and went to school.
Mildred: Grade school, high school.
Okay, so you grew up in Loveland then to a large degree.
I think you said you were eight years old at the time your mother passed away?
Mildred: Yes, mm-hmm.
Okay, so your grandparents came from Kansas and so every generation since then has been here in Colorado.
Mildred: That’s right.
Interesting, okay. So you came here in ‘64 – what brought you here? You just liked the area or was there something specific?
Mildred: A friend of ours invited us to come up and stay overnight and he lived just north of where we built.
Okay, in Harris Park?
Mildred: Uh-huh, right there in same area.
Well, I can imagine that Harris Park was quite a bit different than it is today.
Mildred: Oh yes, uh-uh. There’s only about six families that lived here the year ‘round and I thought, “Well, this is an ideal spot.” Well, it grew – I don’t know how many homes have been built in the last year, which is an awful lot of them been built and the mail – -I talked to the mail carrier one day and said, “Well, there’s six families lived here at one time but now I’m delivering two hundred families of mail,” and it’s been more than that now. This has been several years ago, two hundred families, so there’s a lot of people that’s moved in, built.
Absolutely. Now you have a lot of history on Harris Park since you’ve gotten involved with being here for that length of time. You apparently have done a lot of research and talked to people who’ve been here for a longer period than even yourself. What was the origin of Harris Park?
Mildred: Well, there’s a group from Florida come up here and bought it all, I don’t know how many acres, my husband could tell you more of that ‘cause he done the roads up here for nineteen years. He knows every corner of the place.
Mildred: Was on house – – put on the Board in 1975 as Recreation Chairman and thoroughly enjoyed it. I talked to several people that had lived up here for years and they told me a lot of stories of even about President Truman coming in here by buggy and horse and buggy and had his still up here on the hill, but whether that’s true or not, I couldn’t tell you.
Mildred: Just news (inaudible) had been Mabel Smith, who was an old-timer and she’s since passed away but my husband, he’s retired Lakewood fireman and we just built a cabin up here to come on weekends and we liked it so well we decided to move up here for a time, so we sold out in Lakewood and moved up here. We moved in 1977. We come up on weekends or days he was off.
What year was your cabin built?
Mildred: 1967, ‘68?
So several years after you bought the property.
Mildred: Mm-hmm, yeah we just…didn’t have water or anything up here. We just come and camped out more or less until we got the house built with a lot of good help from the firemen we got the house built and decided to move in.
So it’s a real community up here of people.
Was there actually a Mr. Harris that this name came from?
Mildred: Yes there was and I have a lot of information here about Mr. Harris.
Mildred: And I’ll give that to you – you can fill out what you want of it., but he was State Warden in ?Sparobourey’s? rifle in Colorado so this is with – – his niece, Ann, what was her name – – Ann Harris? Let’s see – she’s from Jonestown, Pennsylvania and I had her name here (looking through a scrapbook or clippings). Well anyhow, she stopped in to see where the cemetery was up here, I was out in the yard working and I said, “Well, there’s no cemetery as such, but I’ll show you where Mr. Harris was buried,” and she says, “Well, Mr. Harris was my great grand-uncle and I thought maybe I’d like to see where he’s buried,” so she saw the grave. Well, then when she went home, she sent me all this information about her uncle.
He started this property or he bought the development for personal…
Mildred: Mm-hmm, he had 200 acres here and he had raised deer for his friends to come in and shoot deer.
Ah, okay, so it was a hunting camp.
Mildred: He built a big house up here and it’s still standing. The fellow that owned the house just passed away this last year – Holland – Mr. Holland – John Holland.
Mildred: He bought the property and had it for years.
Right, and that was actually built by this Mr. Charles Harris.
Mildred: Mm-hmm, yes it was.
Do you know what year he actually built that house?
Mildred: No, I sure – – it probably got the information in there.
Okay, yeah, I can go through this and see. So he started this as a hunting camp and when did it actually become a community? Did he start selling off lots that people then could build individual homes?
Mildred: It was in the late fifties; ’57 I think was – – we have a little shed back here, it’s got a date on it. It used to be the community sales place you know, where they could come in and buy lots so – – and it’s all divided up into lots and … We sure enjoy it up here, I’ll tell you.
And this map back her eon the wall; that is the way the lots were all broken up?
Mildred: Uh-huh. (affirmative)
So that’s when it was sub-divided in the 1950s?
Mildred: I have a map here that shows you how it has increased in size and the homes that have been built.
Wow! So how many homes are up here now would you say?
Mildred: Well, my husband and I used to do the newsletter; we had to come home early from vacation time, which irritated me to get the newsletter out to 2,000 people then and there’s many more now.
The original Mr. Harris, wasn’t the one that actually did the subdivision. Did it pass down through his family?
Mildred: No, I don’t think so. The group from Florida come in and bought it and then they since sold out – the people that already bought the homes then had to form a club or chairman to try to get more people interested, so they bought them out and we had a big lawsuit and everything. All this history’s in this (presumably pointing to a scrapbook or clippings). I can’t understand why they had so many problems but they had to buy it back from the lawsuit.
Interesting. So I was just trying to understand this myself – Harris originally bought the land and then did he have – and I can read some of this material, but I just wanted to capture as much as I can on tape from your understanding – – good morning!
Mildred: This is my husband, Howard.
Howard: Good morning sir, how are you?
Very good. We’re just taping right now, discussing some of the history of Harris Park.
Mr. Harris bought the property originally and then you say a Florida group had bought it from him?
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative) That’s the way you understand Florida. Florida come in and bought it from Mr. Harris.
Howard: Yeah, what’s the name of that outfit?
Mildred: I’ve forgotten the name of it.
Okay, and they bought it specifically to turn into a residential community or did they want to keep it as a hunting reserve?
Howard: It’s hard telling. I think they wanted it as a more of a bedroom community or a vacation community.
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
They were the ones that originally subdivided the community?
Howard: As far as I understand.
Howard: And that’s why they did it wrong. See, everything up here is wrong because the streets are too narrow and nothing has ever been accepted by the County.
Howard: So the County won’t come in here and be on this ?oil? road here and do anything.
Right. I came up on Shelton Road off of 43; it’s in terrible condition.
And I guess it’s always been that way, so…
Howard: Yeah. They are cooperating with community pretty good; the County is by doing a little grader work and kind of and helping in some ways, but it’s not near like it ought to be.
And that goes back to the fact that the original sub-divider, this Florida group, just didn’t do the roads property in the first place?
Mildred: That’s right.
Howard: Well, they did it according to the times, see that was way back in ’54 or something I think, wasn’t it?
What time frame was that?
Mildred: Yeah, ’54, ’55.
Howard: They subdivided this and as far as we know, the County accepted it as a subdivision and yet they won’t take responsibility of the road because the roads aren’t wide enough and all this to go by the standards now.
So is the property on both sides, it encroaches on what would be the road?
So they’d have to get new dedicated roadbeds and that would be really difficult I suppose. So this remained private property, this Harris group, until – – or Harris individual or family at least – until the early 1950s, is
Mildred: I think so. That’s when they started selling the (inaudible) sold out in ‘50s.
They sold out in the fifties. When do you think they bought it? Do you have any idea when that was actually purchased.
Mildred: I sure don’t.
Howard: I don’t know, didn’t this subdivision start in about ’54?
Mildred: Yeah, but Florida didn’t have it then, did they?
Howard: Oh yeah, they had it to start with and that was this little shed out here was their sales building.
Howard: At the time.
Mildred: It probably is then.
Howard: And when they – – I really don’t know how …it got transferred from them to whatever. I don’t know, maybe in the file someplace it might say something , but…
I imagine down in Fairplay there’s a record of when they acquired the property from the Harris family or whoever at that point in time owned this immediate vicinity.
Mildred: Mm-hmm. (affirmative)
Because a lot of national Forest is just adjacent, just north of here.
Mildred: That’s right.
So this has been private for a very long time.
Howard: See, about the time of the change from this real estate outfit sold to whoever they did, either or did what they did now or something, is when some kid or somebody got kicked by a horse and there was a lawsuit and against the community here and I guess they had to finally pay off to get something clear.
Mildred: They did.
Howard: I don’t know, so the answer there is too legal for me I guess.
It’s kind of fuzzy.
So then this – – it was turned over or sold to, from the Florida group, to individual owners then of individual lots?
Mildred: yeah, the people that hat had already bought the property started up the group.
Mildred: I read that somewhere in the history way back.
Okay, and then it’s been that way since. Is it an incorporated city or is it just a group of individual owners with – – I mean, the Harris Park name is just something they‘ve assumed?
And it’s like Deer Creek Valley Ranchos; it’s an area outside of the incorporation of Bailey. It’s not a legal entity in the sense that it’s you know, a city or a town or anything like that.
Mildred: They said this is the first development …
Howard: Just a part of Park County, is about all it amounts to. That and it’s in the Platte Canyon Park Collection District and they also have a water and sewer district up here – Harris Park water and sewer.
So you have your own.
Howard: That’s one of the reasons that that was – – I think when we first ever came up here, there used to be piles of pipe, different places like they were going to put in sewer and all this.
Howard: And then of course it all just disappeared that (inaudible) looks that had people buy property I think, so…
And that was in the sixties, early sixties when you saw the pipe here.
Howard: Yeah, that was …
Howard: And then of course, none of that ever happened and water and sewer, neither one of them was – – as far as the water goes, they got a well out here that they use for the whole community and …
Mildred: They have three lakes they take care of.
Howard: No sewer or anything at all.
There’s no individual wells then.
Howard: It’s all individual.
Mildred: All individual.
Oh, it is individual. So you don’t have central water.
But you do have a central sewer system, or do you have septic tanks?
Mildred: Septic tanks.
Your own individual septic, okay.
Howard: Yeah, there’s no central units of any kind. This little well that’s out here, you have to drive in and fill your water containers and drive out.
The people that do that, they need it because they don’t their own well.
Howard: When it first started, nobody had wells too much up here; this was just a cabin up here. An old cabin to get away from things and you had a place to get water and you’d build an outhouse and that was it!
And that was the sixties.
It isn’t that long ago. That’s interesting. Was the well a pump-type or was it electric or what?
Howard: This one out here?
Mildred: No, the community well.
Howard: It’s electric.
It’s electric, okay.
Howard: Yeah, that’s just like a whole well, it’s got the spigot up out of the ground and when you shut off of course, the water drains down so it won’t freeze. That’s the only thing they have as far as the water and sewer department goes, but they do keep up the lakes. We got this pond out here and then we got lake number one and two that they keep up. I don’t know when those lakes was put in. These’s both man-made.
Okay, so their not natural, they were actually created. Do you know who made them or what the purpose was or was it probably for a fishing pond?
Mildred: Just for fishing.
Howard: Well, more for fishing than anything else.
Okay, so they would stock them. Are they deep enough that they won’t freeze in winter?
Howard: Oh yeah. Yeah, they’re oh, anywhere from twelve to twenty feet deep.
Okay, so you could keep fish in there year-round and it wouldn’t freeze them.
Howard: Yeah, they do ice-fishing up here once and awhile, too.
But you don’t have any idea when those or who actually dug those lakes out.
Mildred: (inaudible) some of the history that they was going to throw away so I’ll have to dig those out for you.
BH Okay, I was just kind of curious to see if we could get an understanding of where these things all came from. Who actually dug the well, the original well. Do you know who dug that?
Mildred: Property owners probably, the ones who took over when the (inaudible) quit; probably built the wells, don’t you think? Just like putting in the fireplace, just the names of all of the people up there that built the fireplace.
Oh! When was this community center built, do you know?
Howard: Oh boy, we had some —
Mildred: We moved in in ‘64 it was here.
So this could go back to the fifties.
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Howard: Oh yeah.
Howard: Yeah. See this floor, I understand is a good hardwood floor and it came out of the church that was demolished, so this place is kind of built on a volunteer basis and stuff.
Mildred: This lady here (pointing) died at 102 years, she helped lay the floors in the community center and this is something I’ve done. Me and another lady, her daughter and I started with this (gesturing) everybody that passes away that’s lived up here and owned property, they get their name on the board.
What was her name, the 102 —
Mildred: What was her name? It’s been so long I’ve forgotten.
Howard: Margie Adams.
She was one of the people that (inaudible) for a real long time, probably from the beginning, so she might have been here in the early fifties. Interesting, okay. So you had your own fire department here also then originally.
Howard: Yeah, on this hill over what building is now, of course that’s a brand new one there, but we built the other all on long-term basis. Everybody pitched in to help.
Mildred: This is 1966, there’s pictures (presumably showing pictures to the interviewer).
Howard: By material to build up our house were all donated.
Mildred: It was community property where they put the firehouse up, wasn’t it? I think it was community property.
Howard: Yeah, oh, I don’t know.
Mildred: That’s our first equipment, our fire department equipment (looking at the photo album).
A little red Jeep. It’s like a military Jeep?
Mildred: And we hauled it up from…
Howard: Yeah, we went to the Black Forest down by Colorado Springs.
Howard: Got one of the old Army Jeeps that was a 24-volt system on it.
Howard: We had it for awhile.
Mildred: Pulled a trailer behind it, had a trailer.
Well, you need that to get into some of these roads. It must be difficult in wintertime with some of these road, because if we get a good, that – – well, we had that snowstorm two years ago in March? We had five feet. That must have been unbelievable up here!
Mildred: It was something.
Howard: People leave a car at the bottom of the hill (inaudible) in the wintertime.
Mildred: yeah, and walk up. That was the biggest snow we’d had in all the time we’ve lived up here.
Howard: And of course, most everybody got a four-wheel drive anymore, so…
Well, yeah I can understand that. SO you actually added equipment then as it became available as time went on. Looks like you had a little tank truck.
That looks like a ‘40s period truck (looking at photos).
Mildred: Yeah, this is our equipment that brought it up from the Black Forest.
Okay. Oh yeah, you trailered it up; the Jeep and …
Mildred: Even had the fire department auxiliary women that took part in Bailey Days.
Everything up here is pretty much a community-based volunteer kind of thing.
And in a sense you’re kind of isolated because you’ve got all this Forest land around here and you’re basically at the end of 43.
Mildred: What was really funny is my husband, the Lakewood fireman, they had some equipment to sell so that’s the first big fire truck we had.
It’s a real truck! A real fire truck.
Mildred: Yeah, mm-hmm.
Do you have dues that pay for equipment like that and maintenance of the lakes and those kinds of things? How do you – – what – –
Mildred: A lot of it came from our bingo that we used to play bingo to get equipment.
Howard: We used to have pretty good crowds in here at bingo all the time when it was all volunteer but I don’t know, now, people just stay home I guess, I don’t know.
Mildred: Watch television.
They have satellite TV now, so… (laughter).
What was it like when you first came here in the sixties. It was a smaller community for sure. How different was it then as it is now? What kids of changes did you see over the years?
Mildred: A lot of people moving in and changing things.
Howard: Bigger houses, more expensive houses.
Mildred: Our house used to be the nicest looking one around and then they come in and start building $115,000, $200,000 homes. Yeah, this is mainly jus the fire equipment here that we… the new had Huck Finn, being recreation channel…
Howard: When we first moved up here then the fire house was built; it was built on the idea that we didn’t have any real close fire protection (inaudible) Bailey and that was…
Howard: And they were thirty minutes away with a fire truck coming up.
Mildred: They didn’t even have it on Crow Hill, it was down in Bailey who had that… (inaudible)
Oh really, the one in Crow Hill didn’t even exist. Okay.
Howard: We call it Harris Park Volunteer Fire Department; we built the fire house up here, not knowing that we’re within the Platte Canon Fire Protection District! So in later years and so on, then of course we worked together and then we donated the land to them. That’s why they built the new fire house over here and kind of merged with them and Harris Park kind of went by the wayside.
Now it’s volunteer residents in the area that are basically with the fire department here?
Howard: Yeah, everything’s volunteer – roads and everything else.
Mildred: And the Fire Department.
Howard: We try to keep the roads up and stuff.
Mildred: It’s a pretty nice-looking fire house actually.
Absolutely! It’s a very good looking building.
Mildred: I hate to see it go down, but then we knew we was going to get a better one.
Well yeah, you’ve got a lot more equipment now, but prior to this being built, there was no fire protection other than what came out of Bailey?
Mildred: That’s right.
Did you have fires up here? Like forest fires I guess that would be the first question.
Howard: No, we’d had some residential fires and different things to own (inaudible) gets a little fire in his back yard and neighbor complains about it, the Fire Department goes out and decides it is a dangerous situation and puts it out.
Sure, sure. You never had any big fire s up though that you’re aware of, before the fire department got built?
Howard: Yeah, I think so.
Howard: I think they did. I’m not too sure about the time before we got here, but that was one of the reasons here I think everybody got behind it to get a fire department going up here.
How about emergency – was there a doctor living up here if you needed an emergency and somebody was having a severe problem, you just had to run in to – – where would you go?
Howard: Well, I think there’s some EMTs that probably live fairly close and they’ve got their main outfit at the top of Crow Hill.
Mildred: They do now, but when we came up they didn’t have much, that’s for sure.
Howard: Oh no.
Mildred: They didn’t have anything.
Howard: There wasn’t anything. As a matter of fact, when we had a call here the lady from the ?graw? got on 285 by Longs’ Brothers. Mrs. Long and her husband had an ambulance there at Long Brother’s Garage and that building is still there.
Howard: They used to come up here.
Howard: That was more or less our closest ambulance service at that time and I’m not sure when Platte Canyon Ambulance Service ort what ever they’re called now, I’m not sure when it started.
And that was where the ambulance was kept. Okay. Now you had telephone service when you came up here in the sixties, right?
Mildred: Right, out of Pine, Colorado.
Out of Pine?
Not Pine Junction, but Pine.
Mildred: Actually our mail and everything came out of Pine. We had a very different number and then it was all changed when they …
Howard: We had a box number and…
Out of Pine!
Howard: All this stuff, yeah. They’d come out of Pine and then I don’t know, they closed that one at Pine I guess and it’s Pine Junction now. About that time I think, they changed over to Bailey, so we get service out of Bailey.
Do you know when that period was or when that actually that changed occurred?
Mildred: It was after we moved in, so it must have been ’75, ’74, ’75 I bet.
Howard: Probably, something like that.
Okay, interesting. I wonder why Pine?
Mildred: Yeah, that’s what we thought, too. It’s kind of – – my niece came from California and there was a “Betts” in Pine, Colorado. Well, he was the fire chief: B-E-T-Z.
Mildred: And that’s where she got mixed up, not knowing that we were in Bailey, but we had a Pine address.
Yeah, absolutely. So when you moved here in ’64 – you actually bought the property in ‘64 – how many residents would you guess were actually living up here at that time?
Mildred: We were told six the year ‘round.
Mildred: Mm-hmm. It’s expanded.
Just six. Year round, okay.
Howard: Yeah, summertime, why…
Mildred: Then a lot more come.
Howard: That’s when the taverns would roll. That’s what this was originally set out for, just a cabin community to get away and fish and of course, this guy Harris, he kind of run a little ranch up here where big shots could come hunting and all this kind of stuff.
Mildred: Yeah, I was telling him about that.
Yeah, Deer Creek they actually raised deer so the hunters could come I guess from back East would come as this far and there looked like there hunting or fishing lodges along Deer Creek also that were kind of falling apart now, but I think that is what it was. This was considered a recreational area.
Howard: Yeah, we’ve heard different stories. There used to be a lumber mill up in here someplace too, but we’ve never seen any signs of it but some old-timers has told us that Bisgaard or somebody told us about that and some of the people here says, “Well, there used to be a whiskey still up here by that big rock,” and …
Mildred: I was telling that too, about the history.
Howard: I guess the stagecoach used to run pretty close to here, I think.
Oh really! Well, I know it came up in the Deer Valley – – at least I was told it came up into Deer Valley. Now how far it came up, I don’t know, but I do know there was also a lot of logging at the turn of the century up this whole valley for Denver, basically. There’s no mining, or there wasn’t’ any indication of mining in this area, was there?
Howard: No, the only mine is kind of a oh, what do they call- Littleton Rock Hounds or something – they got a little mine up here on the rock..
Mildred: Rock. Rock mine.
Howard: Rock mine. I think they dig for these black rocks every – – they dig for something, I don’t know, but it’s just a small area and it’s all on top of the ground.
Okay. There’s no commercial mining for silver or gold or anything like that.
Mildred: Right. Just a club that comes in.
Howard: I think the closest to that is probably up Hall Valley.
Yeah, exactly. We’ve hiked up in there and you can see there’s some pretty significant mining at that time.
Howard: Those old mines up there.
Beautiful part of the country, too.
Howard: It’s not too far right over that thing you get over into …
Well, you get in towards Breckenridge, Dillon, Silverthorne, those areas.
You know, on the other side of Boreas Pass, but there are no minerals here that you are aware of at this point.
Mildred: Mm-hmm (negative).
Okay. Weather-wise, have you noticed any change in the weather patterns from when you moved here?
Howard: Weather patterns?
I mean, was it warmer, colder, wetter, drier?
Howard: Oh yeah. We used to get snow up to here (gesturing); it’s been so long now, we get it down to here (gesturing) if we get that much.
Mildred: We’s building up here, we had to park the car here at the community center and walk across because we couldn’t get into our place. It was a good three feet of snow then, but we haven’t seen too much snow really. Just that bad one last year, it was fierce.
Howard: The thing that I notice and maybe that’s because a guy gets older or something, is the cold. We’ve had continued cold.
Mildred: I know, twenty below even this last winter.
Howard: Below zero up here quite a few times and it just don’t get the snow that we used to get.
Mildred: A lot of cold though.
Do you actually think it’s dryer, but actually colder?
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
That’s interesting, okay. My wife is involved with this ?CoCorouse? wich is kind of a study of moisture levels and temperatures throughout the state and it’s interesting – there’s certain pockets that get a lot more rain than others and they can only be a mile or two apart. Just amazing. Now I’ve noticed – – I can see this valley from our home and it looks like you’ve gotten a lot of rain.
Mildred: Oh yes.
Much more rain than what we’ve gotten and we’re only I would guess, as the crow flies, no more than three or four miles.
Mildred: Yeah, mm-hmm.
But I can look out my window and this area looks like it’s being hosed, so I don’t know, maybe we’re in a long-term cycle, I don’t know.
Mildred: Yah, it’s sure been wet the last few months – – weeks.
Howard: I think we’ve seen some cycles up here, too where some years will have more than others.
Howard: And you go through a winter that just don’t seems like you have hardly any snow because you only got six inches or whatever, so then next winter you might get something that’s got a foot or two foot of snow.
Mm-hmm, but you think you’ve gotten more snow back in those days, back n the sixties, than what we’re seeing here now?
Howard: Yeah, it’s changed altogether it seems like to me.
Is there any other changes that you’ve seen in the years that you’ve been here. You’ve been here, you know, going on forty-some years. Have you seen any other changes? You mentioned that the homes have gotten larger; have the people, the nature of the people here, changed?
Howard: Yeah, to me it’s more of big-city people moving in and they’re – – of course, we haven’t heard of too much or anything, but they’re wanting roads, they’re wanting police protection, they’re wanting all this stuff that they got down there.
Mildred: Like they had in town.
Howard: And we don’t have it and when you got to wait thirty minutes for a deputy to show up, why, you know ,that don’t set right with them because they think they aught to be right next door to somebody.
It doesn’t work that way up here. I mean, you don’t get both. I mean, you don’t have the city services when you live out in the country.
Howard: I think the people there- traffic’s different, traffic is quadrupled from what it used to be.
Mildred: Oh yeah. It used to be you go out to 285, you might run – – might be three or four cars you pass.
Howard: They bring their city – driving with them, right on your tailgate when you go out, you know don’t abide by the speed limit, you know. Even this day within five miles it would be different, but you can go down the highway doing the speed limit and they pass you they’ll want more than that.
Howard: And they just don’t’ do that to pass you! After they pass you, then zoom! They’re one!
Was 43 a paved when you moved out here?
Mildred: No, it was all dirt road.
It was a dirt road.
When was 43 actually paved then?
Mildred: Well, let’s see, what did I say?
End Side A
Start Side B
We were talking about changes up here,. Have there ever been stores or commercial buildings up here where you had you, know, lie ka food store or drug store?
Mildred: Grocery store here now.
Is there a grocery store here now?
Howard: That’s commercial property. That’s the only commercial property in Harris Park..
Mildred: it used to be a lumber yard. We wanted to buy it at the time.
Howard: It originally started as a lumber yard because people were doing a little building up here then it changed over to a store and changed hands quite a few times.
Howard: It even had a gas tank and a pump up here at one time.
Howard: The guy that sold out, he decided he’d just have it taken out when he sold the place because, I don’t know what was involved
Mildred: Environmentalists wanted him to take it out if I understand.
Howard: Yah, he had a big problem in the late eighties, early nineties with those tanks that were rusting and leaking and especially it would affect the ground water, so yeah, a lot of tanks were replaced. So right now you have a food store?
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
A little small, like a grocery store.
Mildred: Grocery store, liquor store.
Okay, got that. It’s all in one?
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative) same people have – – and then just like these people really didn’t want to sell liquor, they’re good Christians you know, but that’s their business. They sell more liquor than they do groceries I think.
Howard: I think when they bought the store. Of course, it’s a package deal where people take it out and take it home and do what they want.
Okay, but you say originally the building itself was a lumber store.
Howard: It was a lumber yard.
Mildred: What was the name of that lumber yard in Lakewood? There, he – –
Mildred: Scatterday. He was on the board with Mr. Scatterday and his folks is the one that owned the lumber yard.
Do you have any idea when that got started? It was here before you came here?
Mildred: Before we got here. I suppose in the late sixties.
Howard: Yeah, that sold ‘case we’s talking about – weren’t we talking buying before we even bought lot over here.
Mildred: Mm-hmm. They went up too much in their price so we told them to keep because it was too expensive.
Howard: Yeah, they went up $500 and I…it was at that time. $500 was a lot of money.
Well, exactly. It’s still not exactly small change, but…
Mildred: Mm-hmm (negative).
Okay, so were there any other stores up here in the history of this area?
Mildred: (Mm-hmm (negative).
Mildred: That was the only one.
That’s pretty much it. Of course, having a grocery store, even a small one, would really be a big convenience because it’s a long haul if you want a real food store you have to go all the way to Conifer.
Mildred: mm-hmm (affirmative).
Howard: Yeah. This is more like a convenience store where you can go in…
Mildred: You can get about most anything there though. Done real well, these people that have had it – good job.
Now did you go into Bailey if you wanted more groceries, or did you go to Conifer?
Mildred: Well, we had to go to town about once a week or every other week so we’d pick up groceries on the way home from the stores.
In the late sixties though was Conifer there at that time, the Safeway?
Mildred: No, it was just a gas station when we was building up here.
Howard: Oh, you had to bring your groceries from town or you could go down into Bailey…
Mildred: They had a grocery store there, yeah.
Howard: Bailey Country Store I think it’s called. Still there. They’ve been there a long time.
Howard: As a matter of fact, there’s a little history on that place, too. The sidewalk right out in front used to be about three foot above the ground.
Howard: Yeah, it’s my understanding – this is what I’ve heard – but they’ve had one and possibly two floods in Bailey .
Huh. From the South Platte?
Howard: From the Platte Canyon by the Forestry Service Building.
Howard: I guess and that’s what’s kind of raised the ground up or whatever it is!
Mildred: That history we got from McGraw down there. We met her too, but the way.
Now who’s this?
Mildred: Mrs. McGraw that had all that property down there. Her grandparents used to have the market there, the Bailey market.
Oh, I may have interviewed her. I’d have to look in the list again and see, because…
Mildred: They had that history down there.
I just interviewed a lady whose been there for some time – Woody Day.
When he was working for the Post office, but she’s been there oh, forty, forty-five year and she had a lot of history of what it was like there at that time. She was in the early fifties.
Mildred: Bisgaards, too gave me a lot of information about Harris place up there, but you’d have to talk to here because I don’t know the dates or anything, but they used to have ice – -build ice up there. It used to be a Harris lake – good night, that was one of the prettiest lakes we had up there, but they had – – Water Board had to drain that.
Howard: Yeah, the lake leaked; it wouldn’t hold water, so they just breached the dam so they wouldn’t get water in and besides, you had to bring water in from the next valley over goes down into number two lake and had a ditch all the way from that one about a mile long, a ditch that brought over into Harris lake, but you couldn’t – – you had to keep that up every year and it didn’t get no help to do it and …
Mildred: He was on the Water Board about that time when we had to do all that.
Howard: The ditch would wash out and so on, so it just discontinued using it but everybody wants a lake back up there, but they don’t think about the consequences of what it takes to get a lake up there.
Mildred: That’s what they bought – lakefront property.
Well, exactly. Well, there aren’t very many natural lakes in this area, that’s for sure. There’s one at the top of hall Valley for instance, but that’s a natural one and I still have yet to understand how trout got up there because we’ve hiked up there and you see trout jumping out of the pond at it’s at the end of a cirque.
Mildred: Oh gee, isn’t that something?
And it’s way – – it’s above timberline.
And trout are up there! And it’s like, “How did they get there?”
Mildred: Yeah, that’s right.
And those people stocked them. Well, so the Harris house is still here.
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
And you’re not sure when that was actually built though.
Mildred: Sure don’t. I bet I could look it up and find out though.
Oh I can check this out and see because it would be interesting to understand and it’s still privately owned.
Mildred: Yes and it’s for sale now.
Mildred: He just – – I was telling about John Holland passing away that owned it.
It would be interesting to understand the history of that – – you know, did they use natural materials in building that or does that go back before the turn of the century?
Mildred: I imagine with ?Joe’s? Isn’t it that old house in Harris Park? That old house up here?
Howard: Big one?
Mildred: Yeah, wasn’t that all logs?
Howard: There it was one… and two other cabins besides the big house ad the garage wasn’t there of course, she’s built a big two-car garage to (inaudible).
Do you think when it was developed to be like a hunting area, did they build those cabins for people to come and stay while they were up here hunting?
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Howard: I think that’s what it was yeah, ‘cause the people that come up in those days they’d come up in wagons or horseback or well, might have rode the train to Bailey and then come back through the (inaudible ) whatever.
Yup. That was the way of getting up this valley at that time. Schools. Was there ever a school up here?
Mildred: Yeah, Deer Creek was built after we came in.
Howard: Yeah, Deer Creek Elementary was built after we came in.
Mildred: We have a friend that lived in Bailey and she went to school up there at Camp Id- Ra-Ha-Je, that big building.
Right. That was the school.
Mildred: That was the only school they had.
Mildred: And she told me about riding the old milk truck up there to go to school because she lived in Bailey south of the Platte.
Yeah, that was a great school as well as a high school for a long period of time. Then they started building the other ones on the other side of town. But there was never a school up here.
Mildred: Mm-hmm (negative).
how about a church. I think you’d mentioned that this building or this area had a church in it?
Mildred: Yeah, he helped build it. I got that information here. They built it in 1989.
Oh, okay. It’s a very new one then.
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Anything prior to that? Was there a church that goes back?
Mildred: We met in the building here. When we first came and moved up here, the church was here in the Community Center every Sunday and they had a bell up here.
Mildred: And when they built the church up there they took the bell from up here and put it up there and that bell was given to us from a party in Lakewood, so they said they needed a bell and being a church, so we donated that bell and put it up here in the building!.
Okay. And the church was where?
Mildred: Right up the street here, right across from the store.
Oh, okay. Is that a non-denominational church?
Mildred: Sure is.
Howard: Yeah, it’s called the Harris Park Bible Church. It’s all non-denominational, anybody can – – small group. It might go as high as about thirty people.
Mildred: In the summertime there was always more.
It’s probably part of the social structure up here, too.
Mildred: Here’s some information if you need it. I just made it out to …
Howard: No, that was all built with volunteer funds, too.
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Howard: Volunteer help. We did have some money that we bought the materials with ‘cause it’s been, well, the church, when it was even going down here – we had a Building Fund and our money was given into the building fund. One lady especially give an awful lot of money.
Mildred: That was $300.
Howard: John Ohlbrect of Id-Ra-Ha-Je was an awful big help in our church, too. He helped us while we was even down here in the church by coming in and preaching or seeing that we had somebody or something like that.
As far as social activities, this Community Center was pretty much the center of activities. You had bingo, did you have dances or…?
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Kids – – when I was Recreation Chairman I had teen dances down here and had live bands.
Oh okay. This would be late sixties, early seventies?
Mildred: Yeah, it was in ’75 I was Recreation Chairman, ’75, ’76 and you probably know Carl Thompson? He’s the one that built a lot of houses up in here.
Mildred: And he’s the one that the designed the church.
Howard: he was the big man behind the church up there because he knew how to build, he made his own plans and own crew
Mildred: Had a lot of help.
Howard: and turned out to be real good and the main part of the church was the first built and then the next year, or two after that, we built the addition onto it. So it was built in two different – – we had enough money left over that we could built the addition on and then that left us with just enough money for a Working Fund.
Yeah, that’s part of a small church also and it’s a struggle sometimes.
Howard: As far as I know, that’s never been in debt up there at all.
Oh, that’s nice.
Howard: It’s a free church.
Mildred: There’s a group that came in here and wanted to take it over because it was all free gratis and there was no debt against it, but they didn’t succeed.
Personal question: you’ve been here a long time, forty some years. What’s the most outstanding event that you can recall in your period of living up here. Is there any particular thing that occurred in that whole time slot that really stood out as being significant to you?
Mildred: Well, I was Reunion Chairman on the Board for twenty-one years. We’d always, every year, get all the old people back up and this was what brought this on. People ‘d pass away, we’d send them an invitation to come for a memorial for that particular party and …
And people would be scattered back to Denver or out of state or anywhere. They had lived here for a period of time and then gone someplace, but you maintain a record of where there are.
Mildred: Mm-hmm, yeah. It was interesting when we were getting the newsletters out; we knew where people lived, a lot of them in Hawaii and Texas and New York. We were surprised that so many people’d come from so many miles away, you know.
Howard: Kind of hard to think of the most outstanding events that might happen up here because they all seem like…
Mildred: Everything was important.
Howard: Little old great big outstanding things.
What would you say that stood out in your mind as being significant while you lived up here that was…
Howard: Oh, we even had the fireworks off of the dam down at Number One lake.
When was that?
Howard: A guy a come in and set up the regular deal and really shot them.
Mildred: The Fire Department, yeah.
Howard: I can’t remember the dates.
So that was some time several years ago?
Howard: Oh yeah, it’s been quite a while ago.
Mildred: Probably in the eighties
Howard: Then they kind of banned that altogether. Of course, we always took our Volunteer Fire Department and stood by you know, and then we shot out over the lake so it was kind of fairly safe, but then after a few of these fires, why, you get kind of a scare.
Howard: So I just decided to stay from it altogether,
Well, we moved here in 2000 and I had the – – what’s the name of the fir behind the high school?
Mildred: Oh yeah.
Snaking Fire and then 2002, we had the High Meadows – not High Meadow – what was the other one. It was a big one, like a 150,000 acres. So yeah, it’s a big concern.
Mildred: It’s too close for comfort, isn’t it?
Yeah. What do you think of this fire mitigation program that the Federal Government is talking about, the thinning of the forests and reducing the fire load of materials. IS that something that you think makes sense here? Because you’ve got a lot of National Forest surrounding you, so you’re vulnerable if those forests were to catch fire, that would be a big concern. Have you investigated that or have you got any opinions about that?
Howard: Oh, I don’t know, I guess fire Department has got some real good equipment for advanced fire-fighting and wildfires and stuff like this.
Mildred: We had the Fire Chief come out and tell us that we’re pretty fortunate in this area because there isn’t any trees too close and the new had the three lakes here.
Right, you’ve got a good water supply.
Mildred: And we always go by the lakes you know, so he said we’re pretty safe up here, just to make sure that the trees weren’t too close to our houses you know.
You’re dealings with park County Government. It appears to me in talking to people, and we’ve only been here four years, but it appears to me that there seems to be a lot of dissention and controversy regarding Park County and the way things are governed, especially the difference between the south of the Kenosha Pass and north, because there’s two different interest groups there. Do you have any experience with Park County as far as the government structure and support that you get from the County here?
Howard: Well, I think Harris Park as a whole, people up here are kind of disgruntled with the policies and stuff that they have up there in Fairplay and of course, we’re like a sore thumb up here. We’re all this past and so on and a lot of people come here and don’t understand it until they finally dig into all of it and then up goes the “For Sale” sign and they’re gone. I really don’t know. I think that the County is doing the best they can with what money they got. Maybe they need some heads up there that can do more by bringing in more revenue or something, but I don’t know – that’s up to them. That’s a little beyond me. I’ve been on boards like the Fire Board and the (inaudible) Board up here stuff but that’s just small potatoes according to what they got ‘cause really, Park County is got a big problem.
Mildred: The Water Board.
In the sense that because it’s so different, or what sense they’ve got a big problem?
Howard: Well, I think their (inaudible) grids is one on the account of trying to keep up with the weather and our conditions around here, deteriorating roads and stuff like that, why, it just isn’t like some of these other places where you grade a road once and it’s graded for awhile, but here, you’ve got to over about every day!
Is that because of the nature of the soil itself?
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
It’s decomposed granite or what?
Howard: Yeah and then the rain comes along and…
Howard: Flows, yeah. Washed away.
Yeah, we had the same problem where we live, too.
Howard: But I don’t know, it seems to me that the – – you don’t really know these things; you’re just kind of on the outside watching them. It looks to me like they’ve owned a few things and they sell them and like buildings, and they’ll go and rent one someplace else and pay a lot of rent for it and then pretty soon they’ll get the idea that maybe they’ll build their own building. The last one they built was down in Bailey and I just wonder how long they’re going to keep that one?
That was a very expensive building, too for what they got. That’s a huge amount of money. Has it always been that way in your experience with park County when you fist moved here in the sixties, was it like that also?
Howard: I think so. They’ve always moved around. They’ve been in this building and that building and another building and I don’t now – maybe it depends on – – maybe I’m getting kind of psychic but it depends on who’s in charge up there and where they rent or something, I don’t know.
Well, it does appears there’s – – people in South Park have totally different interests than the people on this side of the pass and so there’s always been that question. In fact…
Howard: Well, that’s the ranch community over there and over here, it’s more – – I don’t know, it’s more people, so on. They’ve even talked about moving the County Seat to Bailey, but that’s just talk. They’ll never do that.
No. Bailey is not an incorporated town and you have to have an incorporated town. They really should have split the County when you really get down to it.
Howard: (inaudible) I think that’s – – I’ve been on the Sheriff’s Posse and I’ve done a lot of things up around Fairplay and beyond and so on and you’ve got to take the whole thing in perspective. You can’t just say, “Well, I want it this way because I’m here.” You know, you can’t do that. You’ve got – – there’s other people you
Sure. You mentioned the Sheriff’s Posse. In your experience of having been here, has crime ever been a problem up here?
Mildred: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Just about every week.
Howard: Oh, we’ve had a few people’s that have come up here and committed suicide, but that’s not what you call an outstanding crime I guess.
Howard: The biggest thing is break-ins. Like in the winter time, cabins aren’t used and especially in the old days, why, there wasn’t very many people up here and heck, you’d find a cabin that was broke in and it had been lived in for awhile; a good month or so.
And nobody …
Howard: And you’d see trucks from this cabin over at this cabin and this cabin, this cabin,
Mildred: Taking wood.
Howard: And find out they’ve all been broke in! And then when you finally break down that you’ve got to do something about it, why, they’re gone.
HB: They seem to know, you know, (laughter).
Howard: No, that’s the biggest thing that I can see that we’ve had up here.
Well, without a bank you can’t have a bank robbery and so it’s probably been a pretty quiet community all the time you’ve been here.
Howard: Well, we still have a little bit of that break-in anyway so (inaudible)
Howard: People get tired of nothing to do, I guess or think they got nothing to do and so they want to go out and raise a little heck.
Mildred: This Harris Park has had a bad name. A bunch of druggies move in here, but we’ve got a lot of good kids, too. You’ll find that everywhere.
Well, it’s neat to see that there’s been a community effort here to build what you have and there has to be a sense of community you know, and the place is isolated and since it is isolated…
Mildred: There used to be five people on the Board and now we got seven on the Board, which I think – – and the Road Commissioner and different…
Howard: Yeah, they got laws but they don’t’ enforce them up here except when they do, they enforce something that easy to enforce, I guess. We got people up here that drag stuff in and pretty soon they’ve got a big junk yard out here and more cars than you can shake a stick at and I think the law says that automobiles on your place have to be licensed and they have to be run-able.
Howard: If they aren’t, then you’ve got a limited time to get rid of them or something like that.
But it’s not enforced.
Mildred: Mm-hmm ( negative).
Yeah, we’ve even had that in Deer Creek Valley Ranches. We have people that have multiple vehicles and other individuals got all kinds of appliances on their property and it’s brought to the County’s attention and they’ve basically chosen to ignore it. So they’re not enforcing their zoning.
Howard: Well, you say anything to them, “Well, we don’t have the money to do it with.”
Exactly. That seems to be the answer to just anything.
Howard: If you can’t service them, then bring them to Court and they haven’t got the money to do it will. Well,…
So you’re basically allowing it to happened and so people will understand they can get away with it. That’s a problem all over the County.
Howard: Yeah, I supposed you can’t do anything as far as their property goes. Go in there and force them to clean tier property up and put it against their taxes because the house is probably mortgaged to the hilt to start with, so if you add your money onto and try to sell it, you aren’t going to get your money anyway.
Well, you know, people come up here, too feeling that they’re going to be able to do whatever they want. We’ve noticed that up here as a difference in an urban area. They come up here for a variety of reasons, including just wanting to be by themselves and do whatever it is they want. SO it’s hauling junk or keeping cars or whatever, they do it.
Mildred: Many dogs that bark all night long.
Howard: Well, they want to do what they want and the heck with anything else.
You got to take the good with the bad. There’s advantages of being out here because you’ve got some beautiful area around here
Mildred: That’s right.
And there’s some down sides of that, too. Is there anything else you can think of that you can talk about regarding the history of Harris where your experiences are here in Harris Park?
Mildred: All I can say is we love it! I mean, it’s a great town.
That’s the beauty of it.
Howard: Or even where the – – the building that’s over here now that – – two big buildings are John’s big garage and then there’s – – we’ll, then there’s two other buildings. There’s a place here that has a place for their equipment, which isn’t much I guess and then the Water Board got a building over there. But out there in that wired-in area we used to use that for a dump collection area and we had the idea at one time of watching all these trash trucks come up here go into individual houses and we could open them Saturdays and Sundays would keep this area open with a couple of big dumpsters in there and would charge the people fifty cents a load to go in and help offset.
Howard: Some of the stuff and then the salvage people would come up and dump them once a week.
Howard: And hauled off and we’d be ready for the next week, so everybody can have all these trucks running around and there’s a trash can sitting out and we tried putting trash cans around the lakes for the fisherman and stuff and pretty soon they start putting home stuff in it and all this.
Mildred: Throwing them in the lake.
Howard: So we had to discontinue that.
Howard: And over by this area here, really thought of a tourist, we had a helicopter landing and we kept the pad; we kept it open over there in the winter time and so on and we kept the pad clean and …
For like Flight for Life or…
Howard: (inaudible) pouring oil on it, so on, so it was used quite a few times.
It’s still there now?
Howard: It’s still there, but they don’t seem to want to use it.
Mildred: They don’t’ use it too much.
Howard: But there is some wires up there but we got the big balls hanging on the wires up there and they can land and so on, but most of the time they transport them in to the top of Bailey, Crow Hill.
Mildred: Like they did him one time.
Howard: I suppose it’s easier for them to find, some of the pilots probably aren’t – especially at night time –
Yeah, I’d be concerned, but that’s a twenty-minute drive down to Crow Hill from here, isn’t it?
Mildred: It is.
Howard: Well, if you’ve got a central point then they will get used to it and then they go…
No doubt. Okay, well, I can’t think of anything else, unless you can.
Mildred: I’ll look up some of that way back history on this and see when they did sell and what not because I think they have some papers over there was given to me.
Howard: What is your purpose or whatever.
Oh, I can explain that; let me shut this off; we’re done with the recording now.
End Of Tape
Park County Local History Archives
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- Archives Collaboration with University of Denver September 23, 2020
- Remembering Ada B. Evans, the First African American Mayor in Colorado and Her Legacy in Park County, Colorado on The South Park Heritage Experience July 7, 2020
- A. F. Willmarth, Historical Park County, Colorado Sketch Artist June 2, 2020
- A Huge Loss for the Park County Local History Archives and Park County August 8, 2017
- Remembering Ada B. Evans by Linda Bjorkland February 18, 2017