Blog.04: History & Current State of Conservation/Preservation

Story of Golden Colorado

Gold Rush Town Turning Green

In the beginning, Golden/Applewood didn’t come about through a preservation or conservation movement. It was birthed by the discovery of gold in 1830 by fur trappers, which developed into an industrial town of different mining companies, as did most cities in the west of that era. These activities change the landscape and displaced the ecosystem of the area by the removal of trees and mining of the landscape.

Today, because of the preservation/conservation movement around 1890 to 1920, people from around the world come to Golden not in search of gold or minerals, but to escape the congestion and polluted air of their cities and mostly to experience the sublime, which the Colorado Foothills and Rocky Mountains still offer. To romanticize of the old west and its mystique of a simpler, more primitive time in history that once was, and in some respects, still is to this day.

Golden has both preserved and restored its connection to the old west and of its environment and nature, while at the same time, still being able to adjust to the changing times. Golden has preserved numerous areas around its city like the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve, preserving 110-acre of ponderosa pines & meadows, with a nature center, trail & guided tours. The Buffalo Herd Nature Preserve, a wildlife refuge which maintains a herd of buffalo in a natural setting. These buffalo are direct descendants of the last wild buffalo herd left in America. The Golden Cliffs Preserve, which is the iconic symbol of Golden, Clear Creek Whitewater Park which provides recreational activities while maintaining a riparian along the creek, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, with 12,000-acres of mountains, forests, meadows and recreational activities and so forth. Even though Golden is only minutes from the hustle & bustle of down town Denver, it has manage to survive and keep its small town, Mayberry like feel by creating parks in and around the Foothills and the city itself, restoring nature differently from what it once was.

Golden/Applewood both preserved and conserved nature because they valued it over the big city which Denver was becoming. They value clean air, water, to be connected with nature and the health and tranquility that come with those elements. Golden is still on the path of protecting nature and the environment now and in the future through, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (located on the south side of South Table Mountain Park) which develops sustainable and renewable clean energy and energy efficiency technologies and practices. The preservation/conservation movement has now evolved from being a local/national interest only, to a global interest, and Golden is a big part of that movement.

So even though the times and approaches towards conservation and preservation have changed, the dichotomy of methodologies, reasons and philosophical/utilitarian values really haven’t.


Blog.03: The History of Golden/Applewood Mesa

Golden’s beginning as a mining supply stop along Clear Creek, near its 1858 discovery of gold.

Image collected from Pinterest

Golden’s beginning as a mining supply stop along Clear Creek, near its 1858 discovery of gold.

Applewood’s history is really not much different from other stories from that era of industrialization in that, it came about due to the Homestead Act of the 1800’s, when the Bunger family from the eastern states, joined the wave of migrating settlers heading west and was influenced in the mid 1800’s by Coors brewing and important mining supply stop industry of Golden, known today as Colorado School of Mines (Mines/CSM). And let’s not forget the “coal mining and clay extraction industries which settled into the area, utilizing the region’s ample natural resources”. [b]

Like most new settlers, around 1862, The Bunger’s began growing wheat in Wheat Ridge and what is known today as Applewood, to meet local demands. But because transporting of food, especially fruits & vegetables across the plains was expensive, the Bunger brothers, Fred and Myron found that specializing in fruits & vegetables was more profitable than seeking gold.[a] So the brothers converted their wheat crops to start growing apples, strawberries, raspberries, peas, carrots, onions, potato’s and other vegetables to meet the food demands of local industry and locals.

Since the west was still sparse and only beginning to slowly develop and the closet produce stand was in Denver on the east side of the Platt River along Cherry Creeks west bank, The bungers set up their own produce stand on west 36th ave. near Youngfield street, which at the time was substantially closer to the mining community of Golden.

Wheat Ridge/Applewood’s industry transformed from its mid-19th century roots of supplying agricultural goods to ranchers, local industry and community to selling land in the early mid-20th century, to a smaller trades & goods industry, then to an urban housing community known today as Applewood Mesa, due the Bungers Apple orchards that the homes replaced.

When the discovery of gold occurred around 1858 along the Clear Creek River, there were less than about 200 people in the Golden/Rocky Mountain area, and in only two years, nearly 35,000 people saturated the area in search of fortune and gold. The industries commodification of the area’s natural resources as coal, clay, the water by Coors and knowledge by the Mines via engineering/academics of students in minerals had strongly influenced the development and transformation of Denver and surrounding communities, and state government. This is similar to the Isenberg reading of when small groups of prospectors came to pan for gold, then industry moved in and started to develop the resources and communities grew as a byproduct industry, changing the landscape and political structure.

But the ecological impact was small compared to the mining of California which Isenberg wrote about. Even though the landscape was altered to accommodate industry of that time, it has transformed through time and space into a thriving economic urban community of energy and technology research, an international academic center for mining and petroleum technologies, tourism, family living and recreation, smaller trades as micro brews, and specialty services.

Blog.02 History of Applewood: From Wheat to an Orchard of Apple Trees

Applewood Mesa, A place I’m proud to call my come, a quiet little community nestled near the Colorado Foothills. Only minutes away from the Coors Brewery and a quaint little town called Golden. A place I feel in centralized in the middle of cultural and recreational activities.

Driving through the Applewood Mesa community, one notices the mid 20th century architecture, the pride folks have in their community show through their home landscaping, the healthy mature trees that adorn our community throughput, the daily activities one has access to such as cycling, running, jugging, walking, hiking, playing basketball , gulfing, country club, gold panning, or just the simple gatherings of neighbors at their homes, or in one of the many parks surrounding the Applewood Mesa community.

I chose my community because of my curiosity to learn of its beginnings. How did this community first develop, why, what factors influenced its development? Was it utilitarian, political, or was it a vision to recapture a rural Mayberry or an urban Norman Rockwell like Eden? I would also like to investigate the current Applewood community strife with MolsonCoors over the selling, rezoning and redevelopment of the Applewood Vista Golf Course with a proposed 454 homes.


Jefferson County Historical Commission. Historic Mining and Quarrying. May 2012. 30 10 2015. <;.
Historic Jeffco <;
• Provides some historic inside in the development and transformation of the land.

City of Golden. Golden History, Gateway to the West! 2015. 21 10 2015.
• This very short blurb talks on how city of Golden came about through the  discovery of gold, the different types of mining and mil industries around Golden and its entry into the 20th ce. and the future.

Henderson, Charles William. Mining in Colorado: a history of discovery, development and production. No. 138. Govt. Print. Off., 1926.
• The paper shows chronologically the history of mining in Colorado and its different counties and cities. This also parallels class material on the different stages and processes that take place and the influences of the environment on it.

• Shows the conflict between community and development (progress).