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.

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3 thoughts on “Blog.03: The History of Golden/Applewood Mesa

  1. It was interesting to read your post. I haven’t really considered the life of an agrarian settler pre-gold rush in Colorado – especially along the front range.

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  2. Excellent job providing a deep backstory to Golden. It helps to draw a picture of what the landscape looked before large scale growth, which it what I have grown up seeing everyday. Its hard to imagine crops growing in what is now a very urban community. Great Job!

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    1. I know, right! Even with studying the flood plains of the area a few years back and see the variety of apple trees throughout the Applewood area, I still fine it hard to imagine as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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