Monday, May 1, 2017

Chief Colorow and Colorow Cave

Colorow Cave
When I was a child growing up in Brooklyn, New York, there were the ruins of an old house located a few blocks from my house. Built around 1675, it was the remains of one of the original Dutch settlers in that area of Brooklyn, which was known as the town of Flatlands at that time. Fortunately, when developers came to build more houses in the area in the late 1950's, and that house was slated for demolition, it was dismantled and reconstructed in the Brooklyn Museum to preserve it for all time as part of Brooklyn's history. Remembering this house, the Jan Martense Schenk House, which you can read about more on my blog post--here--was the beginning of my love for local history.  I've always been curious to learn more about the peoples and places that came before me. 

When my husband and I moved to Colorado four years ago, we joined our community's historical society and the History Colorado Center. As Colorado became a state in 1876, its history is relatively new, and we were excited to learn more about it.

Please Click on to enlarge--Photos from a 2016 exhibit at Hiwan House, 
Evergreen Colorado--Chief Colorow on the Left

Native Americans lived in Colorado for thousands of yearsThe earliest traces of Paleo Indians, date back around 13,000 years ago, from artifact evidence found at an area called "Lamb Springs" near Littleton, Colorado. Click here to read my post about my visit to Lamb Springs.  One of the first recorded Native Americans, that was influential during the early 1800's, was Chief Colorow, a member of the Ute Native American tribe that frequented this area that is now known as Jefferson County, along many other areas of Colorado.  He was so well known in this vicinity that many local places are named after him, including an elementary school, a park, a road and trails, a cave and so on. Colorow was one of the most well known Utes in Colorado during his lifetime. Born a Comanche around 1813, he was captured as a child by the Muache Utes in New Mexico, who raised him. He was given the nickname "Colorado" (Red) by the Mexicans living in the San Luis Valley area because his skin had a reddish cast compared to the more brown skin of the Utes, and soon it was shortened even more to "Colorow." Colorow was six feet tall and skilled with horse rearing and training. He soon lead his very large family and tribe all over Colorado, wintering on the plains near red rock formations, where they could hunt deer and bison, as well as hunting and foraging in what he called the "shining mountains." He knew the early Spanish settlers, the fur trappers and traders, and the military men that were in Colorado at the time, and was able to co-exist and trade with them.  When gold was discovered in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, however, and settlers began streaming in from the east in the late 1850's, the Ute way of life was soon to change as their hunting grounds and living areas were slowly being taken away from them. Eventually, defeated by conflicts, broken treaties and being forced to live on a reservation in Utah, Colorow passed away of pneumonia in 1888. 

To read more about Chief Colorow click through here to his biography in the Colorado Encyclopedia.

Please click on to enlarge--more about Chief Colorow from the 2016 Hiwan House exhibit

The school children in Jefferson County learn about Chief Colorow, as part of the local history, and one of the charming legends about him was his voracious appetite.  It is said he grew to be close to three hundred pounds!  He is said to have had a special love for white settlers biscuits and would ride from homestead to homestead demanding the women of the house make biscuits for him and his braves, often stuffing them into his clothes to bring back to his tribe.  



The Ken Caryl Ranch Historical Society recently made an excellent ten minute Youtube video about the Utes and Colorow that you might enjoy watching to learn more about these native people, and specifically Chief Colorow.


One of the places that Colorow and his tribe stayed on the Front Range is a formation of Fountain Formation red rock sandstone called "Colorow Cave." This large formation of rocks is now part of private property, and is called the "Willowbrook Amphitheatre," and used by the Willowbrook Association for special events. Our community history society was invited to visit the cave, which was a very exciting event for all of us.


The top of the formation is open to the sky, but there is enough overhang to provide some shade and shelter from inclement weather. It was easy to imagine Colorow and his tribe seeking shelter here during summer thunderstorms or to escape the mid day sun, and to enjoy the warmth of the stored reflected sun's heat during the cold nights.



You can see how large this "cave" was by noticing one of our society member's grandchildren standing on the left side of the cave.



Although a flagstone floor with electrical outlets were added to make the space conductive to social functions, the rest of the cave formation was left natural.



I was startled by an owl in flight when I walked around the outside of the cave formation.



The owl perched on a distant layer of the rock formation, waiting patiently for me to leave.


The view of the Willowbrook community from the top of the hill, where the cave is located, was very bucolic.  Again, it was easy to imagine Colorow riding his horse down from the surrounding foothills to settle with his tribe to hunt the animals grazing on what was once all grasslands.



Before we left the area we also went to see the remains of a structure that is thought to be from the pioneer days, possibly a stagecoach stop?



Seeing the ruins reminded me of the little Dutch house that was fortunately saved in Brooklyn long ago for future generations to see. It reminded me how important it is for communities to work together to preserve their history, as they progress towards the future, so that their history is not lost to time.  

Do you know your community's early history and most famous resident?  Do you sometimes wander in their footsteps and imagine the life they lead?

Colorow Cave

In my next blog post I'll show you a former pioneer residence that is in my community and the interesting story of the man who built it, and for what reason.  Please visit again soon!

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41 comments:

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

How exciting to visit such a beautiful place near your home, Pat. I did not know about Chief Colorow. He certainly sounds like an interesting fellow. Your photo of the startled owl is a lovely shot! How thrilling that must have been to capture. Being a Virginian, I do know the history of our area and those that came before me. It's important! Thank you for sharing such unique places. Have a wonderful week. ♥

Maggie said...

Dear Pat, I really enjoyed learning about Colorow "his story" is fascinating. We have much in common today it seems - this morning on our walk we got spooked by an owl (don't normally see them during the daylight hours) and my post next week is about local history too!
Sending May Day wishes from Normandy on this wet and windy Mosaic Monday.
Maggie

Pamela Gordon said...

Very interesting post, Pat. The Colorow Cave is beautiful. Now, I'm going to check the post about the Dutch house in NYC. I may have read it before but this type of history always fascinates me. Have a beautiful day! I hope the snow is melting. Pam

Lady Fi said...

How lovely to see so much history preserved.

Rajesh said...

Great tour of the cave. Amazing shots.

Tom said...

...what a magical land and that haunting flute! There sure are some gorgeous places in this country. Thanks for sharing these sights.

Lorrie said...

The history of the Native Americans is a fascinating one, and one that doesn't get told very often. There seems to be a resurgence of interest in telling the stories from the past, and of the recognition of the harms done to our First Peoples (as we call them in Canada). What a beautiful cave Colorow and his people used for shelter. And how wonderful that you were able to visit it. The owl in flight is a great shot. Happy Mosaic Monday, Pat.

Vee said...

It is wonderful that the museum saved the Shenck homes. Interesting to see them in their original settings and their current ones. Of course, the homes you are discussing in Colorado are much older and not quite as fascinating to me as the New York homes...probably because of their primitiveness. You make a wonderful history teacher!

Yes, I do know a lot about my hometown. Its history only goes back as a community to the early 1800s. Prior to that, it was forest. Like much of New York, it was built on imported rock and soil. Otherwise, the entire downtown would still be a swamp.

Daniela said...

I so love natives and to visit the places they lived in .... well, that's really a dream of mine, thank you for letting me know something more about their history, dearest Pat !

Wishing you a most lovely new week
I'm sending blessings to you
with sincere gratitude

XOXO Dany

Tamar SB said...

Amazing! I'll show my class as we're studying Native Americans!

Jeanne said...

Very interesting narrative and your photos are lovely

Linda W. said...

What an interesting formation. Your group was very lucky to be invited to tour the area.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I love learning more about history and you always give us great info and good links to check on. The story about the biscuits is very funny. And how lucky you were to see that owl in flight! WOW! Enjoy your week! Hugs!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Pat - I've visited that house in the Brooklyn museum for the first time only a few months ago. I love how you dive into the local history and culture of your new home (not so new now). Very interesting stuff, but I had to smile about how the chief weighed nearly 300 pounds. They must have been really good biscuits.

jeannettestgermain said...

Since you lived in Brooklyn, do you know the Dutch joke about it, being the biggest gaff of the Dutch to trade New York for Suriname?! Love the red rocks I saw in Colorado (where I live, no red rocks, but red soil:):)
Wow, Chief Colorow is tall for a Native! Thank you for linking all these interesting historical facts in this post for All Seasons:) Have a beautiful week, Pat:)

carol l mckenna said...

Delightful historical post and wonderful photography ~ love the caves and that owl ~ thanks,

Happy Week to you ~ ^_^

Grammy Dee said...

Thank you for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I shared this post on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I can so believe that standing in that cave and then looking out at the scenery helped you feel what it was like for Chief Colorow and his tribe. Standing in his footsteps! I could imagine it just reading your post.

It's great the way you two joined the historical association right away ... you embraced your new community and made it your own (and now after four years, you are practically pioneers!) . Preserving community history really is important work.

Christie Hawkes said...

Lovely photos. Thank you for linking up with #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I've shared this post on Twitter and Pinterest.

Ruth Hiebert said...

Very interesting scenes.

A Colorful World said...

Wow! I not only thoroughly enjoyed going back to the link and discovering the two Dutch houses...I loved seeing these beautiful photos of Colorow Cave and also watching the video about him and about the Ute people. Such a fascinating post in so many ways!

aginglikeafinewine.com said...

As I've grown older I've developed such a love for history. I had not heard of Chief Colorow, but am very interested in native american history. Thank you for sharing the some of the land and history of Colorado with us at the Blogging Grandmothers link party! Pinned!

Jim said...

Great rock formations.

NC Sue said...

Beautiful images.
Thank you for joining the party at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/05/down-to-jordan-river.html

Clearissa Coward said...

Thank you for sharing with #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I’ve shared your post on social media.

Fun60 said...

Joining that society was such a great idea to learn about local history. Knowing about people from that time brings it back to life. Thanks for sharing.

Rhonda Albom said...

Thanks for the interesting history of the name of the state Colorado. Sometimes the only history remaining of the original settlers is their name. Since New Zealand is such a young country, the names of the British settlers and the Maori are commonly found everywhere (towns, streets, etc.) And since the British made a treaty with the indigenous Maori (as opposed to taking over), a lot of culture and land rights/values are intermixed.

happywonderer.com said...

Love that owl in flight you captured! I'm thinking you'll never exhaust all there is to see and learn about in Colorado. So much to see and enjoy and learn!

Lori G. Hill said...

What an interest and informative article! Thank you for sharing at BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I've shared on social media.

retirementreflections said...

Thank you for sharing this at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty!
We look forward to seeing you again at the next link up!

Gayle - venturesinphotos said...

The startled owl was an added treat. Wonderful photos and history.

Molly said...

The rock formations are stunning and the history is fascinating

Mollyx

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

I enjoyed your sharing of this outing to the historical site, and also your sharing of being influenced by the moving of the old home in Brooklyn. History is full of knowledge and we have so much to learn from those who lived before us. The cave pictures you took are amazing, very clear and beautiful. That owl was big! Enjoyed this post today very much :)

LV said...

What a wonderful lesson in history. Very well done. Lot of interesting sights in Colorado.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

That's a really impressive view of the sky through those rock formations! Thanks for linking to Blue Monday!

bettyl-NZ said...

What a fantastic area with such amazing scenery! I'm glad you looked into the history of your new home. Such things fascinate me.

Sue Loncaric said...

Thanks for sharing such an interesting and informative post with us at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I enjoyed learning about the history and just loved the rock formations. I've shared.
Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

Rue said...

That's really interesting, Pat. I learn more from you than any history teacher I ever had. I wish they taught stuff like this in school. I would have paid more attention lol

I hope you're having a great weekend, my friend :)

xo,
rue

gideon sockpuppet said...

It was very interesting to read about the history and cave formations in your area. The First Nations on our west coast of Canada include many language groups and have a very rich cultural history, which has fascinated me all my life.

Jude

Rambling Woods said...

I enjoy learning about different things, but I really an interested in the native people. I enjoyed the video and the photos. I wish we had treated all the native people better than what we did... PS..my husband is a native New Yorker too...Michelle

Lowcarb team member said...

Thank you so much for taking time to share words and pictures here.
What a very interesting post, the Cave is beautiful.

All the best Jan