John Charles Fremont arrived in North Park in 1844. He described North Park or "New Park" as follows: "The valley narrowed as we ascended and soon we turned into a gorge through which the river ran like a gate. We entered it and found ourselves in New Park, a beautiful circular valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It is in this elevated cove and in the gorges of the surrounding mountains that the great Platte River collects its first waters." Many explorers have visited North Park, Bridger, Kit Carson, but its original inhabitants were the Sioux, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Ute, chiefly the latter two and only during the summer. The long, harsh winters kept them out during the snowy season. But the lush, waist-high grass created by the many streams and the good hunting and mining conditions attracted the first settlers, beginning in 1876 with a Mr. Pinkham who settled a few miles from the Buffalo Creek Ranch. He created a business where he was trading buffalo hides with the Indians. The long, harsh winters still prevented many settlers from moving in, which was a good thing, because North Park remained as it was a hundred years ago, wild, sparsely populated and full of wildlife.
North Park is well known for it's wild life, and it used to be the real wild world. Even tho it's 8,800 ft in elevation, it was quickly becoming one of the preferred places of the animals in Colorado.
Three rivers have always flowed through North Park: the Michigan River, the Illinois River and the Canadian River. They allowed groups of all types of animals to settle around these rivers.
The indians and the new North Park
Prior to 1820, Indians lived in North Park every summer as they came to feed on elk, buffalo and antelope. The climate, terrain, and wildlife provided the perfect mix for peaceful group and pack living. The winter offered temperatures that were not suitable for either man or animal. This is why the Indians and the local wildlife would come down the mountain in winter to avoid the cold.
After many years of frequenting Middle Park in Gransby, trappers moved to North Park, which they called New Park because of its similarity to Middle Park and to represent the fact that it was a new area of discovery.
Fur companies would send their men to hunt for animals whose pelts could be worth a lot of money, as furs were already popular in town at that time.
It wasn't until 1861 that the different territories of Colorado were defined and described. North Park was then part of Summit County. Later, in 1872, a reorganization resulted in Grand County, which encompassed North Park by taking over the boundaries of Summit County.
In the 1970's, trappers gave way to miners who discovered this place full of treasures to harvest, dig or collect.
James O Pinkham was one of the first to settle in North Park, having conquered the vast wilderness of Wyoming and Wisconsin, and was recognized as one of the best explorers of his time. When he arrived in North Park he began to believe and explain to the explorers who followed him that this place was one of the richest in resources in the world.
He might have been wrong, but he wasn't very far from the truth and the fact that he created a home for himself there brought a lot more people to come visit North Park.
Even today, Colorado and especially North Park is one of the richest areas in the United States with a great biodiversity, people from all over the world and breathtaking landscapes!