Location: West side of the Westin Hotel, north of 104th Avenue and east of Westminster Boulevard.
Artist: Communication Arts, Boulder, Colorado.
Year Installed: 2000.
How Acquired: Funded by the City of Westminster.
Comments: The history panel is located at the base of one of sixteen custom-designed light towers.
Owing to its abundance of fur-bearing animals, Colorado and the West became favorite hunting grounds of the Trappers, or “mountain men,” as they called themselves. These mountain men followed the two great waterways of the eastern part of the state-the Arkansas and the Platte Rivers. Accustomed to living alone or with a few trapping companions, they spent months at a time in the heart of the wilderness.
Among them were Christopher “Kit” Carson, Jim Baker, Richens Wootton, later known as “Uncle Dick,” Tom Tobin, “Parson Bill” Williams, and James P. Beckwourth. These men were noted not only for their unusual skill as trappers and guides, but also for their courage as frontiersmen.
Jim Baker, a celebrated trapper and guide, was one of the best-known figures in Colorado in early days. He trapped for the American Fur Company, and later for himself as a free trapper. Jim first came to the Westminster area around 1856. Several years later he built a cabin at the foot of the bluff northwest of what is now Regis College and operated a toll ferry across Clear Creek with his two Indian wives Marina and Mary.
By 1865 Jim built a toll bridge over Clear Creek because of the dangers of the ferry when the water was high. A few years later Jim moved to Wyoming where he died in 1898. Jim Baker Elementary School, Jim Baker Reservoir and the Baker area are named in recognition of Jim Baker. There is a stained glass window in the State Capitol to honor him as being the first white man to come this far west and make way for the pioneers.