Trails to Transit
Location: West side of the Westin Hotel, north of 104th Avenue and east of Westminster Boulevard.
Artist: Winsor Fireform Fabrication - Tumwater, Wash.
Year Installed: 2011.
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.
Trails to Transit
In 1849, Cherokee Indian travelers seeking to reach the California gold fields established the Cherokee Trail. This route crossed the plains west of Westminster’s Hidden Lake, past today’s intersections of Sheridan and 73rd Avenues, as well as Pierce Street and 92nd Avenue, and continued to Wadsworth Boulevard and 104th Avenue, where a stage stop was eventually operated by Child and later the Church Family. During the 1860s this route became part of the heavily traveled Overland Trail.
During this period, the landscape was surveyed into one-mile square sections, each containing 640 acres that allowed for four 160-acre homestead claims. Roads were laid out along section lines, dividing the landscape into a checkerboard of fields and farmsteads. This grid of early country roads defined development and transportation for decades. Roads in Westminster once known as Boulevard “F”, Blackham Road and Wyoming Avenue, established in the 19th century, are today known as Federal Boulevard, 92nd Avenue and 72nd Avenue, respectively. Cowboys drove cattle down today’s Huron Street alignment, following the Farmers Highway to the Denver Stockyards.
As Colorado’s population increased in the 1880’s, the growing towns and countries began to focus upon road and bridge projects. Two years prior to Westminster’s incorporation in 1911, the State established the Colorado Highway Commission in response to the growing number of automobiles. The agency was tasked with oversight of road development and maintenance.
Before the “U.S” highway system was established, motoring guides provided maps for travelers to find the best local roads for cross-country journeys. The Lincoln Highway was a popular route from New York to Los Angles, which traveled north out of Denver on today’s Federal Boulevard through Westminster, turning west at Cozy Corner, the intersection of Federal Boulevard and 120th Avenue. This portion of the Lincoln Highway was designated U.S. 285 in 1939.
After World War II, citizens began clamoring for a truly high-speed highway from Denver to Boulder. The Boulder Turnpike (U.S. 36) was completed in 1952 from Federal Boulevard to Boulder. In 1956, the Turnpike was extended a short distance toward the east to connect with the new Valley Highway (Interstate 25) that ran south toward downtown Denver. U.S. 36 ran on a diagonal right through Westminster. This easy access to the highway system contributed to Westminster’s growth.
The 21st century holds the promise of an extensive network of convenient rail-based public transit through Westminster, lessening the 20th century reliance on the automobile for the local travel.