Church's Stage Stop Well
Church’s Stage Stop Well, 10395 Wadsworth Boulevard (click for map)
State Resource No. 5JF.4665
The Church’s Stage Stop Well is the only remaining element of the Church’s Crossing Stage Stop, a stage stop that operated from roughly 1861 through 1869. The stop was on the Cherokee Trail (later called the Overland Stage Route). It provided a 12-room boardinghouse to assist travelers, the Pony Express, and bullwhackers (ox-team drivers). It was a one-day ride from Denver and then another day onto Boulder. The stop provided meals, lodging for travelers and a livery for the exchange of horses. The stage stop buildings became the headquarters of the agricultural and business operations of George and Sarah Church until the 1890s when their son Frank and his wife Katherine Church built a home south of the stop closer to Big Dry Creek and eventually relocated the ranch operations to that site (the current Church Ranch headquarters at Church Ranch Boulevard and Wadsworth Boulevard). Most of the stage stop buildings were destroyed by fire or moved offsite by the 1920s, but the well continued to be used for the Church agricultural operations.
According to Church family records, Ulysses S. Grant and his daughter stayed at Church's Crossing Stage Stop in the spring of 1868 when they were traveling to Central City. As the roads improved, the stagecoaches could make more time by by-passing Church's Crossing, but the ox-drawn freight wagons driven by bullwhackers continued to use Church's Crossing until approximately 1922 to haul baled hay to the mountains. As many as 75 stayed at the Church family ranch for supper and breakfast.
Around 1920, the lumber from the old bunkhouse of the Church's Crossing Stage Stop was used to build the Mandalay Schoolhouse, which still stands at the southeast corner of Old Wadsworth Boulevard and West 103rd Avenue, two blocks south of the well.
The Church’s Stage Stop Well is a rock-lined, hand-dug well, about five feet in diameter. A plaque with an inscription says:
1864, George H. Church hand dug this rock lined well. Restoration of the well in 1978 by Louis A. Bott, Marcus S. and Ann Church. This site was first stagecoach between Denver and Cheyenne, the old Overland route to California. In 1868, overnight guests included General U.S. Grant and daughter. The Church family introduced irrigation, wheat farming, Hereford cattle and promoted the railroad to this area. In 1924, this area of 1,500 acres was divided into 5 and 10 acre tracts known as Mandalay Gardens.
Although the plaque on the well states the well was dug in 1864, there is no documentation of who actually dug the well. It very well may have preceded the Church family who arrived on the land in 1864.
Read more on the history on Church Ranch. Church Family history and Colorado Centennial Farm information provided courtesy of Church Ranch Development Company; History of Colorado (1918).