Carroll Butts Park Lake
Carroll Butts Park is located within the Sunset Ridge and Skyland Village neighborhoods, just east of the Hyland Hills Golf Course. Jointly owned and operated by the City of Westminster and the Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District, the park hosts a variety of recreational facilities. These include an indoor soccer center, softball fields, tennis courts, a playground and an outdoor swimming pool.
A 2.2-acre lake is situated in the southern area of the 32-acre park, along the west side of Perry Street at about West 95th Avenue. The lake adds to the park’s recreational amenities by offering visitors a scenic environment for walking, riding bikes and relaxing. In addition, a bridge provides pedestrian access to a small island that is occupied by a picnic pavilion. The lake is supplied by stormwater drainage from the surrounding neighborhoods, occasionally supplemented with water from the adjacent golf course.
Popular with aquatic birds, the lake is bordered by wetlands, along with grassed and rocked shoreline. Mature cottonwoods and willows line the walking path and the historic Farmers’ High Line Canal to the west. Parking is available along Perry Street and in a lot south of the lake. A paved trail takes visitors around the lake and connects to the trail system that runs throughout the park.
The area now occupied by Carroll Butts Park was originally part of what was known as a railroad section. The federal government granted these one-mile-square parcels of land to the railroads to encourage them to construct lines that would help develop the western frontier. Under this program during the late 1800s, the land where Carroll Butts Park is located was transferred to the Union Pacific Railroad. By 1899, the railroad had sold the land and more than half of the acreage had come under the ownership of Charles Boettcher.
Charles Boettcher was born in Germany in 1852 and immigrated to the United States in 1869. He initially joined his brother Herman working at a Cheyenne hardware store. Herman soon acquired the business and the brothers expanded into Colorado, where they opened or acquired hardware stores in Greeley, Fort Collins, Boulder, Leadville and Denver. The rapid growth of frontier Colorado caused the stores to thrive and the brothers became wealthy. Following a vacation to his native land of Germany in 1900, Boettcher returned to Colorado ready to launch two new business ventures. The first of these was the Great Western Sugar Company and the other was the Portland (Ideal) Cement Company, both of which revolutionized Colorado agriculture, industry and construction. In 1915, Charles became president of the Denver & Salt Lake Railroad, and seven years later he acquired joint ownership of the famed Brown Palace Hotel.
With his great wealth, Boettcher invested in Colorado lands. While some of these acquisitions involved mountain ranches, such as the 180-square-mile Bighorn Ranch in North Park, others focused upon irrigated farms north of Denver. The farmland he acquired by 1899 was located a short distance northwest of the original town of Westminster, just east of the Farmers’ High Line Canal. This canal can still be seen running along the west side of the park today.
By the 1940s, the land was still agricultural and undeveloped. Other than open fields and the adjacent irrigation canal, the only other feature there was a natural drainage that ran about one-half mile in length from southeast to northwest. This drainage terminated in a small pond on the east side of the canals. The open land and pond remained virtually unchanged into the 1960s, although the surrounding area experienced almost continuous development as the City of Westminster expanded.
In 1971, the Hyland Hills Ice Arena was constructed along 94th Avenue just south of the pond (converted to an indoor youth soccer facility in 1999). This launched the development of a new park north of the arena, completed in 1977 by the Hyland Hill Park & Recreation District. Founded in 1955, the district had worked for years to develop parks and recreational facilities for the growing community of Westminster. Their newest park project adjacent to the ice arena was named in honor of Carroll Butts, who served on the district’s board of directors from 1955 to 1973 and provided strong and insightful leadership throughout this period. By 1980, the former farm pond was enlarged to its current size and configuration.