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College Pond

College Pond - view to the southeastCollege Pond is located in Westminster’s Big Dry Creek Open Space, north of West 112th Avenue and northwest of both the Community College and the College Hill Library. The 3.5-acre pond is situated in the open fields north of Big Dry Creek, which supplies it with water via a pump. Excess water drains from the pond’s eastern shore into a marsh-filled channel that terminates a short distance to the east in Big Dry Creek. The pond is irregularly shaped, with four lobes that greatly increase the length of its shoreline.

Visitors can reach the pond along the Big Dry Creek Trail. It is also reached from the College Hill Library parking lot, which provides pedestrian access to the pond along the College Trail. College Pond is bordered by a graveled walking path, with wooden benches provided along the shore for visitors to rest and enjoy the wildlife and view.

During the period around 1900, William Wallace Pardee owned the land upon which the pond is situated. Born in New York in 1834, William grew up on a family farm in Oxford, northeast of Binghamton and east of the Finger Lakes. In 1864 he married a Canadian native by the name of Catherine. The couple had no children, and remained together the remainder of their lives. By 1870 they had migrated west to the town of Hamilton, Ohio, where William worked as an attorney. Ten years later they were living in the city of Cincinnati.

William and Catherine appear to have remained in Cincinnati until sometime after 1885, when they moved farther west to Colorado (they arrived in the state by 1893 at the latest). There they claimed a 160-acre parcel of land in the countryside north of Denver where they farmed, and William continued to work as a lawyer. The couple resided on their farmstead, located along the north side of today’s 112th Avenue just southeast of the Community College. By 1910, William and Catherine had retired and moved into Denver. She died in 1911 and he in 1914, and they are buried together at Fairmount Cemetery. 

College Pond - view to the westThe former Pardee farm remained agricultural land for decades into the 20th century. Crossed by Big Dry Creek, it held little other than open fields and the farmstead in its southeast corner. The only other historic change that took place there was the construction of a long narrow pond in the farm’s northwest corner by the mid-1960s. Today this small body of water is known as Cottonwood Pond. Front Range Community College, which occupies the southeastern area of the Pardee farm, was developed in 1977. This erased evidence of the earlier farmstead, which has been replaced by a parking lot.

The City of Westminster constructed College Pond in 1994 on the open prairie between Big Dry Creek and Cottonwood Pond. Its irregular shape was purposely designed to provide a maximum amount of shoreline for fishing. Part of the funding for the project came from a Colorado State Parks “Fishing is Fun” grant that was awarded to the city. The grant allowed the city to construct the pond, along with a trail system and pedestrian bridge over Big Dry Creek.

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