With Highlands Ranch being the home of Big League Search we thought we would share a little history about our great city.
The history of Highlands Ranch begins about 15,000 years ago when the first Paleo-Indians cross the Bering Strait after the melting of glaciers during the last ice age. About 500 years later, these ancient people would migrate south into what is now known as mid west North America. Here for thousands of years did the indigenous people live isolated from the Old World as hunters and gatherers. Within these years different tribes of native people would make war and peace with another and become the tribes we know of today as the Ute, Arapaho, Cheyenne tribes. The Ute spread west of Colorado into mountains and further what we call today Utah. The Arapaho people were a warrior culture tribe where men on horseback were in charge of protecting their people. They shared the north east part of the great plains area with the Cheyenne tribes.
In the year 1492 Christopher Columbus reaches the new world and begins the European Colonization of the New World. The French make their exploration from north of America and use the Mississippi river as guideline for expanding their territory. The French take claim to all rivers that drain into the Mississippi know as Mississippi River Drainage Area which expands as north as Montana to as South as Texas. The Highlands Ranch area is claimed by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle and names the land as part of Louisiana in 1682. At the same time, Spanish Conquistadors would migrate their armies throughout South and North American until in 1706, Juan de Ulibarri makes claim to the Colorado area. Its actually difficult to keep tract of who had claims during 1540 and 1700 because of Spain and France’s constant exchange of the land. In summery the Spanish took the large territory of Louisiana from the French in 1763 and then returned it again in 1801 and in 1803 the United States gained the land with the Louisiana Purchase which included the Highlands Ranch area.
In July 1820, Stephen Harriman Long first entered the Highlands Ranch area and was the first to record exploration of its lands. Highlands Ranch became a place of not only ranches but also potato farms. Dad Rufus H. “Potato” Clark bought a 160 acre piece of land which is known as the location of today’s Highlands Ranch Golf Club. With this land he became a successful potato farmer and earned the name Potato King of Colorado. Highlands Ranch’s first homesteader David Gregory arrived with a 80 acre homestead/land grant in 1867. The 1860’s become an important part of Highlands Ranch history as many prospectors came in hope of finding gold during Colorado’s Gold Rush. Despite these achievements however, due to lack of water in Highlands ranch, the place wasn’t officially settled until 1870. This lack of water is what made the windmill a symbol to Highlands Ranch life by providing water to ranches livestock. Highlands Ranch’s first legal settler was Curtis H. Field, who purchased land on the west side of Santa Fe Drive from the government on February 25, 1870. Also in 1879, an Austrian immigrant named Johanne Welte created the Big Dry Creek Cheese Ranch, a dairy farm located on University Blvd. With all of these developments, a true community was taking shape.
During the years 1891 and 1904, Highlands Ranch Mansion was under development. The first owner of the land and farmhouse that would begin as a foundation to the mansion was Samuel Allan Long, however this wasn’t discovered until many years later with people believing that John W. Springer was the mansions first owner. Samuel Allan Long called this farmhouse Rotherwood and carved the name into a stone above the entrance of the farmhouse. He sold it in 1893 to real estate agents, Orin and Nettie Waid who later put it on the market which John W. Springer would later purchase. John Springer is responsible for more than 60% of the Mansions completion. In 1904, John Springers wife died and five years later would marry an audacious young woman named Isabel Patterson who had a knack for nightlife, narcotics, and adventure. He renamed the mansion Castle Isabel after his second wife. However after a scandal involving adultery and murder John Springer would sell the mansion to his first father-in-law, Colonel William Hughes. In 1920, the mansion falls into the hands of Waite Phillips who names the mansion Highlands Ranch which remains to this day.
Highlands Ranch first step to becoming a modern city would start with The Mission Viejo Company who purchased it in 1978 in order to build a suburbia for Denver’s growing population. The first homes in Highlands Ranch were built in 1981, near South Broadway Blvd. Initially residents would have to drive to Littleton to buy groceries or get medical care and the first public school, Northridge Elementary, was opened in 1982. Over the next 25 years, Highlands Ranch would continue to grow as a self sufficient city and in 1998 The Mission Viejo Company would be bought by Shea Properties. Who, in 2010-2012, would begin restoration on the Highlands Ranch mansion.