Bill Hammons: Writing and Running in Boulder, Colorado



The Arrival of Settlers, and Chief Niwot's Curse

Boulder Valley was first settled by the Southern Arapaho Amerindian tribe, who once maintained a village west of present-day Niwot (Niwot means "Left Hand" in the Arapaho language, and was the name of the Araphaho chief who greeted the first Anglo-American arrivals to the valley in the fall of 1858). The Southern Arapaho were known to hunt buffalo as far north as Boulder Creek, and they held rituals and ceremonies at Valmont Butte (now in east Boulder), which they considered a sacred site.

Georgia miner William Green Russell's discovery of gold in July of 1858 at the mouth of Dry Creek in present-day Englewood (a suburb south of Denver) started the "Pike's Peak or Bust" gold rush of 1858-59, which historians estimate brought 50,000 people to Colorado in search of gold. A gold-prospecting party led by Captain Thomas Aikins, originally bound for Denver, continued west on their journey from Fort St. Vrain in the belief that the mountains outside Boulder contained gold. The prospectors stopped to camp by the red rock formation along Boulder Creek where Pearl Street, Fourth Street and Canyon Boulevard now merge just west of downtown (Red Rocks, now Settler's Park), near the entrance to Boulder Canyon. Chief Niwot, his deputies Bear Head and Many Whips, and other Arapahos rode out as a band to greet the new arrivals and promptly told them to go away. According to legend, Chief Niwot at that moment uttered a famous curse: "People seeing the beauty of this valley will want to stay, and their staying will be the undoing of the beauty."

The Establishment and Early Growth of Boulder
The Arrival of the Railroad, the University, and Open Spaces to Boulder
Boulder at War and at Peace

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