Early History of the Valley

The original inhabitants of the valley were Native Americans from the Arapaho, Mountain Ute, and Cherokee tribes. White settlers, primarily fur trappers, began to arrive in the 1830’s followed by gold prospectors in the 1850’s.

In 1864, after being involved in the Sand Creek Massacre, George Pingree left the military and traveled to Northern Colorado in search of trees to log for railroad ties for the transcontinental railroad.  By 1868 he established a tie camp in the valley that would take his name (a USGS designation). Tie hacks worked during three seasons cutting and piling ties along the banks of the South Fork of the Cache la Poudre River. The ties were then floated down river to a point near Laporte, Colorado, where they were hauled by oxen-pulled wagons to Tie Siding, Wyoming. By fall of 1870, the local demand for railroad ties had been filled, and the tie camp closed.

Koenig/Ramsey Ranch Historic District

In the late 1890s, brothers Hugh and Charles Ramsey each established a homestead ranch and made lives for themselves in the valley. Frank Koenig, a Ramsey family friend, courted Hugh’s daughter, Hazel, and the two were married in 1913. The couple raised their family in the valley while maintaining a working homestead ranch.

The Koenig property was sold to Colorado State University in 1972. Restoration projects, funded by grants from the Colorado Historical Society, have helped to preserve many of the original buildings on the homestead property as an illustration of life in pioneer times. The Homestead cabin now houses the Mountain Campus Museum.

CSU Mountain Campus History

A 1912 act of Congress paved the way for the Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University) to select land in Roosevelt National Forest to establish a mountain campus as a site for biologic research and field study. In 1914, CAC President Charles E. Lory and Colorado Governor E.M. Ammons selected the 1,600-acre parcel that comprises the present day Mountain Campus.

The first academic course was held in 1915. Two years later, in 1917, the first forestry field camp was held. Official designation as a campus of Colorado State was granted in the 1960s. The CSU Mountain Campus continues to offer field courses in forestry and natural resources and is now home to over 200 students each summer from the Warner College of Natural Resources.

Same Great Valley, New Era

In 2015, the campus (formerly named Pingree Park) was officially renamed Colorado State University Mountain Campus. The new name aligned the field education and research campus more closely with CSU and also removed any association with the person of George Pingree, who played a self-proclaimed role in the Sand Creek Massacre.

“It’s been forty years since Housing & Dining Services took over the management of the Pingree Park Mountain Campus,” said Director of CSU’s Mountain Campus Pat Rastall. “In that time countless CSU students, Poudre School District fifth and sixth graders, and conference guests have gazed at our ‘Mummy’, hiked our trails, sang at our campfires, and marveled at the stars from the Homestead Bridge. None of this changes with our new name. Rather, we strengthen ties with the main campus. We also attempt, in a very small way, to rectify a wrong that took place 150 years ago on the dusty plains of eastern Colorado.”

“This opportunity to change the Mountain Campus name and remove any association with George Pingree is a healing and an awakening for all who learn at and experience the mountain campus, particularly Native youth and Native CSU students,” said Ty Smith, director of Native American Student Services at CSU.