Northern Colorado History, Legends and Lore Part 1

Every place has its unique legends and lore that make it special. Sometimes it is only the long term residents who know these stories, but even well seasoned Northern Coloradoans might learn a thing or two from the legends below.

First of all did you know that Fort Collins used to have a subway system in the early 1900’s. It was designed for the worlds fair and contained underground restaurants and shopping. Unfortunately because of the proximity to the Poudre River the tunnels would routinely flood and it had to be shut down. Well now you too can embellish history a bit as this legend is one without any merit. There has never been a subway in Fort Collins, yet this continues to be a popular urban legend about our special community. Maybe someday we will be able to ride the underground rails from one end of town to the other. Until then there is always the Max bus line. You can read more about this myth at Fort Collins History Connection.

While Fort Collins never had a subway it is known for its very real trolley line known as the Fort Collins Municipal Railway. Trolley 21 and 23 are restored versions of the original trolleys that used to run back and forth to Old Town. Today they run only on Saturday and Sunday afternoons during the summer. Tickets are relatively cheap at $2 for adults, so this is an adventure everyone who lives in the area should try at least once. You can find out more about riding the trolley yourself at their website.

Our next legend is how the Poudre River got its name. According to legend there were French Canadian fur trappers in the area in the 1820’s who were stuck in a snowstorm. They decided to hide their gunpowder along the banks of the river in order to lighten their load. In French Cache a la Poudre, translates to cache the powder. While the actual date of this event and who it was who hid their power are not fully known this event led to the naming of the river Cache La Poudre River, or the Poudre for short.

For the final historical fact there used to be a brick factory at the location of what is now the parking lot for Devils Backbone Open Space. If you have been there before you might have noticed that the foundry where the bricks were cured is still there, although it has received a healthy dose of graffiti over the years. Next time you are in the area, stop over to take a peek at history and try to imagine what was built with all those bricks.