What Is Haystack Rock Fort Collins

Driving down highway 287 North of Fort Collins is a giant boulder frequently wearing festive colors. You may have wondered about this boulder, its purpose, or maybe even its name. This week we would like to introduce you to Haystack Rock. In Fort Collins we have quite a bit of strange history. This rock is just a small sample of some of our flavorful local flair. But what is Haystack Rock?

The Legend

An Image of Haystack Rock, The Subject of the Article

Legend has it that a farmer once stacked hay up around the giant boulder to make the pile look larger than it was. Another individual inquired if the hay was for sale. They ended up striking a deal. Later the buyer returned to retrieve his hay and learned of his error when his pitchfork struck rock. That is how the 40 ton boulder came to be known as haystack rock.

What is Haystack Rock in Modern Times

However, it is perhaps the modern history of our local natural billboard that is the most interesting. In the 1980s the land underneath the boulder was purchased by the Northern Water Conservation District. Yet for 80 years prior it served as a free speech billboard most frequently utilized to advertise the rivalry between Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming. Their annual Border War football game has been played since 1899. Most of the frequent murals reference this rivalry. However, political statements and personal tributes to loved ones also make it onto Haystack Rock. It would seem that the longest Haystack Rock has gone without a repaint was shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001. An unknown individual painted the rock with a giant American flag. This artwork stood without change for several years.

The Future

The Future of Haystack Rock is a little uncertain. Currently, it is in the projected area of a new reservoir should the Northern Integrated Supply Project or NISP move forward. The entire valley with haystack rock and highway 287 could very well be underwater. Northern Water Conservation District is considering moving Haystack Rock. However, its 40 ton size does pose a pretty extreme difficulty. Today the future is uncertain. However, you can still drive by and take in the view. At least for a little while.

As always we are happy to share our local history with you. If you have any questions about Fort Collins, we are your local experts. Contact us with your questions, or for a personal tour today.

Fort Collins History Legends and Lore

There are quite a few things that make Fort Collins, Colorado a special place. One of these is our unique history. Additionally, this comes with quite a few stories of Fort Collins history, legends and lore. Today we wanted to highlight a few of our better known stories of interest.

Fort Collins History, Legends and Lore: Lindenmeir Archeological Site

Northern Colorado has a deep connection to the past. This is especially clear when you visit the archeological site about half way between Fort Collins and the Wyoming Border. This place is called the Lindenmeier site. It is currently contained within the Fort Collins Natural Area, Soapstone Prairie. This is such a site of historical significance that arrowheads are often found by visitors to the area. It is important, however, to leave items where you found them. Additionally, never remove historical artifacts from the area. More information about the Lindenmeier site can be found here.

The Connection between Disney and Fort Collins

An image of the Northern Hotel showing Fort Collins History Legends

Legend has it the main street of Disney World was modeled after Old Town Fort Collins. Moreover, this was because Walt Disney himself saw Old Town and fell in love with it. The truth falls somewhere in the middle. Someone associated with Disney did in fact visit Fort Collins. In turn main street Disney World does reflect some of our Old Town charm. This man was Harper Goff who grew up in Fort Collins. He later returned to find historical photographs to use as inspiration for Main Street Disney World.

Fort Collins History, Legends and Lore: Colorado State University Steam Tunnels

Most CSU students have heard the legend of the steam tunnels. Many have tried to find them, and a few have even succeeded. The legend also says that if you are caught in the steam tunnels as a student you will be expelled. While we can’t speculate what actions the administration will take if you are a student, we can confirm that the steam tunnels exist. Moreover, we can’t tell you how to get there.

We are your area experts. Contact us if there are any local stories you are interested in.

How the Streets in the City of Fort Collins Got Their Names

While many often take the streets they drive on for granted the inquisitive among us may wonder how their names came to be. Wonder no more because today we will shed some light on how some of the more well known streets got their names. 

The first street that often comes to mind is College Avenue. This extension of Highway 287 runs North to South in Fort Collins and is essentially our main street. It probably isn’t hard to guess how College Avenue got its name considering it passed directly by Colorado Agricultural College or what is now known as Colorado State University. Similarly it isn’t hard to figure out where the East to West running Mountain Avenue got its name being one of the first major offshoots from College Avenue in Old Town and into the storied West.

Many of the streets in the Old Town Area that run East to West were named after trees. Take for instance Pine, Maple, Oak, Olive and Locust streets. This is in juxtaposition to North to South running streets which were named after historical Fort Collins residents. 

Another street worth mentioning is that of Elizabeth. At first glance this seems like a fairly pedestrian name, and in other cities you might well expect that a developer would choose to name the street after a significant person in their life. Yet this is not the case in Fort Collins. Elizabeth is named after Elizabeth “Auntie” Stone, a historical figure here in town who is best known for building the first permanent dwelling in Fort Collins.

Laporte in French roughly translates to “gateway” and as french trappers were some of the first non indigenous settlers to the area, and named several other things (Cache La Poudre anyone?). The trappers viewed the Fort Collins area as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains hence the street name Laporte which runs from East to West and into the foothills. Some also say this name was a tribute to the former Camp Collins which moved from the Laporte Area to Fort Collins after a flood in 1864.

Finally two fun facts. Did you know the longest street name in Fort Collins is Montezuma Fuller, which happens to be little more than an alleyway. Additionally, Larimer County’s “standardization of road naming criteria” prohibits the use of cardinal directions, North, South, East, West etc as street names.

How Northern Colorado Towns Were Named

Have you ever wondered How Northern Colorado Towns Were Named? Keep
reading to learn about the history of Fort Collins, Loveland, and Windsor.

How Northern Colorado Towns Were Named, Fort Collins

Fort Collins ColoradoFort Collins owes its name to a man by the name of Lieutenant Colonel William O. Collins. Collins was a naive of Ohio who came to Colorado when his cavalry was sent to the Overland Trail area in approximately 1862. He was the commander of the cavalry and set up a fort near the present day LaPorte. The fort became known as Camp Collins. In 1864 after many problems such as starvation and altercations with the Native Americans the camp was moved to where Fort Collins is today. By 1867 the military camp dissipated and Collins went home to Ohio. But many settlers began calling the area Fort Collins. It was established as a town in 1873.

So…how did Loveland get its name?

Loveland Sculpture ParkLoveland was named after another William. William Austin Hamilton Loveland was President of the railroad company Colorado Central. As was common in 1877 William Loveland was responsible for reaching agreements with land owners for the railroad to continue to be built across land. David Barnes gave permission for the railroad to continue through his wheat field. Barnes soon after decided that he would build a town around the railroad. After Barnes and Loveland became friends Barnes decided to name the town Loveland. Loveland did not settle in the town named after him, he went on to live in Golden, later moved to Denver where he lived until his death.

How about how Windsor was named?

American Widgeon Duck Fort Collins

Mr J.L. Hilton built a ranch on the land where the town of Windsor is today. On the ranch Hilton had an Inn for travelers. The travelers like to stay at the Inn because it was midway between Fort Collins and Greeley. That is a distance that is easily traveled today, but not in the 1800’s. Travelers started calling the place the “half way house.” This was certainly not a good name for a town. It was officially named Windsor in 1890. It was named after the Rev. Samuel Asa Windsor, a pastor that would occasionally conduct services in the town.

So that is How Northern Colorado Towns Were Named. If you are interested in the history of the area or just want to know what it is like to live here, contact us. We can provide you with a personalized tour of the region.