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.

Northern Colorado History, Legends and Lore

Every place has its unique legends and lore that make it special. Sometimes it is only the long term residents who know these stories. However, even well seasoned locals might learn a thing or two from the legends below. It’s time to learn some Northern Colorado history, legends and lore.


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. However, 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. This is the Fort Collins Municipal Railway. Trolley 21 and 23 are restored versions of the original trolleys. These 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.

More Northern Colorado History, Legends and Lore

Our next piece of Northern Colorado history legends and lore 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. Moreover, 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. Although it has received a healthy dose of graffiti over the years. When you see it take a minute to imagine what is built with those bricks. If you are curious about Northern Colorado we would love to tell you more. Contact us today.

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.