History of Franktown Colorado
Franktown was initially known as “Franks Town” and was named for James Frank Gardner and early settler to the area in 1859. It officially became “Franktown” in 1961 and was the designated county seat of Douglas County.
Franktown CO history includes Russellville home of the first post office in the area opened in 1862 Franktown & Russellville had stockades in the early 1860s to protect the region from Confederate raiders and Indians. These stockades supported the volunteer federal troops in Colorado.
The Franktown school district was organized in 1865. The November Golddale school opened in 1899 when the Flintwood school district was established. The first burial in the Franktown cemetery happened in 1875.
Established in Franktown in 1908, Pikes Peak Grange #163 was a natural fit for Franktown’s strong agricultural roots. During a cooperative farmers’ movement that swept rural America in the mid-1870s, several dozen local Grange chapters formed in Colorado, including the Fonder Grange (founded in Franktown in 1875) and its successor, Pikes Peak Grange #163. Although both belonged to State Grange (which set up credit unions, insurance programs, and other services) and to National Grange (which pursued long-range political goals), it was the local chapters that really affected farmers’ lives. The dances, holiday picnics, and town meetings they sponsored helped sparsely populated communities forge a sense of identity. Still active today, Pikes Peak Grange #163 occupies its original hall and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Conrad Moschel came to the U.S. in 1854 from Alsace-Lorraine and had arrived in the Colorado Territory by 1860. He ranched in the Lake Gulch area in Douglas County and in 1864 took his family to Franktown when the Indians became hostile. While rounding up some cattle during the hostilities, George Engl (Engle), Conrad Moschel and Harold Welte became separated. Moschel was killed and scalped by Native Americans (probably Cheyenne, Arapahoe or Ute) on August 4, 1864 and his body was buried where it was found. A memorial was engraved in the rock above the gravesite and a monument marks the grave.
Franktown which extended all the way through what is now known as “The Pinery” supplied early Denver with timber during the 1860s. The Pinery supplied timber for the Kansas Pacific and Denver Rio Grande railroads which ran through the area. The new PACE Center in downtown Parker paid homage to the area’s railroad roots and part of the trains turnaround on the south side of the building was kept and used to form a natural amphitheater for small musical events. Much of early Colorado was built with lumber from the Pinery which is now a part of Parker Colorado although not incorporated into the Town of Parker.
In the late 1800’s the Denver and New Orleans railroad ran through what is now Mainstreet in downtown Parker, and curved at the land that the PACE Center is built on. From the amphitheater, you can see the original berm that the tracks topped. The building materials for the PACE Center were selected with the area’s history in mind. The weathered steel that surrounds the theater’s exterior walls extends down into the lobby pays homage to railroad materials. The weathered steel panels that frame the entryway and encircle Harmony Park have perforations in the pattern of railroad tracks. The process of designing the perforations stemmed from a photo of train tracks, abstracting the image of the tracks and creating three different densities of the panels with varying diameters. The perforated pattern is repeated on glass windows and panels throughout the building.
The Franktown museum is tiny but offers you a glimpse into the past. You can visit it at the Franktown Firehouse on the Corner of Hwy 86 and 83.
Rock Ridge Ranch Barn
7054 S. Colo. Hwy. 83, Franktown vicinity
State Register 11/9/1994, 5DA.1010
The circa 1880 barn is a rare surviving example of pegged, post and beam construction. A common construction method in the 18th and early 19th centuries involving skilled craftsmen, the mass production of wire nails after 1900 brought an end to pegged construction. Source
The Evans Homestead Rural Historic Landscape is significant in the area of agriculture for its association with the development of irrigated farming and livestock production in Douglas County. Additionally, it is architecturally significant with the main house being an excellent example of the Gable Front building type. Finally, the property is significant in the area of non-aboriginal historic archaeology for its potential to yield information important to history. The property may offer information on the way of life/material culture of rural ranchers/farmers, along with information associated to the broad historical pattern of farming, sheep and cattle ranching. Source
Franktown CO history also includes Franktown Cave. It’s on private land, is about 2 ½ miles southwest of the town of Franktown. It is a large rock shelter where evidence of prehistoric people was found dating back to 6400 B.C. Artifacts included items made of hide, wood and fiber as well as corn and other plant material. More than 4000 artifacts were recovered from the cave between the 1940s and 1950s.
Castlewood Canyon is located in Franktown and has been a spot for families to hike, bike and rock climb for years. It was built in 1890 as a way to irrigate about 30,000 acres of farmland. However, from the onset, the dam leaked. In 1933, the dam gave way for good. The water devastated the lands around, took out six bridges in the Denver area and killed two people. The dam was never rebuilt. Memorials to settlers killed by Indians can still be seen on the canyon walls.