A river, a railroad, and resources brought George Morrison in the 1870s
Beautiful Bear Creek flows through the center of downtown Morrison. It provides water for Denver, Englewood, and Morrison, as well as towns upstream, and has been a primary attraction for residents and visitors alike. It has also been the source of much destruction. A wide bench carved by Bear Creek near the hogback first attracted George Morrison’s attention as a potential townsite. The creek also provided a passable route to move people and supplies into the goldfields to the west.
The town of Morrison got its start in 1872 when a group of Denver businessmen headed by Colorado Governor John Evans incorporated the Denver and South Park Railway. A narrow gauge railroad was built west from the Platte River to Mt. Morrison. The plan was to extend the line to South Park and the mining country. This spur brought work and wealth to our little community. The panic of 1873, crop losses in 1874-76, and a more practical route up the Platte Canyon ended the plans for extension, and the railroad stopped forever at Morrison. It was completed in 1874, and made scheduled runs until 1925, but was abandoned after the floods of 1933.
During its life, however, the railroad was Morrison’s lifeblood. It carried building stone and other products of Morrison’s quarries into Denver, brought tourists to the town and to nearby Red Rocks Park (then known as Garden of the Angels), and made Morrison a supply center for growing communities in the canyons and mountains to the west, as well as to the ranches east along the Bear Creek Valley.