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Piney Creek - The Community
Piney Creek is a 700-acre planned community named for the creek located in the southern portion of the site. In planning Piney Creek, the developers were keenly aware of the rich history associated with the creek and the surrounding area. To see an aerial view of Piney Creek from August of 1984, click here
Native Americans
For centuries, Native Americans roamed and hunted the land in and around Piney Creek. The descendants of early settlers in the area recount tales of Arapaho Indian camps on the northern bank of Piney Creek approximately one-half mile east of the main Parker Road entry. They tell how, as children, they scoured the banks of Piney Creek for arrowheads following heavy spring rains.
The white man entered Piney Creek history around 1859, when news of gold in Cherry Creek and Little Dry Creek first reached Kansas City. Ten years after the California 49er's bypassed Colorado to the north and south on the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, gold seekers rushed to the Rockies by a more direct route. An ancient Native Americans trail traversing Kansas along the Smoky Hill River served as the main "highway" to the newly-formed supply town of Denver. In their eagerness to reach the gold fields, thousands of immigrants poured over what became known as the Smoky Hill Trail. Unlike their California predecessors, the Colorado 59er's were poorly outfitted and unprepared for the perils of the journey; most traveled in open wagons, while many others simply loaded pushcarts and farmyard wheelbarrows with their meager provisions and joined the feverish migration.
In eastern Colorado, near present day Limon, their "highway" divided into three branches. The Middle Smoky Hill Trail, while being the shortest route to Denver, was unfortunately also the most treacherous. Owing to severe Spring weather, hostile Native Americans and scarcity of water, the Middle Smoky earned a sobering reputation as the "Starvation Trail." Local history records that this route was one lined with "abandoned property, broken wagons, dead horses, and many unmarked graves." One section of this harsh trek followed a stream bed across what is now the Piney Creek Community. Pronounced trail ruts remained on the northern bank of Piney Creek until commencement of construction at the site. Photos of these ruts and pioneer artifacts found along the trail may be seen at the Melvin Schoolhouse Museum-Library which is maintained by the Cherry Creek Valley Historical Society.
The Melvin Schoolhouse, now located just north of the Piney Creek property, preserves the memory of one of the area's first permanent residents. John G. Melvin came to Colorado in 1859 and, through the Preemptive Act of 1841, acquired land on nearby Cherry Creek. Located 12 miles southeast of Denver, his home -- the Twelve Mile House -- was opened to travelers in 1868. It eventually became a regular stop for the stagecoach from Parker, Colorado, and a favorite summer recreation spot for fun-loving Denverites. A community bearing the Melvin name grew up around his home in what is now the Cherry Creek State Recreation Area.
From 1887 until 1900 another early resident served the community from a blacksmith shop which stood immediately east of the present-day Parker Road entry. A racetrack was laid out on the property by yet another owner who shared John Melvin's love of horses. This oval, half-mile track was clearly visible in a recent aerial photograph of the vicinity and was located on the site now occupied by the Community Park.