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Get to Know Your Greenway
Grant Frontier Park
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By: J.J. Clark
SPREE Staff Writer
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Take an adventure this month to Grant Frontier Park and the location of Colorado's first chartered town, Montana City.

The cottonwood trees that line the banks of the South Platte River played an important role in the lives of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes.  These nomadic people would use the water of the South Platte River and the shade from the cottonwood trees as a reprieve after following the bison across the prairie.  This is one of their stories about these South Platte River trees.

The Arapaho and the Cheyenne believed that everything came from the earth, even the stars in the sky. They would travel around underneath the ground until they found the roots of the magical cottonwood tree. They would climb up inside the tree's roots, into the truck, and out into the branches where they would hide.

One night, the spirit of the night sky looked around and thought, "I don't have enough stars. I want more stars!" So the spirit of the night sky called down to the spirit of the wind and asked for more stars. The spirit of the wind knew that the stars were hiding in the branches of the cottonwood tree, so the spirit of the wind started to blow, and blew harder and harder until the wind blew so hard that the branches of the cottonwood tree broke off right where the stars were hiding. The stars came flying out and up into the night sky.

This is how the Arapaho and Cheyenne believed stars got into the night sky.  Find a stick under the cottonwood tree and break it right where the rings are. Look inside to find a five point star shadow (pictured to the right) right where the stars were hiding!

Visible from the parking lot, the Grant Frontier Park ghost town has structures reflective of Colorado’s prospector and homesteader past.

The ghost town was constructed by teachers and students at Grant Middle School as part of Colorado's centennial celebration. Inside the ghost town you can see a horse whim, mining derrick, wagon, cabin, and an assortment of native trees from around the state.

This site was chosen because it is the original location of Colorado's first chartered town called Montana City.

Walk just upstream along the bike path, and you will find a foot path that grants access to the river. As you come down the hill, the pedestrian bridge looms over the rushing water. This is one of the best access points to the river in Denver. The sediment shelf extends over halfway into the river keeping the water level shallow and inviting for wading in.

Flip over a rock and look for crawdads, leeches, and other macroinvertebrates. Keep an eye out for fresh water clam shells too.

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Get to Know Your Greenway is written by SPREE staffer J.J. Clark.  Each month, J.J. explores a park along the South Platte River and ties the history of the park into his commentary.  Want to talk to J.J. about where he has been this month?  Email him at: jj@spreemail.org