Check Out Our Advertisers!
     None  Accounting/Bookkeeping
     None  Attorney - Lawyer
     None  Auto
     None  Aviation
     None  Banks and Credit Unions
     None  Carpet Cleaning
     None  Chamber of Commerce
     None  Child Care
     None  Chiropractic Care
     None  Churches
     None  Computer Services
     None  Dental Care
     None  Dry Cleaning
     None  Electric utility
     None  Equine Services
     None  Errand Services
     None  Excavating
     None  Eye Care
     None  Feed Stores
     None  Field Mowing
     None  Financial Services
     None  Fireplace Sales/Service
     None  Fitness
     None  Flooring
     None  Hair/Nail Care and Cosmetics
     None  Handyman Services
     None  Health Care Facilities and Services
     None  Health Care
     None  Heating and Cooling
     None  Home Maintenance
     None  House Cleaning
     None  Insulation
     None  Insurance
     None  Internet Service
     None  Jewelry
     None  Mortgage
     None  Orthodontist
     None  Painting - Interior/Exterior
     None  Paving/Asphalt
     None  Pet Grooming
     None  Pet Sitter
     None  Plumbing
     None  Portable Buildings
     None  Propane Delivery
     None  Propane
     None  Property Management
     None  Racing - Cars
     None  Real Estate Services
     None  Restaurants
     None  Roofing
     None  Schools
     None  Septic Services
     None  Sheds, Outbuildings
     None  Shipping Services
     None  Specialty/Gifts
     None  Storage
     None  Tax Preparation
     None  Tires
     None  Tractor, Trailer and RV Sales
     None  Upholstery
     None  Veterinarian
     None  Window Replacement
     None  Windshield Repair
     None  Winery
     None  Woodworking

"The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month."
– Henry Van Dyke  
Contact Us | Advertise | Classified Ad | News Stands | Subscribe  

  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 3 March 2019  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar  
None Did You Know?   None FFPD Column   None From the Publisher   None Guest Column  
None Marks Meanderings   None Monkey Business   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains  
None Pet Care   None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life   None Rumors  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In

Bill Radford

  Bijou Basin — a gem on the plains
  By Bill Radford

   Longtime local journalist Bill Radford and his wife, Margaret, live on 5 acres in the Falcon area with ducks, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, two noisy parrots, goats and two horses. Contact Bill at
I recently visited Bijou Basin, north of Peyton –- a broad, picturesque valley with an intriguing mix of forest and grassland, pine trees and cottonwoods.
   I plan to return in the summer to see Bijou Basin in what I hope will be its lush, green splendor. For now, I've delved into the history of the area. According to the area’s history on El Paso County's website, Bijou Basin was once home to a settlement that predated Falcon and Peyton. A school was established there in 1874, according to the county, and the settlement also supported a blacksmith shop, a tavern and a post office. (There was a cheese factory there as well. Among the Bijou Basin tidbits reported in the May 22, 1901, Weekly Gazette was this exciting bit of news: "The Bijou Basin Cheese factory shipped a load of cheese last Friday.") But the community was abandoned once the railroad towns around it became established, according to the county.
   The basin is named for Bijou Creek, which drains into the Platte River. Bijou is French for "little jewel." But Jim Flynn, in his "A Compendium of Curious Colorado Place Names," said the creek name likely came from a well-known French fur trapper named Joseph Bijeau, who was a guide for the 1820 expedition of Steven Long into Colorado –- and whose name was sometimes misspelled as Bijou.
   On the eastern side of the basin is Fremont's Fort, described as "a prominent geologic formation." I confess, though, that it didn't stand out to me among the surrounding bluffs and mesas. Perhaps I didn't look in the right direction, since some sources describe it as being on the basin's south side. (So maybe southeast?) What sources do agree on is that it is named after explorer John C. Fremont. The story is that he occupied the rocky outcrop in the 1840s to avoid an attack by Indians. Historian Carl Matthews, in an article in the March 6, 1958, Douglas County News, sheds doubt on that story, calling Fremont's Fort "the mythical site of a fight with Indians, which Fremont, never one to belittle himself, did not mention."
   The May 7, 1896, issue of The Weekly Rocky Mountain News told of another intriguing formation in Bijou Basin –- "the breathing butte." In the article, a "Western old-timer" tells of a cone-shaped hill with a rock at the top "in active motion, rising and falling at regular half-minute intervals." Further exploration "found that the big stone rested upon a mass of wet and spongy matter, the pulsating force evidently coming from some powerful and deep-seated subterranean water ebb and flow."
   Fremont, meanwhile, wasn't the only notable figure to cross through Bijou Basin. Cwm Ceffyl Ranch, on the banks of West Bijou Creek, offers a history of the area on its website at Legendary frontiersman Christopher "Kit" Carson guided most of Fremont's expeditions "and was quite familiar with the Bijou Basin," the history states.
   Chief Black Kettle of the Southern Cheyenne tribe "made a practice of traveling through and possibly camping on what is now Cwm Ceffyl Ranch," according to the website. The prominent Indian leader was a fierce advocate for peace amid waves of white settlers and broken promises by the U.S. government. He died in 1868, killed in an attack by George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Calvary.
   In much more recent times, Bijou Basin showed up in a place you wouldn't expect: the pages of The New York Times. In a 2006 editorial, the Times warned against plans at the time to put a high-speed toll road –- nicknamed the Super Slab — through Bijou Basin on its way from Fort Collins to Pueblo. "It doesn’t have the staggering majesty of the Rocky Mountains, but it does have the delicate beauty of a rural, ranching grassland," the editorial said of the basin.
   If you want to view the "delicate beauty," the easiest way to reach Bijou Basin is to drive north on Peyton Highway from U.S. Highway 24. Be ready for a sharp right at Steeplechase Drive and continue on Peyton Highway as it becomes a dirt road.
A ranch and a picturesque home show the charm and history of the Bijou Basin area. Photos by Bill Radford
Facebook print this page      

  © 2004-2019 The New Falcon Herald. All rights reserved. About | Contact | Advertise | News Stands | Privacy Policy