The Cherry Creek Valley has long served as a major transportation corridor, from Native American footpaths to the proposed route of Interstate 25.
In the 1860s, six “Mile Houses” along Cherry Creek provided food, lodging, and other services for travelers heading to, or returning from, Denver and the “Pike’s Peak” gold fields.
Named for their distance from Denver, the mile houses sat on the combined Smoky Hill and Cherokee trails. They were located near what today we know as Parker Road (or Leetsdale which seems to be the continuation of Parker Rd. in Denver.) Lee Whiteley, who presented this information in October 2022 to the HR Historical Society, stated “My grandparents homesteaded near Castle Rock, so for 76 years I have been driven, or have drove, Parker Road. I have seen some changes along there. I don’t mind progress, it’s CHANGE I don’t like”! These former Mile Houses along this road have seen much change over the last 100+ years, as have the Roads themselves.
Lee described not only the Mile Houses, but the history and importance of the Transportation Corridors that were vital to the Mile Houses. He spoke of the various changes that the corridors and Mile Houses have undergone. It was the many trails and transportation routes in the region that brought people to the area from the east and south.
These routes include the
- Trappers Trail
- Cherokee Trail
- Smoky Hill Trail
- Denver & New Orleans Railroad
- Colorado Highway 83 (today’s Parker Road
17 Mile House
The Mile Houses Today–The fate of the six houses varied greatly.
Two remain open to the public as living history farms. (4 Mile House and 17 Mile House)
A portion of the third was converted into a garage of a private residence. (20 Mile House). Today this stands restored along Main Street in Parker.
Two houses are completely gone, one replaced by urban sprawl (12 Mile House) while the site of the second house is now under water (9 Mile House). A portion of 12 Mile House was moved to a small eastern Colorado town, where it served as a liquor store. In addition, these two Mile Houses were situated in what is now Cherry Creek State Park.
The fate of the sixth house (7 Mile House) is unknown.
20 Mile House
Watch the program video for a more in-depth look at the Transportation Routes and the Mile Houses.
(Video coming soon)
Presenter Lee Whiteley is a 4th generation Coloradan who now lives in Centennial. He graduated from the University of Denver and spent two years in the U.S. Army, including a year in Vietnam. Lee took a very early retirement from the City and County of Denver, where he was a computer programmer-analyst. He and wife Jane have authored seven books on transportation history in the West, including books on the Cherokee Trail and Smoky Hill Trail. This was Lee’s fourth presentation to the HRHS. As Lee and Jane repeatedly have said “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive the Interstate”. Get out there and explore!
Here are some of the books that Lee and Jane have written about various Transportation Histories.
Lee can be contacted at LeeandJaneWhiteley@yahoo.com