Explore Colorado

Pioneer Paradise at Four Mile Historic Park in Denver

Sending time at home these past couple of months has me reminiscing about my childhood and television shows I loved like “Little House on the Prairie.” That got me thinking about my trip over to Denver’s version of prairie life. Denver’s oldest standing structure sits on twelve acres in the heart of the city. I visited the pioneer paradise of Four Mile Historic Park when I was hired by Dotdash to take some photographs some months ago.

Four Mile is along Cherry Creek and is exactly four miles from the Colorado State Capitol. It was the last stage stop before the capitol. In 1859 brother Samuel and Jonas Brantner build a two-story log cabin and offered services to travelers along the Cherokee Trail. In 1860 Mary Cawker bought Four Mile House from the Brantner brothers and turned it into an inn. It became a stagecoach stop in 1862 for the Butterfield Stage Company and was the last stop to Denver. After a four-day flood in 1864, Mary Cawker sold the property to Millie and Levi Booth. In 1866, Levi Booth build the Bee House on property which helped the stagecoach stop and farm flourish throughout the late 1860s. As railroads became a preferred mode of transportation, the Booths focused on farming in the 1870s. In 1883, a brick addition was added to the original clapboard-sided log cabin. The Four Mile House was designated a Denver landmark in 1968 and in 1968 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now this slice of life on the prairie is a historic oasis surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the modern world.

The park and museum are open Wednesday-Sunday in the spring and summer and three days a week (Friday-Sunday) in fall and winter. Guided museum tours are offered daily depending on docent/tour guide availability.

Unfortunately the day I visited, the afternoon tours weren’t happening. So I paid $5 and stepped back in time as I explored the grounds of Four Mile Historic Park. From the Grant Family Education Center, I crossed the meadow to see the animals first. I made stops at the Log Barn and Goat Pen. There are some horses along with four Angora goats. From their wool, mohair yarn is made. My next stop was the Carriage Barn, where the family carriage would have been stored. I peered inside the Blacksmith Shop and Stagecoach/Schooner Barn then saw the Polebarn, where wagons and coaches would pass through.

In the meadow I found a shady spot by a stagecoach. I sat and imagine what it was like here in the 1800s.

Next I headed over to the area that would have been the heart of the homestead including the Four Mile House, the oldest standing structure in Denver dating back to 1859. I would have loved to go inside. But I did peek in the windows.

I walked over to the summer kitchen and made my way to see the chickens in the coop. There’s a miner’s and trapper’s cabin, privy and root cellar.

My last stop was at the Bee House. The original structure was destroyed in a fire in 1941. This is a reconstruction done in 1980 and today is used as a one-room prairie school house. This is a wonderful place for kids to discover what life on the prairie in Colorado was once like.

Author Jennifer Broome is based in Denver. She has filmed over 300 stories across Colorado in her series “Explore Colorado.” She’s an expert on things to do and see in Colorado and loves sharing unique finds in the Centennial State.