David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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What’s In a Name?


You can always tell when Jack Zumwinkel’s fine hand has been part of an issue of the WIND. Have a look at the July issue, which Jack edited. Every time the name of our unincorporated village comes up, he writes it as “Allens Park.” So far, nobody on the staff has been willing to change it.

Jack is spitting into the wind (you should excuse the phrase) and just being stubborn about a lost cause. On the other hand, Jack will tell you he lives on Cabin Creek Road, when in fact it was Big Owl Road for its entire three mile loop for about 75 years. The southern section was renamed “Cabin Creek” just a few years ago. It’s all County Road 82.

Cabin Creek Road is actually County Road 82E, which takes off from the bottom of Big Owl and follows Cabin Creek for about two miles until it climbs the hill to the Smitherman place. Prior to that, the road doesn’t even come close to Cabin Creek. Still, the signs are up and newcomers don’t know the difference.

I have the same problem with Cow Creek. Cow rises on the west slope of the Twin Sisters (which in 1915 narrowly escaped being named “Tahosa Mountain”) and flows along the eastern side of the valley, where it joins Roaring Fork, which comes from Chasm Lake, and Cabin Creek, which comes from the trough of Mt. Meeker.

In 1961 the U.S. Board on Geographic Names changed Cow Creek to “Tahosa Creek.” As if we didn’t have enough Tahosas around here. To me and mine, it’s still Cow Creek.

We are fond of the names of places. Ski Road is still Ski Road, several decades after the last rope tow was torn down. Lily Lake hasn’t had any yellow pond lilies since the dam blew out in 1951. Still, the name survives and perhaps some day it will deserve the name again.

Some of us like to name our homes and cabins. My grandfather called his cabin “Cabin John,” in honor of the homesteader who sold him the land. My Aunt’s cabin was “Treetops,” based on the view. Similarly, mine is called Skyline because of its unobstructed view of Meeker’s ridges. My parents’ cabin is called “The Ark,” because when it was first built it looked like the Ark stuck on a rock. Still another cabin is called “Ridgeview,” for obvious reasons.

Some names just disappear. Enos Mills had a number of things named for him: Mills Lake, to the northwest of Longs Peak in Glacier Gorge, Mills Moraine, which was pushed up by the glacier at the east face of Longs and is part of the Longs Peak trail, and Mills Glacier. There’s even a Mills Drive near the Park Headquarters.

Never heard of it? In the early part of the century there was the remnant of a glacier in the slot between Meeker and Longs, above Chasm Lake. Not a living glacier (it had no movement), it nevertheless stayed put all year, just below a snowfield called The Apron. Chasm Lake itself was at one time “Gold Lake,” and “Crater Lake.”

As the years went by, however, the “glacier” melted away. In most years it’s bare of snow by August. In this remarkable year it’s still there, about half as large as when it was named. It seems probable that it won’t melt completely this year, and this may be a turning point. In another few decades the name “Mills Glacier” may be back.

According to the excellent but now outdated “High Country Names,” produced by the Colorado Mountain Club in 1966, for 53 years Mt. Meeker was just the East Peak of Longs. Together they were often called “The Two Guides,” because travelers from the east could use them as easily recognizable landmarks. Nathan Meeker has two places named for him. The most famous is Meeker, a small town in western Colorado, which is where he was killed in 1879 in a famous Ute massacre. He was an Indian Agent at the time.

Prior to that, nothing had been named for him on the eastern slope. He was, however, the prime mover in establishing the Union Colony, an experiment in cooperative farming, in 1869. When Horace Greeley gave his name and reputation to the enterprise, they named the town after him. In 1873 someone, perhaps Anna Dickinson or William Byers suggested Meeker’s name as a fitting one for Longs’ East Peak.

Very few place names have changed in the past few years. We have named just about everything namable. Some names make sense; Cabin Creek commemorates the perhaps apocryphal story that Kit Carson built a cabin and wintered in the area in 1840. But over in Wild Basin is Horse Creek, and its origin is obscure. Likewise with Fox, Willow and Rock Creeks. Cow Creek was probably named by someone who saw a cow drinking from it. And the others probably had similarly simple origins.

The Post Office says our village is Allenspark, and that’s good enough for me. Jack will tell you that the 1961 Rocky Mountain National Park map calls it “Allens Park,” and he’s right. It’s also the only name on the map that dates from the 1860s. On the other hand, we don’t look at that map nearly as much as we look at our mail or the phone book.  If you ask the phone company for the area code for “Allens Park,” (and shouldn’t that be “Allen’s Park”?) they will tell you there’s no such listing.

So Jack thinks he’s right and I think I’m right. Probably we will both pass on to our rewards without giving an inch. It’s the kind of harmless controversy we could wish we had more of. We do love to take sides.



© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI




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