by Cindy Smith and Jim Meacham
We are blessed with abundant information of geological and historical significance in Fremont County. Just a few miles west of Canon City and north of Highway 50 on Fremont County Road (FCR) 69 lies Three Mile Park, and immediately north of that lies Shaws Park. Both are bordered on the west by Twin Mts. and on the east by the Dakota hogback. (Skyline Drive is at the southern end of this hogback.)Well known in the past as the destination for cattle drives and round-ups from High Park and Cripple Creek, Shaws Park was choice grazing land due to its proximity to Wilson Creek and Seep Springs, which provided 'sweet' water (good fresh water for cattle) and abundant forage. Shaws Park was named after George E. Shaw, an early settler who filed a nearby homestead claim in 1871. Interestingly, Shaw's 160 acre claim wasn't located in Shaws Park at all, but at the southern end of Three Mile Park. Before it was cattle country, Three Mile Springs, located just north of the entrance to Skyline Drive, was a Ute camping ground for many generations, and the nearby 1860's adobe trading post that was established by Edwin Nichols was visited by Chief Colorow and Chief Ouray, as well as Territorial Governor John Evans. Even after the trading post was closed, this little oasis continued to provide a friendly stop for men and horses climbing Eight Mile hill. Big freighters from Pueblo and stages to Leadville and Fairplay also stopped to water their teams and drivers. Shaws Park was originally public domain lands that could be claimed for settlement through the various Homestead Acts. Today much of the Park has reverted to public ownership as Public Lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The valley portion of Shaws Park is approximately 3 miles long by 1.5 miles wide. All of the lands within Three Mile Park and about 1,200 acres in the southern end of Shaws Park, including some features discussed in this column, are privately owned and can be accessed only with the owner's permission. The BLM owns and manages most of the lands in the northern end of the Park. Only those BLM Public Lands that are adjacent to FCR 69 and which can be reached without crossing adjoining private lands are open to the public. For further reading: "Three Mile Springs, Marble Quarries, and a Fabulous Engine", Ken Cox, 1977, available at the Royal Gorge Museum and History Center, along with other files on Three Mile Park and Shaws Park.