July 15, 2015

History of the Castle Rock Butte

The Castle Rock Butte is a well-known geological rock formation used by Native Americans, explorers, and early settlers as a lookout and reference point during their travels. The butte appeared to many travelers like a castle on a hill. The name is credited to Dr. Edwin James, a botanist on Long’s Expedition of 1820. The town of Castle Rock is named after this solitary natural landmark.

Pioneer rancher George P. Stewart, who owned “The Rock,” was happy to donate the land in 1936. Men from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed a 45-ft-tall star on top of the butte. The star was lit every year from 1936 until 1941. During World War II, with all resources dedicated to the war effort, the star went unlit as a symbol of sacrifice. On August 14, 1945, when the war was finally over, the star was converted into a “V” for victory as people celebrated in the streets. The star was again lit on December 7, 1945, and it has been lit every Christmas season since.

In 1966, Denver poet Mrs. Helen Lowrie Marshall wrote a poem called “The Star of Castle Rock” which was read at many star-lighting ceremonies. For avid Colorado sports fans, the star was lit in blue and orange to celebrate the Denver Bronco’s  1998 and 1999 Super Bowl victories. For several weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the star was lit as a declaration of patriotic unity. Over the past decades, the town has hosted the annual winter starlighting ceremony with festivities, a parade, speakers, choirs, and fireworks.

Rock Park at the base is 62 acres of preserved open space with a natural steep hiking trail circling to the summit of the butte for a spectacular view of the town and surrounding area. The butte provides nesting for native birds and is home to Colorado wildlife.

On May 4, 2015, the NSDAR Organizing Secretary General approved the name of Castle Rock for the new chapter.

The beautiful cover photograph is “The Rock in Bloom” CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by Nick Lucey.