100 Years of Pingree Park

100 Years of Pingree Park

By Tony Phifer

Imagine, if you will, the look on Charles Lory’s face on that summer day in 1914 when he first arrived at Pingree Park.

Students at Pingree Park
Students at Pingree Park

Lory, Colorado State University’s fifth and longest-serving president, was accompanied by Colorado Gov. Elias Ammons and other dignitaries on the 50-mile journey to the 1,600-acre site. The first part of their journey was in a Stanley Steamer – a steam-powered automobile popular at the time – and the rest of the trek along the South Fork of the Cache la Poudre River was completed in a horse-drawn wagon.

Lory, for whom CSU’s Lory Student Center is named, must have been in awe when he finally arrived at Pingree Park. Lush forests, stands of aspen, pristine meadows, the rushing waters of the Poudre’s south branch and abundant wildlife lay before him – all surrounded by the snow-capped Mummy Range. It was a place of awe-inspiring beauty and almost unlimited potential.

“I had read about Pingree when I was looking at schools, but it was better than I ever imagined,” said Marina Rodriguez, a junior from San Antonio studying wildlife biology at CSU. She has spent parts of the past two summers at Pingree. “I had never been any place like that before, and now I wish I could stay up there all the time. It’s an amazing place.”

Lory and professor B.O. Longyear had envisioned a place where students could learn forestry and other disciplines in a living classroom. Today, 100 years after Lory’s historic journey, Pingree is home to a campus and conference center that hosts more than 5,000 annual visitors. Cabins, classrooms and labs are utilized by more than 200 students in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources.

“The thing I love about Pingree is that it sort of encompasses you. It’s so breathtakingly beautiful,” said Joyce Berry, dean of the WCNR. “It epitomizes a sense of place. Pingree is so central to our programs, but what’s so special is that it leaves an imprint on their experience that they can then take into their professional lives.”

The primary purpose of Pingree is to give CSU students an opportunity to truly experience education in a natural setting. All students in WCNR are required to take the four-week class, Natural Resources 220, to graduate. The class is offered twice each summer and is taught by five WCNR faculty and a handful of teaching assistants.

While work in the Pingree classrooms is important, the real value of the course comes from the experience. Four students share a cabin room and have to live, work and study together throughout the session. There are plenty of laughs and tears as the students learn to cope in an environment where cell phones, TV and wireless do not exist.

“It’s a very intense experience, with a full day of classes and lots of studying,” said Paul Doherty an associate professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, and director of field courses at Pingree. “The really cool thing is watching these kids become friends. I would go so far as to say when you talk to our alumni, many of them don’t remember a lot of their courses but they all remember Pingree.”

Pingree also hosts hundreds of area elementary students each fall for Eco Week, and features a Ropes Challenge Course that can be utilized for conference attendees and other visitors.

For a slide show of Pingree Park, visit: pingree.colostate.edu.

The student cabins at Pingree Park have stood for 64 years, and it’s time for a change. Your gift can help build new cabins. Visit http://advancing.colostate.edu/PINGREEPARKCABINS

timeline_pre_loader
Pingree Park Timeline

1867

George Pingree, for whom the park is named, opens a logging camp in the area to harvest railroad ties.

George Pingree
George Pingree

1897

Brothers Hugh and Charles Ramsey file homestead claims on the present southern portion of the campus, earning a living ranching and with a saw mill.

1910

Through the work of Professor B.O. Longyear, an act of Congress gives Colorado Agricultural College (now CSU) the right to select federal land for biologic research and practical study.

B. O. Longyear
B. O. Longyear

1912

Hugh Ramsey hires Frank Koenig, who helps the Ramsey family build a road over Pennock Pass, creating easier access to the area.

Frank and Hazel Koenig, 1919.
Frank and Hazel Koenig, 1919.

1914

CAC President Charles Lory and a party that includes Gov. Elias Ammons travels by Stanley Steamer and horse-drawn wagon to the area to select a 1,600-acre site for use by the college.

Charles Lory
Charles Lory
Elias Ammonds
Elias Ammonds

1915

Congress creates Rocky Mountain National Park, adjacent to Pingree Park. Frank Koenig is one of the original three rangers.

The first CAC class (civil engineering) is taught at the site. The class has one teacher and one student.

Campfire circle at Pingree, 1914
Campfire circle at Pingree, 1914

1917

The first forestry field camp is held; it is taught by B.O. Longyear and includes one student.

1972

CSU purchases 163 acres from Frank and Hazel Koenig, taking possession of the family’s cabins in 1975.

1976

CSU’s Housing and Dining Services assumes management of the campus. Construction of the conference center and lodging is completed in 1976.

Pingree cabins, 1946.
Pingree cabins, 1946.

1994

The Hourglass Fire burns 1,200 acres in and around the campus, destroying 13 buildings. Reconstruction is completed in 1995.

2012

Pingree Park serves as a staging camp for firefighters battling the High Park Fire, which destroys more than 87,000 acres, none in the park itself.

The High Park Fire, 2012.
The High Park Fire, 2012.

2014

Colorado State University celebrates the 100-year anniversary of Pingree Park.
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