For Lakewood’s first pioneers, homesteading looked as quixotic as prospecting. There were no natural lakes, no ditches, and very few springs. The earliest attempts at irrigation did not stray far from the largest natural source of water in the vicinity, Clear Creek. Irrigation allowed some to find success growing apples and keeping bees, like Valentine Devinny did on his farm five miles west of Denver.
Beneath the asphalt and concrete of West Colfax Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard, there were once orchards. It is hard to visualize, but apples, plums, and currants blossomed where lampposts now take root. Cattle, chickens, and turkeys roamed in the open prairie before it was covered by parking lots. For nearly a century, Lakewood was known for its rural nature. It was a placed established by individuals who rebounded from earlier failures at gold mining by taking their shovels and digging ditches. These diches slowly branched from Clear Creek, which was the only substantial water resource between Denver and Golden. Between the 1860s and 1870s, homesteaders dug three ditches that drew from the creek; the Rocky Mountain, the Welch, and the Agricultural. Supported by a growing network of laterals, these ditches ensured that the community had a fighting chance to overcome Lakewood’s mercurial soil.
Because of irrigation, pioneers like Valentine Devinny were able to keep bees and settlers like Edward Krueger established orchards in northern and central Lakewood.
One of the earliest families in Eiberhood, the Guebelles, lived at 13th and Hoyt. Their 10-acre apple orchard stocked the Cider Hill roadside stand run by the family.
Carson Howell first purchased 80 acres in an area now known as Daniel Gardens in 1868. The farm included gardens, dairy cattle, and hay fields.
Information gathered from internet information and Images of American, Early Lakewood by Robert and Kristen Autobee with Lakewood’s Heritage Center