Golden booster and bold visionary

by | Oct 8, 2018 | Fall 2018, Looking Back | 0 comments

The name Loveland is well known around the state of Colorado, but many may not realize Loveland’s connections to Golden and Mines. 

Loveland Cottage, Golden’s oldest building, holds a place of pride at 717 12th St. The Loveland Block, at 1122 Washington Ave., is a designated historic landmark. And Loveland Pass, which cuts through the Rocky Mountains along the Continental Divide, is infamous across the country for its treacherous winter conditions. All these places are named in honor of William A. H. Loveland (1826-1894), an entrepreneur and civic leader who was one of Golden’s earliest citizens and greatest benefactors. Together with his wife, Miranda, and fellow Golden resident and friend Charles C. Welch, Loveland also founded Lakewood, Colorado.

William Austin Hamilton Loveland arrived in Golden in 1859, drawn to the town, like many others at the time, by the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. It was not as a miner, however, but as an entrepreneur and businessman that Loveland made his mark, subsequently proving instrumental in the development of both Golden and the state of Colorado. Indeed, his accomplishments would later earn him the moniker “Prince of Pioneers.” 

A visionary, Loveland worked tirelessly to promote the health and prosperity of his adopted city and state. He helped found the Colorado Central Railroad, was instrumental in securing Golden’s place as capital of the Colorado Territory and embraced his civic responsibilities by serving as both mayor of Golden and lieutenant governor of Colorado. “Loveland was a citizen of Golden from almost its very beginning and was highly involved in the building of the city,” observed Richard Gardner, a Golden-based historian. 

Although Loveland was only mayor of Golden for one year, he made a lasting impression during his tenure with an event that took place outside city limits. “On May 21, 1874, Loveland ordered Golden’s firefighters into action to defend Central City from the great fire threatening to engulf it,” Gardner explained. “Being also the Colorado Central Railroad owner, Loveland had a locomotive with a flatcar ready and waiting for the firefighters at the depot the moment the order came. It was the first mutual aid call in Colorado history, and Golden’s firefighters succeeded in saving the city above the Teller House where they made their stand.”

But it’s Loveland’s championing of the establishment of Mines, however, that remains among his most notable accomplishments. “Loveland greatly believed in the future of Golden and of Colorado and was among many who believed that a mining school was key to the future of the region,” said Gardner. “He was instrumental in persuading the Colorado Territorial Legislature to authorize funds to establish Mines. He very likely believed that Mines would help build up Golden by establishing a prominent institution of higher education which would be key to the future of the territory.”

After securing funds to establish the school, Loveland served as the first president of the board of trustees. “He was elected to that role by the board, whose members, including him, were appointed by the Legislature,” Gardner continued. “As president, Loveland oversaw the allocation of the $5,000 the Territorial Legislature had appropriated for the institution. His first official act was accepting the gift of the school from the Episcopal church and the gift of additional land from Charles Clark Welch.” 

Welch was another prominent Golden citizen who did much to develop both the area and Mines. A member of the Territorial Legislature, Welch introduced the bill to establish Mines, donated the ground for the site of the school’s first building and served on the board of trustees for 10 years.

Among the spending allocations Loveland oversaw during his tenure, Gardner noted, was the appropriation of funds to complete the first Mines building—Engineering Hall—which, while operational, was still in an unfinished state. “Its ground floor actually still had a dirt floor,” Gardner said.

Loveland led the effort to place Mines upon a firm foundation in public hands, enabling it to become the institution it is today, Gardner said. “He doubtless would have seen the opening of a university in Golden as a way of enhancing the city, its prospects and its reputation, which he worked tirelessly to promote in many dimensions.”

“Loveland’s influence is incalculable,” Gardner concluded. “In my estimation, he could well be said to be Golden’s most valuable citizen. Many live in subdivisions he helped create. Mines continues vibrantly today as a key institution of higher learning, not just in Colorado but the world. And his railroad lines operate today through the state—tourists enjoy part of one at the Georgetown Loop. Passengers riding the Regional Transportation District’s West Line travel rails that Loveland created, and four of the churches for which he gave land still support worshippers today. Golden and Lakewood would not be here today without him. It’s quite a legacy.”