Clear Creek History Park was conceived as a place to preserve and present history as well as restore and open the natural creek views. The History Park began in 1994 when the first cabins were relocated to Golden from the Pearce Ranch in Golden Gate Canyon. By 1999, the park was complete with both historic and reconstructed buildings. The park was enclosed by a buckrail fence and visitors entered the reconstructed ranch through an admission gate on the east end.
The park was operated seasonally as a living history park. Guests paid a $5 admission and could walk through the buildings, see animals, and watch costumed interpreters bake, sew and blacksmith. The living history approach was enjoyed by the people who chose to visit, but the operation model was staff and resource intensive and difficult to sustain economically. Furthermore, at least six other history parks exist within a 30 mile radius and offer nearly identical experiences. For the past five years, access to the park has remained free and open to the public year round with episodic programming.
Museum staff has been conducting research and observation about how people use Clear Creek History Park. We know from infrared counters that approximately 45,000 people visit the park annually. It’s immediately apparent that the chickens are a huge hit with the kids, and we know that families make a visit to the coop part of their regular routine. We also know that people enjoy spending their lunch breaks sitting on benches or sheltered in the hay barn. Other people investigate the building and examine the plants growing in the gardens. We also know that CCHP is a huge destination for special occasion photos. Often times there are multiple parties taking wedding, christening, engagement, and graduation photos at the same time.
After visitor observation and a literature review, staff worked with the design firm MIG to create a master plan for Clear Creek History Park. MIG is a regular partner with the City of Golden for many years and has done a number of parks, planning, and streets projects. We approached this design process with four main goals in mind:
1. Strengthen the historic interpretation in the park. Create a cohesive storyline that focuses on canyon life and the historic ties between the canyon, Golden, and the mountain mines.
2. Improve and increase access to and around the park.
3. Maximize use of the available park space.
4. Provide opportunities for self-guided exploration and relaxation
MIG has developed two concepts that seek to address those goals (see them here). Now we are inviting your feedback. Take a look at these two designs and then take the survey at http://cchp.questionpro.com. Your input will help shape a final version for the master plan.
Once a master plan is in place, we will create a priority list that will allow us to seek funding and implement the master plan in phases.