Rio de Chato

AddressDivides Jefferson and Douglas Counties from 4 mi. S.W. of Cheesman Lake, then flows N.E. to Chatfield Reservoir at the mouth of Deer Creek Canyon
QuadWestcreek, 1956; Littleton, 1965 (1994)
SectionS34, T10S, R71W; S31, T7S, R69W
Elevationc. 550-7200
Source"History of Colorado" by Jerome Smiley
OtherRiviere des Padoucas, Riviere la Plat, South Platte River
Initialdate1998-10-21 00:00:00-06
Latestdate2012-12-10 00:00:00-07
HistoryRio de Chato was the Spanish name given to the South Platte River which forms the southeastern border of Jefferson County. It was named by Juan de Zaldivar, who was commissioned by his uncle (Santa Fe founder Onate) in 1598 to take 50 cavaliers to explore the northeastern reaches of the lands claimed by New Spain. Rio de Chato means "flat" or "flattish" river, a meaning much the same as the permanent name French explorers would give it nearly 150 years afterward. The South Platte River was the only major river flowing from the mountains of northern Colorado matching such a description. It is very likely Zaldivar's party were the first white people to see and set foot in Jefferson County.