Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Cherry Creek (Denver) Got Its Name

I've often wondered how and why a specific area got its name. Usually, it's for a person who was instrumental in the building of a town, building, etc. but how did Cherry Creek get its name? As part of the research for my next book Hidden History of Denver, I scoured the history books and found the name was given because of the choke cherries that still can be found along the Cherry Creek and the South Platte rivers.

Last week, as I cycled towards Denver from Mineral/Santa Fe (a 30 mile round trip) I saw with my own eyes the choke cherry trees (prunus virginiana) that grow along the banks of the rivers. It was a fruit the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes harvested each year to sustain them through the winter.

Following is a short excerpt from Hidden History of Denver.

For centuries, Native Americans had camped along Cherry Creek—given the name because of the small, choke cherry trees that grew along its banks. When the cherries were ripe, they were harvested, pounded and then dried in the sun to be used over the winter months.