NewsBlack History Month


Preserving Black History: Gilpin County's historic Lincoln Hills resort receives national recognition

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Posted at 4:58 PM, Feb 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-29 19:33:38-05

GILPIN COUNTY, Colo. — In the early 1900s, Black Americans did not have many outdoor spaces that were welcoming to them in Colorado, with one notable exception: Lincoln Hills.

“Lincoln Hills is a place where African Americans went during the 1920s, 1930s, to the 1960s. It was a place where people could go because of the constraints of Jim Crow during that time period,” Jeanette Patterson, executive director of Lincoln Hills Cares told Denver7.

Lincoln Hills Cares is the nonprofit branch of the historic Lincoln Hills resort, located about 38 miles from Denver in Gilpin County.

“So there were activities going on, like camping and fishing and hiking and horseback riding. But when I talk about Black joy, it was just the place where people could thrive and have rest because it was rare for people — for African American people at the time — to go out and be in outdoor spaces,” Patterson said.

So rare, Patterson said, ordinary Black Americans and celebrities alike flocked to the mountain retreat.

“Lena Horne, you had Count Basie. You had Duke Ellington, some of those folks would come up, especially after performing in the Five Points area in Denver. And then also, you had the intellects (sic) like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston that would come up and do some readings at Lincoln Hills,” Patterson said.

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Patterson said many stayed at Winks Lodge on the property, which is currently in need of preservation.

“Winks Lodge really is closed right now… we are doing some restoration, and preservation,” Patterson said.

These days Lincoln Hills hosts outdoor education and recreation initiatives and recently received a national historic landmark designation.

“With us having this national recognition, it means that more and more people will want to come to Colorado to see what African Americans did during that time in the mountains,” Patterson said.

Throughout the month of February, Denver7 has traveled across Colorado, uncovering little known places and stories with significance to Black history.

Click here to watch a half-hour special presentation of those stories highlighting community efforts to save Black history and places that are on the brink of being lost to time.

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