The area in the shadow of Longs Peak had many different Native American tribes pass through, the confluence area of the North and South St. Vrain being no exception. Shoshones, Pawnees, Cheyennes, and the Crow Indians hunted throughout this area. The Ute and Arapahoe tribes even lived here at times. Population growth in the mountain areas around Boulder did not take off until the Gold Rush of the late 1800's drew thousands of new people to the area. Although Lyons never had gold mines, by 1860 many discouraged prospectors were leaving the mountains to settle into farming along its creeks. The area near present-day Lyons had good flat bottom land, plenty of water and a pleasant climate. In 1880, Mr. E.S. Lyon from Connecticut settled in the area to improve his health. In 1882 the town was established and named after him. In 1891 the town became officially incorporated.
The discovery of lime rock and red sandstone near Lyons brought a narrow gauge railroad track to the area to ship the sandstone as far east as Chicago and New York, which was used for homes, sidewalks, railroad ballast and more. Many of the red stone buildings that make the University of Colorado campus in Boulder so unique were built with sandstone from Lyons.
In the early part of the 20th century demand for sandstone as a building material declined significantly due to the development of cement and Lyons began to market itself as a tourist town. Several new resorts and cabins were added to accommodate travelers coming in on railroad excursions. With the advent of the personal automobile the need for rail access to Lyons diminished and the last passenger train left Lyons in 1962. Since then Lyons has become a great stopping off place for visitors heading into the mountains. The latter part of the century saw Lyons boom as a mecca for Antique and Collectibles.
Lyons still draws many visitors year round because of its proximity to many hiking and mountain biking trails, Rocky Mountain National Park and countless acres of natural beauty.
When rain and flooding began in the early morning of September 12, 2013, 26,000 cubic feet per second of water created a 400+ foot gash through Lyons, ripping apart water distribution, sewer collection, electric, gas and communication lines as well as inundating our waste water treatment plant. Roads and bridges were destroyed cutting off access and isolating the town. Over 200 homes were damaged and most residents were evacuated.
This flood destroyed both the Bohn Park and Meadow Park recreation areas, which are major tourist attractions of the town. HIgh priority is being given to reconstruction and improvements that residents and visitors alike will enjoy. However, recovery from this major disaster is still ongoing and its effects will be evident for many years to come.
For more information on the history of Lyons, please visit the local Lyons Redstone Museum on the corner of 4th Avenue and HIgh Street.
Sources: Wikipedia, Town of Lyons, Lyons Redstone Museum.
was established by the Lyons Historical Society in 1980, and on April 29, 1980 the district was officially designated as a National Historic District by the Colorado Historical Society and the United States Department of the Interior. The District is comprised of 15 sandstone buildings in the Lyons area, all of which were built between 1880 and 1917. Tour maps and historical information are available at the Lyons Redstone Museum, the Lyons Visitor Center, and throughout town at various businesses.
Lyons Redstone Museum
4th Avenue & High Street
Open: June - September
Sunday: 12:30pm - 4:30pm