Saturday, March 22, 2008

Highlandlake, Colorado

Eight miles north of Longmont and one mile to the east, is an old buffalo watering hole called Highland Lake, and the small unincorporated community that still remains in the area. In the 1870s it became popular for Longmont citizens to drive their buggies up to the lake for weekend camping, fishing, and picnicking.

As mentioned here, Highland Lake was named by pioneer and homesteader Loren Mead after the lake in Sir Walter Scott's narrative poem, The Lady of the Lake. He also named his first son, Malcolm, after a character in the poem. Today, Highland Lake is still owned by the Mead family:

Eventually a town formed in the area, called Highlandlake, which became well-known for supplying fresh milk and eggs, and it became large enough (population 200) to have a school and its own community column in the Longmont Ledger newspaper. A church was formed in 1880, with meetings held in individuals' homes followed by a potluck dinner. In 1894, the church hired a female pastor, Rev. Mary G. Bumstead from Roxbury (Boston area), Massachussetts. Mary Bumstead left Boston at age 25 for South Africa where she spent seven years as a teacher in the Huguenot Seminary For Girls (Wellington, Cape Colony). She was forced to leave that position for health (tuberculosis) reasons and returned back to Massachusetts. Still not getting her health back, she came west to Longmont where her condition improved with the arid climate, and accepted the pastor position at the Highlandlake church. It was during her time (1896) that a church was built across the lake, which still stands today:

I haven't seen the movie but this church is featured in Bruce Willis' Die Hard 2.

The cornerstone, laid in May 1986:

The stained glass window was a gift from the Naugatuck Connecticut YMCA:

Sadly, Reverend Bumstead died two years later in Denver on March 24, 1898, just ten days after getting married to Forbes Coates. She is buried in the Highland Lake pioneer cemetery, just to the west of the community. Two excellent biographies of Reverend Mary Bumstead are here and here.

What happened to Highlandlake?

A railroad track, built by the Great Western Sugar Company in the early 1900s bypassed Highlandlake a few miles to the southeast, where the town of Mead (named after an important Highlandlake family) was eventually formed. Many Highlandlake residents moved to Mead, wanting to participate and live in a railroad town, and all of the benefits that went with that.

Today, we have the great preservation group Historic Highlandlake and their web site is full of photos, newspaper archives, and history. The 87th reunion and community gathering is scheduled for June 8, 2008.

A windswept field near Highlandlake, looking west to the mountains:

Some of the information written here was from the book "Ghosts of the Colorado Plains" by Perry Eberhart, 1986.

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