History of Lyons

A Brief History of Lyons
By Lyons Historical Society –"Lyons: The Town Below The Cliff"

In the shadow of Longs Peak all nestled in "as snug as a bug in a rug", lies the town of Lyons, Colorado. It is the town below the cliff. "The Double Gateway to the Rockies" – the land of the Lyons sandstone, truly in "Red Rimrock Country".

At an elevation of 5,374 feet, about 1,915 people call it home.

Native Americans
The early history of Lyons tells us that Native Americans were the first settlers. Different tribes wandered in and out of the valley. Shoshones, Pawnees, Cheyenne's and the Crow Indians hunted through the area, but the Ute and Arapaho tribes lived here.

White Settlers
As early as 1861, the first white settler came to stay, and others soon followed. Some were disappointed gold seekers and others came to better their health in good old Colorado sunshine.

The United States government had the boundary line to range 71 surveyed in 1870, and range 72 was surveyed in 1874. E.S. Lyon and his wife, Adeline, came to this area in 1880, from Putnam, Connecticut, following the advice of Mr. Lyon's doctor. In 1882, the town was platted and named after E.S. Lyon, and became incorporated in 1891. It didn't take long to discover the potential of the sandstone, and soon quarries were a booming business.

In 1884, the Denver, Utah and Pacific Railroad built a narrow gauge track into Lyons, to ship the sandstone as far east as Chicago and New York. The sandstone shipments were used on their brownstone houses. Sandstone was also used as rubble for railroad ballast, flagstone for sidewalks, and curbs and gutters. Many of the beautiful buildings on the Colorado University at Boulder campus are built with Lyons sandstone, as well as many other buildings around the country.

Over the hogback to the east of Lyons, more quarries developed, to eventually be known as Beach Hill and Noland. The town of Noland had a history all its own, until concrete hit the scene. Today, very little remains of this one-time-jumping community. But in its heyday, it was serviced by the Lyons Tower Stone Railroad, Stone Mountain Railroad, Noland Land, and Transfer railroad – all the same railroad.

The Union Pacific built the wide gauge railroad into Lyons. The Burlington and Missouri, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and the Burlington Railroads have served the Lyons area. At one time, Lyons was an important railhead, for not only shipping sandstone, but also for shipping gold ore. The Smuggler and Golden Age Mines up the South St. Vrain canyon were successful producers of their day.

Today, the town is serviced by the Burlington Northern Railroad. Stone and rock is still shipped by rail.z

Martin Marietta Cement Western Division
The largest industry in the area is the Martin Marietta Cement Western Division (now CEMEX), just east of Lyons. Cattle raising and farming remain prevalent in the area, as well.

Lyons claims the title of "The Double Gateway to the Rockies," as it is the junction of the North St. Vrain Highway 36-66 and the South St. Vrain Highway 7 – both of which lead to Estes Park. The highways are named after the rivers that created the canyons: Ceran St. Vrain, an early day trader.

Many businesses continue to thrive in the area. Today, Lyons is noted for its antique shops that draw people from miles away, to collect a part of the past.

Lyons was designated a Centennial-Bicentennial Community on July 4, 1975; the restoration of the Depot (built in 1885) was our Bicentennial project.