Magic Mountain Archaeological Site – Colorado

GOLDEN, CO — Nestled in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains along Apex/Lena Gulch in Golden lies Magic Mountain, one of the most significant archaeological sites along Colorado’s Front Range. During two separate digging sessions in the summer of 2018, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Paleocultural Research Group and the public uncovered some of the vast history of the area.

Nestled in the foothills along Lena Gulch in Golden, CO, Magic Mountain is proclaimed to be one of the most important archaeological sites on Colorado’s Front Range. #DigMagic

Magic Mountain was once a semi-permanent gathering place and seasonal camp for hunter and gatherer communities. Under the ground lies evidence of habitation by Paleo-Indians showing use of ceramics, stone structures and hearths. The oldest artifacts thus far found at the site are 7000 years old (5000 BCE) and it was used up until at least 1000 CE.

Nestled in the foothills along Lena Gulch in Golden, CO, Magic Mountain is proclaimed to be one of the most important archaeological sites on Colorado’s Front Range. #DigMagic

During the 2018 dig season, 71 volunteers helped lead public tours and supported the excavation. 14 teen interns through Teen Science Scholars and Native American Teen Programming participated in the dig. There was a total of 1,923 visitors through public tours (there were 945 in 2017). 85 children and teens were served through programs from Sun Valley, Boys & Girls Club and Teens Inc.

The focus the 2018 season was the Early Ceramic Period (200–1000 CE). There was a myriad of artifacts found including: projectile points, flakes from tool making activities as well as the addition of larger cooking ovens. The ovens were left in position and reburied on site. The artifacts are being processed and will eventually be added to the collections at the DMNS.

The site got its name, Magic Mountain, in the 1950s when investors built a family entertainment theme park for the residents of the Denver area. It was a Disney-like amusement park only open for two years during the summers of 1959 and 1960. Parts of the park morphed into Heritage Square Amusement Park in 1971 and eventually closed permanently on Saturday June 30th, 2018.

Magic Mountain

The Archaeological Periods represented at Magic Mountain Site:

Early Archaic Period (6650 BCE-3000 BCE)
Middle Archaic Period (3000 BCE-1500 BCE)
Late Archaic Period (1500 BCE-200 CE)
Early Ceramic Period (200-1000 CE)

Video

#DigMagic
Dr Michele Koons, Curator of Archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, works at Magic Mountain

River Canyon Trace sculpture

“River Canyon Trace,” a sculpture by Bailey, Colorado artists Alice Pierson, ceramic artist, and Anne Valenti, sculptor, was dedicated for permanent display at the Bailey Public Library in Bailey, Colorado on February 4, 2017.

The artwork was created in part with the help of a grant provided by Elsewhence.

The dedication was a great event that helped in building formal relationships with the Bailey community and community members. It also formally recognized Elsewhence art and the whole art grant process.

“River Canyon Trace” is a sculptural homage to the geological wonders, flora and fauna of the surrounding Bailey, Crow Hill and Platte River Canyon in Colorado. The mixed media sculpture consists of a 20-inch diameter glazed and fired medallion supported by a steel brace with a 375 pound pyramidal base of stacked native sandstone.

River Canyon Trace

l to r: David Wellhauser, Rex Alford, Alice Pierson, Anne Valenti, DM, Bonnie Bickel

It was completed September 15, 2015 and donated to Elsewhence. It was then donated to the Bailey Public Library on December 10, 2016 and dedicated for permanent display on February 4, 2017.

Rex and Marshall Alford also helped with welding and shaping of the piece.

archaeological site

Excited to tour Magic Mountain, one of the most significant archaeological sites along Colorado’s Front Range from the Early Ceramic Period (200–1000 CE). Research shows that hunter-gatherers camped in the area as long as 7,000 years ago.

Summer 2018 begins

I inaugurated summer this year by a relaxing and refreshing journey to Burning Bear. It was quiet. It was restful. It was the best camping experience I have ever had.

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360 degree video: