History & Culture


History and Facts

Pike National Forests, San Isabel National Forest, Cimarron National Grassland, Comanche National Grassland

The Pike and San Isabel National Forests are two of eleven National Forests in Colorado and two of 154 within the National Forest System of the United States. The Pike and San Isabel National Forest headquarters is located at 2840 Kachina Drive, Pueblo, Colorado 81008.

 Forest Reserves

In the spring of 1891, Congress was debating the issue of land frauds and, as a result, revised a series of land laws. The amendment shown here:“The Forest Reserve Act of 1891:  SECTION 24—The President of the United States may, from time to time, set apart and reserve, in any state or territory having public land bearing forests, in any part of the public lands, wholly or in part covered with timber or undergrowth, whether of commercial value or not, as public reservations; and the President shall, by public proclamation, declare the establishment of such reservations and the limits thereof” allowed the President to establish forest reserves from public domain land.  The creation of Forest Reserves was an attempt to control the damage caused by unchecked fires, uncontrolled and wasteful timber cutting, and excessive grazing on public domain.  It was as an important step toward protecting the public timber lands from waste and destruction.  The land that eventually became the Pike National Forest was amongst the earliest set aside. Presidential proclamations in 1892 had established the Pikes Peak Timberland Reserve, the Plum Creek Timberland Reserve, and the South Platte Forest Reserve. In 1905 these three reserves were consolidated into what would become the Pike National Forest (PNF).

The Reserves were largely a wasteland. Most of the damage came with the advent of mining and of the railroad -- particularly the Denver, South Park and Pacific--  in the early 1880s. The demand for railroad ties, mining timbers, construction materials, fuel wood, and charcoal unleashed wholesale logging.  In addition, when over-hunted game animals no longer satisfied the appetite for meat, thousands of beef cattle were brought into the area and turned loose on the native grasslands.  Land that had once supported lush forests and abounded in wildlife until the middle of the 19th century was cut to the bone or burned. The last bison herd was seen in Lost Park, in the former Bailey Ranger District, by Ranger Fitzsimmons in 1901.  This document, by the Dept. of Interior US Geological Survey, describes how of all the established reserves, the three that became the PNF were the ones most damaged by fire and timber cutters.

Below are 1892 proclamation maps of the three reserves and a document from the USGS revealing a survey from 1899.

South Platte Forest Reserve Map

Plum Creek Forest Reserve Map

Pikes Peak Forest Reserve Map

 USGS 1899 Survey


History of Pike National Forest” document prepared by Ingwal S. Horgen (1923) 

Table of Contents

History of Pike National Forest



Saga of a Forest Ranger

Bill Kreutzer was the very first United States Forest Ranger ever appointed.This took place on the now Pike National Forest, then a Reserve.

In 1898, Williams Kreutzer became the firstRanger to serve on the Plum Creek Reserve.  Kreutzer established his headquarters at Indian Creek. Kreutzer holds the title of being the first Forest Ranger in the nation to be appointed by the Division of Forestry. 

Mt. Kruetzer at 13,095’ is located on the continental divide between Gunnison County and Chaffee County. It is just North of Tincup Pass between Tincup and Buena Vista, Colorado on the San Isabel National Forest - Salida Ranger District.

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More on the Pike National Forest


Heritage Resources

The Pike & San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron & Comanche National Grasslands is rich not only in natural history, but in human history. Learn more about archaeological activities and the human history of the grassland.

Passport in Time - PIT

Comanche National Grassland PIT Projects