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Before Colorado City
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Greenhorn Mountain was named for a Comanche war chief, Cuerno Verde (translated from Spanish to Greenhorn). This young chieftain earned his name by being bold and daring, like a young bull elk when its antlers are still green. Chief Cuerno Verde was killed near the peak in 1779, by Juan Bautista de Anza, Spanish governor of New Mexico, during a well-documented march into Comanche territory.

The creek flowing through Rye and along Highway 165, numerous roads and the valley itself, all bear Cuerno Verde’s name. He and Juan Bautista de Anza were inter-twined for only a few days and yet their story has become legendary and the spots where they made history are as beautiful as they are significant.

Long before Alexander “Zan” Hicklin arrived in the Greenhorn Valley with his young wife, Estefana, and their infant son, Alexander Jr. in the fall of 1859, there were small settlements along Greenhorn Creek

Archibald Metcalf, Bill New and Marcelino Baca used the area near the crossing of the Taos Trail with Greenhorn Creek as a hunting camp for several seasons in the early 1840’s. In 1845 John Brown opened a store somewhere near Greenhorn Creek, although the location has not been located definitively.

In January of 1847, George Ruxton, an English Adventurer wrote a description of the Greenhorn settlement: “on a bluff overlooking the stream I had the satisfaction of seeing two or three Indian lodges and one adobe hovel of a more aspiring order.”

Later in 1847, John Albert arrived at what he called a small settlement on Greenhorn Creek after “a long hard ride from Taos. Before collapsing he whispered of the murder of Governor Bent and Lee, the Indian uprising and of being the only survivor of the massacre of Turley’s mill.”

When gold was discovered in California most of the earliest settlers in the Greenhorn Valley joined the Gold Rush west. When the Hicklins arrived to claim their portion of the Cornelio Vigil and Ceran St. Vrain Land Grant the Valley was mostly deserted.

Once the Hicklins settled in the Valley, the area around their home became known as the Hicklin Settlement and although early maps show the settlement of Greenhorn in various spots, that name eventually became associated with George Sears’ settlement five miles to the south and later became the Fossceco’s Shady Greenhorn.

After the Civil War, families began heading west lured by the Homestead Act. In December of 1871, the Pueblo Chieftain reported 35 families had settled in the Greenhorn Valley.

Please see the Greenhorn Valley View website for more information about Cuerno Verde, the Hicklin family, and two other early settlers in the Colorado City area: Henry T. Austin and John Williams.

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The Greenhorn Valley View is a weekly newspaper serving the communities of the Greenhorn Valley in Southern Colorado,
including Colorado City, Rye, San Isabel, Beulah and Hatchet Ranch.

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