Camp George West
Located three miles east of the city of Golden in Jefferson County, Camp George West was founded to serve as the Colorado National Guard's permanent ride for range and training facility. Camp George West, located near the junction of Colfax Avenue and I-70 (three miles east of the City of Golden), was founded in 1903 as the Colorado National Guard's (CNG) permanent rifle range and training facility.
Named after the founder of the "Golden Transcript" newspaper, the camp includes one of the largest collections of public works architecture in the United States. Many of its native stone buildings were constructed by federal work relief builders during the 1930's. On February 11th, 1993, Camp George West was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historical district. Per state statute, the treatment of any state owned historical property must maintain its historical integrity. Buildings were added to the site as it grew. Building 120, which houses the Colorado Office of Emergency Management (COEM), was built in the 1960's.
The property defined as Camp George West was acquired over a period of time from 1903 to 1953. The maximum land holdings reached 750.65 acres between 1924-1938. The initial 75.38 acres were purchased in 1903 as a state rifle range. The property was desirable because of its proximity to Denver, existence of an operating target range in the same area, accessed by South Golden Road and a narrow gauge interurban trolley line, and the absence of residential development. Additional properties were acquired as they became available and as operations at the camp increased. In 1933-1934, the state began to reevaluate its interest in Camp George West as an appropriate site for continue rifle infield maneuvers. Given its relatively small size, the difficulty of expanding because of topography, and the increase of surrounding residential development, the camp was becoming inadequate for its intended use. The first reduction in the physical size of Camp George West appeared in 1938, when 180 acres, including a rock quarry, were conveyed to the City and County of Denver. Activities at the camp continue to decline once it was determined that it was impractical to convert the buildings to year-round use.
Since 1938, several other land sales and/or leases have taken place with the most significant land transferred occurring in 1981 when 300 acres were conveyed to the federal government. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (formerly SERI), which has been one of the tenants on the site, purchased the land that houses their facilities, and Jefferson County purchased a large portion on the north side. These land sales have completely removed half of the historic area of the camp from state control. The facilities and the role accessed for the Department of Energy along Denver West Parkway form a barrier between the remaining historic resources in the northern portion of the property (the amphitheater, footbridge, ammunition igloo, and quarry structures) and historical resources to the South. The present state land holdings at Camp George West include 373.025 acres concentrated on the southern portion of the original site.
Currently, the site occupies approximately 100 acres. Multiple users occupy the property, including the COEM, Colorado Department of Transportation, and Colorado Correctional Center at Golden. The CNG retains storage, maintenance and classroom training facilities on the site. As the CNG continues to move its operations to other facilities, other State offices have requested space on the site.
In 1959, the Colorado State Reformatory began two honor camps , one at Switzer Lake near Delta, Colorado and the other at Fort Logan Mental Health Center in Denver, Colorado. The State Reformatory at Fort Logan was later moved to Buckley Field in Aurora, Colorado in 1964. Its mission was to support the Colorado State Patrol Academy , provide offender labor to the Air National Guard , and to establish a mobile forestry unit. The forestry unit was in operation during 1965-1966 at Rio Blanco Reservoir near Craig , Colorado. In July of 1967, the Buckley Field on the camp was transferred from under the State Reformatory to the director of the State Penitentiary. The Colorado state patrol and Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy move from Buckley Field in 1969 to their new location at Camp George West. The Buckley field Honor Camp then split, with part of it remaining at Buckley Field, and the other part moving to Camp George West to provide offender labor to the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy, and National Guard. The remaining unit at Buckley Field shut down in 1970. All remaining programs were then shifted over to Camp George West.
Today, the camp is utilized as a multipurpose facility which houses the functions of several other state government agencies , while maintaining storage, maintenance, and classroom training activities for the Colorado National Guard. As the Department of Military Affairs (National Guard) begins the long-term process of relocating to other existing and new facilities, the State of Colorado has received numerous request for the reuse of the facility.
Presently, Colorado Correctional Center is operating at capacity (150 offenders) under state mandate of Colorado State Statute. The National Guard is in the process of vacating spaces at Camp George West over the next two years. When this occurs, the remaining tenants will be Correctional Industries, Colorado Correctional Center, Colorado State Patrol, and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) held a meeting 16 September 1998 to inform the community surrounding NREL about a land exchange involving DOE, Jefferson County and the state of Colorado. The property to be exchanged involves the Camp George West site which borders NREL's main campus in Golden. DOE officials will discuss long-range plans for use of the property the department will acquire and plans for the existing facilities and experiments now on top of the mountain. The western portion of the mesa top is now the site for several solar experiments and a solar radiation measurement facility.
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