Like many parts of the Colorado Front Range, the first residents of Highlands Ranch were Native Americans. The area was populated by a number of nomadic tribes, including the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. The Stephen Harriman Long Expedition of 1820 entered the Highlands Ranch area at the beginning of July 1820. That was the first documented exploration of the Highlands Ranch area by European or United States explorers.¹
The Colorado Gold Rush brought people to Colorado in droves during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The city of Denver, located approximately 12 miles to the north, grew considerably during this time. However, Highlands Ranch remained a series of farms and ranches, and many residents would visit the town of Littleton, a few miles northward, when they needed to purchase clothing, supplies, or other items.
The Springer land was bought and sold several times throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1937 it was bought by Lawrence C. Phipps, Jr., who used it to raise cattle and hunt fox. After Phipps died in 1976, the land was bought by Marvin Davis, the owner of an oil company.
In 1978, Highlands Ranch was purchased by The Mission Viejo Company. As the suburbs of Denver expanded, the company desired to build a new planned suburb in northern Douglas County. Initial plans were drawn up, many of which are still being realized. These plans laid out several major streets and called for several schools and recreation centers, as well as a town center and public library. Large parcels of land were sold to private housing developers, such as Richmond Homes. As these developments appeared, they often carried their own names, creating a series of segmented neighborhoods throughout Highlands Ranch.
Since that time, the population of Highlands Ranch has grown greatly. In addition to residential and retail development, significant businesses such as Lucent Technologies, and Avaya Communication now call the area home.
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