Morrison is most famous for being the home of the Red Rocks Amphitheater. This venue with significant historical relevance to the Native American community, it is also one of the most popular music venues for top musical groups from all over the world. The unique acoustics and scenery make this a very special landmark.
Some of the most popular residential communities are Willow Springs, Willowbrook, Indian Hills, The Homestead and the Tiny Town area. And is the gateway to Highway 285 which goes to the Mountain communities of Conifer, Fairplay and Leadville.
This small foothills settlement is named after George Morrison (April 16, 1822 – June 11, 1895), a builder and businessman who left a mark not only on the town that now bears his name, but on the history of the entire area. A stonemason who immigrated to the Mt. Vernon area in 1859, he helped found the town of Mt. Vernon and built the Mt. Vernon House, seat of the territorial government under Robert Steele, and an important stop for travelers on the Mt. Vernon Toll Road from Denver to the goldfields of the Rocky Mountains. He became a U.S. citizen on May 22, 1862. George Morrison later moved south to Bear Creek, where he founded the Morrison Stone, Lime, and Town Co., and in 1874 platted the town that became known as Morrison, or briefly as Mt. Morrison. With Gov. John Evans, he was instrumental in bringing the Denver, South Park, and Pacific Railroad to Morrison in 1874.
As a quarryman, Morrison developed the building stone and other industrial stone (lime, gypsum) of the Morrison/Mt. Vernon area, bringing fame to the region for its high-quality dimension stone. Two of the three stone buildings he built in Morrison, as well as the Mt. Vernon House further north, are still standing; all three surviving buildings are recognized historic sites (National Register of Historic Places, 1976). Before its demolition in 1982, the original Evergreen Hotel, built by George Morrison in 1874, served as the first home of Sacred Heart College (now Regis University), and later as the Mt. Morrison Casino, where John Brisben Walker entertained many of the dignitaries he brought to the foothills as part of his promotional enterprises. The Morrison Schoolhouse he built served the town’s educational needs from its construction in 1875 until 1955, and stands today as a private residence. The Cliff House, built as the Morrison family home in 1873, now provides guest lodging.
These landmarks represent a distinctive style of construction and are enduring monuments to George Morrison’s contributions to Jefferson County’s history. Stone for these structures was quarried in his “red sandstone quarry” at the end of the Dakota Hogback near Morrison. Building stone was also shipped to Denver, where it now comprises parts of the Brown Palace Hotel, Union Station, and “many of Denver’s early day mansions”.
Mount Morrison behind Red Rocks Park is also named after George Morrison. In the late 1800s, an important regional geologic layer of Late Jurassic age, the Morrison Formation, was named after the town of Morrison, and is today famous as the first discovery site of three 150-million-year-old dinosaurs, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and the Colorado state fossil, Stegosaurus. The Morrison Formation covers parts of thirteen western states and has yielded much of our understanding of the extinct animals that lived in the West so long ago.
In 1877, the holotypic remains of the dinosaurs Stegosaurus armatus and Apatosaurus ajax were discovered near Morrison by Arthur Lakes. The majority of these fossils were shipped to Othniel Charles Marsh at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut. These finds from the Morrison area figured in the 19th century “Bone Wars” between rival paleontologists Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope. In 1896, the Late Jurassic section of sedimentary rock excavated by Lakes was formally named the Morrison Formation for the town near the prominent outcrops where it was described (Eldridge, 1896). In 1944, a type locality was designated at the roadcut along the north side of W. Alameda Parkway, 2 miles (3 km) north of Morrison, in SE/4 sec. 23, T. 4 S., R. 70 W. (Waldschmidt and LeRoy, 1944).
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