The Red Elephant Mines, which were discovered in 1876, lead to the beginnings of the town which was founded by John Coburn, also credited with founding Downieville. Mr. Coburn originally called the town Free America. John came to the area from the East, settled in the area, and designed the town as a place where families could be comfortable raising children. Although an Irishman, Mr. Coburn abstained from the use of alcohol and wanted to create a community which would be alcohol free. When the railroad came through the area and the site for the depot was selected, it just happened to be the upper portion of Free America and was owned by John Coburn’s least favorite son-in-law, Alex Lawson. Free America became known as Lawson.
View of Lawson, Clear Creek County, Colorado,In 1893, Lawson had almost 300 registered voters. But when the bottom fell out of the silver market, there was little or no work and the population fell. Few businesses survived. The Lawson school consolidated with the county in 1959. The construction of I-70 in the 1960’s gobbled up much of the north side of Lawson. The oldest and longest surviving business, the W.E. Anderson General Store closed its doors in the mid-1960’s.
New homes have sprung up, creating a pleasant place to raise children. In 2010, the Lawson Water Park opened their doors, adding to the tourist attractions in the area.
Lawson Whitewater Park
Great for recreational canoeing, kayaking, and splashing fun! The Lawson Whitewater Park was made possible by Clear Creek County Open Space partnering with the Clear Creek Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC), the Clear Creek Metropolitan Recreation District (CCRMD), and others who worked to improve and develop the site in order to take full advantage of the various activities in this area.
The Lawson Whitewater Park has several in stream structures and the original Lawson Hole. The Lawson Whitewater Park is used for a rafting put in as well as kayaking and fishing. The park includes over 400 feet of trails, terracing and public access points. There is parking, public restrooms and a changing area.
From Denver, take I-70 west to exit 234 onto County Road 308. At the stop sign continue west on County Road 308 to Alvarado Road where you will take a left. Cross over the bridge, travel about 400 feet and the Whitewater Park is on the right. (Note: Lawson White water Park is just about one mile off the interstate.)
Things to Remember
Park closes one hour after sunset and reopens one hour after sunrise. No fires, no camping and no overnight parking allowed. No cutting or removing of trees. Dogs must be on leash and please clean up after your dog. Dispose of trash properly as this is bear and mountain lion habitat. Users assume all liability for all risks associated with park activities. Helmets and personal flotation devices recommended. Conditions can change quickly. Know your abilities and your limits. Stay in the area of the park as obstructions to navigation exist downstream. No lifeguard on duty.