Rifle Day Trips
Cultural Heritage in Rifle
The name “Rifle Creek” appears in V. F. Hayden’s geological and geographical survey of the Territories in 1876—the same year Colorado gained statehood. A local, and favorite story, of how the town was named has it that a traveler left his rifle leaning against a tree by the creek running through the area and made a map of where to find it at a later date.
With the arrival of the railroad in 1889, Rifle prospered as a booming cattle town necessitating the building of stockyards at the rail yard. Stockmen raising sheep in the same area as cattle brought about the Book Cliffs Range War—and led to a grazing act, which permanently divided and defined grazing areas for sheep and cattle.
Today, the Rifle area continues its ranching tradition as well as oil and gas exploration and extraction which began in the early 1900s.
Take the Tour
1. United Methodist Presbyterian
Rifle founder Abram Maxfield donated the land for this church built in 1906 for $6,000. Church members quarried and hauled the foundation stone locally. The church’s 2400-pound bell sounded curfew, fire alarms, and flood warnings. Today the church is still vital in the community as a sponsor of civic activities.
2. Rifle Heritage Center
School teacher Emolyn Kangston and the Rifle Creek Homemaker’s Club started this museum in the Austin School House (now at Silt Historical Park). The museum contents were moved to Rifle’s Old City Hall in the 1980s. The museum now features work from early western Colorado photographers, Ola and Fred Garrison.
3. Ute Theater / Ute Events Center
This theater, designed by Don Monson, an Olympic U.S. Nordic ski champion and a 1939 Lake Placid Olympic competitor, opened in 1948. Monson’s mother-in-law, Mary Lind, designed the six illuminated pictures in the auditorium. Renovated in 2013, the Center now offers performing arts venues and events.
4.Rifle Post Office
Location:330 Railroad Avenue
The post office was a vital connection for Rifle residents from the earliest settlement. The colonial style of architecture is unique in western Colorado and is essentially in original condition. One of 408 post offices constructed by the Public Works Administration for 1933 and 1939, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dominating downtown, this stone building represents early growth in Rifle and the impact of the McLearn family. The family moved to Rifle from Nova Scotia in 1892 and built the E. McLearn Mercantile Co., which sold furniture, dry goods, hardware, groceries, lumber, and farm implements.
Businessman Andy Wiseman built this first-class hotel in 1902 to meet the needs of Rifle’s rapid growth and to house his new bride. It almost burned down in the fire of 1902, but thanks to the heroic efforts of a 75-man water-bucket brigade, the hotel was among the few buildings spared.