Jackass Hill

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Prince Street, which for years terminated at Jackass Hill Road, was the first beast of burden honored by having a Littleton street named for him. Richard S. Little's favorite horse, Prince, was thus recognized by the founder of the city in 1872. Then came 1917-18 when some enterprising man, thinking to corner the market on mules during World War I, tried to secure monopoly prices from the Army. The entrepreneur bought up American and Mexican mules by the score and prepared to make his fortune. But Germany surrendered on November 9, 1918 and the Army refused to buy.

Jackass Hill 1957 looking East
Looking east on Jackass Hill, 1957.

The mule owner, so goes the legend, pastured his animals near the lane leading from Prince St. west to Santa Fe. "The story I have always heard is that the mules were left there to starve and the (hill and) road was named for them," said Mr. Lyman Ditson, who had lived near the Prince and Jackass Hill corner for 36 years.

The Rev. Donald Cox was pastor of the Littleton Baptist Church, which owned 16.7 acres on the north side of Jackass and west of Prince. "When I told people we were going to build a church there I got a lot of hee-haws," the minister said. "I reminded the jokers that the most important Prince of Peace rode into Jerusalem on a jackass on Palm Sunday."

Another local resident, Mrs. T.L. Carson, has lived near Jackass Hill since 1949, and has heard no other explanation except that offered by Mr. Ditson.

In 1984, when the Mineral Avenue underpass was completed, Jackass Hill Road was barricaded at the Rio Grande and Santa Fe railroad crossing, and Prince St. was extended south to Mineral. But on March 22, 1985, the Littleton City Council redesignated this portion of street as South Jackass Hill Road, in order to preserve an important bit of the city's history.

The old and now isolated Jackass Hill Road became a quiet place for young men to park with their girls and look over the lovely South Platte valley. Mischievous youths also came for the purpose of stealing the street signs, "Jackass Hill Road," as souvenirs.

In the summer of 1987, a group of Littleton city employees formed the Jackass Hill Ski Patrol to march in the Western Welcome Week grand parade. Sporting tee-shirts with a cartoon jackass and the theme, "Catch the Spirit--Ski Jackass Hill," and carrying Jackass Hill street signs and ski poles and accompanied by a live jackass, they captured the hearts of parade watchers and officials, winning the first place trophy.

 Jackass Hill 2015
Jackass Hill Park, 2015.  Photo by Amelia Martinez.

Jackass Hill was rezoned for housing in 1993-94. In addition to approximately 100 homes on the site, a 17-acre open space/park is located there.  The fact that there are so few homes on the Hill is the result of an agreement between the neighbors and the developer that only one home per acre is permitted.

Bibliography

Littleton Museum. Photographic Archives.

____. Vertical File: "Jackass Hill Ski Patrol".

____. Vertical File: "Streets: Jackass Road".

Littleton Independent. Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888- .

Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum unless otherwise noted. To order copies, contact the museum at 303-795-3950.

 

Compiled by Pat Massengill

Updated May 2017