Evergreen explained for neophytes, and everybody else

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By Vicky Gits

A photographic feast with practical info on the side, "80439: A User's Guide to Evergreen," is an irreverent collection of things that make our mountain community a wacky and wonderful place to live.


Evergreen resident Steve Knapp, an irreverent man in his own right and a former staff writer for the Canyon Courier, has written a softback guidebook to Evergreen that started out to be for newcomers and then grew into something for everybody.

Knapp is responsible for most of the visuals, along with many worthy contributions from local photographers Ellen Nelson, Stephanie Gillen and Pat Callahan. His love for the offbeat elements of life in the mountains gives the book a wealth of personality.

"It's a fun, easy, colorful guide to Evergreen. It's one-stop shopping for what's fun and great about Evergreen," said Knapp, who independently published "80439" a few months ago.

"I didn't want any white pages. I wanted no white spaces and tons of pictures. It's not work to read. You can put it down and pick it up. It's not supposed to be studying," Knapp said.

Some area Realtors are giving away the book to people who are house-hunting in the area. It is also available at the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce and Hiwan Homestead Museum, and at local businesses such as Evergreen Crafters, Hearthfire Books, Highland Haven Creekside Inn, Shadow Mountain Gallery and Mountain Books in Aspen Park. The cover price is $15.

Knapp celebrates the unique, the traditional and the weird — anything that defines the character of the scenic territory between El Rancho and Marshdale on Highways 74 and 73 that calls itself Evergreen without being an incorporated town.

An eye for the unusual

Only someone with a lifelong familiarity would be able to come up with some of the oddball facts that interest Knapp, who moved here in 1969. He graduated from Evergreen High School in 1982, took 21 years to get a bachelor's degree in history, and has a transcript that includes six colleges. He is a freelance writer for the Canyon Courier and City and Mountain Views and is working on a book on Clear Creek County. 

Knapp is an avid hiker who has trekked almost every trail within 50 miles of Evergreen Lake. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he spent five winters working on the tarmac at the Anchorage Airport for a helicopter company.

In Knapp’s book, one can find the average flows in cubic feet per second in Bear Creek; a description of the Evergreen Metro District, or "five districts in one"; the number of storage reservoirs (10); the origins of Marshdale; who was Hazel Hammer; and an analysis of the population (40,000) of ZIP code 80439.

By publishing the 80-page compendium himself, Knapp was able to keep costs down and add color to every page, which he designed and laid out after teaching himself how to use the software. "The first 20 pages took four months," he said.

He particularly wanted a substantial cover, which is weighty enough to feel like a book instead of a magazine.

Although it's not a comprehensive history, "80439: A User's Guide" contains a lighthearted history of Evergreen starting with the arrival of Thomas Bergen in Bergen Park in 1859.

Slices of the past

Historical tidbits are worked into various chapters throughout the book, in honor of the fact that Evergreen is both a modern suburb of a major city and also a mountain town with a pioneer history.

Knapp gives a nod to the community's contemporary establishments, such as two elaborate recreation centers, the ball fields, a spacious public library, county government center, sheriff's office, imposing fire-administration building, the Lake House, the busy arts center (Center for the Arts Evergreen), Center/Stage Theatre and the Seniors’ Resource Center, among others.

Ample attention is devoted to Evergreen's many outdoor attractions, such as Denver Mountain Parks, Jefferson County Open Space, Evergreen Lake Park, the Pioneer Trail and the trail to Maxwell Falls.

One chapter covers Evergreen's prolific party schedule, which starts with New Year's Eve's Skate the Lake, followed by Evergreen Lake Presents, the Evergreen Rodeo and Parade, the July 4 Evergreen Music Festival, Summerfest Arts Festival, Jazz Festival, Big Chili Cook-off, Oktoberfest and Holiday Walk.

For readers interested in getting involved in the community, most of Evergreen's abundant major nonprofit organizations, such as the Alpine Rescue Team and Blue Spruce Habitat for Humanity, are briefed here as well. 

One thing Knapp is most proud of is the map on which every neighborhood, no matter how obscure, is identified, which was a painstaking and time-consuming task.

"80439: A User's Guide to Evergreen Colorado"

By Steve Knapp of Evergreen

80 pages; $15 

Printing by Publication Printers Corp. of Denver

Available at

Evergreen Crafters

Hearthfire Books

Highland Haven Creekside Inn

Shadow Mountain Gallery

Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce

Hiwan Homestead Museum

Mountain Books in Aspen Park