The summer of 1926 featured a fierce battle between Longmont and Boulder over the tourist trade.
That summer, the route of the future Highway 287 north from Lafayette was being firmed up by Colorado transportation officials, who wanted to change the previous Lincoln Highway route out of Lafayette. At the time, the Lincoln Highway followed today’s 111th Avenue next to the Lafayette Cemetery. In 1913, the 111th route was designated a part of the transcontinental Lincoln Highway, but all segments of the Colorado loop were delisted in 1915 by the Lincoln Highway Association. For several decades after that, locals still referred to the road as the Lincoln Highway.
One mile north of 111th and Baseline, the intersection of Arapahoe and 111th, was known as Ten Mile Corner. The reference was distance to Longmont, not Boulder. Four miles north of that intersection, accessed via the notorious “Dead Man’s Curve,” was Six Mile Corner at Lookout Road and 109th. A mile north of that (and five miles north of Ten Mile Corner and five miles south of Longmont) was Five Mile Corner, now the intersection of Highway 52 and Highway 287.
The only highway access from Denver to Boulder at the time went through Ten Mile Corner, the intersection of Arapahoe Road and 111th. Because all traffic headed to Rocky Mountain National Park and northern Colorado also went through the intersection, Ten Mile Corner was a busy one. So much so that the Boulder Chamber of Commerce erected a small tourist hut to direct drivers westward on Arapahoe Road. They claimed it was the best route to Estes Park via Boulder.
In response to the tourist hut, the Longmont Chamber of Commerce announced in the July 10, 1926, Longmont Daily Times that it intended to build a 10-foot-tall by 40-foot-wide road map sign at Ten Mile Corner. Their rather large road map would direct drivers north to Estes Park via Longmont, not Boulder.
A week later, on July 17, the Daily Times reported that the Boulder tourist hut at Ten Mile Corner had burned to the ground. Troublemakers from Longmont were initially suspected, but Boulder citizens came forward and said they themselves burned it down “out of a spirit of fairness to other northern Colorado cities.”
The Daily Times stated in the July 17 report that they hoped the removal of the shed “will be termed a closed incident and that in the future all will confine themselves to only fair and legitimate methods when making a bid for the tourist and his business.”
The large Longmont road map billboard was never built.
In 1927 the route of the old Lincoln Highway was changed to go west on Baseline Road out of Lafayette to the current location of Highway 287 (then called Highway 87). It then went straight north into Longmont.
With goal of diverting the tourist trade to Boulder, sometime in 1927 the name “Nine Mile Corner” was assigned to the completed intersection of Highway 287 and Arapahoe Road. Although Nine Mile Corner was only a 1/2 mile west of Ten Mile Corner, Nine Mile Corner referenced the distance to downtown Boulder.
And in late 1927 and early 1928, Boulder got the final say in directing the tourist trade to Estes Park. The Boulder Lions Club installed two large stone memorial pillars (in remembrance of Would War I) at Nine Mile Corner. A “Y” intersection built at the same time made it difficult to go any direction other than east on Arapahoe, accommodated by the placement of a large cannon in the middle of the “Y” — which was essentially the middle of Highway 287. The pillars still flank Arapahoe Road today.
Sources: Fort Collins Courier, May 24, 1913; Estes Park Trail Gazette, Jan. 8, 1926; Lafayette Leader, Jan. 15, 1926; Longmont Daily Times, Jan. 23, March 3, June 11, July 10, July 17, 1926, and Jan. 18, 1927.