In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson sent Lieutenant Zebulon Pike with 21 men to explore the South Park Area. After a failed attempt at climbing what is now called Pikes Peak, Lt. Pike entered South Park just east of where Eleven Mile Reservoir now lies, and then advanced west. He then climbed an elevation which was probably Spinney Mountain. Pike’s 1806 journal provides the first clear evidence of Anglo-European influence in the area. However, it took another 50 years before that influence made an impact.
Beneath the water of Eleven Mile Reservoir lies the town site of Howbert, which was founded by B.R. Dell in 1887. The town was named for Colorado Midland Railway organizer Irving Howbert and soon boasted its own railroad station, mercantile, post office, and telegraph office. Timber cutting played an important role in the early success of the town, but ranching soon took precedence and the town’s population increased to about 100 with 20 buildings. In the 1920s, the Denver Water Board began purchasing land above Eleven Mile Canyon and what remained of Howbert was slated for inundation along with 12 nearby ranches.
The school board was able to move the Howbert School before the reservoir’s dam was completed in 1932, but today the only reminder of the former town is the campground named in its honor directly across the lake from the 11 Mile General Store.