30 May DR. PATRICK’S POSTCARD ROADSIDE: Overland Park
Denver, Colorado’s Overland Park was the king of the municipal campgrounds established during the early 20th century’s “automobiling” craze, a nationwide fascination with the new-found freedom of the automobile that put millions on the road looking for places to camp-out.
Booster organizations lured these auto tourists this way and that with privately promoted auto trails like the Lincoln Highway, Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway and Yellowstone Trail. Towns along the way encouraged their stay by providing campgrounds for a nominal fee or in some cases for free. Overland Park opened in 1922 on an old racetrack built along the South Platte River just south of downtown Denver. The park offered 160 acres of camp space, café, gas station, grocery and laundry facilities, and in 1925 attracted near 80,000 automobilists. The auto-camping craze faded by the end of the 1920s as better roadside lodgings became more available, and the municipal camps closed with the onset of the Great Depression as they increasingly became the abode of out-of-work transients. Denver’s Overland Park was converted into a golf course in 1932.