Gateway Lodge


"Where did Rifle get its name?"

It's usually the first question and the one most often asked by folks coming to Rifle. 

According to Rifle Shots, the Story of Rifle, Colorado compiled by the Rifle Reading Club, the question prompted the beginning of serious attempt to record the history of the "little town" which is the only one in the United States with that name. The first time it was known to have been used in print was in 1876 Hayden Report when A.A. Peace wrote "Rifle Creek" as thought it had been called that from the beginning of time. Since then many stories have grown concerning the name of Rifle.

One story tells of an exploring party that camped one night near the mouth of unknown and unnamed creek. In the morning they had gone a mile or so when one of the members discovered he had left his gun standing against a tree and had to go back to get it; then put this camp down as Rifle Creek.

Another story relates that early cattle herds were rounded up at the south entrance to Ward Gulch where three streams join. Here it was custom for pioneer cowboys to fire their guns to signal their location and their approach and they dubbed the streams East, West and Main Rifle Creeks.

The Colorado Historical Society records the version that in 1880 a group pf soldiers were working on the road placing mile posts between the present sites of Rifle and Meeker and on man left his rifle at camp on the bank of a stream. Upon returning for it, he named the stream Rifle Creek. 

Early residents that were interviewed by members of the Reading Club tell different story in which a party found a rusty rifle standing against a tree near the creek as they were making camp.

Althought no one can tell us for sure, all stories lead to conclusion that Rifle got its name from Rifle leaning against  tree near creek. The rifle display at the Information Center is courtesy of the Rifle Creek Museum (located at the corner of 4th Street and East Avenue in Downtown Rifle)

Article courtesy of North American Directory Svcs.