Confluence Park: Where It All Began

Four weeks from today, Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination for president -- in the heart of Denver. As we continue the countdown, we're offering daily highlights of life in the Mile High City, can't-miss sights and sounds: the very Best of Denver. Day 1: Confluence Park.

Denver got its start at the confluence of two rivers, where a couple of gold panners found signs of color in the summer of 1858, exactly 150 years ago.

Today, Confluence Park is solid gold. This point where Cherry Creek takes off from the South Platte River is as close to a beach as Denver gets, a lush oasis in the middle of the city, a place to hang out for the day or to use as a starting point for an adventure down the bikepath or up the Greenway. On this morning, dog owners frolic with their pets in the middle of the Platte, while a kid in an inner tube floats past; two bums sleep under a walkway, undisturbed by the posse of new mothers running above, pushing their sleeping babies ahead in strollers; executives make deals on the Starbucks deck outside of REI, their words running on as I read the plaque with a poem by Thomas Hornsby Ferril, a Denver poet whose rivers of words still run through this city:

Two rivers that were here before there was a city still come together: one is a mountain river flowing toward the mountains by feeling them and turning back the way some of the people who came here did.

Most of these people hardly seemed to realize they wanted to be remembered because the mountains told them not to die.

I wasn't here, yet I remember them, the first night long ago, those wagon people who pushed aside enough of the cottonwoods to build our city where the blueness rested.

They were with us, they told me afterward when I stood on a splintered wooden viaduct before it changed to steel and I to a man, they told me while I stared down at the water:

"If you stay we will not go away." --Patricia Calhoun

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