Rio de Chato

Address: Divides Jefferson and Douglas Counties from 4 mi. S.W. of Cheesman Lake, then flows N.E. to Chatfield Reservoir at the mouth of Deer Creek Canyon

Rio de Chato was the Spanish name given to the South Platte River which forms the southeastern border of Jefferson County. It was named by Juan de Zaldivar, who was commissioned by his uncle (Santa Fe founder Onate) in 1598 to take 50 cavaliers to explore the northeastern reaches of the lands claimed by New Spain. Rio de Chato means "flat" or "flattish" river, a meaning much the same as the permanent name French explorers would give it nearly 150 years afterward. The South Platte River was the only major river flowing from the mountains of northern Colorado matching such a description. It is very likely Zaldivar's party were the first white people to see and set foot in Jefferson County.
Quad Map/Date: Westcreek, 1956; Littleton, 1965 (1994)
Sec/Town/Range: S34, T10S, R71W; S31, T7S, R69W
Elevation: c. 550-7200
Source: "History of Colorado" by Jerome Smiley
Other Names: Riviere des Padoucas, Riviere la Plat, South Platte River
Last Modified: Mon, December 10 2012

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