The first settler to the Windy Peak area was Joshua Freeman, who filed claim on 160 acres on November 13, 1872. The same day Joshua's brother, Marion Scott, filed claim on the adjacent 160 acres. Three years later another brother, Zachery, purchased 160 acres just south of his brother's. It is apparent that the brothers were actively involved with cattle since the deed to the property listed the site as the Freeman Cattle Ranch. Joshua sold 384.88 acres to William Berger on September 7, 1883.
William Berger, one of the original owners of the Colorado National Bank, owned additional property near Estabrook. Three years later Berger sold the Freeman property to William C. Dillon.
No mention of William C. Dillon has been found in any historical documents of the area. However, property deeds indicate Dillon sold 164.88 acres to Rufus E. Maxwell in December, 1887. Rufus and his wife Catherine moved to their new property from Arapahoe County where they owned a farm. Joining them in the mountains was their daughter Cora and her new husband Fred Boegel. Mr. Maxwell got a job as postmaster at Estabrook, Colorado and both he and Fred Boegel became active participants in local community affairs.
Throughout the years that followed, Cora and Fred became new parents to a baby boy. With a new mouth to feed, the two families began searching for new ways to make money. The decision was made to open a guest ranch and charge people one dollar a day for room and board. Thus, the Silver Spruce Guest Ranch was born. For the next forty years the guest ranch earned a reputation for its fine quality and culinary delight which would make it the most popular guest spot in the Colorado mountains.
In 1940 Cora, in poor health and her family long deceased, decided she could no longer run the guest ranch. She put the ranch up for sale and sold the place to the Lazear's for $6,500.00. After spending the first few months cleaning up the place, the Lazear brothers changed the name of the ranch to "The Old Sentinel." The brothers made plans to continue having summer campers visit their land and to operate their holdings as a working ranch. However, the brother's plans were soon to change when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
In 1945 Elizabeth Hanaman (Lib) and Amy Lou Holmes (Skip) became the new owners of "The Old Sentinel" ranch. The two women ran a girl's summer camp in the Ozarks of Missouri. The Ozark camp was a success but the summer climate was miserable, so in 1945 the two women came to Colorado looking for someplace to establish a new camp
The camp in Missouri was named "Camp Sylvania" - Sylvania meaning wooded area or wooded hills. So when Skip and Lib came to Colorado, it was suggested, by Skip, that their new camp be called "Sylvania of the Rockies." In June 1948 "Sylvania of the Rockies" opened its doors with 38 in attendance.
Throughout the years that followed, the camp continued to grow and gain in reputation. Girls were coming from every state and from many foreign countries. But by 1969, Skip and Lib decided it was time to sell their camp. Ginny and Jim Coggin bought "Sylvania of the Rockies" in 1970 and continued to run the camp until 1974.
Jefferson County Public Schools, in 1974, began looking for a place to be used as an Outdoor Education Laboratory School. The "Sylvania of the Rockies" site met all the necessary requirements for an environmental school, so in April 1975 Jefferson County Schools bought the property.