Skip to main content

American flag waves for more than a century on trail over Palisade

Email share
Over the century it’s been flying, many residents have felt a responsibility to maintain the American flag flying from a hiking trail above Palisade.”
Joshua Vorse

PALISADE, Colo. Mike Kennedy has lived in Palisade since 1979. But it wasn’t until 2017 that he hiked the Stagecoach trail above the town and became part of local history. 

Kennedy wanted to check out the popular hiking trail along the Book Cliffs above Palisade to get fresh air and exercise. When he saw the old flagpole and beat up American flag at the top of the trail, the hike became more important. 

Colorado Voices

Community spirit keeps flag flying above Palisade


Mike Kennedy is dedicated to keeping the American Flag flying above Palisade, Colorado.

For Kennedy, the flag was a call for support. “Since I was in the Boy Scouts, and I was in the Masons, they contributed to my wanting to see the flag in good shape,” he said. 

He replaced the flag with a new one from the hardware store--then started looking into the history of the flagpole that many of Palisade’s 2,500 residents can see from their back yards. 

Digitized copies of the Palisade Tribune provided plenty of answers. Kennedy found an article that read, “a party headed by John D. Reeder went up and raised the 35-foot pole and attached "Old Glory" to it,” according to the May 7, 1915 issue of the Tribune. The paper described the spot as “the highest point of the palisades.” That’s where the Stagecoach trail ends today. 

Priscilla Walker, founding chair of the Palisade Historical Society, says much of the information available about Reeder is from digitized issues of the Tribune. The historical society has physical copies of the old newspaper that they’re sending off to be scanned with text recognition equipment, so each one may be searchable online through Mesa County Libraries.  

Priscilla Walker looks through archival issues of The Palisade Tribune.
Photo: Joshua Vorse, Rocky Mountain PBS

So far, the society has digitized issues of the newspaper ranging from 1903 to 1974. 

“The town was officially founded in 1904. John Reeder came here in 1883, he was one of the early pioneers and very much loved,” said Walker. 

Reeder was described in the Tribune as a pioneer and founding father of the town of Palisade. In 1894 he was elected sheriff of Mesa County and was a prominent businessman in Palisade till his death in 1939.  

“Saturday the new bridge east of Palisade was formally opened. It was dedicated by our earliest pioneer, John D. Reeder,” read The Palisade Tribune, August 27, 1937. 

That sense of community in Palisade is strong. Kennedy often has help replacing the flag from others in town, including Riley Parker. 

“My next-door neighbor, he's president of the Rotary […] and he started to climb up there with me in about 2021,” he said. Parker and the Palisade Sunrise Rotary donated flags for a time.  

Currently, the town of Palisade donates a four foot by six-foot flag every quarter, according to Kennedy, and local groups, including the Boy Scouts, have taken turns caring for the flag.  

Joshua Vorse is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS.

Related Stories

Spotlight Newsletter

Community stories from across Colorado and updates on your favorite PBS programs, in your inbox every Tuesday.

Sign up here!