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COBWEB CORNERS: Finally! Bridge in '32 opened Ute Pass to 2 lanes

By Mel McFarland

       Editor's note: This column follows a previous one at this link: Cobweb Corners: Blasting Ute Pass to make 2 lanes in the 1930s.

       When the state finished its new two-lane highway up Ute Pass in mid-1931, it was not really ready! A bridge over Fountain Creek was needed at the upper end of Manitou, and the funding for it had been delayed because of the Depression.
       You could drive through, using part of the old road, from the spot just above the new bridge down to Manitou, but there were long delays.
       That old road followed the north side of the creek on a narrow ledge. The new road cut along a hillside south of the creek and ended where the bridge needed to be built. A bit further up, the new, wider road waited.
       Finally, after about half a year, the City of Manitou's cries to complete the project were heard, and funding for the bridge was found.
       In December 1931, as the bridge work started, Ute Pass was closed to road traffic, indefinitely! The Midland Terminal train was the only connection between Cascade and Manitou. The railroad ran extra passenger trains through the day, mainly to get the Ute Pass kids to school and back.
       In early 1932, the bridge was completed, and the old road could be abandoned. A silk ribbon and a bottle of Manitou ginger champagne, accented by a band and speeches, marked the opening of the bridge.
       A related project was the rebuilding of a famous waterfall. Rainbow Falls had been a Ute Pass landmark for a long time - so named because the mist from the falls regularly caught the sun, making a rainbow. But the state's road-widening project, before the bridge went in, caused the falls to be destroyed. A second falls, a short distance up the creek, was renamed Rainbow Falls. When the new bridge was built, it passed over this new Rainbow Falls. The sun would rarely shine on it again!
       With the building of the four-lane highway in the 1960s, it became even harder to see the falls. Now the city of Manitou is trying to make it more accessible, since the area has become quite a target for vandals. The old road from the roundabout can be driven up Serpentine Drive to what is now a parking area for a trail to the falls. Both this road and the 1930s road were damaged in the Fountain Creek flooding of the last couple years, but have been repaired.

(Posted 1/26/16; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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