COBWEB CORNERS: The mystery of Monroe Creek

By Mel McFarland

       In recent discussions at the Westside Pioneer office, a question came up. Oh, sure! a trip to the library ought to solve it. No, it only made things worse. A call to a city engineer gave a partial explanation. Perhaps one of our good readers has the rest of the answer.
       Camp Creek is the name for the sometimes stream that runs through Pleasant Valley. In recently researching the house on the corner of 31st and Pikes Peak (now a restaurant), I found another name: Monroe Creek. As a kid in this neighborhood, I know Camp Creek used to flow into Monroe Creek. The old maps show that Camp Creek's former path to Fountain Creek was different from today's. In the late 1950s, the developer of Pleasant Valley rerouted it down the 31st Street ditch and then underground at Bijou Street.
       To add to the entertainment value, it helps to know about the El Paso Canal, which General William Palmer built from Fountain Creek to bring irrigation water to his new city. Colorado Springs still diverts drinking water at this spot, near the present-day Safeway. Always flowing downhill, the canal went east, turning north/northeast through what's now the Pikes Peak and 31st intersection and then east and south, crossing Camp/Monroe Creek along the way.
       Where is Monroe Creek today? If you go to Pikes Peak Avenue between 30th and 31st, and look across from the Wendy's parking lot you'll see a little bridge with a wall dated 1913. A drainage, usually dry, can be seen north of it for 100 feet or so, leading to a pipe that carries any water under the bridge.
       From the bridge, the pipe continues underground to Fountain Creek and has for about 50 years. Before the McDonald's was built, you could still trace the route behind the old drive-in that was there.
       Looking at the old maps at the library, I found the name Camp Creek, but Monroe Creek was not shown on most of them. Monroe was a street name in the area north of Colorado Avenue before Colorado Springs annexed Colorado City in 1917. Anyone know why this part of Camp Creek was called Monroe Creek?