Telling the ‘multilayered’Red Rock history
Ten years in the making, Colorado Springs writer Ruth Obee's new book provides a detailed history of Red Rock Canyon from primeval times to its present-day status as a city open space.
Along the way, “History in Stone: The Story of Red Rock Canyon” presents explanations of what made that past interesting, including the rocks themselves, indigenous animal life, different Indian tribes, the changes that came with gold-hunters and settlers, the quarrying of Red Rock sandstone, numerous colorful individuals, the Bock family that owned and lived on the roughly 790-acre property for 80 years and the uphill citizen fight to save it from development.
“There are not many places with that much history,” Obee said in a recent interview,. “I get real excited and inspired by it.”
Obee said she once hoped to have the book come out sooner, but is grateful now that it took longer, because this allowed her to add an epilogue that addresses the more recent city purchases of Red Rock-neighboring open space properties White Acres and Section 16. The book “turned out to be a much bigger project than I ever anticipated, but it was wonderful because I learned so much,” she said.
“History in Stone” contains 250 pages of prose, plus a one-page Obee poem, titled “In Praise of Red Rock Canyon.” At the front is a six-page Acknowledge-ments section, in which she names more than 60 individual sources that aided her research and mentions others in terms of entity or organization. There are also numerous drawings and photographs, supplied by local individuals, groups and publications (including the Westside Pioneer).
Hers is the second major work on Red Rock since the open space opened. The other was the 2010 “Geologic Folio: Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Colorado Springs, Colo-rado,” by Ken Weissen-burger, Sharon Milito and Don Ellis. She thanks all three in her Acknowledge-ments for helping with her book's facts. Asked to compare the two works, she said she thinks they are different in many ways but also “complement each other.”
A chapter that may especially appeal to local readers is the one titled “The Bocks.” Obee provides mini-biographies of John G. Bock, a cowboy and decorated World War I veteran who afterward pieced together the Red Rock property from numerous land purchases; and his sons, John S. and Richard, who built a landfill and gravel quarry and advocated unsuccessfully to develop the property into a large residential/commercial community. The younger John was especially known for running trespassers off with a shotgun.
Another chapter gives an in-depth account - much of it gained first-hand - of the determined citizen advocacy effort that led to the open-space purchase after it appeared inevitable that John S. Bock and the Zydeco group would be able to develop the property.
“What strikes me about it is that its history is as multilayered as the rocks themselves,” Obee commented.
The book will be available soon in local stores, she said.
Westside Pioneer article