By Mel McFarland

       When Colorado City was founded in 1859, a few people used streams and had shallow wells, but the main source of water was Fountain Creek. The founding of Colorado Springs changed that.
       It did not take the Colorado Springs Company long to figure out that Monument Creek could not supply all of its water needs, so Fountain Creek was seen as a source. There were several ways to approach the problem of delivery, and one of the first was the El Paso Canal. This was made possible by the drop in altitude from above Colorado City down into Colorado Springs. A small dam was built on the Fountain just above Colorado City (near 33rd Street - the same place the city pipes creek water to its treatment plant today). From there, a shallow canal, barely three feet deep and about six feet across, was built with a slightly dropping grade. It went north of Colorado City and down around the hillside above town toward Colorado Springs. From there, the canal went north along the side of another hill (what we now call "the Mesa") to a spot well north of town. It crossed over Monument Creek in a trough, through more ditches around the north side of Colorado Springs, and finally ended up in an artificial lake, called Prospect Lake.
       The project irritated Colorado City residents because it took away water they had used. They had failed to obtain rights to Fountain Creek's water, and sought to block it. In the end they lost, but not completely. Water regularly seeped into the ground along the canal and often after storms the water flowed from washouts into Colorado City. A few others along the canal figured out how to use the water without attracting the attention of the men who patrolled it.
       The construction of Thorndale Park brought an agreement where canal water would be used to irrigate it, plus for several years there was a pond in the park that provided steady flow in the canal.
       Canal water irrigated the fine houses along north Wood, Cascade and Nevada avenues and parts of Tejon Street. By the 1940s, the canal was in need of heavy repairs, but better sources of water were being used. By the 1950s, it was rarely seen with water. Only when it caught the water from heavy storms did it really flow. I can remember along West Uintah Street, near the park, a friend's house actually had a bridge in the front yard over the canal. We played in it up near Pike School in the summer, and it was usually dry. This was in 1955 and 1956. You can still find some signs of the canal in that part of town.