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COBWEB CORNERS: 1935 flood repairs remain with us today

By Mel McFarland

       In recent years, we have seen flooding problems in Ute Pass, Manitou and Colorado Springs. This story tells what Colorado Springs did after the devastating Memorial Day flood of 1935. It brought changes to the area that we can still see.
       The flood, as I talked about a while back, came mainly down Monument Creek, with some high waters in Fountain Creek too. For local residents, it was the first time they'd seen Monument Creek overflow its banks so massively, but it was nothing new for Fountain Creek. Civic leaders had even moved Fountain Creek in the 1920s. It originally ran through what is now Motor City.
       But in 1935, it was Monument Creek's turn. All of its bridges through Colorado Springs were destroyed, except for the Bijou bridge. Even the railroad bridges just north of the depot were washed away.
       Immediately, temporary bridges were built. Federal grants, as well as state funds came into play. The plan for Monument Creek took time, and in 1936 crews started digging a deeper channel for it. Starting up by Roswell, the level was lowered up to 20 feet. Workmen could be seen from the north end to below South Nevada through the summer.
       But then work stopped just after the first anniversary of the flood. Most of the bridges were nearly finished, with the railroad bridges done first, but there were funding issues. Also, some residents were arguing that the creek project would ruin Monument Valley Park. In mid-summer, work resumed, then stopped again.
       It would take until spring 1937 for the final construction. Some 364 men worked to line the channel with concrete and rock. All the bridges were finished, with improvements to protect them from flooding in the future. The work was called a federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, but funds from state and local sources were also used.
       The creek's flood-control changes have been successfully tested several times since 1935, showing that the whole idea was not a failure, as some people had thought. Soon the citizens were taking pride in Monument Valley Park again. Some had feared that the flood had destroyed its beauty. Some was lost, but much was saved for us today.

(Posted 6/27/16; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: 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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