COBWEB CORNERS: The Uintah reservoir’s predecessor
By Mel McFarland
With the recent city project to improve the detention pond behind Uintah Gardens, I thought I would share a bit of history. Some of you may remember before the shopping center was built, but most do not.
In 1927, that whole area was wide open and empty. The city had survived heavy rains that turned the area into a raging stream several times. When Colorado Springs annexed Colorado City, it inherited this problem. The El Paso Canal, which ran from Arensdale to north Colorado Springs, had on several occasions blocked the water from the homes below, near Buena Vista School off 17th Street, but in 1921 that was not enough. Water from the south side of the Mesa washed through the homes and streets all the way to Fountain Creek.
It was decided to build two reservoirs to hold drainage.
The first would be at 19th and Manitou Boulevard (which is now Uintah), on the approximate site of what is now Uintah Gardens. It was 500 feet long and 28 feet tall. A single outlet pipe in the dam would drain the water, at a "reasonable rate" to run down the streets. It wasn't until the 1930s that underground storm sewers were built.
The second reservoir would be at the upper end of 24th Street, several blocks north of Uintah, near where the town of Ramona had been. It's also not far from the site of the city's current detention pond south of King Street.
Ed Honnen's construction company got the contract to build the dams. Some 15 men worked on both of them. The gravel came right from the area where the reservoirs would be located. Rock for the faces of the dams would come from Ute Pass.
Normally the reservoirs were dry, and over the years collected mainly trash. In rainstorms they did hold back water. In the 1935 flood, they eased the damage done to Colorado City. Over the years, the drainage off the Mesa helped to partially fill both reservoirs with dirt.
In the 1950s, as that area was being redeveloped, the old 19th Street reservoir was eventually filled in.The current pond at 19th and Dale was built in 1968.
The terrain in that area had changed by then. Before Manitou Boulevard west of 15th Street became Uintah, it was more like a valley. Fill dirt brought it up to its present height.
If you look toward the south side of Uintah between 15th and 19th streets, you will get some idea of just how much it was raised.
Local historian Mel McFarland has been contributing his Cobweb Corners column to the Westside Pioneer since 2004.