EDITOR’S DESK: Crossed up at the crossing
When I first suggested calling the new bridge at Colorado Avenue and Columbia Road “Adams Crossing,” as a way of honoring the location's historic nickname, I never guessed that building it would largely obliterate what reminded people most of those olden days.
It was disheartening to cruise by the work zone in late June and see the army of backhoes ripping out the stone wall and tall trees on Columbia that had, for nearly a century, separated it from the RV campground along several hundred feet north of Colorado Avenue.
At least the demolition happened quickly. Within less than a week, the space was entirely cleared. We have photos on Pages 6 and 7.
I admit, I knew some of this was coming. El Paso County, which is managing what's known as the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) project, did not hide its plans to widen Columbia as part of the work. But it's also true that they weren't highly publicized. Which is understandable, at least to a point. WAAP has a ton of activity, with upgrades above and below the avenue, much of which should arguably have been done decades ago.
But for the Columbia widening, all I had was the minimal information that the old walls with fencing on top would be taken down and replaced by pillars using the old stones with fencing in between. So, more fence than wall. As for the trees, a color graphic from the public meetings in 2012-14 showed several of them lining the new wall... except they won't be. We're now told that with the wider street there's no room for replacement trees.
So I guess we have to accept all that. It's progress, right? Improved traffic flow. Storm drainage. New utilities. A sidewalk, even.
It's just that this was Adams Crossing, the one place in the project identified by Westside historians as particularly special. Charles Adams, who died in 1895, had been a Civil War veteran, an international diplomat, a negotiator who cooled off the Meeker Massacre, a friend of Chief Ouray and his wife Chipeta, and a Colorado City/Manitou businessman. His residence was known so well that the crossing it sat near came to bear his name.
The stone walls are believed to have been built in 1922 - integral to one of the area's earliest camps for tourists using that new-fangled method of transportation called the motorcar. With that, Adams' house gained new life for 30-odd years as the office for Stonewall Park (later Cottages).
It was one thing for WAAP to shift the bridge about 50 feet north to take advantage of the extra width of the roadway just east of Columbia. That actually made sense. Some of you who've read Mel McFarland's columns over the years may know the reason for that width. It was created, back in the late 1800s, for the streetcar and Denver & Rio Grande railroad line!
Those side-by side sets of tracks traversing Colorado/ Columbia at grade, combined with the avenue spanning Fountain Creek, definitely put the "crossing" into Adams Crossing in those days.
At least we still have memories of what was there. And the bridge name. Hope-fully. Amid all this progress and construction dust, I think I'll only believe it when I see the plaques go in.