Monday, February 27, 2006

Kissing Camels legend explored

QUESTION: This might sound silly but I have heard a number of times over the years that part of the Kissing Camels at Garden of the Gods fell off or was knocked off and the City Council paid to have it either repaired, reinforced, smoothed off or something like that. Any truth? W
- Wanda
ANSWER: Within the past two or three years that story started making the rounds again, prompting people to surreptitiously drive past to check the camels out. Sure enough, one camel is shorter than the other but it has been that way since at least the time of the city’s founding, said Matt Mayberry, director of the city’s Pioneers Museum. “We have compared photos and it looks the same.”

It’s possible the legend is a combination of several occurrences, neither involving Kissing Camels. One widely photographed rock in the park did disappear; the “Seal” rock, which had an opening through it much like the camels, broke off in a heavy rainstorm in 1942. Balanced Rock was shored up to slow erosion in the 1940s.
The city parks department — not the City Council — used concrete fortification because the 700-ton sandstone and conglomerate boulder rests on a delicate base of shale and clay. A favorite Garden of the Gods tale recounts that in the 1960s a park ranger supposedly stopped party-hearty Colorado College students who thought they could topple the giant boulder.

Beatrice A. Lipscomb says something really did happen to the camel: “I moved to Colorado Springs in 1945 and during the next six years, climbed the south rocks of the Kissing Camels, and over into a small alcove where there was a wild rose garden. At that time, there was a hump on the right Kissing Camel about like the hump behind the head on the left Kissing Camel. There was a rock slide probably in about 1948-49 in which the small hump right behind the camel’s head fell, leaving what is there today. There definitely has been a change in the camels during the time from 1945 to now. Just thought you would like to know.”

Paint Mines are near Calhan

QUESTION: Where is El Paso County’s Paint Mine Park located? We would like to visit the park, but have no idea of its location. All we know is, it is east of Colorado Springs
- The Pagels

ANSWER: To get to Paint Mines Interpretive Park, site of colorful clay deposits more than 55 million years old, take U.S. 24 east to Calhan, go south on Yoder Road/Calhan Highway, turn east on Paint Mine Road and follow the signs. It’s open dawn to dusk every day.

Woodmen building standing where road will go

QUESTION: I was wondering what the deal is with the newly built, and very much vacant, little group of retail stores on the southeast corner of Academy and Woodmen. It used to be where the NAPA auto parts was located. Is the rent too expensive to attract any tenants? Or is it maybe too hard to get back out onto Academy or Woodmen that is scaring tenants away? Someone spent a lot of money to build these stores only to have them sit vacant.
- Ron

ANSWER: The building is directly in the path of the $30 million Woodmen Road project. There will be an overpass at Woodmen Road and Academy Boulevard, and Woodmen will be widened to six lanes between Interstate 25 and U.S. Highway 24.

This building and the gas station on the northwest corner will be purchased by the city because the curve on Woodmen Road has to be be taken out, according to project manager Robin Kidder.

A Utah money-lending agency, Check City had leased the empty NAPA building and, unaware of what might be coming, started a $219,000 renovation project, which it abandoned when alerted by the city of the proposed overpass and road project.
At that time the environmental assessment had not been completed and, Kidder said, the city can’t purchase property until that report, which could change everything, is completed.

“We can’t presuppose a road layout,” Kidder said.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

We found the running, waving man

QUESTION: We live in the north part of Black Forest. Several times a week as we drive up Highway 83 near the new interchange at Shoup we see a man out running. He waves at every single car that goes past. No matter how tired he looks his hand goes up for everyone. We’ve come to love waving at him and would like to know:  Who is this guy?    He just seems like such a neat guy and we wondered what his story is.
- Dave and Erin Ulman
SO WE ASKED: Running, waving man, would you let us know who you are? Or, if there are readers who are familiar with him we would like to hear from you.

AND HE ANSWERED: We heard from the folks in Black Forest and from the running, waving man and now we know who he is: Larry Cook.

“I’ve been running along Highway 83 and Shoup Road for a number of years and it has been my habit to wave at oncoming traffic. I was born and raised in the deep South and learned at an early age to speak to every one I passed or if they were driving by, to wave at them. Apparently this takes many people by surprise (hopefully pleasantly) for I receive many smiles and waves in return. This is uplifting to me for if by waving I can brighten someone’s day, even if only for a moment, then I feel good in turn.
“I’ve lived in the Black Forest for almost 22 years and have been running out there for about 15 since I retired from the Air Force. I try to run 5-6 times a week, about 7-8 miles per day. During daylight-saving time I run from my home to Shoup, then on to Highway 83, and back. During standard time, however, it gets dark while I’m running (weekdays) so I run within my subdivision (Falcon Forest) because there is much less traffic. Running along Shoup after dark would be an invitation to becoming someone’s hood ornament.
“I haven’t run competitively in 16-17 years and, in fact, I’m fond of saying that now I run so slowly that I time my miles with a calendar. I also say that I’m so slow that I’m regularly rear-ended by glaciers"

Briargate sewer smell will disappear

QUESTION: I am wondering why the intersection of Springcrest Road and Highway 83 just north of Briargate Parkway smells like an open sewer on cool mornings.
- Lloyd Harmon

ANSWER: The short answer: it’s a newer system and the smell will go away when there’s more development in that area and more poo in the pipes.

According to Colorado Springs Utilities spokesman Steve Berry, the smell could be coming from a manhole in the area of the intersection and a relatively new force main, a large gravity-fed pipe fed by a number of smaller sewage pipes. The larger main isn’t yet carrying a heavy flow so what’s going through isn’t diluted. As the area develops, the heavier the flow, the more dilution and less smell.
If there are questions or concerns, call CSU: 448-4800

Friday, February 03, 2006

To the reader in Grenoble, France

We've noticed a regular visitor to the "Did You Ever Wonder?" blog from Grenoble. We're intrigued. What's your connection to Colorado Springs? If you'd rather not put it on the blog, e-mail: Hope to hear from you soon. Linda

Who was Shook of Shooks Run?

QUESTION: How did the small creek in Colorado Springs get the name of Shooks Run?
- Robert Helt, Security

ANSWER: The creek and the area of town were part of a cattle ranch; the owners were the Shook brothers. Many decades ago the creek was something of a city dump, a favorite spot of rats and old mattresses, but that changed dramatically after urban renewal in the mid-1970s.

Railroad cars deliver Gazette newsprint

QUESTION: I am curious as to the use of the railroad tracks that I cross every day on Wahsatch Avenue just south of Cimarron Street. It has RR signs posted at the tracks, but I have never seen a moving train. Once in a while, there’ll be train cars stopped on either side of Wahsatch. Is this a working track and, if not, what’s up with the railroad cars occasionally seen there?
— Karen B.

ANSWER: It’s a rail spur used by The Gazette. The railroad cars bring huge rolls of newsprint to the newspaper’s warehouse on the west side of Wahsatch, where the newsprint is transferred to trucks that deliver it to the newspaper building at East Colorado Avenue and South Prospect Street. There are 10-15 cars each month. The rail spur east of Wahsatch also serves Transit Mix.

Dogs in reservoir don't affect drinking water

QUESTION: Recently we hiked around a couple of city reservoirs at Stratton Open Space, near Starsmore Discovery Center. The reservoirs had high fences around them with signs that said, “This is your drinking water. KEEP OUT.”
At one place a large hole, which appeared to have been there a long time, had been cut in the fence and we saw three yellow Labradors running free, off leash. They went right through the hole, into the reservoir and swam.
We phoned the number posted on the fence and spoke to a woman who said local homeowners want the hole in the fence open so that their dogs can go down to drink in the reservoir. Why are dogs and wild animals allowed to swim in our drinking water?
- Baker

ANSWER: Basically, it’s because things have changed since the time the sign and fence went up.

Originally, the water in the lower reservoir, South Suburban, was chlorinated and went directly from the reservoir to the customers in that area, so it was especially important to keep everyone out, according to Kristin Bricker, issues manager for Colorado Springs Utilities.

When Clean Water Act revisions were enacted in the late 1980s, a dual pipeline was built to the Mesa water treatment plant near Garden of the Gods, where the water from those reservoirs is filtered and treated before returning to customers as safe drinking water.

Open-space neighbors contacted Utilities to request access to the lower reservoir. “There was a public-participation process which worked to the benefit of everyone using the open space,” Bricker said. Access was granted to not just the neighbors, but to everyone in the community on a limited, one-year basis, after which it will again be evaluated.

During warm weather, panels from the fence are removed for access. The panels are replaced in the winter when the icy reservoir is dangerous for pets and people.
Bricker said Utilities was unaware there was a hole cut in the fence and it will be repaired. In addition, the sign will be changed.

The upper reservoir, Gold Camp, is closed to the public. Because of its slippery lining, people and/or animals could have problems getting out of this reservoir, which has been called “an attractive nuisance,” Bricker said.