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.”


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