Archive for the ‘Municipal’ Category

The (recorded?) bells at Saint Joes I might miss more than anything in Fort Collins when I go. It seems like they play more in recent years than they used to. But there’s also a (real) carillon at the Episcopal church.  I don’t know if they play that one.

I would have liked to find out more about them both.

And I might also have said something about the crazy number of traffic signs on the short block in front of St. Joes….

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That’s right, I said CHRISTMAS. Colored lights, Stars, Christmas trees, and Santa Claus. In the 1950s, the whole town celebrated Christmas unapologetically. And Ruth B. Dermody took pictures to prove it. Click through to see holiday details. Is that a nativity in front of the courthouse?

City Hall. It doesn't look much different now.

College Avenue. Even without holiday lights, downtown was brighter with neon signs.

Our unloved mid-century courthouse. 1957-1999


All photos by Ruth B. Dermody.

Thanks to Jim Burrill for letting me use them. Jim has lots more family photos in and around Fort Collins at his blog http://lapoudre.multiply.com/journal

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Old bins (middle) and new (right)

Old bins (middle) and new (right)

Recently, the city of Fort Collins adopted changes to ordinances that, among other things, require trash haulers to offer new, larger recycling bins. This as part of a larger plan to meet “diversion” goals that will send 50% of our city’s waste to recycling rather than the landfill.

Great idea. But what do we do with the old, smaller recycling tubs?

“I have 15,000 tubs out [in the community],” says Mark Glorioso, from Gallegos Sanitation. And while many customers are choosing to keep the old tubs for storage containers as they upgrade to the newer bins, plenty are sending the old ones back.  Glorioso estimates he currently has between 100 and 200 on hand.

The old tubs are, themselves, recyclable. But not really. “They’d have to be shredded or pelletized before a recycling facility would accept them,” Glorioso says.

So, that leaves potentially thousands of excess plastic recycling tubs as a byproduct of our new and better recycling policies.

But let’s talk about solutions.

Gallegos has at least one: The hauler is talking to Poudre Schools about donating the tubs for worm compost bins.  The repurposed tubs would house worms who would eat your food scraps. The resulting worm poop is as fine a gardening amendment as anything from a pricey nursery. I think it’s an excellent idea.

Although I will say that worms can’t take the Christmas and summer off. And that might mean that instead of babysitting Otis the Turtle during school vacations, families can expect to foster the 3rd Grade Worm Farm.

But that’s just me speculating. Glorioso says that if you’ve got a great re-use situation for a stack of has-been recycling tubs, contact Gallegos Sanitation at 484-5556.


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This past Tuesday, Fort Collins City Council voted to “support …a future Amtrak passenger rail service stop in Fort Collins as part of the national ongoing study for possible reinstatement of Amtrak’s Pioneer route. ” (See Coloradoan story).

The Pioneer route ran 1977-1997 from Seattle to Chicago, via Denver. Last year, the Federal Government ordered Amtrak to study returning the Pioneer to service. That study should be finished next week, October 16, 2009, according to the website http://www.pioneertrain.com.

The original train never passed through Fort Collins, but rather rolled along the highway 85 corridor from Cheyenne to Denver.


Pioneer passing through Nunn, Colorado

The folks at PioneerTrain.com  have been urging cities along the 287 corridor to show Amtrak support for bringing the Pioneer through the more populated areas of the front range. Boulder, Longmont, and Loveland councils have already signed on.

The thinking is that more people = more passengers = better chance of success for the Pioneer.


Old Pioneer Route Guide. Click for readable size.

But other train fans note that rerouting the train will add more than an hour to the timetable as the train slows through city after city. The original train took 2 hours to run from Cheyenne to Denver. If it goes through Fort Collins/Loveland, it will take more than 3 hours, they say. And that could lower overall ridership.

That’s not the only barrier to Fort Collins’ dreams of seeing Superliners on Mason Street. According to Pioneer Train.com, “Amtrak’s current position is that the law requires Amtrak to look at the Pioneer as it was operated in the past, rather than as it might be in the future.”

Sounds like a long shot, huh? I plan to root for it nonetheless.


Big thanks to Jim Burrill for his Amtrak Pioneer photo and Route Guide.

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Well, I know at least some of you went looking for the calaboose (see original post here), because local merchants contacted me to ask about people with maps in their alleys.

I think the calaboose site is in the alley right next to LeRoy’s LockSafe Systems (326 Walnut). That’s why, in the first story, I told the unrelated story about the woman killed near LeRoy’s and the lynching that followed at the county courthouse. I was trying to creep you out.

And if you went there on Friday or Saturday, some of you encountered the extra creepiness of running into these guys from the haunted house loitering in the alley:

scary guy

When I first heard about the calaboose, it was suggested it was this white building on the right of this photo (using passive voice to avoid saying outright that I disagree with a local historian who has much more credibility than I do):

calaboose alley

But the map doesn’t back it up.  Matt from LeRoy LockSafe Systems, who got involved because he got curious about LostFortCollins readers loitering around his shop with maps, agrees:

On the map, you can clearly see a building on the “326” lot – that’s our shop. There have been a couple of additions since then, in the 1920’s and again in the 50’s, but you can still see the original stone work from the outside of the building. The square labeled calaboose is pretty clearly where there is now just an alley (near some transformers). Unfortunately it’s simply gone :(

Matt illustrates his point here on his web site: http://www.locksafesystems.com/hist.htm.

I think he’s right. It’s gone. What’s there now? This patch of asphalt and these uneasy, something-baaaad-happened-here sheep! Click the picture for a bigger view of their fluffy rainbow paranoia.



Post script

LeRoy’s has a neat history page with a picture of the old stone house, before the store fronts were added. Look:


The Sheep mural was painted by Ren Burke, and I like it a lot.  Especially in that spot.

What about the blue drunk tank?

Many people reasoned the calaboose was the blue drunk tank one block west of the calaboose site, in the same alley. I think that’s a block from the calaboose in the map, but I  hear Carol Tunner is researching its history as well. I’m looking forward to seeing her findings and will share whatever I can.


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Some local historians say the calaboose still stands in Fort Collins. Others say it came down years ago. They’re not sure because, despite numerous newspaper accounts, the only address we have for it is a tiny square marked “calaboose” on an old insurance map.

I’ll give you the map. And if you’re an urban hiker type, you’ll want to go out to the site and decide for yourself if it’s still there or not.

But first, let me tell you why anyone even cares about this 20×20-foot  dump of a place on an alley in Old Town.

Calaboose is from the Spanish word for dungeon and was common slang for a local jail 100 years ago. We built ours in 1879, and a dungeon it was. The Rocky Mountain News noted, in 1882, “there could not be a much dirtier or filthier place.”

Who got to stay there? Drunks mostly. But also:

Tex Lindville, in 1881, after he was charged in Fort Collins’ first murder. The shooting took place in what the paper described as, “one of the vilest of vile dens of infamy” on Meldrum street–a whorehouse run by a “dark fallen angel ” (i.e., a black woman). The victim was  a dishwasher named Albert Sherwood, also black.  As such, Lindville’s charge was reduced to carrying a concealed weapon and he soon went free.

Then there were the two black bootleggers, Burnside and Martin. They escaped the calaboose in the middle of the night. The paper said they were helped out as the “outside door was found unlocked and the inner door broken.”  The Fort Collins Courier concludes, “If they …never return … the city is to be congratulated.”

Hm.  Two black men disappear in the middle of the night and nobody bothers to look for them. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

There were other stories– prisoners digging out, nasty fights, resentful guards who had to go out in the rain to fetch dinner for the bad guys. The calaboose was, as early  accounts put it, “a mighty fine place to keep out of.”

[By the way, it wasn’t our only jail at the time. In 1888,  James Howe went to the county jail at the W.Oak courthouse when he killed his wife with a  pocket knife in broad daylight at a stone house on Walnut Street–I’m imagining somewhere between the Wright Life and LeRoy’s Locksafe. In the descriptions of her killing,  she stumbles out of the house and crawls about 10 feet to the curb on Walnut, trying to make her way to Linden, 1/2 block away.

The county jail was probably more secure and appropriate for serious criminals like Howe. Of course,  that mattered little to the local mob who cut the lights and chiseled him out of his cell just hours after the murder. They hung him from a construction crane right across the street from the courthouse. But back to the calaboose…]

I’m telling you all these dark stories because it makes it more fun to go see what’s there now. So, asphalt explorers, get out your walking shoes and a ruler (or dial up Google Maps).  Here is the old Sanborn map that shows the location of the calaboose.

Calaboose map. Click through for large size.

Calaboose map. Click through for large size.

For a very large version, click here.

And here’s a hint…don’t confuse streets with alleys. The alleys are always much narrower. The scale is accurate.

Tell me what you find, and in a week or so, I’ll show you what I found.


Carol Tunner, icon of local history and preservation,  gave me her newspaper research on the calaboose and inspired this story.

Pat at the Local History Archives helped me find the Sanborn map, which wasn’t easy. Thank you very much!


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A few weeks ago, the Lost Fort Collins blog published a story about the conflict around a Greeley water pipeline that’s slated to trench through Fort Collins .

Greeley pulls water from the Poudre and the Colorado rivers upstream of Fort Collins, treats it in Bellvue (also upstream), and then pipes it underground, 30 miles downstream of Fort Collins. This will be its 3rd line from the facility.

But the route for this pipe threatens some of our local historic and natural resources, say Bellvue residents. Plus, it could impact water levels flowing through Fort Collins, which matters a lot to local people and animals who swim, tube, fish, bike, and picnic on the river.

The controversy has been in all the press, but there are a few things you likely missed:

Fort Collins City Council to hear about it

Councilmember David Roy is urging landowners on the affected historic properties to  speak at the Tuesday (July 7, 6-6:30) Council meeting. This appears a good time to come tell City Council what you think. The pipeline is out of Council’s jurisdiction, I think, but they’re always good friends to have when managing relations with other towns.

What’s Greeley have to say for itself?

It says the pipeline is a great idea and not so bad.  Read Greeley’s  side of the story here: http://greeleygov.com/Water/pipeline.aspx.

What does the pipeline look like?

From http://www.rslate.com/pipeline

From http://www.rslate.com/pipeline

Although portions are still not approved, the pipeline has already made it to Robert Slate’s house east of town. He writes, “I just can not convey the frustration and aggravation that the pipeline experience caused me.”  That’s because of damage to his neighborhood’s roads (financed and maintained by the homeowners) and damage to natural areas. He even says top soil was displaced and sold! See his web site at http://www.rslate.com/pipeline.

Where are the naked river people?

Save the poudre

Save the poudre

Save the Poudre and others are fighting hard to stop the Glade Reservoir from drowning  our river.  Several people have asked, “So why haven’t they said anything about Greeley’s  new 5-foot-wide straw sucking it down?”

They have–sort of.  They issued this press release a month ago.  It’s not on their web site and wasn’t widely reported (In fact, I would have missed it completely if it weren’t for Troy Coverdale at KFKA 1310).

The short version of the press release says “We’re monitoring the situation.”

But I think what it really says is: “We’re not willing to piss off Greeley because it’s  backing us on this Glade Reservoir thing. Let’s hope the Army Corp of Engineers does the right thing.”

Fort Collins, CO – Over the last several years, many residents of Larimer County have been concerned about Greeley’s new Bellvue Pipe and have contacted the Save The Poudre Coalition asking for information about the Pipe’s impacts on the Poudre River. In documents released to the Coalition this week, the City of Greeley detailed the impacts the Pipe would have on the Poudre. In summary, thousands of acre feet of water will be diverted into the Pipe upstream of their historical diversion point, and if the Seaman Reservoir project occurs, thousands of more acre feet of new Poudre water will be diverted into the Pipe. Thus, the Bellvue Pipe wil cause new depletions from the Poudre River.

The Save The Poudre Coalition also learned this week that because of the Pipe and other proposed new dams/reservoirs, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has launched a  “cumulative effects study” of all of the projects and their negative impacts on the Poudre River including the NISP/Glade Reservoir project, the Halligan Reservoir project, the Seaman Reservoir project, and the Bellvue Pipe project.

“We are very concerned about the cumulative effects of all of these projects on the Poudre,” said Gary Wockner of the Save The Poudre Coalition. “Taken together, all of these projects are designed in part or in whole to drown, divert, dry up, or destroy the Poudre River. We applaud the Army Corps of Engineers for launching a cumulative effects study. We will follow the study closely.”

On June 4th, the Save The Poudre Coalition sent a letter to the Army Corps asking for more information about the Bellvue Pipe permitting process, and for more information about the cumulative effects study. Of specific concern are memos between the Army Corp and Greeley, in which the Army Corp has stated that it will not allow Greeley to divert “new water” into the Pipe until the cumulative effects study is completed, and has warned Greeley to build the Pipe “at your own risk” because Greeley might not get a permit from the Army Corps to divert new water into it. The Greeley Pipe is a $40 million project paid for by the citizens of Greeley.

“We support and thank the Army Corps of Engineers for not allowing new diversions into the Pipe to occur,” said Gary Wockner. “And we support the Corps’ efforts to make sure Greeley does not increasingly deplete the Poudre before the cumulative effects study is completed. We also thank Greeley for providing information to the Coalition and for working with us to study the Pipe’s impacts.”

The Save The Poudre Coalition has taken a very strong stance against the NISP/Glade Reservoir project, and has proposed a Healthy Rivers Alternative to the project that will allow NISP participants to get more water without destroying the Poudre River. The Coalition has not yet taken a position on the Halligan, Seaman, and Bellvue Pipe projects, but is monitoring the projects closely.

“The public needs to know that the Poudre River is at ground zero for a tidal wave of destructive water projects,” said Wockner. “The Save The Poudre Coalition is monitoring all of the projects very closely. Our goal is to try and work with all of the parties involved for the best possible outcome that protects this beautiful river for future generations.

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