You won’t hear much disagreement among the residents of Pleasant Valley on the West Side of Colorado Springs when you ask their opinions about the roughly mile-long concrete ditch that runs down the middle of their West Side Neighborhood at the foot of Garden of the Gods Park. Noel Black embarked upon an exploration of the ditch and brings you the sights and sounds of his discoveries, here.

A Ditch Runs Through It

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This segment was broadcast yesterday as part of our March edition of Western Skies, the theme of which is Mother Nature, you can listen to the entire episode by clicking HERE.

 

24 Responses to A Ditch Runs Through It

  1. Nancy Wilsted says:

    There’s no claim quite so prestigious as ditch-front property, right? Noel, you didn’t mention the regularity with which people drive into the ditch. Having lived here a long time, we can recognize a distinct crashing thud which means a car has driven into the ditch. Remarkably, there are rarely serious injuries to the people. The cars are a different story. One summer’s day when Noel was about 16, a woman drove her jeep into the ditch. Since all of our windows were open, the sound was alarmingly loud, and Noel flew out the front door to investigate. He found the woman seated in her vehicle which was at the bottom of the ditch, and she was checking in her rear-view mirror to see if her mascara had smudged! Priorities! We still laugh about it.

  2. Kathryn says:

    A beautifully written and informative piece. Thanks, Noel, for exploring the history and mystery of so many Colorado Springs places.

  3. Mary Ellen says:

    Is it true that people harvest the watercress from the ditch? My dog always loved cooling off there on the way back from the Garden of the Gods.

  4. Caroline Vulgamore says:

    Thanks, Noel, for a comprehensive, beautifully articulated story of “the ditch.” Sad that such a treasure as Pleasant Valley must be saddled with the ugly realities of concrete slabs, weeds and trash. I’d love to dream about the possibilities of restoring and enhancing this stream, but I’m afraid I have to agree with Ron Wright.
    Caroline

  5. Ryan Lloyd says:

    Great story, Thanks!

  6. PatMusick says:

    Very good one, Noel. Thanks so much for letting folks know that that was (and is!) a creek…that flows down from Queen’s Canyon…that’s not simply a concrete channel. Worth noting, too, is that unlike when this ditch (not to mention Monument Creeek etc.) was built, current engineering thinking recognizes the value of natural creek configurations for slowing flood waters. (not to mention the “no child left inside”nature value of creeks available to neighborhood kids…sigh…)

  7. Jeremy says:

    Truly sad that this eyesore continues to degrade the aesthetics of Pleasant Valley. Interestingly enough, just a mile away in Queen’s Canyon, this watercourse is one of the most beautiful in the region. With the City’s Stormwater Enterprise gone and our economy languishing, I doubt anything will change here anytime soon. Maybe we could get Cristo to do something with it. Call it “Over The Ditch.”

  8. Noel Black says:

    @Nancy: I did mention “surly old swallower of cars” in the winter. Just sayin.

    @Kathryn, Mary Ellen and Ryan: Thanks!

    @Caroline: probably a safe bet to agree with Ron, sadly.

    @Pat: Yes, and it brings up all the unfortunate thinking of mid-20th Century. Urban renewal, more concrete, etc.

    @Jeremy: Over the Ditch is brilliant! Thanks for all your comments.

  9. Tom damon says:

    A photographer can photograph something, like the Ditch, either as an ugly mess or as a thing of natural beauty, depending on his/her personal point of view. The photographer of this story shows a nice balance of both, without personal bias. Well done.

  10. Eva says:

    Beautiful. Only thing you left out is how great a training ground for runners and cyclists, and playground for kids, the ditch is. Of course it would be even better if it weren’t a ditch..

  11. Katherine says:

    I must say, I’m kind of surprised at all the “ugly” comments about the ditch. I’ve loved it since the first time I saw it. So much wildlife and foliage growing, being cut down, growing, cut down, growing…a force of nature. It shows that there is truth to the line in Jurassic Park that says, “Life will find a way.” I have always seen the ditch as bit of nature right in the middle of the road. I look to see if I can find the ducks. I remember a group of boys with a pillowcase collecting snakes. They let them go, of course, but they had a bunch of them! Our wonderful cub scout troop cleans it yearly. No, I don’t think it’s an eyesore, I enjoy it and feel lucky to live across from it.

  12. Judith Moak says:

    Such a great neighborhood and such an unsightly ditch – super interesting story Noel!!

  13. RO FLOYD says:

    MY FAMILY MOVED FROM “OLD TOWN” ON THE WESTSIDE TO PLEASANT VALLEY IN 1960…825 VALLEY RD…JUST AROUND THE CORNER OF “THE DITCH”…THERE WAS A SWAMP WHERE WE WOULD GO & CATCH FROGS…JUST UP THE ALLEY, WHERE WESTMORE PARK WAS BUILT…JUST BEYOND THE SWAMP WAS “WHITE HORSE RANCH”…OWNED BY THE VROOMANS…WHO GRAZED CATTLE ON THE PROPERTY…WE BUILT TREE FORTS IN THE SCRUB OAKS SURROUNDING THE RANCH…& WOULD HANG OUT IN “DOGGIES EYE”…& THE GOG…W’OCCASIONAL VISITS TO THE “CAMERA OBSCURA”…I RECALL A WINTER WHEN WE BUILT A SLED RUN ON THE DITCH WHEN IT FROZE OVER…CLEAR THROUGH THE TUNNEL UNDER THE ROAD ON 31st & FONTANERO…WHAT A BLAST! I STILL COLLECT THE WATERCRESS…BUT DO IT UP STREAM ON THE ROCK LEDGE RANCH AREA…HAVE ALWAYS ENVISIONED A TERRACED “CAMP CREEK’ runnin through the valley…W’OUT ALL THE CEMENT CRAP SIDINGS…IT WOULD BE SO BEAUTIFUL…& ENHANCE THE AREA 10,000 TIMES…THE SRINGS THAT FEED IT ARE WORTHY…& EVERYONE WHO LIVES IN THE VALLEY SHOULD MAKE IT HAPPEN…OR I FEEL THEY’LL PUT IN A CULVERT PIPE & PAVE IT OVER….HOPE THE BEST F’CAMP CREEK…………WATERCRESS ONLY GROWS IN GOOD WATER….RO

  14. Brian Floyd says:

    Ro, couldn’t agree with you more and it was fun to read the adventures the first Floyd sons had. Years later we used to get those old fashioned tubs and sit in them takin them down the waterway from Fontenaro to Colorado avenue(or pretty close to it) Love to see the ditch remain but would also love to see the cement sides go away. The ditch is a great and historical addition to the Valley!

  15. Noel Black says:

    @Katherine, I tried to convey some of my own awe and wonder for the ditch. Hope that came through. I think the real question is.whether the ditch should be.helped along back to a more natural state.

  16. D brown says:

    Interesting article as far as ugliness and property values are concerned, there are many things I’d like the taxpayers to do in my neighborhood to increase my property values too but it isn’t their responsibility. The ditch and the houses around it were built around the same time so the ditch doesn’t detract from the property values but rather was a part of establishing the values. The law of unintended consequences is often overlooked in the name of progress.

  17. Noel Black says:

    @D brown: I don’t think anyone’s arguing that it’s any one person’s or the city’s responsibility to increase property values, but that renaturalizing the ditch would increase property values.

  18. Louise says:

    It’s been a mystery to me that in a place where water is so scarce that we treat our waterways with such disdain. Look at almost any local waterway, Fountain, Monument, Shooks Run, Camp Creek, and many smaller streams, and you’ll find them being used as dumps, covered over, straightened, etc. It’s shameful how we have mistreated Mother Earth.

  19. Jan McMillan says:

    Ahhh Yes…the ditch! So when we go to visit Nancy who lives along the ditch (on the west side) we have to do a little loop de loop, driving north on the east side of the ditch, looping aroumd and then driving south on the west side of the ditch. It’s sort of a fun little ritual we enjoy and unique only when going to visit Nancy!

  20. Debbie Swanson says:

    When my family moved here in 1968, Pleasant Valley was still fairly new and the ditch was “sparkling clean,” a testament to the proud engineering and sanitized approach to caring for unpredictable Mother Nature. As a small child then, I remember being impressed – the walls were huge, and, unlike today, crackless, seamless, and monolithic like some skyscrapers. The bottom, where water always seemed to be running, was clean – I often wondered, like only a child would, how they ever got those street sweepers down in there to keep it clean? Time has taken its toll, and certainly mores and values have changed (including my own), and the ditch is now an eyesore. I, too, would love to see it become naturalized. But nothing can still take away from the small child wonder I felt when I saw that ditch way back when, at the height of its glory.

  21. Phil Wells says:

    Hello Ro Floyd, old neighbor. I lived at 712 Valley Road through the 60′s. I don’t recall you, but certainly the memories. I remember your house as my brother and I had a paper route there. I have very fond memories of Doggies Eye, the White Horse Ranch and Bonnie Vrooman, the swamp with frogs, sledding in the ditch and exploring the scrub oaks. We used to harvest lots of rhubard and wild garlic there! Now living far away in Wisconsin, but a yearly visitor to the area.

    • RO FLOYD says:

      HEY PHIL…NICE T’KNOW WE SHARED ” THE VALLEY’ AS KIDS…WAS QUITE A FEST..BONNIE & CINDY VROOMAN..SUM FUN SNEEKIN IN THE HOUSE W’THE FOLKS WERE GONE…STILL A RHUBARB LOVER…EATING MY FIRST BATCH A SAUCE JUST YESTERDAY OUTTA MY GARDEN IN MANITOU…GIVE ME A SHOUT W’YR IN TOWN…685-5752 CON DIOS RO

  22. Rhonda Heschel says:

    We lived in Pleasant Valley for several years and always dreamed of what the ditch could become with proper planning and unlikely funding. We always enjoyed watching the ducks foraging along through the water and the plants that made their way through the concrete. We miss it!

  23. Eric Hill says:

    I lived across from Camp Creek for six years and liked many things about it. Mostly that it, plus the bike lanes, parking and traffic lanes, made for a very wide road which opened up great views to Pike’s Peak and the Garden. It was often green (at the North end where we lived) and was a good thoroughfare for wildlife. Whenever people referred to it as “the ditch”, I would correct them by saying, “you mean,Camp Creek”.

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