Denver Landmarks & Historic Districts

Over the last few months you may have read the news articles about the proposed development of Larimer Square, Denver's first designated historic district. This week, it was back in the news when the National Trust for Historic Preservation added Larimer Square to its annual list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places."

For the story behind Larimer Square, its buildings, and why it was preserved, check out Dr. Thomas J. Noel's Denver Landmarks and Historic Districts (University Press of Colorado, 2016). This book takes a look at how, and why, Denver established its Landmark Preservation Commission in 1967 and has since designated over 50 historic districts - beginning with Larimer Square - and over 300 individual landmarks. Each of the districts and landmark structures is examined in the book. In our library you can also check out the first edition of the title, published in 1996 - which, in comparison with the new edition, can show how the program has grown in the last twenty years.

For more information about current issues in historic preservation in our state see Preservation for a Changing Colorado (History Colorado, 2017).


Time Machine Tuesday: Water and Growth

In 1999 the Colorado Legislative Council published an Issue Brief entitled Finding Water for One Million New Residents. It reported that in 20 years the population of the Northern Front Range - including the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, and Larimer - would grow to 3.5 million people, and that one of the major issues associated with this population growth would be how to supply water to all the new people moving in.

So before we get to the water issue, let's take a look at the population figures. Were the 1999 predictions accurate?  Using population figures from the State Demography Office, we can see that in 1999 the combined population of those six counties was 2,311,420, and their combined population in 2016 (the most recent year available) was 3,066,923 - a difference of 755,503. Not quite a million. However, given the intense growth that has happened since 2016, if we look at the Demography Office's projected populations for those counties in 2019 - the 20 years since publication of the Issue Brief - the six counties' combined population is expected to be around 3,217,133. That's 905,713 more people in the Front Range than in 1999. And if we count Boulder and Broomfield counties into the mix - which were not counted in the 1999 report, but today considered by most to be a part of the Front Range - we're definitely on track to have a million new residents between 1999 and 2019.

Now to the water issue. David Beaujon writes in the 1999 Issue Brief that "of Colorado's seven river basins, only the Colorado River Basin has a significant amount of surplus water that could be developed for use in the Denver metropolitan area," but cites possible federal policy changes, water projects, and transbasin diversions as potential challenges to obtaining this water. Another possible source, the Denver Basin Aquifer, "offers protection against extended droughts and a temporary water supply for rapidly growing municipalities until other supplies can be developed." However, water in the aquifer "is essentially nonrenewable, and well pumping can exceed the natural rate of recharge from rain and snow, which is often less than an inch per year," cautions Beaujon. Finally, other options are discussed, such as water reuse and transfers of agricultural water rights. Both of these options, however, present challenges to the agricultural economy, either by reducing the amount of lands under irrigation, or by reducing streamflow, explains the Brief.

Colorado's Water PlanSo how has the state dealt with these challenges since 1999, and what does the future hold? In 2015, the state issued its official Water Plan. The nearly 600-page document (which you can also check out in print from our library if your eyes can't take that much screen reading) discusses the supply and demand challenges for each of Colorado's seven basins and how the state is planning to address future need.

Here are some other helpful publications that address the issues of water supply and population growth in the Front Range:


Health First Colorado Member Information

If you are one of the 1,276,946 members of Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, there are many resources available online to help you understand your benefits and services under the program. For an overview, see the Member Handbook, available in both English and Spanish. You can also view a benefits and services chart and FAQs, and visit their page for contact information and where to get help. The Health First website also includes a series of videos which cover topics such as teen depression screening; substance use disorder benefits; and how to keep your information up to date. On this page you can also subscribe to the Health First e-newsletter.

The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), which administers the Health First program, has a variety of other resources on their website to help you navigate the program. If you're searching for a provider, they offer a Find a Doctor database on their website.

Colorado's Medicaid program turns 50 years old this year. Learn more about Medicaid in Colorado, including statistical information, on HCPF's Fifty Facts webpage. For more detailed statistics on enrollment, see the Medicaid Client Caseload by County monthly statistical summaries or view HCPF's annual report.

Finally, you can go to HCPF's website to download a mobile app for managing your benefits.

Health First Colorado


Summer Wildlife Viewing

yellow-bellied marmot Colorado
Check out Marmot Fest at Staunton State Park this weekend, June 23-24, 2018 and maybe you'll spot a yellow-bellied marmot!
Summer is officially here, and with it comes great opportunities for viewing wildlife in all parts of the state. Some species, like hummingbirds, are only here in the summer. Others, like mountain goats, live in alpine areas inaccessible to people except in summer. Still other species hibernate during the winter. So if you're interested in viewing Colorado's many amazing wildlife species, summer is your best bet.

Wildlife viewing is also a great activity for families while the kids are out of school. For a number of years the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks & Wildlife) published Colorado's Wildlife Company, a series of illustrated booklets for all ages to learn about the watchable wildlife in Colorado. The booklets have been digitized by our library and provide fun facts and wildlife viewing tips. Several titles were written especially for summertime wildlife viewing, including the following:

Watching Wildlife provides a simple introduction to wildlife viewing - when and where to go, what tools and techniques to use, and a code of ethics.

Summertime Reveals Secrets of the Alpine Tundra. Check out this fun brochure to learn about species that live at elevations above 11,000 feet, such as mountain goats, marmots, pikas, and ptarmigan. Included are suggestions for places to drive to see alpine wildlife, including Mount Evans, Trail Ridge Road, Independence Pass, Pikes Peak, and the Million Dollar Highway.

Summertime, and the Livin' Ain't Easy. What do animals do to protect themselves from the heat of summer? How have they adapted to our dry climate? Along with tips on viewing animals in summer, this edition tells about the many fascinating adaptations animals have made to survive and thrive in summertime. Download this title to find out what "daily torpor" and "gular fluttering" refer to!

Summer's Hummers is all about hummingbirds. Learn about their amazing acrobatics and flight mechanics, and the innovative ways they search for food. You can also find out how to attract hummingbirds to your garden.

The Hawks of Summer profiles a very different kind of bird. Learn about the many different types and sizes of hawks found in Colorado and how to identify them. Many Colorado hawks, such as red-tailed, Cooper's hawks, and prairie falcons, live in Colorado year-round. But some species, like Swainson's hawks, spend the winters in South and Central America.

Listen... Wildlife viewing isn't just about what you see with your eyes -- it's also about using your ears to locate and identify wildlife. From birds to frogs to elk, species have unique calls and sounds. And learning about animal sounds isn't just about who's making the sound, but why. Many of the birdcalls you hear in your neighborhood every day are actually alarm calls, warning of danger. Prairie dogs, marmots, and other rodents also sound alarms. Animal calls can also be about mating, or territory, or babies asking for food.

Photo by David Iliff, License: CC-BY-SA 3.0


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Yule Marble

Lincoln Memorial.
Did you know that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. are constructed of marble quarried here in Colorado? The stone comes from the Colorado Yule Marble quarry in the Crystal River valley near Marble, between Aspen and Carbondale. Colorado Yule marble, named for nearby Yule Creek, is a special variety of marble found only in Colorado. Yule marble has been used in buildings and monuments across the United States. Here in Denver it's also been used in many state government buildings, including the building that houses our library.

The Yule Marble quarry. Courtesy Colorado Geological Survey.
The Colorado Yule Marble Company was founded by Channing Meek in 1905, although marble had been discovered in the area as early as the 1870s. The town of Marble was founded in 1881. It was after the turn of the century, however, when marble became especially fashionable. With financial assistance from the Rockefellers, Meek spent $3 million establishing the quarry and building a power plant and a railroad to the quarry site through Marble, where the processing mill was located. During its first few years the operation employed nearly 900 workers, many of them Italian immigrants. "Colorado Marble and Building Stone is the Finest in the World," proclaimed the 1909-10 report of the state's Bureau of Labor Statistics in a profile of Yule Marble, which you can read online from our library.

In 1912 an avalanche destroyed the quarry, which is cut into a steep mountainside. It was soon rebuilt and back in operation. That summer, Meek, the founder and superintendent, was killed in a trolley accident in the quarry. The operation continued with new leadership, however, and between 1914 and 1916 supplied stone to Washington, D.C. for the Lincoln Memorial.

Over the next few years, fires, floods, the coming of WWI, and labor troubles tested the company. It was foreclosed and split into two companies and sold; however, in 1924 the two companies merged to form the Consolidated Yule Marble Company. It was sold again in 1928, and in 1930, it was chosen to provide the stone for the Tomb of the Unknowns. "The company was chosen because it had the only quarry capable of cutting a single block of marble large enough for the proposed design," according to an article in the Colorado Encyclopedia.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A building in Los Angeles constructed of Colorado Yule Marble.
By 1941, demand for marble had decreased as cheaper building materials were being introduced and modernist styles favored steel and glass. The quarry was shut down in the fall of that year, just prior to America's entry into WWII. During and after the war, the quarry site sat mostly vacant until 1990, when it was finally reopened. A series of different owners have operated the site since that time. In 2004, marble was declared the State Rock

If you're out exploring the Crystal River valley this summer, you can visit the Colorado Yule Marble site. While the quarry itself is closed to tourists, you can still hike near the old Crystal Mill and see scattered marble remnants and rejects. The town of Marble also has a history museum.

Marble remnants can still be seen while hiking around the area. Photo by Alan Levine courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Video Resources from the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind

The Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind (CSDB) not only provides services to students enrolled at the school, but also provides "outreach programs [that] serve students, staff, and families in communities throughout Colorado." One of the ways CSDB reaches out to the community is through the many video resources they offer. Some of these provide helpful information for teachers of deaf and/or blind students. Others help the community understand these disabilities and how students are overcoming them and thriving.

On the CSDB website, you can find links to these videos. An introductory video about CSDB includes an audio-described version. CSDB has also produced a number of videos on American Sign Language. These include quick videos that anyone can use to learn sign language, and are also useful to sign language instructors. One of the highlights is their "Signs of the Month" series of short videos that teach a few sign words to go with the month or season. For example, in the June video you can learn about signs for flowers and gardening.

CSDB also broadcasts community segments on cable TV. To learn more about these segments or to view them online, click here. Finally, to view all of CSDB's videos, including webinars, instructional tools, a series of "role model" interviews, technology information, provider information, employability resources, and "Voices of CSDB" interviews, visit the CSDB YouTube channel.

To learn more about CSDB, view their annual reports available online from our library.


Summer Ozone and Pollution

Wondering what you can do to help reduce ozone and improve our summer air? The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Regional Air Quality Council have launched a new campaign that can help Coloradans take simple steps toward better summer air. In fact, that's the name of the campaign and its new website - SimpleStepsBetterAir.org. Check out the website for tips on what you can do. For instance, while "take fewer car trips" might be fairly obvious, there are probably some things that you're doing that you're not even aware are affecting our summer ozone. For example, do you know which household products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs)? Which man-made activities produce the highest levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx)? And what ground-level ozone can do to your health? In addition to learning all about summer ozone, you can also use the website to download interactive tools such as the OzoMeter for logging car trips, and sign up for real-time ozone and air pollution updates.

Want to learn even more about ozone and summer air quality? You can find many helpful resources in our library, including
Items listed above without URLs can be checked out in print from our library or on Prospector. For lots more titles on ozone and air quality, search our library's online catalog.


Public Transit in Colorado

With so many people moving to Colorado, and with so much development, transit has become an important issue. Transit, or public transit, refers to multi-modal transportation systems that can move large numbers of passengers - i.e., buses or passenger rail.

The state's two major planning documents for transit are the Statewide Transit Plan, which "identifies local, regional and statewide transit and passenger rail needs and priorities," and the Colorado State Freight and Passenger Rail Plan, developed "to provide a framework for future freight and passenger rail planning in Colorado." Learn more about the two plans, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)'s other transit policies, on their Division of Transit and Rail webpage.

Additional documents relating to Colorado's transit and rail planning include:
To learn about Colorado's safety laws for rail and transit, visit the Colorado Public Utilities Commission's  Rail/Transit webpage. The state also recently conducted an audit of bus and light rail operator safety practices.

Photo by Jeffrey Beall courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Time Machine Tuesday: Summer Floods

As hot and dry as it has been so far this summer, it's hard to believe that most of Colorado's floods -- the September 2013 floods being a significant exception -- occur in June and July. In our library you can find many resources on the history of flooding in Colorado. Many flood events are documented in publications available from our library.

The Northern Colorado Floods of 1997 
1997 was a significant year for floods in Colorado. Lessons of Recovery: A Review of the 1997 Colorado Flood Disaster provides an overview of the various floods that occurred in northern Colorado in July of that year.

"In Fort Collins and in the Morgan County community of Weldona, the 1997 flood events far exceeded anything on record or in the memories of long-time residents," noted the report, which was produced in 1999 by the state's Office of Emergency Management. Five Fort Collins residents were killed in what is known as the Spring Creek Flood, which caused thousands of dollars in damage and even affected the CSU campus. Larimer County received the heaviest recorded rainfall in 24 hours during that flood event. See my Time Machine Tuesday post from last July for more on the flood and additional resources.

Pawnee Creek, in Logan County, also flooded during this time. CSU's Colorado Climate Center produced a report on the rainfall for the Pawnee Creek storm. The 1997 floods are also covered in Flood of 97, an state-federal interagency hazard mitigation report, and in Colorado's 1997 Flood Season in Review, a publication of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB).

A little over a month earlier, on June 2, Weld County had experienced significant flooding. The Colorado Water Conservation Board produced an Engineering Technical Report on this event.

1996 Floods

On July 12, 1996, residents near Buffalo Creek in western Jefferson County experienced a disastrous flood exacerbated by the denuded landscape resulting from a recent forest fire. Two people were killed in the flood. For information see The Buffalo Creek Flash Flood of 1996 and Emergency Response, Flood Hazard Mitigation, and Flood Hazard Awareness for Residents of Buffalo Creek, Colorado.

Just three days before, on July 9, southeastern Pueblo experienced a flood at Dry Creek basin, brought on by a heavy thunderstorm. The floodwaters circumvented a levee downstream of a rail crossing, damaging several homes. The Colorado Water Conservation Board's review of the flood can be accessed from our library.

The Big Thompson Flood

The deadliest flood in Colorado history, the Big Thompson Flood, began on the night of July 31, 1976. The disaster claimed the lives of 144 people and caused over $35 million in damages, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Our library collection includes numerous reports and studies on this flood. Some of the reports that have been digitized and are available online include:

Other Floods
  • One of the most damaging floods in the state's history occurred when the Arkansas River flooded on June 3, 1921. Exactly seventy-three years to the day, Pueblo again experienced flooding. The second flood is chronicled in the City and County of Pueblo Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan: The June 3, 1994 Flash Flood.
  • Colorado Springs experienced a flood, along with a major hailstorm, on June 17, 1993. Lessons learned from this event were used to create the City of Colorado Springs Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan, completed in cooperation with the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.
  • Frenchman Creek, in Phillips County, was hit by flooding on July 30, 1989. Most of the damage occurred to roadways, agricultural lands, and a few buildings in the small town of Paoli. Read the CWCB's Post Flood Report for details. Information on other floods occurring in 1988 and 1989 can be found in Chronology of Floods in Colorado, published in 1991.
  • The Uncompahgre Valley in Montrose and Delta Counties experienced six summer floods between 1921 and 1983. A Flood Damage Survey Report from the CWCB describes the flooding in this area.
  • On June 3, 1981 a severe thunderstorm and up to 3.5 inches of rain "caused considerable flooding in the town of Milliken [in Weld County] and adjacent farm lands." The storm also produced hail and tornadoes. "Considerable tornado damage was reported in Denver, Northglenn, Thornton, and Fort Lupton. Hail damage was reported along a line from Northglenn to Greeley and well on to the northeast at many scattered locations," according to the CWCB's report on the flood.
  • Many long-time Denverites recall when the South Platte flooded on June 16, 1965, killing twenty-one people. The State Legislature's report on the flood has been digitized and is available online from our library.

Our library collection contains many more documents about Colorado flooding than just those listed here. Search our online catalog for more resources.

Do you have memories of these or other Colorado floods? Share your reminiscences in the comments section below.


Colorado's New "Hot Car" Law

It's only the beginning of June, but with temperatures already into the 90s, it looks like it's going to be a very hot summer! With hot temperatures come heat dangers, one of the most significant being the danger of a hot parked car. On a hot day, temperatures inside parked cars can rise to lethal levels in just a matter of minutes, leading to heat stroke and suffocation. Pets are especially vulnerable, so it is never safe to leave a pet alone in a locked car on a hot day, even with the windows cracked.

In 2017, the Colorado General Assembly passed a new law, HB17-1179, which provides "immunity for a person who renders emergency assistance from a locked vehicle" - in other words, making it legal to break into a locked car to rescue a dog or cat, or an at-risk person. (At-risk persons are defined in Colorado law as persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, or persons over 70 years of age). This law came about because of citizens' concerns over the frequency of dogs left in hot cars while the owners were elsewhere. Colorado is now one of 28 states with laws regarding pets left in hot cars. Some counties and municipalities, including Denver, also have their own ordinances regarding protection of pets from the elements. If you are concerned about a pet (or person) locked in a hot car, contact your local law enforcement agency.

Summer heat provides a variety of other dangers to pets in addition to hot cars. Dehydration, sunburn, and hot pavement are also dangerous to pets. Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital offers tips on keeping your pet safe in summer months, including warning signs that your dog is suffering from heat stroke.


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Place Names

Did you know that the name of Golden has nothing to do with gold? What name is Calhan a misspelling of? How many ladies in Park County could the town of Alma have possibly been named for? 

In the early 1940s, the Colorado Historical Society published A to Z listings of Colorado place names and their origins. The lists appeared, letter by letter, in issues of Colorado Magazine from 1940 to 1943. You can read these issues online starting with the letter A, in vol. 17, no. 1 (January 1940) and concluding with W,X,Y,Z in vol. 20, no. 3 (May 1943).

You can also find information on Colorado place names in the Year Book of the State of Colorado, available online from our library. For example, the 1940 yearbook contains some history on the naming of Colorado's mountain passes. The 1918 yearbook contains descriptions of each Colorado county, which include background on the origins of the county names or those of locations within the county.

1) It was named for Thomas L. Golden, an early settler.
2) Calahan, after a contractor who built the railroad in the area
3) Three. It could have been named for Alma James, wife of the town merchant; Alma Dow Graves, wife of a mine operator; or Alma Jaynes, popular daughter of an early settler.


County and Regional Economic Data

If you're researching which industries drive the economy in various parts of Colorado, be sure to view the Colorado Demography Office's Base Industry Analysis database. This tool "provides insights into the economic activities that bring outside dollars into a community and the additional jobs that result from the spending of those dollars on local resident services," according to the Demography Office. The database shows the number of employees, and percentages, for each industry group. You can search the database by county or region.

For more data on jobs and the economy, including labor force statistics, personal income trends, and economic forecasts, go to the Demography Office's The Economy and Labor Force webpage.

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