Remembering the 1997 Spring Creek Flood

July 28, 2017 marks 20 years since Fort Collins experienced the one of the biggest natural disasters in its history.

A slow moving storm cell on July 27-28, 1997 stalled over Fort Collins and dumped 14.5 inches of rain in 31 hours creating flash flooding that wreaked havoc on parts of Fort Collins. One of the hardest hit places was the Spring Creek area west of College Avenue. Debris clogged a railroad underpass which caused water to back up into a Johnson Mobile Home Park where 5 people were killed.

Flood waters also damaged numerous buildings on the campus of CSU including the basement and first floor of the library. In the aftermath of the disaster the City of Fort Collins implemented extensive flood mitigation planning that has shaped the landscape of Fort Collins. This work resulted in Fort Collins avoiding the extensive damage that ravaged much of northern Colorado during the 2013 floods.

Spring Creek Flood Resources

  • The Follow the Flood Event and Remembrance Ceremony is taking place on July 28th at Creekside Park beginning at 6:30 pm. Flood Education Day is July 29 at Spring Park. Learn more about both events here.
  • You can also learn more about the flood at the Fort Collins History Connection.
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The NEW Fort Collins History Connection is LIVE!

We’re pleased to announce that the newly-redesigned Fort Collins History Connection website is now LIVE and ready for you to explore! This website is collaboration between the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and the Poudre River Public Library, representing thousands of hours of effort by staff and volunteers to make local history accessible and fun for everyone! It’s the Archive that’s open 24 hours a day.

Some cool new features of the site include:

  • Responsive design that looks sharp on your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone

 

  • Easy download of scanned images (up to 1000×1000 pixels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start exploring the new site here. We hope you discovery something new *and* old!

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Fort Collins and The War to End All Wars

 

In the spring of 1917, the United States entered the war raging in Europe. Here’s a description from the National World War I Museum and Memorial:

“The day after an overwhelming majority in the Senate votes for war, President Wilson signs the declaration. The United States quickly puts the entire country on the road to war.  Going from a standing army of 133,000 men with almost no heavy artillery pieces, millions of men were inducted into the armed forces over the next two years and given basic combat training.”

One hundred years later, the changes wrought on the world as a result of World War I – the Great War – are still being studied, discussed, and debated. You’ve probably seen a presentation or two yourself. But you might not know the part Fort Collins played.   

Battery A – originally a National Guard unit formed at Colorado Agricultural College, later part of a regiment of the US Army – included Fort Collins men, and would train in Camps Baldwin (Denver), Greene (North Carolina), Mills (New York), and Merritt (New Jersey) before landing in Europe. The Archive houses a scrapbook that captures one soldier’s experience of the war, Mr. John Hurdle.

The first date that appears in Hurdle’s scrapbook is from July, 100 years ago. The scrapbook is filled with photographs and handwritten notes that track Battery A’s route through the fields of war, and includes many images of Fort Collins citizens. A few pages are featured below.

During the remainder of this year, and through the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice, we will share with you details of the war as experienced by the citizens of Fort Collins (including those at home and those who never made it home). You can expect excerpts of letters, pictures from the Front, first-hand accounts of the Second Battle of the Marne, and much more.

*Stay tuned for more research on WWI and the Hurdle scrapbook from Jenny Hannifin and Doug Ernest.

 

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Fun with Fruit

As I was processing a collection of agricultural yearbooks (1902-1998), I didn’t expect much in the way of beauty.

But amidst the descriptions of foot-and-mouth disease, insect infestation, and state-by-state parameters for “a bushel,” I found these delightful color plates.

Enjoy the fruits of my labor – all from The Yearbook of Agriculture: 1902 (published by the US Department of Agriculture).

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Growing “up” – Fort Collins’ first skyscrapers

These days, a drive around Fort Collins always includes orange traffic cones, route deviations, and a horizon line crossed with a building crane. We are growing, aren’t we? Fort Collins residents of the 1960s felt the pressure of growth as well:

“City planners were hard pressed to keep up with the city’s growth, especially in the rapidly developing suburbs. Fort Collins’ population almost tripled between 1950 and 1970. New industries, such as Kodak and Aqua Tec, were locating in the area, attracting more people. The Chamber of Commerce reported that industrial employment rose from 1,068 in 1960 to 3,411 in 1969. Builders tried to keep pace with the growth as all-time records were set for private construction. A consequence of these efforts was the building of Fort Collins’ first skyscrapers. The twelve-story First National Bank Tower and the eleven-story Home Federal Savings Building (now Norwest) were built in 1968.”  (From “Timeline 1960”, www.history.fcgov.com  )

Plans for First National Bank’s twelve-story “condominium” office building at 205 West Oak were publicly announced on November 19, 1967; less than two years later, Fort Collins residents celebrated its completion.  According to the Denver Post, “An estimated 12,000 persons attended the recent one week long celebration opening the First National Bank’s 12 story building” (7-6-1969 4/5).

Here’s a shot of the “new” building from June 16, 1969:   

Here’s a ribbon-cutting picture taken at the opening, also from June 16, 1969:  

 

This aerial shot shows the cityscape northeast of the new tower:   

 

Building is a messy process.  To actualize this (a rendering of the “new” courthouse, circa 1969): 

 

You gotta go through a lot of this:        and

 

 

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