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9 Reasons to Visit Fort Collins this Summer: Guest Blog

By Guest Blog, News, Uncategorized

April 18, 2024 by Visit Fort Collins

Whether you’re in Fort Collins for a weekend or two weeks, it’s nearly impossible to explore all of the trails, lakes, rivers, and streams in the surrounding foothills and mountains, so if you only have time to explore a few, we suggest experiencing Horsetooth Reservoir and the Cache la Poudre River.

Horsetooth Reservoir is one of Colorado’s most scenic outdoor utopias and it is located just minutes from the heart of Fort Collins. The reservoir also has quite the story of how it acquired its name from the distinctive rock formation that sits above the large body of water. There is an old Native American legend regarding this famous stone. The Valley of Contentment (today’s Horsetooth Reservoir) was once guarded by a giant so that no buffalo, deer, or antelope were hunted in the valley. Chief Maunamoku led Indians to slay the giant. In killing the giant, the Chief slashed at his heart, first in the center, then on the right, and then on the left with a tomahawk from the heavens. The next day the giant turned to stone and is now known as Horsetooth Rock.

Today, the 6.5-mile-long reservoir is a beloved recreation spot for activities such as fishing, swimming, boating, stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, water skiing, hiking, and camping. There are tons of miles of trails surrounding the reservoir for mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking. The east side of the reservoir is one of the best spots in Colorado for bouldering. Horsetooth Reservoir is open year-round and includes RV spots, campsites, and cabins, managed by Larimer County Natural Areas. If camping isn’t your forte, you are welcome to relax in one of the condos or bed & breakfasts in the area and you can rent a boat, kayak, SUP board, and more at the local marina.

The Cache la Poudre River Canyon truly is something to behold. Surrounded by magnificent cliffs and captivating rock formations, encased in ponderosa and lodgepole pine trees, sagebrush, mountain mahogany, and aspen – the canyon is nothing short of a wonderland. The Poudre River also happens to be Colorado’s only nationally designated “Wild & Scenic” river. Colorado Highway 14, the road which follows much of the river, is a designated Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway as well.

2. SUMMERTIME FESTIVALS AND EVENTS IN FORT COLLINS

Fort Collins plays host to some of the greatest festivals and events in the state of Colorado each and every year. Enjoy summertime events celebrating everything great about our town from craft beer to bikes to music and food. See Visit Fort Collins’ event blog and calendar here.

3. FORT COLLINS AS A WELLNESS TRAVEL DESTINATION

Wellness is a way of life in Fort Collins and our city facilitates many opportunities to treat yourself right while visiting. Enjoy all kinds of outdoor recreation from outdoor yoga to hiking to kayaking. Summertime in Fort Collins additionally offers amazing running events to participate in. For passionate cyclists, The FoCo Fondo offers many biking events that provide for both heart-healthy exercise and opportunities to explore beautiful Northern Colorado.

4. FOURTH OF JULY FESTIVITIES

The 4th of July celebration in Fort Collins is a sight to behold, with events happening all around town, there are ways to celebrate all day long. Enjoy family-friendly celebrations such as the annual parade that rolls through the historic streets of Old Town traveling east on Mountain Avenue, beginning at Jackson Avenue and ending at Meldrum Street. After that, enjoy a day of live music, food, and vendors at City Park as the night culminates with a spectacular firework show in Fort Collins’ oldest recreational park.

5. OUTDOOR LIVE MUSIC

Celebrating music, musicians, and providing opportunities for visitors and community members to take part in the music scene is a big part of the Fort Collins culture. Summertime is outdoor live music season and on any given weekend, and often weekdays, you will find live music in Fort Collins. Venues like The LyricWolverine Farm Publick House, and our craft breweries frequently host outdoor live music events.

6. NEW BELGIUM BREWING’S TOUR DE FAT

The slogan for this annual costumed bike and beer parade festival says it all: Bikes, Beer, and Bemusement. Get out and have a ball at this eccentric festival hosted by New Belgium Brewery on August 24th. This is your chance to ride your bicycle in your best costume from Old Town to City Park while enjoying a day full of wacky carnival fun, live performances, and delicious New Belgium Beer. Welcome to the home of New Belgium – Fort Collins, CO.

7. HIKE THE AMAZING TRAILS OF FORT COLLINS

HORSETOOTH FALLS

Located in the gorgeous Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, Horsetooth Falls is truly one of the most family-friendly hikes you can find in and around Fort Collins. It’s a little less than 2.5 miles roundtrip and rated as easy to moderate skill level. There is beautiful scenery all around this trail, from open meadows to green wild grass and beautiful wildflowers with the payoff of a waterfall at the end, this hike is truly spectacular. Pack a lunch and have a picnic when you get to the waterfall and go ahead and dip your feet in the water, and if you really want, you can cool down and dip your head under the falling water as well.

ARTHUR’S ROCK

Set with the stunning natural background of Lory State Park, Arthur’s Rock offers some of the most magnificent views of Horsetooth Reservoir and the city of Fort Collins. Arthur’s Rock is a very short drive from Fort Collins and is also a relatively short intermediate hike. This approximately two-mile trail bends through open meadows and brilliant mountain views on the way to the summit of Arthur’s Rock, which ascends to an elevation of 6,780 feet. The hike does gain in elevation quickly, which means it’s climbing up on the way to the top and shooting down on the way back to the bottom. There is also a fantastic natural stairway leading you to the top of the rock which provides a perfect setting for a picnic if you pack a lunch.

HORSETOOTH ROCK

Views upon views upon more spectacular views describe this hike in a nutshell. There is an incredible feeling that overcomes you when standing atop Horsetooth Rock while staring down into beautiful Horsetooth Reservoir. Just as impressive is the opposite view of the rolling hills to the west. Not to mention, Horsetooth Rock is one of the more unique rock formations you’ll ever come across. There truly is nothing that looks quite like Horsetooth Rock. This hike is 5 miles roundtrip and is a moderate skill level hike.

GREYROCK

This fantastic hike resides in Cache la Poudre River Canyon and is less than 20 minutes from Old Town Fort Collins. This moderate skill level hike has two trail options: the Meadows trail (approximately 7.4 miles roundtrip) and the Greyrock Summit trail (approximately 5.5 miles) with both offering stunning views equipped with ponds that live atop the summit of the rock. The elevation gain on this hike is nearly 2,000 feet with the summit sitting at 7,480 feet. This hike is definitely a bit of a challenge that comes with a little bouldering toward the end. But the payoff is worth it as it offers outstanding 360-degree views of Poudre River Canyon.

8. RIDE YOUR BICYCLE

Biking might be the best way to get to know Fort Collins. The city boasts a reasonably flat terrain, extremely wide bike lanes, and trails that follow the Cache la Poudre River and Spring Creek. Plus, biking is an enjoyable, healthy, and environmentally friendly way to get around. Whether you’re discovering some of Fort Collins’ 285-plus miles of trails or riding in the mountains, you’ll recognize why Fort Collins is a platinum-level bike-friendly city. Cycle to Old Town or pedal to one of the 20-plus local breweries and you just might come across more bikes than cars on the road on any given day.

9. MAP OUT A BREWERY ADVENTURE

Every town has an identity, a way of life, a certain aura-something that specifically defines why the town is special. For Fort Collins, that certain something is craft beer and the culture that has grown around it. The relationship between the brewing industry and the town of Fort Collins is more than just a business correlation, it’s a societal culture – a culture that has been around for over 25 years.

There are numerous ways to explore each of the 20 and counting breweries in Fort Collins. You can go on a beer and bike tour, take a magic bus ride, or indulge in a self-guided tour. There are so many unique ways for everyone of age to experience the incredible beer that resides in Colorado’s craft beer capital. We encourage you to partake in what is such a big part of the Fort Collins community. We promise you will not be disappointed – cheers!

CACHE LA POUDRE RIVER NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA

When you are exploring the wonders of Fort Collins, remember you are in a national heritage area – how cool is that! The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area extends 45 miles and includes the lands within the 100-year flood plain of the Cache la Poudre River. It begins in Larimer County at the eastern edge of the Roosevelt National Forest and ends east of Greeley, 1/4 miles west of the confluence with the South Platte.

Eastman Park River Experience | Paddling

6 Ways to Play It Safe on the Poudre River

By Uncategorized

The sun is out, and the water is calling. However, it is important to remember one of our most beloved places to recreate in the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage area is still a force of nature. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins was flowing at a discharge rate (the volume of water moving down the river per unit of time) of 627 ft3/s as of May 29, 2024, at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. An hour earlier the flow rate was down to 197 ft3/s. This constant fluctuation is one of the major reasons it is so important to be prepared when recreating on the river.

Remember to have fun and Play it Safe on the Poudre!

1. Wear proper safety equipment.

  1. Use proper flotation devices
    1. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs), or life jackets, can be purchased at local places within the heritage area. Find suggestions for places to shop under resources. Life vests will be provided at all whitewater rafting locations.
  2. Wear shoes
    1. Proper shoes provide foot protection and traction. When entering and exiting the river, the rocks on the riverbed will be slippery and potentially sharp. Sturdy shoes will also protect your feet from various hazards such as rocks, sharp objects, and debris.
  3. Wear a helmet
    1. If you do fall into the water, a helmet will protect your melon.
  4. Don’t tie anything to yourself or your tube
    1. Why? If you flip, it could get caught between the rocks on the riverbed. It could also get caught on a passing tree branch and flip the tube.

2. Is it safe to go?

  1. Know the weather and water conditions
    1. Check the water conditions using the RMA Poudre Rock Report linked below.
  2. This water is melted snow – it’s ALWAYS cold!
  3. Avoid logs, branches, rocks and debris

3. Know where you are.

  1. Take a map. Maps can be found at the physical locations listed below or you can download a digital version.
  2. Plan your take-out location before you get in so you don’t get stuck without an exit strategy.

4. Float Sober, Float Safe

  1. Alcohol and drugs impair judgement

5. Be Courteous

  1. Pack it in; pack it out
  2. Share the river
  3. If you flip, be aware that you may be on private property when you make it to shore.
    1. Note: The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area does not own nor manage land within the heritage area. This means that if you flip and get to shore, you may end up on private property. Remember to always know where you are and respect the landowner’s property.

6. What if you flip?

  1. Don’t stand up in the river; avoid foot entrapment.
  2. Float on your back with your feet pointing downstream and toes out of the water.
  3. Take a whistle and a drybag.
  4. Use your arms to paddle to shore.

Information provided by the U.S. Geological Survey is provisional and subject to revision. Images provided by photographer Terry Walsh and the Town of Windsor.

Press Release: Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area Highlights Local Artists at First Annual Cache & Cocktails

By Capture the Cache, Events, News, Uncategorized
[Severance, CO] – The countdown is on for Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area’s inaugural community event recognizing the artistic beauty and cultural importance of the Cache la Poudre River: Cache & Cocktails.
Art and the great outdoors come together June 20, 2024, for an evening of honor and recognition, including the culmination of the Capture the Cache” photo contest and the organization’s Emeritus Award ceremony, recognizing individuals who have greatly impacted efforts to preserve the Cache NHA.

The summer solstice offers the perfect setting to celebrate those who capture the essence of life on the Poudre River in a moment of time and those who’ve worked to protect and preserve it for future generations. We look forward to sharing an evening of art and culture with our community.

Sabrina StokerExecutive Director
Guests will enjoy food and signature cocktails and a silent auction featuring canvas prints of this year’s winning photographs, plus a plein-air painting demonstration in collaboration with Thompson Valley Art League. Proceeds support Cache NHA’s arts and culture-focused community events and mission to preserve the heritage of the Cache la Poudre River for generations to come.
When:  Thursday, June 20, 2024 | 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Location: Windsong Estate Event Center | 2901 Saddler Boulevard, Severance, CO 80524
Impact/Statistics
  • In 2023, Cache NHA distributed $21,080 in grant funds to local initiatives and allocated an additional $68,197 for future historic preservation projects, including $35,000 in Weld County.
  • An economic impact study completed by Tripp Umbach in 2017 found that the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area generates an annual economic impact of $81.6 million while supporting over 1,000 jobs and generating $6.9 million in tax revenue. 
  • In the past decade, Cache NHA invested over half a million in community grants and leveraged nearly $14 million of public-private funding.
About Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area
The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (managed by the Poudre Heritage Alliance, a regional non-profit) promotes a variety of historic and cultural opportunities, engages people in the river corridor, and inspires learning, preservation, and stewardship through collaborative partnerships and by providing funding to community-beneficial projects within the heritage area. The 45 miles of the Cache la Poudre River, designated by Congress in 2009 as a National Heritage Area, is one of three heritage areas in Colorado and one of 62 in the nation. The heritage area was nationally designated due to conflicts over water use, leading to Western water law, innovative irrigation techniques, and water measurement devices.

“I Feel Sorry I Fed My Chickens”: The 1904 Flood on the Poudre River Part 2

By Stories, Uncategorized

By Heidi Fuhrman, Heritage Interpreter

If you missed part one of our 1904 flood series be sure to give it a read for the full story!

May 20th, 1904. 7pm—The force of the water had rushed through Laporte, Bellvue, and Fort Collins, sweeping homes from their foundations, knocking all but one bridge, and leaving the communities feet deep in water. For the people downstream, however, the flood was just sweeping into their homes.

Near the bend in the Poudre, Robert Strauss’ tenants were trying to convince him to leave, but he refused, saying he had lived by the river for forty years and knew how to survive a flood. He would attempt to leave later as the waters rose, spending the night knee deep in water and dying from exposure the next morning after being rescued. (Robert was one of only two casualties.) His neighbor, Will Lamb, also dismissed the warnings, but retreated with his wife and son to their hayloft for the night as the waters rose, now including the force of the Box Elder Creek.

Flood Viewed from the railroad tracks looking at Strauss Cabin in Fort Collins. Image Credit: Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, [H01961].

In Windsor, “…the flood made a general interchange of property, real and personal, that was not destroyed.” For example, “Melvin Kyger, eight miles from Greeley counted elven houses that floated past his house within an hour and twenty minutes.” William Jones lost 60 of his chickens and all 100 of his turkey eggs but did manage to save his carpets (whew).

Because the landscape levels out, the flood traveled slower through the Timnath and Windsor areas, giving the people downriver more time to prepare and move to higher ground. In fact, the flood didn’t even reach Greeley until the wee hours of the next morning (May 21st) but rose from four to fifteen feet. Like their neighbors in Fort Collins and Windsor, the people of Greeley watched from the edges of the much wider Poudre, as the forceful water swept away bridges, houses, chickens on haystacks, and destroyed the cabbage and onion crops. As the Greeley Tribune later observed, “Thousands of people watched the water from every vantage point, and it really looked more like a holiday for the town than a calamity that was destroying thousands of dollars worth of crops.” (May 26, 1904)

By May 22nd, the flood had moved on, leaving feet of mud and destruction in its path. As the Larimer County Independent Reported:

A wild, roaring, surging flood swept down through the Cache la Poudre valley Friday afternoon and evening doing incalculable damage to property. Houses, tents, barns, sheds, fences, and bridges were swept from their moorings and dashed to pieces by the angry waters. Thousands of acres of the choicest garden and farm lands in the valley covered with luxuriant crops, were laid waste leaving wreck and desolation triumphant.

Larimer County Independent, May 25, 1904

A collapsed train track over the flooded Poudre River in Greeley. Image Credit: [H08350] City of Greeley

One of the biggest concerns as the communities looked towards the future was the repairs needed to the irrigation ditches. Ironic that water in abundance destroyed the very systems the agriculture communities relied on for water in scarcity, but the reality that few headgates remained, and ditches were filled with mud cast a very real reality that irrigation, and therefore a harvest, would be impossible. Though the system did need thousands of dollars of repairs it was not as bad as first anticipated and there was a harvest in 1904.

Apart from the irrigation damage, there was only one standing (or safe) bridge between Greeley and Bellvue and hundreds of families had lost their homes (including 150 of the German from Russian immigrant families in Fort Collins). In the wake of devastation, Will Lamb, the farmer from Timnath who had spent the night in a hayloft, reminded the communities that sometimes humor and gratitude are the most needed in times of crisis:

May 22—Fort Collins people may blow about their fine waterworks and filters all they please, but I do not believe they amount to a whoop, because there were great quantities of water that went by here last Friday night that never had been filtered, judging from the sediment it left in my barn. Judging from the smell I couldn’t help from wondering if Lon James and family hadn’t been washing their feet in it… I found my hayrake over in Nelson’s field. He swears he did not put it there so I will let him off this time … I feel sorry now that we fed our chickens at all last Friday, as a good portion of them were drowned that night … It took our front gate too, the d---- knows where, I don’t… I was thankful for small things and big ones…this was one of the big ones and I fill truly thankful we are still here.

Larimer County Independent, May 25, 1904, page 8

Floods are not uncommon on the Poudre. The City of Fort Collins is located where it is today due to a flood on the Poudre in 1864 that destroyed the first Camp Collins, originally located closer to Laporte. Residents of the area might remember when the Poudre and Big Thompson flooded in 2013 or when the Spring Creek flooded in 1997 after torrential rains. But the 1904 storm remains the peak discharge in cfs for the Poudre River. For the people along the Cache la Poudre River, both past and present, water—in abundance and scarcity—continues to be one of our greatest adversities.

A group of people gathered to view the flooded river. Image Credit: [H08408] City of Greeley Musuems

References

Destructive Floods in the United States in 1904”, United States Geological Survey, 1905. p154-156.

Floods in Colorado,” United States Department of the Interior, 1948. p51-59.

Fort Collins Express, May 25, 1904. (Access on Newspapers.com)

Fort Collins Weekly Courier, May 25, 1904. [Read the full newspaper on the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection].

Greeley Tribune, May 26, 1904. [Read the full newspaper on the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection].

Larimer County Independent, May 25, 1904. (Accessed on Newspapers.com)

Windsor Beacon, May 28, 1904. (Accessed on Newspapers.com

"A Great Calamity": The 1904 Flood on the Poudre River Part 1

"A Great Calamity": The 1904 Flood on the Poudre River Part 1

“A Great Calamity”: The 1904 Flood on the Poudre River Part 1

By Stories, Uncategorized

By Heidi Fuhrman, Heritage Interpreter

This year we mark the 120th anniversary of the 1904 flood on the Cache la Poudre River, or, as the papers called it, “A Great Calamity.” Read on to discover the story of one river, two days, and thousands of “unfortunate victims of cruel circumstances.”

Newspaper clipping from the days following the flood. “A Great Calamity Visits Cache la Poudre Valley. (1904, May 25). The Larimer County Independent, 1.”

May 20th, 1904 began like any other morning along the Cache la Poudre River. Well, perhaps not like any morning—dark storm clouds lay low over the foothills and there were reports that it was raining up-river, and rain in Colorado is unusual—but for the residents of the lower Poudre’s communities the day began like any other.

Down near Laporte Mrs. J.L. Armstrong fed her children breakfast before shooing them out of the house. In Fort Collins, Chris Mason kissed his wife goodbye before strolling over the Poudre to the new dance pavilion he owned on the north bank, pausing to admire the new piano he’d just installed. Down the road, a group of Germans from Russia walked from the immigrant neighborhood to the new Fort Collins Great Western Sugar factory to put in a day’s labor turning beets to sugar.

Further down, at the bend of the Poudre before it wound down through Timnath, Robert Strauss looked out from the cabin he’d built in 1860 on morning light hitting the river. A few miles downriver his neighbor, Will Lamb, told their other neighbor yet again that he couldn’t borrow the hay rake.

Destroyed train tracks and flooded river in Fort Collins. Image Credit: Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, [H03229].

In Windsor, William Jones let his flock of chickens and turkeys out before collecting a hundred eggs. And down in Greeley, the farmers near the river bottoms surveyed their fields and were grateful the early onion and cabbage crops were growing well, stretching before turning to finish putting in the last of the beets.

Further up-river, however, all was not normal. High in the Poudre Canyon, and in the tributary streams and canyons that feed the Poudre River, rain was falling. Not just a gentle sprinkle, a deluge. On a landscape that sees an average of fourteen inches of annual precipitation, three to eight inches of rain fell within 24 hours (that’s 20-57% of the annual). The mountain streams and Poudre, already swollen from spring snowmelt, couldn’t contain the water. Unbeknownst to the communities below, Boxelder Creek, a tributary of the Poudre, ordinarily a few feet wide was swiftly growing to a raging river from bluff to bluff, while the Poudre itself was deepening and widening as the North Fork, up in the canyon, dumped its gallons into the already overwhelming torrent.

At about 4 o’clock in the afternoon on May 20, 1904, a wall of water ten to twelve feet high burst through the bottom of the Poudre Canyon a few miles above Laporte, quickly spreading out to more than a mile wide. The Armstrong family, found themselves in the midst of the river, cut off from help by walls of water, scrambling to the top of their home for shelter like the rest of their neighbors in Bellvue and Laporte as the river swept away their buildings, gardens, and bridges. Someone managed to phone Fort Collins before the lines were swept aside, alerting the community that a flood was quickly heading their way.

The view looking at College Avenue from the sugar mill during the flood. Image Credit: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, [Z-1813].

An hour later, at five o’clock, the flood hit Fort Collins. At four o’clock the river was flowing about 900 cubic feet per second, by six o’clock it was flowing at least 30,000 cubic feet per second (afterwards the USGS commissioner estimated it was closer to 40,000cfs, the yearly average today is around 300cfs). As the water commissioner later wrote in the USGS report, “The flood was down …almost before anyone could remove anything out of the way, and had it been in the night there would probably have been a great loss of life as well as property.”

Luckily for the residents of Fort Collins it wasn’t night, but as the newspaper reported, “…scores of families were driven from their homes in great haste, often compelled to wade through muddy water waist deep to places of safety. Nearly all their belongings, except what they had on their backs at the moment, were left to become the playthings of the rolling, surging flood.” (Larimer County Independent May 25, 1904.)

Rolling and surging it was. Moving houses from their foundations or sweeping away the lighter ones, wiping out gardens and fields, and destroying all but two bridges between the canyon and Greeley. Steel or wood, nothing could stand against the flood water. Chris Mason stood on the north bank near the river—now over a mile wide and running down College Ave five feet deep—with thousands of other residents, watching the “work of destruction” and the dance pavilion, piano and all, collapse and be swept away, taking out the railroad bridge. Across the river his wife, with their children, sought refuge on the second floor of their home, “with fear and trembling,” while through the night a river up to the windowsills swept through the lower level. The next morning their neighbor, Jim Clayton, swam out and rescued them one by one although he refused a final trip to rescue the family chicken.

The sugar factory was surrounded by feet of water and the workers found themselves trapped for the night. Thousands of pounds of sugar escaped being ruined by only six inches. Meanwhile, their families, watched as the entire immigrant neighborhood (now the neighborhoods of Buckingham & Andersonville) was swept away.

Flood damage at Buckingham Place which was the Great Western Sugar Factory housing for the German-Russian beet workers located in Lincoln St. between Willow and Lemay. Image Credit: Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. [H02438]

By seven o’clock the height of the flood swept through Fort Collins (although it would take hours to recede) but was only just reaching the communities downstream …

Read Part 2 for the rest of the stories of Robert Strauss, Will Lamb, William Jones, and the other residents downriver.

References

Destructive Floods in the United States in 1904”, United States Geological Survey, 1905. p154-156.

Floods in Colorado,” United States Department of the Interior, 1948. p51-59.

Fort Collins Express, May 25, 1904. (Access on Newspapers.com)

Fort Collins Weekly Courier, May 25, 1904. [Read the full newspaper on the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection].

Greeley Tribune, May 26, 1904. [Read the full newspaper on the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection].

Larimer County Independent, May 25, 1904. (Accessed on Newspapers.com)

Windsor Beacon, May 28, 1904. (Accessed on Newspapers.com

"I Feel Sorry I Fed My Chickens": The 1904 Flood on the Poudre River Part 2

"I Feel Sorry I Fed My Chickens": The 1904 Flood on the Poudre River Part 2
Sunrise on the river

The Need to Know on the Capture the Cache Photo Contest

By Capture the Cache, Events, Uncategorized

Photograph: A word whose Greek roots mean “written in light.” A photograph captures a moment in time, a memory, even a feeling. These moments create a visual story of the people, places, or objects in the photo.  

The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area’s annual photo contest provides a platform for individuals to tell the story of our heritage area through the visual representation of photography. The Capture the Cache photo contest celebrates the natural beauty, culture, and heritage of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. The contest is an opportunity for amateur or professional photographers to express their creativity while exploring the heritage area.  

Eternal glory! That’s what awaits the student who wins the Triwizard Tournament.

Professor DumbledoreThe Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter Series

Unfortunately, there will be no eternal glory, but you will obtain bragging rights as a winner of the Capture the Cache photo contest! There will be a chance to win cash and non-cash prizes too. Competitors must be 16 years of age and older to enter. 

The contest ends on May 10, 2024, so get your cameras snapping! 

The heritage area extends for 45 miles and includes the lands within the 100-year flood plain of the Cache la Poudre River. It begins in Larimer County at the eastern edge of the Roosevelt National Forest and ends east of Greeley, a quarter mile west of the confluence with the South Platte. Photos must be taken within the confines of the heritage area. Full list of rules and regulations.  

2024 Categories

Outdoor Community Culture

Outdoor Community Culture photos are meant to capture the community of the Cache la Poudre River and surrounding river corridor. This could include anything from dogs, music festival, brewery patio life, photos of the scenery along the many hiking and biking trails, and/or attendance of community events. These photos are meant to capture the essence of what it is like to live in the heritage area. This is YOUR community, so show us the community through your eyes! 

History Along the River Corridor

The Poudre River is as rich in history as it is in natural wonders. History Along the River Corridor hopes to showcase the plethora of historical sites and stories along the corridor. 

These could include spots such as 1979 Avery House, 1883 Water Works, B.H. Eaton Ditch, Bingham Hill Cemetery, Cache la Poudre Marker, City of Natural Area and Trails Division at Signature Bluffs, Council Tree, Great Western Sugar Beet Flume and Bridge, Greeley Ditch #3, Greeley History Museum, Kaplan-Hoover Bison Bone Bed, Lake Canal Museum of Art Fort Collins, Pleasant Valley School House, Strauss Cabin, Von Trotha-Firestien Farm at Bracewell, Windsor History Museum and more. This is a list to get you started.  

In Motion

The river corridor is always in constant motion, whether it’s water flowing, a cyclist biking along the trail, or a train crossing the bridge over the river. These photos are meant to capture the movement of the river and the surrounding river corridor. This could include but is not limited to people cycling, hiking, or rafting, and/or running water, and moving trains. 

Q&A with the 2023 Winners

Terry Walsh

3rd place Recreation & Lifestyle

What did you enjoy most about the contest? 

When I heard about the contest, I thought it would be fun to enter and hopefully get my photos seen by others.  But honestly, the most enjoyable part of entering was going back through my photos and choosing which ones to submit.  That gave me the chance to relive some great memories and enjoy the Poudre all over again. 

Why did you decide to enter the contest? 

I was hoping to get recognition for some of my photos if they won, but just as important was the idea of sharing my photos with others.  The river has so much to offer that it is good to see the organization getting more people to see what the river and surrounding area has to offer. 

John Bartholow

2nd place River Reflections

What did you enjoy most about the contest? 

Of course, I enjoyed “winning”.  But frankly, I think our whole community “wins” when we — as a community — appreciate the Cache la Poudre River’s many assets.  For too many years, the Poudre was essentially a dumping ground.  Downtowns turned their backs on the river.  All we could think about was pulling as much water out as the law would allow.  Finally, those old ethics are changing.  More and more people recognize the value of an ecologically resilient river for recreation, flood control, and other non-extractive uses.  We have a lot more to do in terms of protection and restoration, but at least we are making progress.  So, I do what I can to show the river’s beauty and how the community values water *In the River*, not just out of it. 

Why did you decide to enter the contest? 

Building on the first question, I enjoy photography and the Poudre has been one focus for years and years. I enjoy sharing my work for almost any non-profit that has a use for it — again, hoping to appeal to the ‘better angels’ of restoration and protection.  The river itself has no voice; we must be that voice that welcomes a cadre of supporters. 

Dave Cho

1st place History & Culture

What did you enjoy most about the contest? 

I most enjoyed getting to know the river much more than I had previously known. Looking for and finding interesting spots and features forced me to get more familiar with the areas in and around the river and the surrounding areas. I found a new appreciation for beauty and recreational opportunities as well as the people and organizations that work on conservation efforts. 

Why did you decide to enter the contest? 

I’m a photographer hobbyist and some friends encouraged me to enter the contest. I thought it would be fun and challenging and a great excuse to go out and photograph. The different categories within the contest provided a nice incentive to see the river in different ways and forced me to expand my vision on what is possible around the river. 

Greg Boiarsky

2nd place History & Culture

What did you enjoy most about the contest? 

I got a chance to look at the Poudre River in a different light. It made me walk (and bike!) along the trail just looking for historic sites and photographing different aspects of the trail than I had photographed before. 

Why did you decide to enter the contest? 

Honestly, it was fun to try my hand at winning a contest with my photos. I like sharing my photographic perspective with friends and the wider community. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a fabulous photographer in Fort Collins, so it was an honor being chosen. 

Mexican American History Project Greeley

By News, Uncategorized

Did you know a book has never been written about the history of Mexican Americans in Greeley using their voices, stories, and perspectives? Now, a group is working to change that.

The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area recently sat down with the Mexican American History Project Greeley (MAHPG) to learn more about their work to tell their stories and address this gap in Greeley’s recorded history.

“Our organization’s goal is to provide a resource book that highlights the history and contributions Mexican Americans have made to Greeley’s success since there is a gap regarding this information in Greeley’s general history. This book will help to give a voice and perspective of Greeley Mexican Americans that is seldom heard and validate our history and contributions in a place we call home.”

Emma Pena-McCleaveProject Coordinator for MAHPG

The book will delve into personal stories of Mexican Americans from Northern Colorado and their long-standing history in Greeley. While Mexican Americans have a longer history in the region, the book will focus on stories from 1920 and later. The goal of this work is to provide young Mexican Americans a strong cultural self-identity while helping to educate the community at large on the contributions and impact Mexican Americans have made on Greeley’s culture, community, and major industries such as the farming, packing plants, construction, and more recently, oil and gas.

The first section of the book will provide a collection of intensive research into historical documents from Greeley about the history and contributions of Mexican Americans in the community. The second half will hold thirty-nine stories from first-hand interviews with Greeley Mexican American residents. Gathered as part of the group’s oral history project, the stories showcase the residents’ perspectives of Greeley’s past, present, and future.

The group hopes to complete the book by April 30, 2025. Once published, MAHPG will distribute sets, English and Spanish, to Weld County schools, libraries, museums, and community centers, providing updated resources about local Mexican American history for school-age students and the community. The book will also be one of the few resources available in Spanish that provides an insight into the past and present of Greeley’s Mexican American community.

Dr. Dierdra Pilch, Weld District 6 Superintendent, was very receptive to the concept of the book stating, “It’s about time.”

While the Mexican American History Project Greeley has come a long way from inception, the group is still in the process of raising money for the publishing and distribution phase of the book.

To learn more about this incredible project, visit Mexican American History Project Greeley – Home (mahpg.org).

Press Release: Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area Receives National Endowment for Humanities Grant

By News, Uncategorized

FORT COLLINS, Colorado, April 9, 2024 — The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (Cache NHA) has been awarded a $24,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Public Impact Projects at Smaller Organizations Program for a two-year inclusive stories project to build interpretive capacity and conduct research to identify under told stories in historic collections and archives in the heritage area.

“We embrace the importance of culture to the people and places along the Cache la Poudre River and the inclusive nature of telling the stories of all people,” said Sabrina Stoker, executive director of the Cache NHA.

Part of this project provides funding for Cache NHA staff and partners to participate in a series of interpretation certificate programs with the National Association for Interpretation (NAI). The program will result in the NHA having two certified interpretive trainers to sustainably train volunteers and staff across heritage area and its partners in heritage interpretation. The National Association for Interpretation is an international professional organization based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, dedicated to advancing the profession of interpretation.

“We are beyond excited to continue the necessary work to ensure that the stories we tell of our heritage area fully reflect the diversity of experiences of its people, past and present, in all their complexity,” said Heidi Fuhrman, project director and heritage interpreter on staff. “There is much work to be done, but this is an important step towards making sure all individuals in our heritage area see their stories reflected in how we choose to talk about our past.”

The research phase of the project will focus on collections from regional repositories that document the legacy, history, and experiences of Hispanic and Latinx families, individuals, and communities within the heritage area. While seeking to better understand the diverse stories of Hispanic and Latinx heritage found within regional archives, the research will also result in creation of a regional research guide to Hispanic/Latinx collections that will support ongoing research and interpretation beyond the project lifespan.

Dr. Jared Orsi, Professor at Colorado State University and Director of the CSU Public and Environmental History Center, and Katie Ross, Curator of Collections at the City of Greeley Museums, will provide research support, background knowledge, and serve as scholars and historians on this project.

The NEH Public Impact Project at Smaller Organizations Grants Program supports America’s small and mid-sized cultural organizations, especially those from underserved communities, in enhancing their interpretive strategies and strengthening their public humanities programming. Cache NHA was one of twenty-eight organizations across the nation to receive this funding.

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ABOUT THE CACHE LA POUDRE RIVER NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA: The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, managed by the Poudre Heritage Alliance, a regional non-profit, works to promote a variety of historical and cultural opportunities, engage people in the river corridor and inspire learning, preservation, and stewardship through collaborative partnerships and providing funding to community benefiting projects within the heritage area.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR HUMANITIES: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this web resource, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Cost of Water Poudre River Forum 2024

By Events, News, Uncategorized

On Friday, March 1 the Poudre River Forum, “The Cost of Water,” wrapped up at Aims Community College Welcome Center in Greeley. There was over 220 people in attendance.

“I found the varying views most impactful,” said one attendee. “It was obvious that not everyone in the room could agree on everything, but the common goal was the Cache la Poudre River’s best interests, and I loved that.”

The morning was dedicated to laying out the costs of water while the afternoon provided insights into the current solutions being explored and implemented in Northern Colorado.

The morning panel: Laying Out the Costs

Panelists: Adam Jokerst, Westwater Research; Dr. Chris Goemans, Colorado State University; Donnie Dustin, City of Fort Collins; Calar Chaussee, Town of Wellington Mayor; Moderator: Zach Thode, Roberts Ranch

The afternoon panel: Working toward Solutions

Panelists: Dena Egenhoff, City of Greeley; Karen Schlatter, Colorado Water Center; Christ Matkins, Ally Utility Consulting; Kate Ryan, Colorado Water Trust

The presentation slides are available here.

The videos are available on the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area’s YouTube channel.

“It was my first time attending, and I will absolutely be back. Great information the entire day and I really walked away with so much more knowledge than walking in.”

Attendee

The 2024 Poudre Pioneer Award was presented to Randy Gustafson during a lunchtime speech from Katie Donahue, Director of Natural Areas with City of Fort Collins, and Kellen Dowdy, Water Resource Planning and Watershed Program Manager with City of Greeley.

The day wrapped up with hearty laughter and engaging conversation between Alex Hager, KUNC reporter, and keynote speaker, Robert Sakata.

“Without the farmer, you would be hungry, naked and sober,” said Sakata with a laugh as he pointed to his shirt with the saying.

A casual reception capped the day allowing attendees to connect over beverages crafted from Poudre River water.

Thank you to our local, state and US legislators in attendance for caring about water issues in Colorado and being a part of the solution.

Thank you to Horse & Dragon Brewing Company and Odell Brewing Company for providing refreshments. Our sincere gratitude to attendees, volunteers and sponsors who made the event possible, including the City of Greeley, Northern Water and Fort Collins Utilites. A huge thank you to the Aims Community College event staff.

We hope you join us for forum next year on March 7, 2024!

Just Add Water: Benjamin Eaton’s Life Experiences before Settling in the Poudre River Valley

By Stories, Uncategorized

Benjamin Eaton grew up in Ohio in the 1830s and 1840s.  Upon reaching adulthood, he undertook a series of tasks and adventures that prepared him well for the future role he would play in settling the Poudre River Valley.  While still in Ohio, he was a surveyor assistant on the new railroads passing near his family’s farm.  He moved to Oakland Township in Louisa County, Iowa, in 1854 where he taught school and initially farmed on shares.  He joined the Columbus City, Iowa, Pikes Peak Expedition in spring 1859 that departed for the Colorado gold fields.  The group followed the South Platte River into Colorado, camping one night at the mouth of the Poudre River. 

That summer, the Iowans searched for gold, encountering the rules and technology being used in the mining districts which permitted everyone to join the search for gold.  The Miner’s Codes allocated land and water in a first-in-time, first-in-right manner, making sure that each took only the amount of land and water that he/she could actively utilize.  Ditches were dug to move the water out of the streams to the sluiceways.  The mining camps had a great need for hay (fuel) for the horsepower needed to keep the mining operations active.  Observing this scene and noting its function and needs would serve Eaton well later in life.

After six months, all members of the Columbus City Expedition, except Eaton, returned to Iowa.  He decided to check out other mining camps and met another Iowan, Jim Hill, from Wappelo, Iowa – a community less than 20 miles from Eaton’s Iowa farm.  In December 1860, Eaton and Hill joined the Second Baker Expedition to search for gold in the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado.  The effort was unsuccessful with miners dispersing.  Eaton and Hill passed through Fort Garland on their way south where they observed the Hispanic irrigation developments.  They begin farming on shares at the Maxwell Land Grant, in Cimarron, New Mexico, working within the acequia system for constructing, maintaining and operating an irrigation ditch. 

In late summer 1863, Eaton and Hill departed Cimarron, heading toward Denver, with the intent of visiting Iowa (and, for Eaton, Ohio) before returning to Colorado to homestead.  Where to homestead?  Before heading east, employed as drivers of freight wagons, they returned to the mouth of the Poudre and camped, again.   About 12 miles up the Poudre, where the valley widened and natural hay meadows existed, they staked their claims with a hastily constructed claim ‘shack’. 

In March, 1864, Eaton marries Rachel Hill, Jim Hill’s sister.  Early summer they depart Iowa for Colorado via covered wagon, to take up the homestead claims made the previous fall.  As they travel up the Poudre River in July 1864, Eaton notes the extremely lush native hay meadows at their homestead.  Their arrival occurred a little more than one month after the flood that forced the military to move their camp from Laporte to a new site – Fort Collins.  Eaton realized, that July, that he could make a large sum of money transporting the large supply of hay from his farm to mining camps – camps he knew well. 

Over the next six years, Eaton constructs the B.H. Eaton ditch to water his hay meadows at times other than nature’s one natural irrigation each spring.  He establishes a prosperous farm and helps the growing community build its first schoolhouse along the banks of the Whitney Ditch, just north of the Poudre River, southwest of today’s downtown Windsor. 

In late 1869 Eaton learns of Nathan Meeker’s and Horace Greeley’s plans to create the Union Colony in the general area of the Poudre River.  Eaton suggests the broad area around where the Box Elder Creek enters the Poudre River (near the Council Tree).  However, Meeker decides to locate the Colony where the new train tracks cross the Poudre River, and about five miles from where it empties into the South Platte River. 

Thus, Eaton had experience with surveying, moving water away from rivers via canals/ditches, and procedures Hispanics and miners use to allocate water among competing users.   This, along with his strong initiative, puts him in an excellent position make major contributions to Colorado’s water infrastructure and, in turn, creation of Colorado water law. 


Photo Credit:

Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery c. 1911

References:

Norris, Jane E. and Lee G. 1990. Written in water: the life of Benjamin Harrison Eaton.  Ohio University Press, Athens.  

Hobbs, Greg. 1997. Colorado Water Law: An Historical Overview. Vol 1(1): Water Law Review, University of Denver, Denver Colorado [http://duwaterlawreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/1UDenvWaterLRev1.pdf]