November 19, 2013
Before the city of Colorado Springs was established in 1871, the small creek that empties into Fountain Creek was given the name Shooks Run after the brothers Peter and Denton Shooks started their ranch in 1865 that included the streams’ juncture and spread north up the creek to present-day Fountain Boulevard.
Shooks Run (the creek) starts (at the north) with natural runoff from the bluffs in Palmer Park (also known as Austin Bluffs) and runs southwest through the oldest (since 1919) city-owned golf course, the Patty Jewett Golf Course. After several floods, some of the drainage from the bluffs was diverted into the concrete-lined drainage project that runs directly west a couple of miles into Monument Creek near Penrose Hospital at the north end of Monument Creek Park.
Starting as not much more than a trickle, the creek makes its way from the golf course 3 miles south to Fountain Creek through one of the oldest parts of Colorado Springs just east of downtown, shaded by trees and crossed by numerous streets of the Middle Shooks Run neighborhood.
Immediately south of the golf course, Shooks Run passes by Taylor Elementary school, then under San Miguel Street, then under Uintah Street. It passes School District 11 administration complex just south of Uintah. In 1885 after heavy downpours in the Austin Bluffs area, floodwaters poured down Shooks Run and took out the chicken coop, barn, and home of the Superintendent of El Paso County Schools, B.A.P. Eaton, and his wife who lived at Wahsatch and Yampa on the northeast edge of the city. Mr. Eaton escaped the water but Mrs Eaton did not. Her body was found in Fountain Creek. The flood destroyed livestock and produce of every farmer and rancher along Shooks Run.
At the south end of School District 11′s buildings, Shooks Run Trail meets up with the creek at Cache LaPoudre Street. The trail was laid in the old Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad right-of-way which generally follows the creek from here south to Pikes Peak Avenue where the Santa Fe passenger station was located (present-day office building). The railroad came to Colorado Springs in 1887 and the last train ran in 1970.
After the creek passes under Cache LaPoudre Street on its way south, it runs through North Shooks Run Park with its picnic facilities and playground. When Willamette Street was built passing over the creek, homes along the street began to be built in the economic boom times of the 1890s when Cripple Creek wealth was felt in Colorado Springs. The wide, grassy medians in Willamette Street were considered parkway.
South of Willamette Street the creek runs through Middle Shooks Run Park with tennis courts and children’s playground. Around 1974, $40 in urban renewal (state and federal) funds were used to demolish, build and rehabilitate homes along Shooks Run and create the parkland that surrounds the creek. This is when the Shooks Run Trail was added.
The trail separates a bit from the creek as Shooks Run passes through a long stretch of culverts under Boulder Street, Palmer High School facilities, and Platte Avenue. It opens out again on the south side of Platte Avenue into Frank Waters Park, John “Prairie Dog” O’Byrne Park and back into Shooks Run Park. Author Frank Waters (“Midas of the Rockies”) and O’Byrne lived in this area, (O’Byrne in the late 1880s and 1890s; Waters grew up here in the early 1900s and attended Columbia Elementary School).
A small side creek that empties into Shooks Run at Kiowa Street is called Little Shooks Run. Completely covered over now, Little Shooks Run ran from the area around Memorial Hospital Central and Boulder Park (at Boulder and Hancock) southwest to empty into Shooks Run. Boulder Park was once a reservoir and the surface creek flooded the immediate neighborhood several times. Drainage work to protect homes and infrastructure was done in the 1930s and 40s.
Shooks Run between Kiowa and Pikes Peak Avenue was the recipient in 2003 of $6 million in Springs Community Improvement Program funds. The creek was uncovered, creek banks were terraced, and a foot bridge across the creek was added. Invasive elm trees have become a problem here and the Shooks Run Agroforestry project has planted native cottonwoods on the terraces as it has in other areas along the creek along with other native or well-adapted plant species.
South of Pikes Peak Avenue, the creek passes through the Hillside Neighborhood with its agricultural past including Sinton Dairy and the Shooks brothers’ ranch where it empties into Fountain Creek south of downtown Colorado Springs.
Through the years since the Shooks brothers, the creek has seen many changes: residential development and resulting water pollution and debris; a railroad built and removed; floods and attempts to control flooding; invasive trees and attempts to restore the natural ecosystem and wildlife (raccoons, foxes, bears, even deer and coyotes); and the construction of parks and trails. What we have now is an important neighborhood asset, one that is enjoyed and treasured every day.
April 28, 2013
Third graders at Columbia Elementary School once again joined MSRNA in celebrating Colorado Arbor Day this year. The students planted four new trees in Middle Shooks Run Park between Boulder and Platte — two Kentucky Coffee trees, one Tatarian Maple, and one English Oak. Thanks go to the students and to teachers Mr. Lentner and Ms. Michener for their hard work and enthusiasm. And thanks to the Hankins family, who has adopted the trees and will be carrying buckets of water to the trees to ensure their success.
The Columbia Elementary students also participated in the Arbor Day Essay and Art Contest sponsored by the Palmer Tree Coalition. You can see the winning entries at www.palmertreecoalition.org.
Our neighborhood also received 30 new street trees, provided to homeowners by Colorado Springs City Forestry. The trees will be planted in the parkway between the sidewalk and the street. These trees will shade our homes and streets and increase the diversity of our urban forest. They are species adapted to our dry climate and the stresses of the urban environment, including red and bur oak, Kentucky coffee tree, and horse chestnut. If you have space for a street tree, watch for announcements of the 2014 street tree program next winter.
March 28, 2013
Neighbors of the Middle Shooks Run area will meet Tuesday, April 30, 6:30pm starting with a potluck supper. Bring your own tableware and food for sharing. Coffee will be provided. Community Prep School gym (corner of Wahsatch & Willamette).
The meeting that follows the potluck will include discussion of possible neighborhood projects, voting on MSRNA Bylaws changes, and election of members to the MSRNA Board of Directors.
Nominations for board members will be accepted at the meeting so if you’ve been thinking about helping the neighborhood as a member of the board, this is your opportunity. If you have questions, please email email@example.com.
March 8, 2013
Neighborhood Meeting & City Council Candidate Forum
At the MSRNA meeting March 19, we read and discussed proposed changes to the MSRNA bylaws. One change will extend our association’s boundaries north to Uintah. Members will vote on the change at a general membership meeting on April 30. By resolution the board of directors offers residents in the extended area a year’s free membership in MSRNA so that they can be nominated and elected to the board of directors. The second bylaw change allows the reading of proposed bylaw changes to happen by email.
City Council Candidates Forum
City Council candidates for Districts 3 and 5 attended our Candidates Forum March 19 following the neighborhood association meeting. A large group of Middle Shooks Run neighbors heard candidates answer questions with topics including utilities ownership, fracking, public safety, downtown revitalization and more.
The candidates who fielded questions were:
District 3: Jim Bensberg and Brandy Williams
District 5: Jill Gaebler, Bernie Herpin, and Al Loma
February 18, 2013
MSRNA encourages homeowners to plant hardy trees to replace the many street trees that we have lost over recent years. City Forestry has 30 trees available to the neighborhood, including bur oak, red oak, catalpa, kentucky coffeetree, swamp white oak, and tatarian maple. These trees are free of charge if you have a suitable space in their “parkway” — the area between the sidewalk and the street. You will be responsible for picking up and planting the trees as well as caring for them.
Grown in arid eastern Oregon, these trees are adapted to our poor soils and dry climate. They are the ideal size for homeowner planting, approximately 6 to 8 feet tall, and have a manageable root-ball. Trees are shipped to Colorado in mid-April as a part of Trees Across Colorado, which provides trees to communities throughout the state (www.coloradotrees.org/programs.php#across).
Homeowners will receive instructions on planting and tree care when they pick their tree up. If you think you have a suitable space, contact City Forestry at 385-6543.
For the first time, MSRNA is offering hardy trees for sale through its new Sustainable Tree Fund. These trees may be planted anywhere in your yard. The trees come to us through Trees Across Colorado, an organization helping communities throughout the state diversify their urban forests with hardy and affordable trees. Five trees are available this year on a first-come, first-served basis. Your purchase will support the program and help us offer more trees each year.
Each tree is between 1-1/4 and 1-1/2 inch caliper (trunk diameter) and is ball-and-burlap. They are a perfect size for home-owner planting and are easy to handle. You will be required to pick up and plant the tree yourself. Planting, watering, and tree care instructions will be provided with each tree.
Tree pickup will be on April 19; details about the time and place will be provided at a later date to those buying the trees.
If you wish to buy one of these trees, send a check payable to Middle Shooks Run Neighborhood Association to: MSRNA, c/o Royal Martin P.C., 320 South Cascade, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 and specify which tree you would like to have. Please provide contact information so we can get back to you.
Tree Cost: Member of MSRNA $65 Non-member of MSRNA $75 (includes one-year membership)
Tatarian Maple. Small rounded tree; reaches a height of 15 to 20 feet with equal width. Red samaras in summer contrast with green leaves. Fall color from yellow, orange or red to reddish brown. Moderately low water demands. Good tree for small spaces or under power lines.
Kentucky Coffeetree. This unusual tree goes through a transition of textures, very light, graceful and airy in summer, changing to a stark, picturesque tree in winter. Reaches 50-60 feet in height and 35-40 feet in width at maturity. Compound leaves turn yellow fall. Low water needs once established.
English Oak. Broad, stately and open crown; reaches a height and width of 45-55 feet in this area. It is one of the faster growing oaks and is extremely long lived. Tolerates a wide range of soils; prefers well-drained site. Moderately-low water needs. Dark green leaves with pale underside turn brown in the fall and may persist into winter.
Glenleven Linden. A faster-growing “little-leaf” linden; larger leaves and more open branching than other little-leaf lindens. Inconspicuous mid-summer flowers are very fragrant. Prefers well-drained soil. The dark green, heart-shaped, summer leaves turn yellow in fall. Reaches a mature height of 45-50 ft and 35 ft spread with a pyramidal shape.
Thank you for supporting our Sustainable Tree Fund!
December 21, 2012
Our Middle Shooks Run neighborhood is notable for the many mature trees gracing our streets. Unfortunately, every year we lose trees stressed by drought and disease. Just within the last year, 32 street trees have been removed.
What can we do? First, we can replace lost trees with hardy varieties that can withstand our harsh climate. Second, the neighborhood association can help homeowners replace the lost trees.
According to the MSR tree inventory, we have over 300 spaces available for street trees. With the help of City Forestry we are filling those gaps. Our 2012 Street Tree Program resulted in 42 new trees being planted – all at no cost to homeowners – thanks to City of Colorado Springs Forestry Department.
However, City Forestry’s budget is not assured year to year. In response, as of December 2012 the Middle Shooks Run Neighborhood Association has established a sustainable tree fund. A small amount from every individual and business membership will be added to this fund and additional donations will be accepted. These contributions will help sustain the Tree Fund from year to year.
To make a donation to the Tree Fund and/or to join or renew your membership in the MSRNA, use the Membership Form on the MSRNA website. And watch for information about our 2013 Street Tree Planting Program! Thank you.
September 9, 2012
Thanks to Steve Wood from Concrete Couch, Shooks Run parks received a facelift!
Faux stone mural at Boulder
Steve organized 150 students from Colorado College for a two-hour work project on Sept 21. In the area between Boulder and Cache LaPoudre, they:
- Painted 4 graffiti sites in a “faux stone” motif
- Applied oil to the wooden light poles in the park with a linseed oil/mineral spirits mix (50:50)
- Prepped the playground shade structures (Dale and El Paso playground) for new paint
- Made bridge repairs. A team headed by a neighborhood contractor will replaced boards on the pedestrian bridge over Shooks Run at Dale St.
- Replaced, oiled and primed seats at picnic tables
- Creek restoration: cut out the dead trees
- Tiled the base of several light poles at the St. Vrain playground
- Creek clean-up
MSRNA neighbors helped out with the work and also supplied snacks for the volunteers.
A big THANK YOU to Steve Wood and all the volunteers who helped with the work!
August 9, 2012
We had a large turn out at the MSRNA ice cream social in Middle Shooks Run Park on Sunday, August 19. Ice cream (handmade by Chris at Little Market) was served by MSRNA board members. Dedication of the preserved and newly installed Sol’s Dairy sign took place with several members of Sol Cox’s family present (including Bobbie Cos and Gerald and Sharon Freeman). The City has installed an interpretive sign that explains this piece of neighborhood history. Neighbors brought cookies to share and a good time was had by all!
There are a number of folks we need to thank for the preservation of the Sol’s Dairy sign. First, the developer Chet Delarm who donated the gable to neighborhood association rather than sending it to the dump. And there are a number of MSRNA members who contributed funds for the materials required to stabilize the old paint and to repaint the lettering plus other assorted materials. Then there are the folks who contributed their expertise and labor and that includes Dave and Victoria Ryan, Charley Hensley, Suzanne Eubank, Larry Taylor, and Tom Pettit. There are plans to construct a small overhang to provide some protection for the sign. Thanks everyone!
June 25, 2012
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Colorado College is a nearby “neighbor” for the Middle Shooks Run neighborhood with lots of interesting, free activities. Everything from film, music, to art exhibits and more can be found only a few blocks away. If you don’t already take advantage of what’s available, subscribe to their News and Events website, www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/. It features updates and links to event news releases. To receive a free e-mail version of their monthly calendar, go to www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevents/calendar/subscribe.dot. For more information on a specific event, directions or disability accommodation, call (719) 389-6607. The Campus Accessibility Guide is available here.