Seven Falls

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Coordinates: 38°46′44″N 104°52′48″W / 38.77889°N 104.88000°W / 38.77889; -104.88000[1]

Seven Falls

Seven Falls is a series of seven cascading waterfalls of South Cheyenne Creek in South Cheyenne Canyon, Colorado; and the name of the larger visitor attraction. About ten minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, Seven Falls has been called the 'Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado.'[2]

Near the north end of the Cheyenne Mountain massif, the privately owned landform is part of the fall line of the Colorado Front Range (cf Helen Hunt Falls in North Cheyenne Cañon Park). The sum of the height of the seven falls is 181 feet (55.17 m) and there are a total of 224 steps on the staircase from the base of the falls to the peak.[3] In the late 19th century, some of the associated property was developed as a scenic resort. It was popular for a time with travelers who arrived by horse-drawn vehicles or by horseback or burro after what was then an hour of travel from town.

Situated in a natural box canyon, Seven Falls is Colorado’s only waterfall that is included in the National Geographic list of international waterfalls.[4]

The falls are named from top to bottom: Ramona, Feather, Bridal Veil, Shorty, Hull, Weimer, and Hill.[5]

On either side of the mouth of the picturesque canyon a little ways into the park, the Pillars of Hercules are steep cliffs that are only 41 feet wide at the narrowest point and rise to 940 feet on the right side and 790 feet on the left.[6]

Two hiking trails are open to the public between mid-March and mid-October. The trails are closed at 4pm daily during off-seasons, and from December to February. They are also closed during bad weather and winter season. The trails are fairly difficult since tourists will climb from 6,800 ft at the beginning of the trail to 7,200 ft at the end.

Launched in 1883, the Trail to Inspiration Point is the longest trail in Seven Falls and the most popular for more than a century. This one-mile trail leads visitors to Inspiration Point where they can enjoy a stunning view of the Colorado Springs and Great Plains. It is also the place of Helen Hunt Jackson’s original gravesite. The most recent trail at the falls leads to the Midnight Falls, which is located close to the South Cheyenne Creek’s headwaters. During the summer season, tourists will be entertained by native American dancers who present Indian dance interpretations. Seven Falls also has several shops to cater to tourists’ shopping needs. The park is also noted for its rich wildlife.[7]

Owners and Stewards[edit]

On December 5, 1872, Nathaniel Colby homesteaded the 160 acres that included the present-day Seven Falls and South Cheyenne Canyon. Apparently Colby did not anticipate the potential value of his purchase, for nine months later he sold the patent to the Colorado Springs Land company for $1000.

Later owners realized little profit from the land until 1882 when James Hull purchased the property for $1300. Mr. Hull was a naturalist who was disturbed to note the scenic beauty of the canyon was being threatened by the felling of trees for their lumber value. Hull had already purchased 160 acres west of Seven Falls for $500 and later secured an additional 80 acres by preemption in 1885. With 400 acres including the heart of the canyon Hull became one of Colorado’s earliest environmental protectors and the first owner to fully appreciate the true value of this scenic masterpiece.

Hull was also a businessman, and he understood the value of the 'ranch' as it was then called. He advertised the property as a scenic resort and began to improve it by constructing a road through the canyon to the Seven Falls and building a stairway along the side of the Falls. He installed a toll gate at the foot of the canyon and proceeded to do business. Access to the Falls in those days was largely by carriages, burros and saddle horses furnished by a local entrepreneur named Hunter who paid James Hull and his sons $500 for the privilege of taking passengers to the Falls for 25 cents each. Business flourished and Seven Falls became a prominent tourist attraction.

In 1900, after Hull’s sons inherited the property, the county assessor valued the property at $80,000. The local newspaper, The Gazette, suggested the value at over $200,000. In 1905 the property, now containing 1400 acres, was purchased by Ohio-born Western miner and developer Callidore Dwight 'C.D.' Weimer for $250,000, two years after he became a permanent resident of Colorado Springs.[8][9]

Frances Weimer, who later became a longtime arts supporter and manager of several family businesses in Colorado Springs, was heavily involved in the co-management of Seven Falls which her family owned until they sold it in 1946 to Albert G. Hill. Hill, a Tennessee-born Texas oilman who lived in Colorado as a youth and attended Colorado College, installed lighting to highlight the canyon's geologic formations after dark in 1947.[10][11]

In 1948, a Christmas tradition was started of opening the canyon at night free to the people of Colorado Springs and allowing a charity to collect funds. During this period, a life-sized Santa Claus, sleigh and reindeer appears atop the Seven Falls Curio Shop and Christmas lights are placed throughout the canyon. As Seven Falls' annual Christmas gift to the region, this display has converted a multitude of Colorado Springs natives into winter sightseers.[12]

In December 2002, a dynamic Martin Architectural lighting system was installed which bathed the cascades in color.[13]

Seven Falls is still known as the only fully lit canyon in the world. Albert Hill also constructed the Eagle's Nest observation platform on the south wall of the canyon. Although a funicular carried guests to the platform for many years, an elevator was added in 1992 thanks to Hill's daughter Lyda, who owned it at the time, and a shaft created by more than 3,600 sticks of dynamite.[14]

In April 2014, it was announced that The Broadmoor had purchased Seven Falls, with plans to reopen the park in 2015. The property had been owned by the A.G. Hill family for 68 years.[15]

Flooding Damage[edit]

Heavy rains and flooding in eastern Colorado during six days in mid-June 1965 caused heavy damages to crops, roads, rail lines, and bridges. The Seven Falls park was wiped out and had to be rebuilt.[16][17]

Five days of heavy rains in mid-September 2013 caused similar damage. The park, in the worst hit area of El Paso county, will be closed for several months. Flood waters tore up much of the road leading into Seven Falls, knocked over trees, and left a mess of mud and standing water behind for workers to clean up. The now fiercely gushing falls are down to five. The park's gift shop and archway at the entrance were untouched in the flooding but the creek, which was usually a very small waterway alongside the road, is now a damaging torrent.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Seven Falls (193411)". Geographic Names Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  2. ^ "The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado...". Colorado Springs Daily Photo. 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  3. ^ http://www.sevenfalls.com/ Official website
  4. ^ "Seven Falls". denvercolorado.org. 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  5. ^ "Seven Falls, Colorado, USA". martin.com. 2004-10-02. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  6. ^ "Seven Falls". dreamcoloradosprings.com. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  7. ^ "Seven Falls". denvercolorado.org. 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  8. ^ "History". sevenfalls.com. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  9. ^ "Men of note affiliated with mining and mining interests in the Cripple Creek district". University of California Berkeley. 1905. p. 53. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  10. ^ "Al G. Hill, Jr.". zoominfo.com. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  11. ^ "Albert Galatyn Hill Jr.". zoominfo.com. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  12. ^ "Early Season Night Lighting". sevenfalls.com. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  13. ^ "Seven Falls, Colorado, USA". martin.com. 2004-10-02. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  14. ^ "Al G. Hill, Jr.". zoominfo.com. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  15. ^ "The Broadmoor Announces Purchase Of Seven Falls". kktv.com. Retrieved 2014-04-12-.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  16. ^ Noreen, Barry (2013-08-17). "Flooding? In 1965, Colorado got nailed". coloradosprings.com. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  17. ^ Noreen, Barry. "South Platte & Arkansas Basins: June 14-20, 1965". The Weather and Climate Impact Assessment Program. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  18. ^ "Seven Falls Closed Until Further Notice". KKTV. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 

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See also[edit]