What a Beautiful Canyon - Glenwood Canyon, CO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
N 39° 33.636 W 107° 15.136
13S E 306511 N 4381412
Quick Description: This Colorado State Marker is found at the Grizzly Creek Rest Stop in Glenwood Canyon. There are also plaques about the wildlife, fish and habitat preservation.
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 1/15/2012 4:55:27 PM
Waymark Code: WMDH33
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Miles ToGeo
Views: 8

Long Description:
I-70 in Glenwood Canyon is thought to be the most environmentally sensitive highway in the country. Thanks to the resolute efforts and unyielding commitment of numerous designers, engineers, contractors and concerned citizens, the beauty of the 12.5-mile gorge was preserved even during construction.

Graphic: Photo of Canyon near Hanging Lake Trail
Hanging Lake Trail is considered by many the most scenic spot in the canyon. To preserve its beauty, the new highway was routed through a pair of tunnels on the south side of the Colorado River.
Joe Kracum

Graphic: Photo of present-day Highway
The placement of the highway was largely dictated by environmental factors. The west end of the canyon is an outstanding example of how the creative use of bridges and retaining walls permitted the highway to be placed with minimal impact on the natural features of the canyon.
Bill Echols

Graphic: Photo of Tree Preservation
Contractors were instructed to save the vegetation in the canyon. Removal of tagged trees would have resulted in severe fines and penalties. Over 180,000 trees and shrubs were planted throughout the canyon to preserve the natural environment.
Colorado Department of Transportation

Graphic: Photo of Highway Construction
Blasting of natural rock outcroppings was carried out only as a last resort. The newly exposed surfaces were sculpted, then stained to match the naturally weathered look of the surrounding canyon walls.
Hermann Guenther

Graphic: Photo of Bighorn Sheep
Colorado’s state animal—the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep—was reintroduced to the canyon after a twenty-year absence.
Glenwood Post

From its headwaters high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park to its mouth in the Gulf of California—over 1,400 miles—the Colorado River slashes through a wilderness of mountains, plateaus, and deserts. Along its way, it carves both Glenwood Canyon and the Grand Canyon, and forms the boundaries between Nevada and Arizona, Arizona and California, and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California. Native peoples long knew its power, as did such sixteenth-century Spanish explorers as Coronado and Cabeza de Vaca. Coloradans called it the “Grand River,” an aberration corrected by state and national legislation in 1921. By whatever name, however, the Colorado River is one of the world’s greatest and most majestic watercourses.

Graphic: Photo of Colorado River through Middle Park
The mighty Colorado River as Ferdinand V. Hayden’s survey party saw it in Middle Park, 1874. Photograph by William H. Jackson.
Colorado Historical Society

Graphic: Drawing of Powell Expedition
John Wesley Powell in the Grand Canyon, as drawn by Nick Eggenhofer (1897).
Denver Public Library

Directly south from here across the Colorado River is one of the oldest and most successful sheep ranches on Colorado’s Western Slope. Operated since 1919, the Bair Ranch spreads over several thousand acres and is a fine example of high country sheep ranching. In the spring, pregnant ewes and lambs up to three weeks of age are placed in lambing sheds where they are protected from predators and sudden spring storms. In winter, the Bairs truck their sheep to the dry desert grasslands of Utah. Existing historic structures on the Bair Ranch include an original homestead cabin, ranch house, barn, lambing sheds, and potato cellar.

Graphics: Photos of Sheep Farming
Sheep ranching today
American Sheep Industry Association

Graphic: Photos of Bair Ranch
Bair Ranch, circa 1950s.
Frontier Historical Society, Schutte Collection

Ute Indian people have inhabited the Glenwood Canyon region for hundreds—perhaps thousands—of years. But the deep recesses of the canyon prevented them from using it as a transportation corridor. Instead, their occupation was confined to the canyon’s rims and to its two entrances, where bubbling hot springs offered both medicinal and religious cleansing. In the nineteenth century, the Utes frequently came to Glenwood Hot Springs. Colorow, a leader of the Yampa Utes, often bathed in the hot waters. So too did Chipeta, wife of the great chief Ouray. After her husband died in 1880, Chipeta visited Glenwood Hot Springs to ease her arthritic pain and to gain spiritual renewal. Today, Ute people continue to seek its healing waters.
Also found on this panel:

Graphic: Portrait of Colorow
Chief Colorow, circa 1875.
Colorado Historical Society

Graphic: Drawing of Ute Person
A Southern Ute.
Colorado Historical Society

Graphic: Photo of Chipeta
Chipeta, wife of Chief Ouray.
Colorado Historical Society

Graphic: Photo of Ute Camp
Utes at Los Pinos Agency, 1874.
Colorado Historical Society

Glenwood Canyon has been a critical link in the nation’s ground transportation network ever since the completion of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1887. Later, Taylor State Road, a continuous wagon road between Denver and Grand Junction, opened to automobile traffic in 1902. Improvements to the highway occurred when it was renamed U.S. Highway 6 and 24 in 1936. When President Dwight Eisenhower in 1960 signed the National Highway Bill authorizing the construction of Interstate 70, Glenwood Canyon was proposed as part of the transcontinental route. Not until 1975, however, did the canyon officially become a link in the I-70 corridor. Then came the long planning, design and construction phases—a process that took nearly twenty years. These panels tell that story.

Graphics: Photos of Railroad and Old Roads through the Canyon
Colorado Historical Society

Graphic: Photo of Early Highway through Canyon
Leigh Whitehead

The process of planning and designing the new highway through Glenwood Canyon was lengthy, intense—and public. Designers were especially challenged to create model graphics that would realistically depict the finished product. They did this by using artists’ renderings, sophisticated computer simulations, and actual models. Designers walked every foot of the canyon many times and literally adjusted the location of the road by inches to save a tree or keep from blasting a cliff face. It was this personal commitment to excellence and attention to detail that ultimately gave the people what they wanted—the best that can be accomplished in highway construction and design.
Also found on this panel:

Graphics: Artists’ Renderings of Canyon
Glenwood Canyon before…and after
Ruth Mollman (1996), Colorado Historical Society

Graphics: Artists’ Rendering of Design Models
To give an even more realistic vision of how the finished project would reappear, full-size models, made of plywood, were constructed in their exact proposed location.
Ruth Mollman (1996), Colorado Historical Society

Graphic: Concept Photos of Proposed Highway
Photo simulation was an effective method of communicating a design concept. This shows a proposed viaduct in the west half of the canyon.
Daniel Mann Johnson & Mendenhall

The unique terrain in Glenwood Canyon, combined with the unusual environmental constraints facing the builders, required special construction techniques and equipment. While cranes and bulldozers are familiar sights to most people, Glenwood Canyon became the venue for equipment rarely seen in highway construction. A bright red and white steel gantry made it possible to build the two longest bridges in the canyon without disturbing the ground below. Much of the special construction equipment employed in the canyon was adapted to accomplish tasks for which it was not designed.

Graphic: Photo of Construction Machinery
An unusual contraption known as “The Duke,” designed by two local contractor brothers named John and Wayne, made it possible to construct the ceilings of the Hanging Lake Tunnel in a fraction of the time that would normally have been required.

Graphic: Photo of Shoshone Power Plant Construction
In some places, such as the Shoshone power plant, operating space was at a premium. Two large cranes lifted the heavy steel bridge girders into place.
Robert Ostermiller

Graphic: Photo of Workers Paving the Highway
These workers use a conveyor to spread wet concrete across a grid of steel—forming the highway’s present surface.
Hermann Guenther

Graphic: Photo of Machine Constructing Highway Foundation
The many bridges in the canyon required solid foundations to support their weight. This pile driver is hammering heavy steel beams deep into the ground—often to bedrock.
Hermann Guenther

Graphic: Photo of the Gantry
The gantry was a horizontal crane imported from France, invented for building elevated highways in the European Alps. It came with instructions for assembly—written in French!
Ruth Mollman (1996), Colorado Historical Society

Highway planners envisioned a divided, four-lane highway through the canyon that would not conflict with the natural environment. Instead, the highway should complement the canyon’s magnificence.

Graphic: Photo of the Finished Highway
Joe Kracum

Glenwood Canyon inspired the finest hour in American rail travel. During World War II a railroad official rode through here in the cab of a diesel freight train locomotive. The view from the panoramic windshield so impressed him that he began steps to rig cars with glass domes so all passengers might share his experience of the canyon. His vision led to the 1949 opening of the California Zephyr—a spectacular passenger line between Chicago and San Francisco. Five of the Zephyr’s eleven cars were equipped with “Vista-Domes,” raised glass-top roofs that allowed riders a panoramic view of the Colorado Rockies. Then, all too soon, the Zephyr—America’s great “national asset”—fell victim to a more hurried age. Its last 2,532-mile run came on March 22, 1970.

Graphic: Photos of Zephyr’s Interior
The famed Vista-Dome and lounge car of the California Zephyr.
Colorado Historical Society

Graphic: Photos of Trains through Canyon
First meeting of east and westbound trains, March 21, 1949.
Colorado Historical Society

Graphic: Photo of Zephyr Monument
The California Zephyr Monument, dedicated in 1950 and placed at Grizzly Creek, is now displayed at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden.
Colorado Historical Society

In the western half of Glenwood Canyon, designers faced a daunting challenge—to fit four lanes of I-70 into a space big enough for only two lanes. The solution? The highway was terraced with westbound lanes above and eastbound lanes below. With the terracing concept, the pavement extends six feet beyond the face of the retaining wall, casting a shadow and giving the illusion that the wall is much lower than it actually is. Terracing the roadway stabilized the slope, helping to protect the fragile landscape.
Also found on this panel:

Graphic: Photo of Terraced Section of Highway
The narrow confines of Glenwood Canyon are famous for their beauty but provide almost no room to accommodate expanding transportation needs.
Hermann Guenther" (from (visit link) )
Group or Groups Responsible for Placement:
Colorado Historical Society; Federal Highway Administration; Colorado Department of Transportation

County or City: Glenwood Springs

Date Dedicated: Unknown

Check here for Web link(s) for additional information: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
In your log, please say if you learned something new or if you were able to take any extra time to explore the area once you stopped at the historic marker waymark. If possible, please post a photo of you at the marker OR your GPS at the marker location OR some other creative way to prove you visited. If you know of any additional links not already mentioned about this bit of Colorado history, go ahead and include that in your log!
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Chasing Blue Sky visited What a Beautiful Canyon - Glenwood Canyon, CO 7/16/2011 Chasing Blue Sky visited it