Posts Tagged ‘valley highway’

The Flood of 1965

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

— photos and text by Dennis Bauer

In the evening of June 16,1965, a wall of water described by some as 15 feet high roared down the South Platte River, the result of extremely severe thunderstorms many miles south of Littleton, Colorado. By midnight, the torrent crested at twenty-five feet above normal and was carrying forty times the normal flow. In its wake, the course of the South Platte River from Littleton to the Colorado-Nebraska border was a mud-encased, wreckage-strewn landscape of desolation.

The great South Platte River flood of 1965 was one of the biggest – and costliest – in the history of Denver.

I was between my freshman and sophomore year at the University of Denver, a journalism major with dreams of becoming a photojournalist for the Denver Post when I graduated college. On that very day, June 16, I had become the proud owner of a new Nikon F 35 mm camera and two lenses: the standard 50mm and a 200 mm telephoto! I was in photojournalist heaven!

As the radio reports followed the disaster, I talked a D.U. friend into driving us downtown, so I could use my new camera and capture images of this historic event. At one point a Denver policeman confronted us, saying, “You do not have permission to be this close to the river. Get going!” I responded by telling the officer I was photographing the flood for the University’s student newspaper, the Clarion, and yearbook, the Kynewisbok. This did not impress the cop who said I would be arrested if I stayed.

Well, we left that spot, but I was able to photograph the flood and its aftermath.

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B50 Note: The two most serious floods in the history of Denver were separated by 101 years; 1864 and 1965. The 1965 flood caused extensive damage from Littleton through Denver, especially along the Valley Highway (now known as I-25), prompting Congress to provide funding for Chatfield Dam. Dennis Bauer is a Denver native who has spent the past 20 years working as a teacher. When he retires in two months, he plans to grow his photography business, db Photography. Text and photographs are courtesy of the author.

The following audio remembrance of the Denver Flood of 1965 was recorded by Charles A. Roessler. Mr. Roessler is a retired member of the Denver Fire Department.

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Denver traffic, 1959

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008
A Cloverleaf on the Valley Highway in 1959

A Cloverleaf on the Valley Highway in 1959

The Story of Denver traffic—100,000 cars in 1945 and 200,000-plus today

In Denver in the early Twentieth Century water wagons to keep down the dust were an institution. In the 1930’s road oil was sprayed on many streets to keep down the dust and thus eliminate the water wagons. By the start of World War II Denver had a fairly good street system, adequate for the traffic, and attractive in its tree-lined setting.

The wartime and post-war boom unhinged a lot of things in Denver, but streets most of all. The road oil streets flew to pieces. There hadn’t been much for the oil to mix with—they were almost useless against heavy traffic.

But this was just one part of the problem. One-way street systems had to be installed on a wholesale basis, traffic control systems had to be revised, new routings became essential and planning, in general, had to leap ahead by years.

Mayor Quigg Newton, whose regime coincided with these early days of stirring growth, led the fight for another phase: the Valley Highway. This great system, knifing across the city southeast to northwest, was completed in late 1958. It has brought the Twentieth Century to Denver more than any other public work. Motorists can speed across the city in about one-half hour, or go to work downtown from a suburban residence in 20 minutes.

Denver citizenry was at first shocked by the swiftly changing traffic surgery brought on by growth, things like the “anyway-walk” system to allow pedestrians full use of each intersection during their own phase of the stop light.

But no one has questioned the need for all this. It’s been startling: 100,000 cars in Denver in 1945—205,000 in 1959. And this doesn’t even count the mushrooming suburbs.

Note: Text and image from “This is Colorado – a special centennial magazine section of the Denver Post, June 21st, 1959”

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