Castlewood Canyon supporters mark anniversary of dam failure

Aug. 2 event will raise money for state park

Staff Report
Posted 7/29/14

Castlewood Canyon State Park will mark the 81st anniversary of Denver's second worst flood with “Dam Day” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 2.

The failure of Castlewood Dam on Aug. 3, 1933, caused the destruction of bridges, and pastures and …

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Castlewood Canyon supporters mark anniversary of dam failure

Aug. 2 event will raise money for state park

Posted

Castlewood Canyon State Park will mark the 81st anniversary of Denver's second worst flood with “Dam Day” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 2.

The failure of Castlewood Dam on Aug. 3, 1933, caused the destruction of bridges, and pastures and croplands were wiped out. Logs floated all the way into the lobby of Union Station in downtown Denver and a man named Tom Casey lost his life.

Dam Day activities will be at the visitor center, Event Facilities Shelter No. 1, on the east side of the park, and near the remains of Castlewood Dam on the park's west side.

At the visitor center, children can experience what it was like on that dark and stormy night. They will get a glimpse at what the dam caretaker, Hugh Payne, felt and saw as he tried to walk out on the dam to open the valves to release the water and save the dam. It was 1:30 a.m. during a thunderstorm and he only had a kerosene lamp.

At EFS No. 1 kids can build candy dams mortared with frosting (a word to the wise — do not follow the design of Castlewood Dam, it lasted only 43 years). There will be a model of the canyon and dam. They can also fill the Castlewood Reservoir with water and see the effects rushing water can have on the canyon.

At the base of the dam, visitors can speak with Margaret Lucas, an area homesteader portrayed by a Castlewood volunteer, about her experiences that frightful night. Payne will be portrayed by another volunteer and explain the events that led up to the failure. The two will have pictures from 1933 that show the turmoil and damage caused by the water to Speer Boulevard and downtown Denver.

Friends of Castlewood Canyon State Park will be serving a Dam Good Lunch at EFS No. 1. It is a fundraiser to obtain funds to give Castlewood Canyon State Park a 50th birthday present of more land this year.

Programs are free, however, all vehicles entering the park must display a valid Colorado state parks pass. For more event information, call the park at 303-688-5242.

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