History of Monument Valley Park

Special Thanks to: Cathy Mundy, Pioneers Museum, Water Resources Board

Monument Valley Park runs from Bijou to Monroe along Monument Creek. It forms the western boundary of the Old North End Neighborhood between Uintah Street and Monroe Street and is now a vital link in the completed Pikes Peak Greenway.

On March 29, 1907, General William Palmer gave to the City of Colorado Springs his greatest gift, Monument Valley Park with all its improvements and equipment. The Park encompassed 164.52 acres with 5.74 acres of lakes and 8.72 miles of graveled walks. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad right of way provided its Western boundary. Its Southern boundary was from a point 400 feet south of the Bijou viaduct and its Northern boundary to the center line of Monroe Street, a linear distance of 10,950 feet. The population in Colorado Springs at the time was 29,000.

General Palmer’s work of improving the area was completed before the Park was deeded to the City. To his generosity and vision, General Palmer added the engineering skill and wholehearted support of E. C. van Diest who carried out Palmer’s plans. (Van Diest went on to become secretary of the Park Commission.)

An important element consisted of changing the channel of Monument Creek. The new channel of Monument Creek was supported by riprap along the entire length of the channel which in turn was supported at the bottom by a concrete toe wall. The next element of improvement consisted in providing a water system. Near Jefferson Street, a reservoir was built having a capacity of 12,500,000 gallons and readily supplied water from the El Paso Canal (City Ditch). There were four other lakes in the park, all supplied directly from Monument Creek as well as by underground water

General Palmer’s work of improving the area was completed before the Park was deeded to the City. To his generosity and vision, General Palmer added the engineering skill and wholehearted support of E. C. van Diest who carried out Palmer’s plans. (Van Diest went on to become secretary of the Park Commission.)

An important element consisted of changing the channel of Monument Creek. The new channel of Monument Creek was supported by riprap along the entire length of the channel which in turn was supported at the bottom by a concrete toe wall. The next element of improvement consisted in providing a water system. Near Jefferson Street, a reservoir was built having a capacity of 12,500,000 gallons and readily supplied water from the El Paso Canal (City Ditch). There were four other lakes in the park, all supplied directly from Monument Creek as well as by underground water

To provide the park with flowers a greenhouse was built just north of the Mesa Road, and it has supplied plants each year since its construction. (A new greenhouse was dedicated in 1999).

The lakes were used for skating in winter and one lake was designed as a wading pool for children. Sand courts and swings were provided along with a tennis court near Uintah Street which still stands. At the South end, just north of Bijou viaduct, a small tract was set aside for the cultivation of as many varieties as possible of native wild flowering plants and shrubs, General Palmer’s Colorado Wild Garden.

The park was entirely fenced with many entrance and exit points along its length.

General Palmer felt that as the Monument Valley Park was situated in the City and extended for nearly two miles through it, that more provision be made for the amusement of young and old. He wanted the Park to be popular, a source of instruction as well as a safe and healthful resort and playground. He had many plans for improvement of various areas of the Park, including pavilions, more tennis courts and playgrounds. He was concerned about lighting in the Park and made plans to provide and improve it.

General Palmer, in deeding this wonderful tract to Colorado Springs, did have a few conditions placed on the deed. They were as follows:

  1. intoxicating liquors shall never be manufactured, sold, or otherwise disposed of as a beverage in any place of public resort in or upon the premises hereby granted.”
  2. [the Park] must be held, maintained, carried on and forever kept open as a park system solely for outdoor recreation enjoyment and use of the people of the City of Colorado Springs.
  3. Monument Valley Park shall be kept as a public park, with walks and ground free from dangers of horses, vehicles of any kind, except such conveyances as invalid chairs, baby carriages and bicycles propelled by human beings.
  4. http://hpasprings.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=776&action=edit#saveIt is an express limitation and condition that no roads or streets shall hereafter by opened either lengthwise or across Monument Valley Park, that no buildings of structures shall be erected upon the property except [those necessary] for buffets or restaurants with moderate provisions… or structures for lavatories, music and dancing.
  5. 5) In case any limitations or conditions contained in the deed are broken, then this deed shall become null and void, and all right and title and interest of, in and to the premises, and all thereof, shall revert to grantor and heirs. Monument Valley Park constitutes a legacy which we must cherish and enlarge for those who shall occupy the land after us . . .if we would now be true to the opportunity General Palmer gave us. General Palmer spoke of his Park system as pleasure grounds and said, Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone; let it be for such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think . . .that a time is to come when men will say,”See! this our fathers did for us.” ||

Sources of Information :
History of Colorado Springs Parks by Mrs. Lester Griswold

Report of the Secretary to the President and Members of the Park Commission of the City of Colorado Springs, January 30, 1909

Extractions: Conditions placed in deeds of park lands by General Palmer and in effect today–from a report by City Manager Biery, December 10, 1965.

No. 145765, Conditional Deed [of Monument Valley Park] from William J. Palmer to City of Colorado Springs. Filed for record 2:04 PM, June 18, 1907, Joseph H. Schisler, Recorder.

Photos courtesy of the Pioneers Museum and the Colorado Springs Utilities Water Department.