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Development Threatens Golden's Water Supply

Two men sitting at tables on the porch of a small frame building.  Sign board leans against porch post.
Wagenbach store on Lookout Mountain. North Table Mountain is faintly visible in the background. The sign leaning against the porch advertises refreshments. Photo courtesy of Lorraine Wagenbach.

102 Years Ago
The April 13, 1922 issue of the Colorado Transcript described a challenge the City was facing concerning its reservoir on Lookout Mountain. The area was becoming increasingly popular with tourists and a natural target for development. The Wagenbach family had already built a store near the reservoir, and developers were planning to build a gas station, a curio shop, and a waffle house in the same area.

Water wasn’t chemically treated at that time. The only way Cities could hope to ensure safe water was to bring “pure” water from the mountains. The proposed development near the reservoir was a threat to our water.

Open air touring car with several rows of seats and a few passengers on a winding gravel mountain road.
Tourists exploring Lookout Mountain – photo courtesy of Lorraine Wagenbach

The matter of protecting the water supply brought up the question of possible contamination of the Beaver brook water shed, as since the Mount Evans road was built, many people are getting into the country. The city clerk and the health officer were instructed to investigate conditions there as soon as possible, and take the steps necessary to present the pollution of the streams.
Colorado Transcript
– April 13, 1922

The supreme court had already decreed that cities could protect their water supplies, so Golden planned to take legal steps to stop any additional development.

Other stories in that same issue of the newspaper showed that Golden had good cause for concern: development was booming on Lookout Mountain. Construction was underway on the brand new Mount Vernon Country Club, with "a large force of men and teams at work...." Several vacation homes were under construction, and many interested buyers were shopping the remaining parcels so they, too, could build in the upscale new area.

two story stone building with 3 dormer windows on a third floor.  Stone wall surrounds building.
Stone building at the Mother Cabrini shrine - Golden History Museum collection

The Sisters of Charity were getting ready to build a large stone residence for use as a summer camp for orphans (now the Mother Cabrini shrine).

The supreme court had already decreed that cities could protect their water supplies, so Golden planned to take legal steps to stop any additional development near the reservoir.

satellite view shows the winding Lookout Mountain Road  A flat-looking area is outlined in white and labeled "RESERVOIR."
Satellite view of Lookout Mountain shows where Golden's reservoir was

Thanks to the Golden History Museum for providing the online cache of historic Transcripts, and to the Golden Transcript for documenting our history since 1866!