Two-Lane Tidbit: Castlewood Canyon Dam, Franktown, CO

Located approximately 35 miles southeast of Denver, Castlewood Canyon State Park has a number of trails across plains and through canyons alongside Cherry Creek. It also contains the remains of the Castlewood Dam. Built in 1890 to provide water for farming and production, as well as to hopefully entice settlers downstream, the dam suffered from leaks and was a point of contention between citizens and the Denver Water Storage Company that constructed the dam from the beginning and for the next 43 years. In early August 1933, the Denver area received an immense amount of rain, at one point measuring eight inches in three hours. At 1:20 am on August 3rd, the dam could take no more and gave way, sending a 15-foot wall of water towards Denver. By 7:00 am, the 1.7 billion gallons of floodwater reached Denver, tearing out bridges and damaging buildings, flooding the City Auditorium and Jail, and eventually leaving six inches of water in Union Station before finally stopping near 13th and Speer. There were two fatalities, but thanks to the expansion of telephones and party lines, some warning was provided to Denver and more than 5,000 people in the lowlands were able to escape the path of the water. It was ultimately the second most destructive flood in Denver history and resulted in $1M ($21M in 2022) worth of damages. After the flood, it took 2,500 men and women months to clean up, and ultimately, the Cherry Creek Dam and Reservoir were constructed. The area around the failed dam became a state park in 1964 and is well worth a visit both for the history and the beautiful scenery.