Chaotic Utopia

Amber Waves

Strong winds rustle the grass along the dam at Calkins Lake in Colorado.

Don’t see the lake in this 360 degree panorama?

Well, that’s because it isn’t here anymore. In this small patch of open space, the prairie is being reclaimed. This land was once plowed by a farmer named Henry Calkins. i-1b571c9e5e72ec40cb721a3a1e3b7b82-dambrick.jpgIn order to keep his fields as green as you see in the video, he had to store water in a small reservoir. Calkins dug a ditch from the nearby Farmer’s Highline Canal (shown here on Monday) and built a dam from locally produced brick and concrete.

The lake may have once been calm and still, but it wouldn’t last. Arvada and Westminster, little towns near the lake, grew into giant suburbs. When the growing cities needed a place to store water, they considered buying Calkins’ Lake. Jones Lake, just up the road, won the bid instead, and was expanded into what we now call Standley Lake. By the 1970s, someone decided the old Calkins farm was more valuable as a housing development than a lake, and the dam was torn down. Pieces of it still remain, buried underneath the grass and dirt shown at the beginning of the video. (A piece of brick, salvaged from the ruins, is shown on the right.)

The houses behind the dam, one of which peeks out about seven seconds into the video, are known to have problems with flooding. Imagine that…

Video and photo by the author.