Memories of Palmer Lake

Memories of Palmer Lake

If you think the cost of living is going up, just do some comparisons on construction costs. Six different dams have been built at the mouth of Palmer Lake and we are still paying for the most recent which cost $775,000. The time before last was in 1948 when Lyle Michael built it at a cost of $4,389.37. The iron bridge that was built in 1873 across Swan Creek just below the dam cost a whopping $16,000. It served the community for over 50 years and was replaced in 1932. Keep in mind that in 1873 a nickel would have bought an inch of chewing tobacco or two pounds of flour. In an interview in 1990, Helmine Oldenberg recalled crossing the old bridge. “It was scary,” she said, “It wiggled every time you went across. If you were lucky enough to go across at the same time that a car did, that was really something! Of course, they didn’t have too many cars back then.” The Historical Society has a newspaper article that describes the flood of June 1937. “The attention of Colon people was focused on the dam in the village,” it says in the article, “Late Saturday afternoon, the water reached the top of the retaining wall between the dam and the mill race and a force of men were hurriedly recruited and within a few hours the retaining walls were reinforced with sandbags, and men were kept on duty during the night watching danger spots and guiding floating logs and debris through the openings.” Delmar Terhune was one of the volunteers recruited to save the dam. “There was a lot of water,” he said, “If it wasn’t for the sandbags, the dam would have been overrun.” One resident, J. O. Burke, lost all but 15 of a flock of 1,000 ewes, which were in pasture on the north side of the river. Randall Wattles lived on a farm that bordered Palmer Lake and fished nearly every day. In an interview he recalled when the lake was much smaller and bordered by woods on the south side instead of the houses and cottages that now line the lake. Lois Wattles fondly remembered when ice was cut on the lake. “They used to cut enough for the entire town,” she said. Jerry Davis recalled his experiences, “We used to go out after they cut the ice and it had been frozen over a bit and skate. The ice would bob up and down. It was quite a ride.” He also remembered collecting arrowheads as a boy on the outskirts of the lake. His great grandfather was Mel Lyons, the owner and builder of the steamboat that used to cross the lake from the mill landing to the point (Palmer Point) prior to WWI. “People would pack lunches and spend the day out there on the point,” said Davis. He also remembered a particular spot under a tree that was ideal for “parking”.