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Our Geography

Where is Turkey Creek?

Turkey Creek flows through Teller, Fremont, El Paso, and Pueblo Counties, Colorado.  The headwaters of Turkey Creek are in Teller County at about 9,800 feet of elevation.  Turkey Creek has two origins — an East Fork and a West Fork.  The two forks begin at separate places on Black Mountain, which is in the Front Range near the southern border of Pike National Forest (about one mile away) and just southwest of Danvers Benchmark (a 10,096 ft.peak).  About two or three miles to the southeast, the forks join and run through Turkey Canyon, leaving Teller and Fremont Counties and entering El Paso County.  Turkey Creek continues in a southerly direction with many streams and creeks joining it along the way.  It crosses Highway 115 in El Paso County and then runs through the Fort Carson Military Reservation in both El Paso and Pueblo Counties.  Now in Pueblo County, Turkey Creek flows through the Teller Reservoir which is southeast of Booth Mountain and about two miles east of the now defunct Stone City.  Continuing southward, Turkey Creek crosses Highway 50 just east of Swallows Road (just west of Pueblo West) and then runs through the southwestern part of Pueblo West.  Completing its journey, Turkey Creek joins the Arkansas River at the Pueblo Reservoir at about half the elevation at which it began — 4,900 feet.

Geography of the District

The Turkey Creek Conservation District is located northwest, north, and northeast of Pueblo, Colorado, and roughly comprises the northwest quarter of Pueblo County.  The District’s area is principally bounded by the Fremont County line on the west, by the El Paso County line on the north, by the Central Colorado Conservation District boundary lines on the northeast, by the Olney Boone Conservation District boundary line on the east, and by the Arkansas River on the south.

All incorporated municipalities and areas devoted excessively to commercial or industrial uses, as they existed at the time the original Districts were formed, are excluded from the District.  The Pueblo West Metropolitan District was excluded from the Turkey Creek Conservation District in 2003.

There are two major U.S. highways running through the District: U.S. Route 50 which runs east and west in the southern part and Interstate 25 which runs north and south in the central part. There are also many county roads and intermingling trails across the District. A main railroad line traverses the District running north and south through the mid-eastern part, another runs east and west along the southern edge, and a branch line runs northwest through the center of the District from Pueblo to Stone City.

The Turkey Creek CD area varies from 4,700 to 6,000 feet in elevation with steep mountainous slopes in the northwest portion and rolling slopes in the southern and eastern portions.  Nearly all of the landforms in the boundaries of the District come from within the Upper Cretaceous series. Pierre shales predominate and occur along the areas of transition from rolling slopes to the steep mountainous slopes. Sandstones and some limestone deposits lying above the Pierre shales are found in the northwestern part of the District in the vicinity of Stone City. From a geologic standpoint, the greater percentage of the soils in this area have a slow rate of infiltration and are highly erosive.

History of the Area

The first settlers came to the northwest portion of Pueblo County about 1865.  Two of these men were Tip and John Hobson whose principal industry was raising cattle.  At that time, the region was covered with sagebrush, grama grasses, and western wheatgrass.  It was ideal for cattle range.  From early spring to early winter there was an abundance of grass for thousands of cattle.The first irrigation along the Arkansas River was achieved by Charles Hobson.  In 1870, he filed on land and water about a mile east of the Fremont County line and spent his entire life there.

Early settlers of this area stated that the valleys and banks of both the Arkansas River and the Fountain Creek were covered with a dense growth of vegetation.  The stream banks were protected with wild grape vines, hop vines, wild plum, and willow trees, while the valleys were carpeted with grama and western wheat grasses that could be cut for hay.  At that time, the Fountain Creek was a small stream with a well-defined channel.

One of the first settlers to farm along the Fountain Creek was Dick Wooten who began on a tract of fertile land nine miles north of Pueblo in 1861.  He was very successful – his original farm developed into an extensive acreage upon which he raised hundreds of bushels of corn and wheat.  Other settlers began developing farms in this area.  Within a few years, all of the best land in the Fountain valley was under cultivation.

In 1890, the demand arose in Pueblo County for alabaster and building stone. Charles and Tip Hobson filed on several claims at Stone City and started quarrying rock for shipment to Pueblo.Their venture proved unsuccessful, however shortly thereafter, the cement plants at Portland in Fremont County started operating and provided a market for the alabaster. From 1893 – 1896, the mines were not operated due to hard times.In 1900, a Mr. Erickson purchased the claims and started large-scale production (as the Turkey Creek Stone Co.). Along with the stone, he found a very fine fire clay that he mined and sold to zinc smelters. Until 1891, all of the mined product had been carried in wagons to the railroad at Swallows. Because this method was slow and expensive, a branch line of the railroad was built to operate between Pueblo and Stone City. After that, thousands of railroad cars of material were shipped from the Stone City mines to all parts of the United States.  The entire Pueblo County Courthouse is constructed of stone quarried at Stone City. Around 1903, John Teller constructed the Teller Reservoir with storage rights for 4,629 acre feet of water. A few years later, the dam and storage rights were purchased by the George H. Paul Orchard Company, which planted several thousand acres of fruit trees just south of the present Highway 50. The venture didn’t prove successful. After that, the water was used for cropland in the Turkey Creek valley.

Turkey Creek Soil Conservation District; Long Range Plan (historical background). Pueblo, Colorado. 1966.

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value.”