The river once went round it

Anyone looking at a map printed for the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce or The Group Inc. Real Estate might have seen that the Poudre River does not exactly go with the flow.

According to the maps – there is a different printer for each map – intrepid explorers, real estate speculators and anyone with an eye for adventure would expect the river to veer to the left after passing under Linden Street and meander by New Belgium Brewery before it curves back to the right and proceeds under Lincoln Avenue – a path and area referred to as the oxbow.

In actuality, the river glides efficiently straight between Linden and Lincoln. These days, it seems not even rivers take the time to get their kicks along a scenic route.

Historical maps after 1873 consistently show the Poudre flowing through both the oxbow as well as the direct path it currently takes. At the same time. Both flows appear on the maps through 1960. The 1966 map, however, no longer shows the Poudre flowing through the oxbow.

A call to the city of Fort Collins confirmed that the oxbow was cut off sometime in the 1960s due to a “man-made decision.” In 2005, a levee was built along the Poudre’s northern side between Linden and Lincoln that removed 90 residential and commercial properties from the 100-year floodplain.

Needless to say, the maps the printers are supplying to the chamber and The Group are outdated, but the 1873 map at least includes the river’s current path, which the printers’ maps do not.

Just what that “man-made decision” was could not be determined by press time. If you know, give us a holler at

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