Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Back in the Day

Retrieving and researching historic aerial photos recently, I ran across this great 1955 view of what my neighborhood looked like before it was a neighborhood. (Post updated September 2008.)

There are a couple of drainages on the left, and one house upper right and a few others lower right. That's about it, unless you start thinking history. The lines that meet at the top center tell a fascinating story, one which I've barely started to explore. The "four track" that veers left and downward is an old wagon road, also reported as a cattle drive, most likely both. The single line that curves to the right around the hill is the visible remnant of an old flume that was intended to carry water from Bear Creek to the north to farms off far to the southeast. Perhaps it did for a time. In about 1910, there was also a 9-hole golf course in this area!

Here's a look at the approximate area over which our neighborhood was built. I'll put up the "after" shot soon. (Well, eventually.)

Explorations of the new (to me) field of ecological history are capturing my interest and attention lately. Repeated aerials are going to be a great way to find out more about this area, especially as "on-the-ground" traces of historic use can fade over time.

Much later, a 2008 update, here's the "after" view, taken in about 2002. New features dominate the old landscape. The small reservoir to the north was built in 1981. A new water pipeline, not yet revegetated, occupies part of the old wagon road. The land north of the dozen or so new houses (two more have been added since) is now part of Mt. Falcon Park, accessed by a new parking lot and visible trails. The old flume, subject of a new post, is more subtle now, fading into the background of this photo, but still easily traced on the ground. The land south of the road, at the lower edge of the picture, is a horse pasture subject to heavy grazing.

Overall, though, we've been lucky. As parkland, much of the area remains as it was more than 50 years ago.