A Pueblo Story... The Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo

For years, various members of the Pueblo community talked about beautifying central Pueblo in the area where the historic Arkansas River flowed. That area consisted of cooling ponds, parking lots, a ditch, weeds and debris. What once was originally home to Native Americans, trappers, adventurers, and, eventually, a thriving business district, deteriorated after the devastating flood of 1921 and the subsequent relocation of the river farther south. The Pueblo Conservancy District, which was formed after the flood to oversee the realignment of the river and the management of it, led the way to reclaim the original river channel and revive, as well as beautify, the historic tract.

In the mid-1980s the Conservancy District, with the cooperation and support of Aquila (formerly Centel and WestPlains Energy) and Tommy Thomson of the Southeastern Water Conservancy District, began studying the ·possibilities of beautifying the existing cooling ponds. About that same time, a handful of Pueblo residents were envisioning a river park similar to San Antonio's River Walk. These pioneers banded together and enlisted the help of the City and County of Pueblo, the Pueblo Board of Water Works, and other Pueblo residents to organize a plan of action to bring back the historic river channel to central Pueblo. What resulted after years of time-consuming meetings, planning sessions, legal wranglings, a bond election, and subsequent construction, is a sparkling gem in the heart of Pueblo. For generations to come, the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo or HARP will be a lively gathering place filled with people enjoying the once-forgotten location of a historical area of Pueblo and the Southwest.

The spirit of those community visionaries is very much alive in the city of Pueblo as witnessed in the building of the Riverwalk. This is their story.

To write this book, I had to rely on the historical information given to me by many people in the Pueblo community. This book would not have been completed without their interest, time, and cooperation. I received the information and data from many sources and this book was written in accordance with that information. I apologize to those people who were involved in this project and not mentioned in this book.

A special thank you to the board of the Pueblo Conservancy District - Pat Kelly, Kathy Farley, and Gus Sandstrom. My appreciation also goes to Don Banner, Frank Childress, Cathy Green, Alan Hamel, Diane Hochevar, Ray Koester, Tony Langoni, Leslie Martinez, Mel Murray, Lori Palomarez, Jeff Osterman, Ed Simonich, John Suhay, Tony Taibi, Dr. William Turman, George Williams, Jan Williams, Bill Zwick, and the staff of the City of Pueblo Planning Department. 

Thank you to Kathleen Kochevar who voluntarily and patiently edited this book. 

This book also contains all the legal documents pertinent to the construction of HARP.

History of the Pueblo Riverwalk

The Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo (HARP) is a 32 acre urban waterfront experience open to the public daily. The Riverwalk returned the Arkansas River to its historic location at the heart of downtown Pueblo after being diverted in the 1920s due to a devastating flood that destroyed much of Pueblo. The Riverwalk's current location serves the community by revitalizing a segment of the downtown area that was previously unsightly and unusable. This urban development transforms the community and has been vital in attracting new businesses, thereby helping stabilize the economic base of the city. 
 
The Arkansas River has been the lifeblood of Pueblo for over 300 years. Native Americans followed the river for hunting and trapping. Early settlers came as sheepherders and cattlemen. Agriculture blossomed in Pueblo’s warmer climate and the steel industry used the bountiful water resources to build a massive manufacturing center. Four nations have claimed ownership over the Arkansas River at the current location of the Riverwalk: Mexico, Spain, France and the Republic of Texas.
 
Flood Of 1921

Flood Of 1921

Historic 1

Historic 1

Historic 2

Historic 2

Historic 3

Historic 3

Historic 4

Historic 4

Historic 5

Historic 5

Historic 6

Historic 6

Historic 7

Historic 7

Historic 8

Historic 8

Lake Elizabeth Before

Lake Elizabeth Before

Riverwalk Before

Riverwalk Before

Before Boat House Area

Before Boat House Area

Picture2

Picture2

Early Development 2

Early Development 2

Early Development 3

Early Development 3

Early Development 4

Early Development 4

Early Development 5

Early Development 5

Riverwalk Construction

Riverwalk Construction

Groundbreaking Ceremony For Expansion

Groundbreaking Ceremony For Expansion

Riverwalk Map

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Contact Us

BOAT HOUSE: 
101 South Union Ave.
Pueblo, Colorado 81003
719-595-1589
 
HARP AUTHORITY OFFICE:
125 Riverwalk Place
Pueblo, Colorado 81003
719-595-0242
 
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