Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Flowers Explore - Manitou Springs and their naturally carbonated Mineral Springs

Theresa, the kids, and I are ready to go on all sorts of new adventures! And why not start with something we've never explored in Colorado. Historic Manitou Springs!



Manitou Springs has all sorts of interesting things we could see, but today there's one thing we're going to focus on. Scattered around the town are different mineral springs, and they're naturally carbonated! Pop Pop comes to visit Manitou Springs almost daily, and when he told us about the water that comes out of the ground that is already fizzy, we knew we had to go check it out!
Jerome Wheeler is one of Manitou Springs most famous residents, and was instrumental in promoting the town's mineral water. People have been coming to this town for hundreds of years to take advantage of the healing properties of the waters. 

Before we go on, I had to brag a little bit on my Dad. The reason he is here nearly every day is the Manitou Incline. This is a ridiculously difficult hike up the side of the Rocky Mountain at the base of Pikes Peak is a straight shot up the mountain for 4646 feet and in that time it gains 1982 feet of elevation! It's not a hike for the faint of heart. 

Just to put it into perspective, it's like climbing the Eiffel tower twice, the Washington Monument three times. You might think going up one time would be plenty, but my Dad will do this 2-3 times, and his record for a single day is 7 ascents and descents! He's on track to complete over 500 in one year!

The current record for most ascents in a year is 1825 by Greg Cummings, and here's a picture of Dad with Greg on the day he completed it!

So we all piled into the car and all went together to see Manitou!

The town has Ruxton Creek running through it. We even saw some residents whose driveway has a bridge going over the creek. There is always the sound of flowing water at their house. One house even had a tree swing going over the creek. Fun!

Manitou even makes use of this flowing water with a Hydroelectric plant. 

The Manitou Incline is very popular (so popular you need to make reservations to climb it), and parking is not often available nearby. We all enjoyed a 1 mile walk through the town of Manitou to get to the base. 

See that line going up the mountain? That's the incline. Originally it was a narrow gauge funicular railway built in 1907, which led to water tanks at the top, giving water pressure to the town below. 

The kids reading the warning signs at the bottom. 
Ian - People have DIED? 

Just a quick photo-op at the bottom. We're not planning on hiking it today. That'll be an adventure for another day. 

Nearby is the start of Barr Trail, the first part of the hike up Pikes Peak. My brothers and I all have pictures in front of this sign before tackling this hike for our thirteenth birthdays with our Dad

Not far from the trailhead is the Cog Railway. This railway took visitors from the base of the mountain all the way up to the top of Pikes Peak since 1891. In 2011, expensive repairs were necessary and the Cog Railway was closed, but in just a few days on May 27th, 2021, the railway will finally reopen and welcome visitors again!

Checking out the barn where the trains are kept and worked on.

After checking out the trails and the cog, it was time to taste the mineral water. 
Around the town, there are different fountains that are constantly flowing, and they all have different properties. Way underground in the Earth's Upper Mantle, carbon dioxide gas is released. It flows through the Ute Pass Fault, through the underground aquifers, picking up elements and minerals along the way. 

The spring nearest the top is Iron Spring. Many of the springs in Manitou have little to no iron in the water, with the highest of those being 0.54mg of iron per liter. Iron Spring has 14mg per liter, 26 times the iron content of any others.  

The spring is piped out underneath this pavilion, constantly flowing for anybody who wants to try it. 
Ian had concerns. 
Ian - Do they make sure it's clean? I don't want a particle of dirt. 
Uh, okay buddy. We'll just have to see. 

This water was prized for its high iron content to help treat people with anemia. According to the plaque, the world's first soda fountain was founded here, as the water was mixed with lemon and orange and served to visitors at a marble topped bar. 

Why was it mixed with fruits though? We'll let Ian explain. 

Just down the hill, not too far away is Twin Spring. Drilled in 1920 by William Crosby, the water comes from two different depth aquifers which flow into one, thus Twin Springs. It's the favorite of many visitors. Pop Pop reports seeing people with 5 gallon water jugs in line to fill up, and the shops nearby also sell empty jugs for visitors to fill. 

Walking further into town, we would next come upon Stratton Spring. 

Named after Winfield Stratton, this spring generates 25 gallons of soda water every minute. 

Across the street was this unnamed spring, which we later discovered was Cheyenne Spring, originally came up in the red brick building in the background. In 1870, this spring and others in the area known as Soda Springs Park, the Manitou Mineral Water Company bottled the water and collected the extra carbon dioxide gas and reinserted it into the bottling process of their waters. 

Nearby Shoshone Spring is similarly housed. 

Coming from the deepest of waters, and having the highest mineral content, this spring is also the warmest. At 70F, I wouldn't call it hot, but it does give the water a different feel and flavor when it's warm, compared to being ice cold. 

Alli trying to pose like one of the statues. Keep stretching Alli!

Our time in Manitou is coming to an end, but not before a visit to Pop Pop's favorite mineral spring. 

Wheeler Spring, named for Jerome Wheeler who was mentioned above already. 

This spring, along with many in the town would regularly erupt as geysers as carbon dioxide built up. It was regulated to a steady flow now to provide a constant stream for people to enjoy. 
When Pop Pop comes to hike the Incline, he'll fill his water bottle up here before the hike, and then refill it before he comes home. 

I should have done a little bit more research before we went off on this adventure. Looking at the website now for ManitouMineralSprings.org there's actually 8 different springs throughout Manitou and we only tried 6 of them. During our exploration, I had on a backpack with empty bottles that I filled up at each stop along the way. I labeled them as I came across them so we could try them all later. When we got home, I put them into the fridge so they could all get nice and cold. 

There were some definite favorites. Alli, Theresa, and Ian liked Twin Spring the best. Of all the ones we tried today, it has the least amount of dissolved solids, and they thought it tasted the cleanest. Compare that to the water from Iron Spring on the right. The Iron Spring water stayed cloudy. Pop Pop liked his Wheeler Spring water the best. To me, I thought Cheyenne Spring water tasted the best, and had the most amount of fizz from carbonation. 

You know what recipe we make with carbonated water? Our tempura green beans recipe calls for 12 ounces of club soda. I think we'll use some of the water we got today for that to have with dinner tonight!

And I don't know if it's all because of the water, but these were some of the crispiest, crunchiest, fried green beans that I've made. Delicious!

There's one other thing I was really curious about. These are carbonated, but how much carbonation is really in them. The best way I know how to do that is to add Mentos! It's a science experiment!

Since we're doing this indoors, with recommendations from others, I put down a towel and had a pan to contain the water that would be spraying out. 

Alli, you've got my Mentos ready? 

Alright, everyone is wanting to know! What's going to happen?

Afterwards we did a comparison outside with a regular bottle of Coke and Mentos too. 

It was a little more reactive. 
Well today was a lot of fun! Going to see the City of Manitou, seeing the Manitou Incline, and trying 6 different kinds of naturally carbonated water! This was a good start to our adventures!

1 comment:

  1. What a quaint Historic Manitou Springs town! Having a swing over a creek sounds like fun! Definitely an exploration adventure seeing all those springs and the future hikes (what an incline!...Pop-Pop gets a VERY good workout doing that hike) Won't be long before the next generation of Flowers conquer that Barr Trail, adding to the family tradition. As they say, a picture (video) is worth a 1000 words...Ian clearly expressed his thoughts on how that one water tasted :-) The mentos-reaction experiments were interesting...guess Coca Cola wins out again. EOM

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