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Action Line goes off the rails

The Three Springs come together. This is the view looking north from above the pedestrian underpass on Confluence Avenue.

Dear Action Line: Where are the three springs of Three Springs? – Mike Silver

Dear Mike: Sounds like a simple question. Action Line will make the answer very complex so you have to pay attention.

The basic answer, said Tim Zink, asset manager for the Southern Ute Tribe’s Growth Fund Properties Group, is that the springs are located in the Confluence Park area just north of the Confluence Avenue pedestrian underpass. That underpass is just a few steps northwest of the roundabout where Wilson Gulch Drive and Confluence Avenue meet.

Three usually dry drainage channels converge in the open space between the underpass and the Cottonwood Inn facility, Zink said.

If you’re looking for the kind of springs where water is bubbling up or even actively seeping, you likely will be disappointed. The springs aren’t very active, and – other than the small ponds below the confluence – these drainages are often dry other than during or right after a storm. Zink said developers noticed the springs seemed to flow more during the fall, which led them to believe that they were possibly being fed by irrigation water that gradually trickled down from upstream.

Action Line researched to see if the name “Three Springs” came up in any old archives. It didn’t, but the search sent Action Line down a rabbit hole, and both Zink and local historian extraordinaire Robert McDaniel were kind enough to jump in. So, relevant or not, here’s some history of the area.

In the early 1900s, the Pearson family operated a large ranch. There was a train stop called Bocea, where sheep, cattle and other stock were loaded. Photos from the 1940s dug up by McDaniel show little in the way of civilization in the area.

This map showing Bocea was surveyed in 1924. From studying longitude lines, Action Line believes that Bocea lines up approximately with the north-south line made by High Llama Lane.
See the three springs? They are numbered one, two and three, but feel free to name them. And that’s approximately where Bocea used to be. This map uses data from 2016, and obviously, the roads and buildings are not up to date.

The old Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad dropped down from Florida Mesa through some nasty curves before the Bocea station and was the site of at least two tragic wrecks. If you’ve been on the Spur Line trails at Three Springs, you’ve seen the old railroad grade. Two men were killed when the brakes failed, and a D&RG train derailed near Bocea in July 1905.

“Both engines left the track and turned over, and nine of the heavily loaded flatcars piled on top of them in an inextricable mass,” said one newspaper account. “Engineer Smith and Fireman Allison ... were caught under the wreck and instantly killed. (Warning to the squeamish: Skip the next sentence.) Allison was horribly mangled, an arm being found in one place and a leg in another.”

Another train wreck, which old-timers may remember, occurred Sept. 27, 1958, along what is now Oso Grande Drive. It took the life of Paul Mayer, a fireman. Paul is the brother of both Tom and Jim Mayer, who made the bet that begat the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. But that’s another story.

McDaniel found that the Bocea station had disappeared by the 1960s.

Dear Action Line: What has happened to all the smaller push carts at south City Market? They seem to be in short supply. Compared to the smaller ones, the bigger ones feel like driving a truck. Is it possible City Market figured out customers buy more if you make them use a bigger cart? – Grocery Trucker

Dear Trucker: You’re in luck, because Action Line had this same thought and was motivated to uncover the dastardly plot.

Action Line turned to City Market’s big corporate boss, The Kroger Co. As you may know, Kroger has nothing to do with Kroegers Ace Hardware, even though it’s right next door. They’re spelled differently, and even pronounced differently – “O” vs. more of an “EH.” Now, what were we talking about?

Oh yeah. So, the corporate folks did not respond right away to Action Line’s urgent email, which indicated they were part of the big conspiracy. Action Line, ostensibly to pick up some minced clams, went undercover. He entered City Market, immediately ran past a couple of old ladies to snag one of the two remaining small carts, and went to work.

When asked about the dearth of small carts, the cart attendant said they were all being used. Obviously, he was in on the conspiracy, too.

A trusted, longtime employee had a different story. A lot of the small carts have disappeared (they do get “borrowed” sometimes), so the manager has ordered more. No conspiracy, no attempt to trick shoppers into loading up a big cart just because you can.

After this clandestine Action Line action (see why it’s called ACTION Line?), there was a response from the corporate office, courtesy of Jessica Trowbridge, spokeswoman for King Soopers and City Market, which both fall under the Kroger (not Kroeger) umbrella:

“We have more carts on order, and as soon as they arrive, they will be made available to customers.”

Logically, it does seem that it might behoove grocery and other retail stores to have bigger carts. And right now, the bigger carts are a good way to increase social distancing – and load up on toilet paper.

But, for the moment, Action Line is convinced there is no grand conspiracy.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Anyone know where the name “Bocea” came from?

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