Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Rainbow Bridge at Fort Morgan and making it to Last Chance

Temperatures in 38-40 range and sunny. I went riding of course, had plenty of time before sitting down to the Super Bowl at a neighbor's house.

I decided to try again for Fort Morgan and it's "famed" Rainbow Bridge. Weather and fuel had stopped me the last two times but this time I made it.

I took Quincy Road to Watkins Rd Northbound to Watkins, then CO36 to Bennett. Then it was a couple more county roads northbound till I intersected with I-76. Eastbound on I-76 for about 40 minutes perhaps, Maria running strong as always and I exited at the first exit sign for Ft. Morgan; which turned out to be too early.

I had to get gas anyways so I did, double-backed after meandering through Fort Morgan and not finding the dang bridge. Got back on I-76 after consulting the map and located the bridge by 1240 or so.

The bridge serves also as marker for the entry point to the Pawnee Pioneers Scenic Byway

Snuck a picture of Maria right on the bridge, on the Northern end

A blurb from Fort Morgan's Chamber of Commerce:
Built in 1922 – 1923, this landmark was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Additionally, in 1992 it was designated a Colorado Civil Engineering Landmark. This bridge has survived major floods and in 1935 braced a 10 foot wall of water virtually undamaged. Today it is used for foot traffic and offers a beautiful view of the South Platte River.
LINK to Fort Morgan's Chamber of Commerce Website.

I like how the arches give you symmetry-inducing views

One last shot of Maria at the bridge

Info LINK: The present day city of Fort Morgan was founded in February, 1919. It began as an agricultural town but later diversified into areas of manufacturing and international exporting. It was named in honor of Colonel Christopher A. Morgan. The area was incorporated as a city in 1887.

A bit more history about Fort Morgan here: LINK

Fort Morgan is also the boyhood home of Glenn Miller for you big band fans. Frommer's Colorado website has additional information as well.

I left Fort Morgan heading towards Brush and CO71. This would, after about 30 minutes or so, take me finally to Last Chance, CO. Yeah, I'd been here before apparently but had not stuck around for pictures.

A small cross-roads community established in 1925 at the intersection of what is now US 36 and Highway 71. In 1925, no matter which way you were traveling, if you passed up Last Chance you had a long distance to travel to find another place to get gas for your Model T. Last Chance never had an official post office but residents remember individual mail boxes in the general store. LINK

The only historical marker site, the information plaque had been removed

The Dairy King back in "the day" Source: LINK

Present Day Dairy King

The Last Chance Motel, back in the day, source was a postcard on Ebay

Present day vestiges of the motel buildings

Didn't take me long to "cover" the remnants of this old town, not much remains as you can see. There is however, one man's recollections of living in Last Chance: LINK

I hurried on home using US36 to speed straight westward back towards Bennett and Watkins. I retraced my route back homewards using Watkins Road. I had spotted a white-painted structure out in the middle of fields, near a shooting range before. This time I turned onto the dirt road that is Jewell Avenue to try and get closer.

At that point I wished I was riding Brigitta, she does much better on dirt, specially the loose stuff I encountered today. Anyway, I did find the access road that led to the structure but two things stopped me. A no trespassing sign and a dirt trail covered in loose gray gravel rock. Another day perhaps.

Here's what the structure looks like, any ideas out there?

What the Heck is this?

So a pretty good day of riding, mystery notwithstanding. Finally got my pictures of the Rainbow Bridge at Fort Morgan, finally got my pictures of Last Chance before the town eventually blows away with the eastern winds and a small mystery site to investigate on another day.

Update:13MAR09: Finally got a closeup shot of the object which commenters had beforehand identified as a VOR or VHF Omni-directional Radio Range. It had an FAA warning sign on it so I figure it's part of Denver International Airport's infrastructure.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6:

Sometimes you just have to add more detail to a story. These were great and fascinating pictures today. This bridge is a story in the telling. How long is it? Is it closed to vehicular traffic as there appears to be a highway bridge next to it? What river does it cross? Are there fish in it? What kind of fish?

Was there a motel sign still standing anyplace? Was anyone murdered in the motel? These are things that the reader wants to know. At least one reader.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Charlie6 said...

Hi Jack

you are quite right, I was remiss in my posting some research I'd found on both locations. I've updated the entry accordingly and thanks for the "nudge".

However, no murders found which happened at the motel and not being a fisherman, can only guess it's trout that one can get from the Platte River. :)

You know what, the added stuff does make it better.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6:

I was busting your chops. The bridge picture is fascinating. What was the building in from of Elephant Rock in the previous post. (See, I look at and read everything.)

Fondest regards,

Charlie6 said...


you were busting my chops, that's fine, they needed it. :)

re the building, I believe they do weddings at the elephant's it's for functions and such, will know for sure if and when I ever make it up there this summer.

irondad said...

The new masthead looks pretty awesome! Unlike Jack, there's no chop busting intended in the following part of the comment! If there were fish there, Jack would con someone else into catching and cooking them for him. :)

I,too, like finding old towns and areas. I can spend hours looking at a field or building and thinking about what life was like back when. I find the connection to the past to be comforting somehow.

We have Dairy Queen's but no Dairy King. How about a Burger King?

Jeff said...

Redleg, I have been out that way a couple of times to visit the American Legion Post 19, didn't know about the bridge, I just put it on the 'ride list'. I don't have a clue what the white cone thing is, maybe an old missile silo? Great ride pic's and easy reading.. ride safe
Electra Glide In Blue

Richard Machida said...

Isn't that a VOR? (short for VHF Omni-directional Radio Range)

Charlie6 said...


ding ding ding ding! give that man a cigar! You hit it right on the head....mystery solved.

link to another vor

Charlie6 said...

Irondad, yeah, I kinda like the way the masthead turned out, thanks. Re Dairy King, first time I'd seen one....always thought it was Dairy Queen.

Jeff, thank you for your kind comments.

Micah said...

Man, I was a little too slow on the reply. VORs. I wonder why they have to look so strange.

I've heard from one of our Airways Facilities guys that when one needs realigned, the techs just rotate the whole building.

Don't know if it's true or not.

Charlie6 said...

Micah, thanks anyways for your confirmation on the VOR.

I hope to get close to this one soon and see if now if you can actually "rotate" the building. :)