Scientists suggest that the mineral water emitting from Shoshone Spring contains the greatest amount of deep-seated water from the aquifer system. It contains some the highest amounts of mineral content of the downtown springs and it’s the warmest, with a temperature of just over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The chalk-white color deposit left by the mineral water on its font is called travertine. The travertine is derived from dissolved limestone and dolomite emitting from the underground karst aquifer. Historically, Shoshone has had at least three different structures associated with this natural artesian mineral spring. The first, made from locally-sourced pine tree logs, provided early visitors to the area shade from the high-altitude sunshine and shelter from a gentle rain. The second was an open air formal gathering place constructed from stone and lumber with a hip roof design and overhanging eaves. The third, still standing today, was constructed during the 1890’s out of red-orange Lyons sandstone. The sandstone was likely sourced nearby from the Kenmuir Quarry, now Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Click on images below to learn more.
Font Artist Carl Reed’s notes:
“I have tried to create a visual composition that explores the relationships between architecture, art and nature. Due to the distinguished proportions and dignity of the spring-house, I designed the font to defer to the existing architecture. I hope that the casual viewer will think that the font is contemporary with the original building. There are many marks on the spring-house wall made by the original masons, and I emphasized this in my work, using both traditional hand tools and contemporary power tools. My hope is that visitors will notice and appreciate this relationship and its emphasis on process. The mineral water issuing from the spring-house and falling into the basin is intended to be the focal point of the composition. The stone font is designed to frame and highlight the water. This intention is further emphasized by illuminating the water at night.
When the American Indians partook of the water in Manitou Springs it emerged from the rocks and ran down the stones, forming interesting patterns as over time the minerals left deposits. This process can still be seen on the stone cliffs of nearby Ute pass. I wanted the font to recreate this natural condition, as a way to ensure that the mineral deposits would enhance the artwork rather than creating an unsightly distraction. In keeping with this intention of establishing a natural condition, I set the stones informally and created many rough surfaces. The nearby ring post, or hitching post is intended to symbolize western hospitality, a characteristic that is central to the distinctive personality and reputation of Manitou Springs.”