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How a bed ended up in a tree

Benjamin Eaton and his wife, Margaret, went to bed early the evening of July 25, 1885. The couple lived in their home at Yampa Street and Wahsatch Avenue in Colorado Springs, which was then at the northeastern edge of town.Eaton was the superintendent of El Paso County’s schools. He used initials (B.A.P.) instead of his first name, so he was known as ìalphabet-soup Eaton.î Others simply called him ìBap.îAt 9 p.m. that evening an unusually heavy torrent of rain pounded the land of H. T. Clark, at the base of Austin Bluffs. Rain filled a 16-inch-deep tub in an hour.The water swept through Clark’s ranch, killing two horses and some cattle. It then rushed toward Colorado Springs along a creek known as Shooks Run, named for two brothers from Iowa, Peter and Denton Shook, who, in 1865, began raising cattle on 80 acres near the confluence of the creek that bears their name and Monument Creek.Eaton soon heard a roaring sound just north of his house. From a window, he saw a wall of water, illuminated by flashes of lightning, heading straight toward them.Water swept away his chicken coop and barn, and then swirled around his house. It raised the house off its foundation and began moving it toward Monument Creek, striking the northeast corner of North’s carpenter shop, tearing off a chunk of the building. Eaton now knew he and Margaret must swim for their lives. He jumped out the front door into waist-deep water, but Margaret refused to follow. Instead, she threw herself on a bed near the door.By the time Eaton regained his footing in the rushing water, the house, with his wife inside, had floated out of sight. Eyewitnesses said the house rolled over by the time it reached the Dale Street footbridge. It eventually crashed into the Bijou Street Bridge.Meanwhile, Eaton made his way to a wagon sitting on higher ground. Dairyman Melvin Sinton (founder of Sinton Dairy) happened by, threw him a rope from horseback and pulled him to safety.That night, a search party looked for Margaret Eaton, but she was not found, even though they searched throughout the next day, too. Thirteen days later, her body was found in a pile of driftwood and debris, caught on a barbed wire fence on the Treadwell Ranch, about 2 miles south of the city limits.The flood killed livestock and destroyed the produce of every farmer, rancher and dairyman along Shooks Run. Parts of buggies, carriages and wagons were found embedded in the creek bank.A husk mattress that could have belonged to the Eatons was found in Col. George De La Vergneís oat field in Ivywild, near Fountain Creek, which itself had risen to a depth of 10 feet and a width of 500 feet due to the torrent of water that was sent down Shooks Run that night.As late as 2007, it was reported that the rusted bed frame still stuck in a Shooks Run tree belonged to the Eatons, but no one knows for sure.After further flooding on Shooks Run throughout the years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Templeton Gap Floodway in 1949.The floodway includes El Paso County’s only earthen levee, which cuts the Shooks Run drainage in half.The levee collects water flowing from northeastern Colorado Springs and channels it under Union Boulevard and Nevada Avenue to Monument Creek 2 miles to the west, sparing the residents of the Middle Shooks Run neighborhood from the perils of flash floods.

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