By Charles P. Miller
A mountain recreation park, with sparkling running water, magnificent scenery and cool climate, with in a half hour’s drive of downtown El Paso – is more than an idle dream, it is a potential reality, Vernon L. Sullivan, El Paso consulting engineer, believes.
McKelligon canyon, located in the Franklins and scene of recent construction work of the county, furnishes the possibility for such a park, he says.
While McKelligon canyon proper furnishes more or less drab scenery, the 20 or more side canyons are filled with points of beauty.
Natural stone archways, springs, mountain ferns, odd geological formations, all are to be found in the tributaries of McKelligon.
Standing on a pinnacle of a peak in “Falls” canyon, which converges into McKelligon canyon near the loop in the new road, Sullivan yesterday painted a most enticing picture of what could be done in improving the natural beauty of the surrounding territory.
“Down there, a small stream could be created to flow through a grass covered valley,” he said, pointing to the bottom of the canyon. “After a year or so cottonwoods, or other kinds of native trees could be grown successfully. The stream could be created by placing a series of small dams above the spring up there,” he added, singling out a tiny basin of water high up on one of the bluffs in the canyon.
“The rainfall in the mountains is greater than downtown and one series of small dams would retain enough water to feed a small stream throughout the year.
“Picnic tables could be placed in the valley for those who do not care to climb to the higher altitudes. Other tables, of course, could be placed up here to accommodate those who are of adventuresome spirit.
“The same plans could be carried out in many of the other canyons.”
Along with the construction of the canyon road and flood control fills, the county workers have cleared out trails in most of the canyons, but there still remains plenty of exploration work that could be done.
FEW HAVE BEAUTY
In some of the McKelligon tributaries, beautiful sights which have met few eyes could be opened to the public in general by the construction of safe trails and the clearing of parking space near the mouths of the arroyos.
Perhaps the most beautiful canyon is “Red Rock,” named for its gigantic red rock bluffs. To the right of this canyon is “Falls” canyon, where the water falls for some time after each rain over a solid rock bluff some 50 feet high. “Rainbow” canyon, further up McKelligon canyon, and to the right, is a beautiful arroyo, drawing its name from a natural rock-arch forming a perfect rainbow on the skyline.
One of the first canyons, on the right, is “Granite” canyon, named for its huge red granite boulders.
Just above “Granite is “Ancon” canyon, named for its large natural alcove surrounded by smooth rock walls, and capped off with a huge boulder, upon which one may obtain a few a view of El Paso’s residential district, the lower valley and the Hueco mountains in the distance.
200 FEET SPECTACLE
Two thousand feet above the city, in “Ancon” canyon, an outdoor theater production might be staged, Sullivan said. The alcove forms a perfect amphitheater, capable of caring for thousands of people. Here, too Sullivan said, picnic tables could be placed advantageously.
Exploring McKelligon canyon and its side canyon has been a hobby of Sullivan’s for the last 12 years. Each Sunday he seeks out new places and new sights, “which he hopes eventually will be equipped so that others may enjoy the same beauties. One of the places of which he is particularly proud is “Box” canyon, almost inaccessible at the present time. On three sides the rectangular canyon is boxed in with bluffs of stone almost a hundred feet high.
Cool, refreshing breezes fill all of the beauty places during the summer, he said.
“The temperature goes down about one degree for each 250-foot rise in elevation, giving the higher points climate from five to ten degrees lower than in the downtown district,” he said.
Sullivan believes that various civic organizations and the city should become interested in the possibilities of the potential close-in recreation grounds.
“We can make that territory one of the finest parks in the country,” Sullivan said. “Phoenix and Albuquerque both are catering to winter and summer tourist, and both cities are prospering even during these times, largely because of tourist traffic. McKelligon park would be a great improvement for tourist to not only visit El Paso, but also to make the city their winter and summer stopping place.”