Friday, May 07, 2004

Drain a lake and what do you find?

There is a long-time used man-made lake here in town called Prospect Lake. For generations people have used it for swimming, boating, fishing and just hanging around. They are draining it because it has leaks that need to be repaired.

Prospect Lake revealing its secrets


As the hulking metal skeleton of a Volkswagen bug peered out of receding Prospect Lake on Thursday, Frank Kazee found his 14th gun nearby.

As the lake is becoming sand, it is revealing a prospector’s paradise of guns, knives, class rings — even small German cars.

City officials and amateur sleuths are scratching their heads, wondering how so much trash got to the bottom of a 50-acre lake last drained in 1953.

They expected to find some stuff. But it’s been stunning what has emerged during the past three weeks the city has been pumping water out of the lake.

“There’s shotguns and rifles and everything come up at that lake,” said Kazee, a Colorado Springs resident who’s been prospecting the sand with his Bounty Hunter metal detector since 1969. “You name it, we’ve found it.”

Kazee has discovered his 14 shotguns, handguns and rifles at the Memorial Park swimming hole since the water started receding in 2002. The city is draining Prospect Lake and wants to patch its leaks and refill it by next year.

The serial numbers have been filed off some of the guns, likely used to commit crimes, and most are too old to work. Still, Kazee and other members of the Pikes Peak Adventure Club for prospectors let police know when they dig up anything suspicious.

He’s found rings and jewelry, too.

Most items sprawled across the lake Thursday were trash and junk that hasn’t seen the light in decades: an ice cube tray; a 45 rpm record with its label missing; empty pull-tab cans of Colt 45, Coors and Hamms.

The most curious item is the Volkswagen, with its rusted top and broken front window protruding from the water near the east side of the lake.

As birds perched on its top Thursday, 8-year-old Angelica Zins strolled by and wondered aloud: “Are there people in there?”

“There could be,” replied her father, Greg Zins.

City parks and recreation director Paul Butcher said his staffers haven’t noticed any slimy skeletons but have pinpointed the bug as a model built in the late 1960s. When the water drops low enough to pull it out, they will examine it for a vehicle identification number or license plate and try to determine its history.

Butcher’s theory is somebody drove the car onto the lake when it was frozen, causing it to fall through the ice and sink.

The city has pumped about 15 million gallons out of the lake and into Monument Creek. Butcher expects the area will be dry by early June.


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