Mineral water from Shoshone Spring may contain the greatest amount of deep-seated water rising from the aquifer system. It has some of the highest amounts of mineral content, and it’s the warmest with a temperature just over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The chalk-white deposit left by the mineral water on its font is travertine, derived from dissolved limestone and dolomite layered in the underground karst aquifer.
Historically, at least three different structures are associated with this natural, artesian mineral spring. The first, made from locally-sourced, pine-tree logs, provided early 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 built during the 1890s using red-orange Lyons sandstone sourced from nearby Kenmuir Quarry, now Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
|Total Dissolved Solids
The Font Artist
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.