World War II POW camp may sit in path of Fraser Valley Parkway
One obstacle to the Fraser Valley Parkway hinges on history.
Grand County commissioners are considering whether to continue the decades-long pursuit of an alternative north-south route from Tabernash to Winter Park, west of US Highway 40, known as the Fraser Valley Parkway or County Road 522.
In order to renew a US Army Corps of Engineers wetland permit, a cultural survey must be completed by Sept. 1 on the segment of the unbuilt section of road between county roads 73 and 50, near the home of a historic site.
The proposed road might cross through the German prisoner of war camp that existed during World War II outside Fraser. Approximately 200 German POWs provided labor logging lumber in the late 1940s.
“In my opinion, it and the POW camp in Kremmling are two of the most historically significant sites we have in Grand County,” former president of the Grand County Historical Association Dave Lively told commissioners on Tuesday.
The cost of the cultural survey could range widely depending on exactly where the camp sat. The first step would be archival research on the camp to determine its exact location and what features might remain, costing $6,000 to $8,000.
According to Ron Jones, one of the property owners where the POW camp was, there’s not much left.
“You’re going to find one or maybe two concrete slabs, and that’s the only thing that’s visible that’s remaining on that site,” he said.
Excavating might turn up some material, but Jones said he thinks that’s unlikely.
If the survey finds the POW camp in the proposed roadway’s path, further tasks would be needed to ensure its preservation. Changing the currently charted path of the road could be a problem because high quality wetlands surround the area. The county would have the option to not move forward if the survey presents significant hurdles.
Grand County commissioners emphasized they remain unsure whether they want the road. While it might benefit traffic, it could also affect a number of property owners.
Commissioners took solace knowing that beginning the cultural survey could solidify knowledge of the POW camp and heighten Grand County’s historical understanding. Knowing that the road would impact the historical landmark would also likely bring an end to project.
With that in mind, commissioners agreed to move forward with the first step of the survey and hear back about the results.
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Members of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission as well as the public are invited to attend CPW’s second online educational session related to wolf reintroduction efforts 6-8 p.m. Thursday.