If it wasn't for The Mesa Land Trust wanting to save the Three Sisters from becoming a housing development, all these great stories wouldn't be coming to life. Like me sitting down and talking to Larry Meens.
Larry has a long history in the Grand Valley although he didn't move here until he was an adult. His grandfather A. W. Meens built the Tri Mountain Place in the 1920s and Larry and his brother would spend their summers at the "castle." What a great place to roam around in those days. He had the old Mesa College Farm to explore which was the county poor farm in the olden days. It's now Heather Ridge Subdivision and some of the original fruit trees from the farm are still alive and producing in the yards of the tract homes.
When I was at Grand Junction Junior High around 1966-67, my girlfriend Cydni Warren and I would walk over to the College Farm from her house on South Broadway to see if there happened to be any farm boys hanging around with horses because we were both horse crazy and boy crazy. At least she was anyway. I preferred the horses. We weren't all that motivated to explore the Three Sisters unless either of those attractions were involved.
A. W. Meens planted fruit trees at Tri Mountain and his son, Dr. David Meens, was Larry and Robert's father. Larry has photos that he will share with us someday of a movie that was filmed near the Three Sisters in the late '40s. It starred Robert Taylor, and Grandmother Ona Jane Meens was an extra in the movie. Robert Taylor stayed at the Tri River Place and went horseback riding on what would become Larry's own horse. The wash was bare of brush back then. Irrigation run-off had not yet offered the sagebrush the opportunity to flourish as it does now.
Larry also remembers when the city dump was just across the road from The Three Sisters. It was located on top of the ridge right off of the new Mariposa Drive and Larry would go and scrounge around the dump and bring stuff back home because as he puts it: "That's what kids do." You can still see where the land has been scraped off to cover the refuse pile. He and Robert would also play in the now covered up coal mine located in the middle sister, guess that would be Hope.
One day they got in pretty deep and spooked each other. Larry hit his head and it knocked him out. When he came to, he took his bloody head home to Grandma and she brought out the little bottle of iodine and with the stopper put a few drops of iodine on his wound. Well, Larry got spooked again, jumped back and Ona Jane dropped the whole bottle of iodine and it broke. That's why he recalls playing in the coal mine. I think we all used to fear the little iodine bottle.
Newspaperman Ken Johnson bought the Tri Mountain Place on South Redlands Road after the Meens passed it along. Ken was a little too old to play on the Three Sisters; all the playing went on in the castle. He does remember camping out there as a Boy Scout and later he and the entire 144th Field Artillery, headquartered at the Armory on 28 Road marched out from the Armory across town, M-1 30.06 rifles and all, over the Colorado River Bridge to the Three Sister for maneuvers. Unauthorized and would probably be court-martialed today, they proceeded to the farthest big sister and blew up a lot of sagebrush. "It was realistic training and great fun," confessed Ken. Maybe that's why the wash was so bare when they shot that early movie.
We're ever so lucky to have this magnificent playground as our backyard. Development happens but the special places are still out there.
Contact the Mesa Land Trust or the City of Grand Junction if you are interested in helping preserve the Grand Valley so that we can for ever retain those happy places where we played.
Tell me your story by contacting me, Priscilla Mangnall at 970-260-5226 or Priscilla.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.