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Johnnie St. Vrain: The ‘Echo Stone’ That No Longer Echoes

January 6, 2019
Longmont Times-Call

Dear Johnnie St. Vrain: There is a large sculptured stone which I call the “Echo Stone” in Roger’s Grove. It is located near the south bank of the previous channel of the St. Vrain River and west of the small bridge that crosses the river. One could sit in the carved out section of the stone and listen to its amplified echo of the river’s rippling flow. Very soothing and relaxing!

The 2013 flood altered the river’s course such that the stone is no longer close enough to echo its sound. Are there any plans to move the stone to a suitable location that would restore the echo effect?

Signed,

Missing the Stone

Dear Missing: Well, you aren’t too far off with the name you’ve given the stone. Robert Tully, its creator, dubbed it the “Listening Stone” when it was made in 1998.

And, at the time the flood was happening, Tully was very worried about the stone and other pieces of art he had placed along the St. Vrain Greenway, according to a 2013 Times-Call story by Quentin Young .

The Listening Stone works because it has a parabolic sound mirror carved into its side which, as you said, direct the sounds of the river back to you. Back in 2013, Tully told Young that the stone no longer worked.

But the plan is to keep the Art in Public Places piece put, for now, according to Steve Ransweiler, senior project manager at the city’s Department of Public Works & Natural Resources.

Improvements to St. Vrain Creek, related to the larger Resilient St. Vrain Project, are still ongoing and it’s not certain where the water will flow. Until the city “reconfigures” the creek in near Roger’s Grove, Ransweiler said, the stone will stay where it is.

Once the work is finished, it will be easier to decide the right location for the stone so that it can once again function as a calming “listening stone.”

There is another possibility. If there isn’t enough funding for Resilient St. Vrain to continue working along the St. Vrain, the Art in Public Places Program could relocate the stone to a more appropriate location until nature runs its course and finds its way again (or the city wins more grants).

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