Seven Falls, Colorado, USA

February 10, 2004

Nature’s harmonizing elements of light and water come colorfully together at Seven Falls in South Cheyenne Cañon near Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of the most unique attractions in a state full of them. Privately owned and one of the oldest attractions in Colorado, the falls are even more spectacular at night when viewed beneath a new wash of dynamic light.

Homesteaded in 1872, the falls were soon opened as a tourist attraction in order to save the area from the timber industry. The entire canyon and seven successive cascades, each with its own unique name, were first illuminated in 1947. In those days however illumination came in the form of static color, but in December of 2002, a dynamic Martin Architectural lighting system was installed.

Weatherproof lighting
Facilities Manager, Lighting Operator, and caretaker of the lighting system is Karl Glessner. To ensure that the system is working properly, Karl braves the 224-step staircase and steep canyon walls in all types of weather. “Colorado experiences severe temperatures, from the winter cold of the Rockies to extreme summer heat,” Karl states, “so we were looking for a fixture that could put up with both extremes.”

IP-65 rated Exterior 600 and Exterior 200 were the chosen color changing washlights and mounted at various positions beneath the staircase and on the adjacent rock wall. In order to keep the focus on the white water and to reduce spill on the surrounding rocks, the fixtures are equipped with beam shaping barndoors, another improvement over the previous lighting system.

Dynamic lighting looks
A number of dynamic lighting looks are triggered via a PC-based Martin LightJockey system with a Martin LightCorder used as backup. Lighting design was completed by Martin’s Bruno Silvas. Some of the unique looks include a ‘Let it Row’ sequence, as if a bucket of paint was dumped at the top of the falls and allowed to trickle down from one fall to the next. Another popular look is a rainbow look of bright colors, one on each of the falls.

The dynamic lighting system allows the operators to quickly and easily alter the looks for holidays and special events such as the Fourth of July when the falls are dressed in patriotic red, white, and blue hues; or Christmas colors to accompany an annual Christmas Unlimited charity event, now in its 56th year, when the site is dressed in Christmas decorations with thousands of lights added to surrounding trees, buildings, etc.

Bruno completed all lighting programming, with focusing done by Karl and Bruno. An area called the “nest”,  14 stories above the canyon floor, is accessible by a unique in-mountain elevator, and is a perfectly placed viewing platform, as well as a scenic programming site. Mills Electrical (now Riviera) supplied the Martin lighting.

Lighting positions
The falls are named from top to bottom: Romona, Feather, Bridal Veil, Shorty, Hull, Weimer, and Hill. The bottom three falls, Hull, Weimer and Hill, are illuminated by six Exterior 600s, three located in a bunker at the base of the lower falls and three located beneath the first stair run that required rappelling off ropes to install. Three Exterior 200s only used for darker colors are mounted on a rock wall projecting down onto Hull. An additional Exterior 200 located at the base of the first stairway platform also illuminates Hull.

Shorty is lit from a rock-mounted Exterior 600 while four Exterior 600s located beneath the second stretch of stairway illuminate Bridal Veil. Feathers is illuminated from three Exterior 600s mounted on the rock wall, as well as an Exterior 200. Highest up, Ramona, is illuminated by two Exterior 200s.

An additional Exterior 600 is located at the base of the falls to illuminate the 200-foot high canyon wall in light pink to bring out the red of the natural stone. Three Exterior 200s and one Exterior 200 are used at the entrance archway and curio shop falls, respectively.

The natural beauty of Seven Falls has attracted visitors for over a century, and will continue to do so for years to come. Now, with dynamic lighting, tourists and locals alike can enjoy a new look to one of the State’s oldest attractions.

Seven Falls Personnel:
Lyda Hill: President
Linda Carter: COO
Gary Kunce: Manager of Operations
Karl Glessner: Facilities Manager; Lighting Operator