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Colorado Springs & The Pikes Peak Region - Business, Information & Recreation.

Colorado Springs Local History

Welcome to Colorado Springs, a city of many faces, with a past rooted in tourism and a future soaring with development.


The founder General William Jackson Palmer and his associates comprising the Colorado Springs Co., would most likely be pleasantly surprised at the Springs of today, compared to the one they envisioned in 1871. Their vision then was guided by simple principles: a health resort community of wide tree lined boulevards, clean, smoke free industries, and a city filled with churches of many religous denominations. General Palmer, being a man of strict temperance, felt it necessary to prohibit the sale or serving of alcohol within the town limits, and probably would not be happy with the popular breweries & brew pubs currently operating & providing entertainment & libations for the tourist and consumer of the 90's. However, the inhabitants of the graceful town of Colorado Springs can look with pride around the still wide & now tree shaded avenues of the old central area near where it all began, the southeast corner of Pikes Peak & Cascade - the staked-out starting point, and feel that the founders made a good bargain in their part in this community's growth. It's still clean,still tourist oriented & visitor friendly as well as home to a variety of peoples living side by side harmoniously.

The founders' foresight set aside large tracts of land to be used for public parks & educational institutions, for the benefit of future generations. Resident and tourist alike can enjoy many open areas throughout the city with facilities for picnicking, hiking, biking, jogging, etc., as well as everyones favorite destination park, The Garden of the Gods! Geographically unique & free to the public, this incredible grouping of ancient rocks has thrilled countless numbers of photographers, rock climbers, and nature lovers, and has become one of the many attractions of the Pikes Peak region not to be missed.

Palmer's & his colleagues' intentions were to establish Colorado Springs as a resort in the Rocky Mountains for the genteel rich- set in a locale where the climate was friendly & the scenery some of the best one could find, while both acted as a tonic and diversion to the tourist. Today visitors from around the globe still come to play and relax at an altitude of 6,000 ft, with the celebrated and much loved Pikes Peak rising in the distance to a height of 14,110 feet. The well known peak annually hosts millions of guests as well as yearly events such as the popular Pikes Peak Hill Climb car race in July and the Barr Trail foot race.

One of the Peaks first admirers was Lt. Zebulon Pike, who at the turn of the century was exploring the western reaches of the Louisiana Purchase & was struck by the "great mountain" in the distance. Pike was so taken by the sight of the "grand peak" he determined to march his men there to explore it further. When he realized the mountain was not so close as imagined, & with unpredictable November weather hampering his assent, he gave up only half way up & concluded no human would ever reach the summit. The countless numbers of American and foreign tourists who since then have scanned the surrounding landscape from it's peak with a view as far as 100 miles all around, as well as the earliest likely visitors,the native Ute Indians, have all been able to appreciate Katherine Lee Bates' sentiments of her poem "America the Beautiful." Truly spacious skies & majestic purple mountains ring the area surrounding Colorado Springs, as seen from the top of Pikes Peak, where the poem was inspired.

With an eye towards development of the entire Pikes Peak vicinity, General Palmer acquired financing for a narrow-gauge railroad to run north and south, the Denver-Rio-Grande Railroad, D&RG. His partners were influential William P Mellon, a New York lawyer who was to become Palmer's future father-in-law, and a life long friend Englishman William Bell, who would promote the new settlement with fellow Brits so well that the large numbers of English pioneers would earn the Springs the nickname "Little London." Colorado Springs no longer has passenger service via railroad except for the 100 year old COG railway, a popular tourist attraction running to Pikes Peak, May through October, out of Manitou Springs. We do however have one of the fastest growing airports in the country which even attracts flight customers from Denver due to its friendly service, good rates, and accessible location, compared to the vast, newly built, and trouble plagued DIA.

Once the sales & promotion of the area began to catch on, the growth of the young city snowballed as evidenced in just 10 years time, from 987 people in 1870 to 4,286 in 1880. Currently the Springs population is approximately 465,888 as of July 95, still growing and going strong! In addition to the original 10,000 acres purchased, Palmer's agents also bought up property in Manitou Springs. The reputation of the communities, combined with the healthful curative waters of the 28 springs in Manitou, insured that the little town at the foot of Pikes Peak would have a successful beginning as a tourist mecca as well as a place to regain one's health. By the early 1900's the region's fame had grown to include conclusive results in the treatment and cure of Tuberculosis, a much dreaded disease of the day. There is an interesting exibit relating to those times to be seen at The Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum. Another point of interest, especially for fans of Victorian architecture, is the small cottages frequently seen to the rear of the bigger homes in the older parts of town where TB patients might have chosen to stay for months at a time, rather than the larger sanatoriums. Then, as now, the abundance of sunny days, crisp clean air, and high dry climate has proven to be beneficial to physical complaints, and has made it a great place to live, raise a family, or just visit. Since it's humble beginnings, people from all over the world have moved to Colorado Springs to improve their quality of life.

Two other men influential to Colorado Springs' development were Spencer Penrose & Charles L.Tutt. The Philadelphia born men formed a partnership in the booming mining town of nearby Cripple Creek & ultimately took their fortunes to Colorado Springs where they would settle for life, & leave a lasting mark on the community. Penrose was responsible for the growth of the world famous Broadmoor Hotel complex, built the Pikes Peak & Cheyenne Mt. highways, established the one of a kind Cheyenne Mt. Zoo, and also donated parcels of land & sums of money for many worthy concerns. As Penrose & his wife were childless, his fortune was set up to fund the El Pomar Foundation which today benefits the community in numerous public, educational, scientific & charitable ways.

By 1940 tourism was fully established, until rumors of war in Europe began to have an effect. As the nation prepared for further involvement, the Springs' future took a new turn as civic leaders petitioned the government to build a troop training facility at Pikes Peak. They went so far as to offer free land south of the city to insure the military's presence & the town's survival. The birth of Camp Carson was the start of a long, close-knit relationship between the military & the region, which grew to include the renamed Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, the United States Air Force Academy and NORAD. Today the military remains a strong economic force in the region.

The Colorado Springs of the 90's remains at heart the city it was born to be. A strong religious base of many faiths, literally from Adventist to Zen, ministers to the spiritual needs of its citizens, while a still thriving tourist business grows yearly and encourages more and more companies such as Apple, MCI, Rockwell, and Quantum to transfer their services and operations to this beautiful clean city. The art and entertainment community continues to delight the resident and guest alike, with national tours of well known productions, as well as local productions of original and classic works. We are often considered as an on-sight location for movie filmings, due to the spectacular scenery surrounding us. The United States Olympic Committee's National Headquarters being here in the Springs serves to remind us of the healthy climate we live in as world class athletes come here to train at altitude. General Palmer and his friends, business associates, and those key people, men and women alike who had a hand in shaping the Colorado Springs of today and tomorrow, would concur that the list of our assets is long: a great climate, a healthy, diverse business community, acclaimed schools and universities, friendly people, huge potential for the future & satisfied visitors who can't wait to come back.

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