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Colorado Springs History

Colorado Springs

Once a booming mining town, Colorado Springs now leads the nation as one of the top places for technology companies to settle. Picturesque Pikes Peak, at 14,115 feet, is the citys backdrop and beckons your attention. Towering Rocky Mountains run north and south of the city with high plains to the east giving it a vast open feeling. Colorados second largest city is modern yet still maintains a small town charm. An amazingly low crime rate, healthy quality of life and near perfect climate, boasting 300 sunny days a year, has this city busting at the seams with newcomers. Hiking, skiing and rock climbing are among the favorite activities found here. With five military bases surrounding the city, camouflage fatigues are common attire.

Old Colorado City
For charming window-shopping stroll along Colorado Avenue where historic buildings have become beautifully decorated contemporary shops. Art galleries are plentiful, as are Southwest and Indian shops, a tribute to the local cultural heritage. Break from shopping to dine at Meadow Muffins, Beau Jos Colorado Style Pizza or indulge in locally produced ice cream at the Colorado City Creamery. Finish with a free tour of Van Briggle Art Pottery, an active pottery, which is open to the public.

Manitou Springs
Serving as the gateway to such popular attractions as the North Pole, Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds and majestic Pikes Peak, everyone eventually passes through Manitou Springs. Inexpensive fun can be had by all at the penny arcade. Munch on chocolate popcorn from Patsys Candies while strolling through dozens of quaint shops like The Antique Emporium, Manitou Jacks and St. Nicks. Sip mineral water fresh from the spring that runs through town. Stop for a healthful lunch at Adams Mountain Cafe before heading up to tour Miramont Castle.

Southwest / Broadmoor Area
Long-standing million dollar estates mix with new homes along the foothills and gradual slopes of Cheyenne Mountain, establishing this as the most elite area of town. The Broadmoor Hotel anchors this neighborhood, lending historic charm and beauty to the community. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun are perched atop this community and snake through the mountainside offering awesome city views below. Seven Falls, located just beyond the Broadmoor Hotel, is a natural wonder. Drive right up to the falls, or if you are more adventurous, hike up Cutler Trail to get a more private view.

Central Downtown
Notice the absence of skyscrapers and billboards cluttering the skyline as you drive through the clean downtown area. Shop for vintage clothing or a Rolex watch at any of the many quaint shops. Rack 'em up and slam 'em back at Phantom Canyon Brewing Company, party into the night at funky Rum Bay or art deco Ritz Grill. Martinis and cigars are on the menu at MacKenzies Chop House. Local culture can be explored at the McAllister House Museum or perhaps the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center for a more sophisticated encounter.

North
Far north of town situated on rolling hills is the prestigious USAF Academy. Tour the ever-popular USAF Academy Cadet Chapel with 17 magnificent spires reaching 150 feet into the sky. The Chapel accommodates several religions at once. Catch a football game at the outdoor stadium and you may enjoy an exciting fly-over by the Air Force jets. Follow up the day with a visit to the Western Museum of Mining, just east of the Academy.

Northwest
A mixture of upper class residences splashed with strip centers, and an abundance of eclectic restaurants situated near the picturesque mountain range make this a highly desirable place to live. Enjoy a Victorian tea and tour at the historic Glen Eyrie castle, quietly nestled in the foothills. For a more rowdy evening, "stomp" in at the Flying W Chuckwagon for great food and old west entertainment.

Northeast
This area is natural habitat blended with fabulous shopping and dining. Have time for a quick hike? Palmer Park offers several easy trails with fabulous views and a dozen picnic tables. Power shopping can be had at the two-level Citadel Mall. Nearby Zugspitze serves the citys finest international gourmet lunches. Afterwards, shop in the remarkable gourmet store for hard-to-find items.

East / Southeast
Hills busting at the seams with newly developed middle-class neighborhoods, packed in like sardines, run for miles north to south. See historic aircraft, missiles and exhibits at Peterson Air & Space Museum, located on Peterson AFB. Catch a flick at the newly built IMAX Theater, with 16 movies to choose from. During the summer it is hot dogs, peanuts and baseball at the Sky Sox Stadium.

Whether here on business or a well-deserved vacation, be sure to get out and behold the view that inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write "America the Beautiful." Rest assured, the city with small town charm and big on natural beauty will bring you back again and again.

History of Colorado Springs

The history of Colorado Springs doesn't begin simply with its discovery, its first inhabitants or its founding, as is the case with so many American cities. Its creation dates back tens of millions of years ago when powerful geological forces molded this part of the earth into a range of sky-scraping mountains.

The area which today is known as Colorado Springs, a natural retreat located at the base of Pikes Peak, was once thought to be an unconquerable alpine wilderness, too rugged for comfortable living. However intimidating the landscape, its beauty drew settlers from several Native American tribes, including the Arapaho and Cheyenne. The land, rich with wild game and pure mineral springs, made a good home - one in which they lived alone for several hundred years.

In the first decade of the nineteenth century, intrepid explorers began to push further west in search of land, fur and wealth. The most notable expedition to the Colorado Springs area was undertaken in 1806, headed by a young lieutenant in the United States Army, a man by the name of Zebulon Pike. Upon sighting the immense mountain, Pike vowed to conquer it. His small group was battered by a winter storm and eventually had to concede the climb, but Pike was later honored for his ambitious quest by having his name grace the beautiful peak.

The passing decades saw few settlers but a great deal of traffic as prospectors flooded west into California, seeking their fortune in gold nuggets. By 1859, a small town called Colorado City had formed to serve as a midway point where supplies and mining equipment could be housed. It was this developing industry that brought General William Jackson Palmer to town.

Palmer was scouting the land for a railway he was building when he passed through Colorado City. The mild climate and breathtaking countryside vistas of the area just outside the city held a special appeal for the Civil War veteran and railroad magnate. He imagined creating a sprawling resort community modeled after those he frequented along the East Coast. He was so charmed that in 1871 he established himself in the community and began planning the town that would be Colorado Springs.

In the years before the turn of the century, the new city flourished as a western retreat for upscale travelers from New England. It was during this time that Palmer constructed what was the first incarnation of a Colorado Springs institution, the Antlers Hotel. The larger-than-life frontier environment and warm lodge-like accommodations attracted luminaries from the uppermost echelons of society. And Americans were not the only ones enchantedso many British tourists frequented during the summer months, the city was dubbed "Little London."

This bustling, yet peaceful, microcosm was shattered in 1891 when gold was struck in the citys neighboring town of Cripple Creek. Colorado Springs experienced a huge influx of people 'the population more than tripled' all eager to claim their part of the riches. Many of these new residents found their dreams realized and settled in Colorado Springs as gold-rush millionaires.

One of these men, Spencer Penrose, used his fortune to leave a permanent mark on the city. He funded the construction of several of Colorado Springs' most enduring landmarks, including the Broadmoor, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun. The city was young and wealthy, and growing by leaps and bounds. These heady days continued for 25 years, until the federal government began using silver for coin currency, and gold mining became less profitable. Colorado Springs once again focused on the tourism industry.

The city was no longer flush with money, but the next two decades were comfortably prosperous for its residents. Tourists from the world over continued to visit Pikes Peak and its mountain town, but another change was on the horizon. America became embroiled in World War II, and the country was in need of more military bases. Colorado Springs found itself the new home for both Fort Carson Army Base and Peterson Air Force Base. Even after the war was resolved, the military community grew with the addition of the Air Force Academy and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Colorado Springs was again changing.

Today, the city boasts an impressive history as a gold-mining boom town, a posh western resort and one of the nations major military capitals. Even with such success, Colorado Springs continues to be a community on the forefront of industry, as it has been throughout its existence. Technology is now part of the diverse mix, and more people than ever are being drawn to live by the mountains. Colorado Springs, the creation of a forward-thinking businessman, embraces this enterprising philosophy and its history, but strives on in search of new frontiers.

The Weather

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High 41 44 50 58 68 78 84 81 74 64 50 42
Avg. Low 16 18 24 34 42 51 57 55 47 36 24 17
Mean 28 32 37 46 55 65 71 68 60 50 38 30
Avg. Precip. 0.3 in 0.4 in 0.9 in 1.2 in 2.2 in 2.3 in 2.9 in 3.0 in 1.3 in 0.8 in 0.5 in 0.5 in
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