The Pikes Peak region's first inhabitants were native Ute, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Arapahoe Indians. In the summer, these tribes gathered at their sacred grounds of what we now call the Garden of the Gods park.
Garden of the Gods Park/ Kissing Camels
In 1870, General William Jackson Palmer, a Civil War General from Pennsylvania, first came to the area. One year later, he founded the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and the city of Colorado Springs. He laid out plans for the city, its streets and donated land for churches and schools. Palmer envisioned Colorado Springs as a resort destination, which is how Colorado Springs received its first nickname of "Little London." Palmer's home at the time was a 67-room castle called Glen Eyrie, which still stands today as a memorial to Palmer's brilliant vision. The gold mining rush of the 1890s led to the settlement of Cripple Creek, a mining town just west of Colorado Springs. At the turn of the 19th century, Colorado Springs was the leading mining exchange center of the world and was called "the city of millionaires." By 1904, Colorado Springs had 35 of the nation's 100 millionaires from gold mined in Cripple Creek. The sunny conditions and dry, mild climate of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs made this area popular for people suffering from tuberculosis. It was thought that the climate of this region significantly improved the health of TB patients, and thus numerous sanitariums were built during the early 1900s.
Another man of vision living in Colorado Springs during the 1800s was Spencer Penrose, who made his profits in gold and silver. He gave away parcels of land for community use, built the Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain Highways, established the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Will Rogers Shrine and the Broadmoor Hotel. He also set up a foundation for charitable purposes known as the El Pomar Foundation, which exists today and assists the needs of many worthy causes.
In the 1940s, the Fort Carson Army installation was built, marking the beginning of what is now a strong military presence in this region.
Today, Colorado Springs is home to several military installations including Peterson Air Force Base, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), Shriever Air Force Base, the United States Air Force Academy and the US Space Command. The military is the largest employer in Colorado Springs, but tourism is a significant industry to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. Annually, more than 6 million people visit the region, spending over $1 billion while here and ensuring employment for over 14,000 people.
Copyright: The Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau.