Click here to see a map of this tour.
In 2006 communities in Pikes Peak region will join other Colorado towns along Zebulon Pike’s trail in a bicentennial celebration honoring his exploration of the Pikes Peak region. The highlight of the celebration will occur in July 2006 when members of the Pikes family will gather to complete the journey begun by Pike 200 years earlier.
Pikes Peak is composed of granite, which was once hot molten rock that originated 20 miles below the earth’s surface.One billion years ago the rock hardened and cooled and then cataclysmic forces within the earth thrust the rock upward. This created a dome shaped mountain with layers of soil and soft rock.Erosion eventually carried away the soft outer layers and centuries later, the bare granite face of the mountain was exposed. Glaciers chiseled the face of the mountain, gouging out rock and leaving deep basins. The Ute Indians called Pikes Peak “Sun Mountain Sitting Big”. The Utes passed along the foot of the mountain as they traveled from their summer campgrounds to the winter hunting grounds.The slopes of Pikes Peak, which look over the plains, gave them a place to watch for enemies.The mountain and its spirit rocks were sacred to the Utes. The Spanish were well aware of the mountain through numerous expeditions, in particular, that of Juan De Anza, who traversed the side of the mountain in 1779. Trappers had been working the region, rich with beaver, deer, elk, bear, buffalo, bighorn sheep and mountain lions around the same time the Spanish had come through during their expeditions.
In 1803 Pikes Peak located near Colorado Springs, Colorado was a part of the vast Louisiana Purchase. Three years later in 1806 Lt. Zebulon Pike was sent to explore the borders of the Louisiana Purchase. Pike’s journey was a companion to the Lewis and Clark expedition. Pike left St. Louis in July, 1806. On November 24, 1806 Lt. Pike set out from what would later become Pueblo, Colorado to climb Pikes Peak. He was forced back by a blizzard and declared that no man would ever reach the summit of the 14,110-foot mountain that now bears his name. Zebulon Pike died in combat during the War of 1812 at the age of 34.
Since Pike first saw the mountain that would eventually carry his name, Pikes Peak has played a significant role in the development of the Pikes Peak region. In the 1850’s gold seekers heading west emblazoned “Pikes Peak or Bust” on the canvas of their covered wagons. Katharine Lee Bates, inspired by what she saw when she arrived at the top of Pikes Peak in 1893, immortalized the mountain in her beloved anthem “America the Beautiful”.It is the ageless sentinel that overlooks the peaks and plains of Colorado, an enduring symbol of mountain majesty and western spirit.
The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is part of a community-wide effort to mark this anniversary. The Pike Bicentennial will include various historical and cultural exhibitions, public events and lectures, and numerous co-operative activities sponsored jointly among cultural and historical agencies. To recognize this bicentennial hallmark the Pioneers Museum has comprised one thematic exhibition consisting of three distinct components: history of the expedition, ephemera and memorabilia relating to Pikes Peak, and fine art inspired by America's mountain.
Pike's World: Exploration and Empire in the Greater Southwest
January 21 - August 20, 2006
This exhibition re-examines the purpose, results, and long-term impact of Zebulon Pike's 1806 expedition. The Museum's consultants for this project are the country's two premiere scholars of western exploration, James Ronda and John Logan Allen. Professor Ronda is the H.G. Barnard Chair in Western American History at the University of Tulsa. His numerous publications include Lewis and Clark Among the Indians, Voyages of Discovery, and Jefferson's West. Professor Allen is the chair of the Geography Department at the University of Wyoming and has published many books and essays on western exploration.
Looming Large: The Artistic Legacy of Pikes Peak
March 11, 2006 - March 2007
This is the second of a three-tiered exhibition schedule commemorating the bicentennial of Lt. Zebulon Pike's expedition through the region that now bears his name. The exhibition will include a wonderful array of images fashioned after Pikes Peak from 1820 to the present day.
"Looming Large" will consist of approximately 35 - 40 artworks. Both traditional and contemporary images shall be included conveying a broad perspective of various interpretations of "America's Mountain." Lithographs, oil painting, watercolor, photographs, pastels, and mixed media are among the techniques that will be displayed. Whether one prefers traditional western landscape painting or contemporary interpretations of a timeless icon, "Looming Large" is sure to excite and inspire viewers.
Pikes Peak in the Popular Imagination
May 20, 2006 - May 2007
Pike was among the region's first tourists, and the mountain that bears his name has been the beacon for millions of tourists for over 150 years. This exhibition, the third in the series, will highlight Pike-related memorabilia, including snow globes, medals, and similar tourist items associated with the man and the mountain.
Additional special events include
- Exhibition of the Pike archival materials from the National Archives (July and August). This will be the first time this material has returned to the region since 1806.
- Opening a 100-year-old time capsule created during the Pike centennial in 1906 and creation of a new time capsule.
- Publication of a companion book
- Minting a commemorative coin
To illustrate the impact Pikes Peak has on its surrounding towns and cities Pikes Peak Country Attractions, the City of Cripple Creek and Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak - the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau have created “Landmarks and Legacies”, a fascinating historic tour of the legacies left by the men and women who lived in the shadow of Pikes Peak.
Landmarks and Legacies
DAY 1 PIKES PEAK-AMERICA’S MOUNTAIN
The first recorded ascent of Pikes Peak was by Dr. Edwin James on July 14, 1820. Dr. James, who was also a botanist and historian, was part of an expedition led by Major Stephen H. Long. Major Long first named the Peak in Dr. James’ honor, but Pikes Peak became the official name as shown by military maps in 1835. The first woman to climb Pikes Peak was Julia Archibald Holmes in 1858. Julia was known as the “Bloomer Girl” because of the bloomers she wore when climbing the mountain. A carriage road was built in 1886 and the first automobile reached the summit in 1901. In 1914 work began on Barr Trail. The trail up the east face of Pikes Peak took 4 years to complete. The carriage road was upgraded to a highway in 1915 and in 1916 the tradition of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb began. The Hill Climb is the second oldest auto race in the United States and there are 156 curves on its 12.5 mile course. In late August runners from around the world take the thin air challenge on Barr Trail during the Pikes Peak Ascent and the Pikes Peak Marathon.
Today there are several ways to reach the summit of Pikes Peak. The (1) Pikes Peak Cog Railway and the (2) Pikes Peak Highway each offer a different view of the mountain. Zalmon Gilbert Simmons, in addition to building better beds, also produced sturdy wooden insulators for telegraph lines.In 1884 while he was a guest at the Cliff House in Manitou Springs Mr. Simmons decided to see how his insulators tolerated the extreme weather conditions on the summit of Pikes Peak. He made the trip to the top on the back of a mule and after two days of mule back riding, Mr. Simmons decided there had to be a better way. The better way was the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway.For over 100 years the Cog Railway has carried its passengers to the summit of Pikes Peak in comfort. In 1913 Charles Noble suggested the idea of an auto road to the top of Pikes Peak as a new tourist attraction. The cost to build such a remarkable road was $25,000.00. Noble did not have that kind of money, but Spencer Penrose and his friends did, thanks to the millions of dollars they made in the goldfields of Cripple Creek. In the summer of 1915 construction began and the road was completed in October 1915, a bit over budget. Today the road to the summit of Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain is open year round, weather permitting. More adventurous visitors can hike up to the summit on (3) Barr Trail or bike down with guides on the Pikes Peak Highway. At the summit the view includes Denver, 60 miles north, and to the south the Sangre De Christo Mountains. To the west lie the historic mining towns of Cripple Creek and Victor and the snow-capped mountains of the Continental Divide.
DAY 2 GEN. WILLIAM JACKSON PALMER AND DR. WILLIAM BELL
General William Jackson Palmer’s railroad career in Colorado began as a scout with the Kansas Pacific Railroad. However, his greatest undertaking was the Denver and Rio Grande, a north-south railroad from Denver to Texas and on to Mexico. In pursuit of this goal, Palmer purchased large tracts of land located in Pikes Peak region.It was his entrepreneurial spirit and his love for Queen Mellen, the daughter of a wealthy attorney that led General Palmer to found a city of Colorado Springs in the shadow of Pikes Peak. The West was still untamed and Queen was an East Coast lady, but Palmer was intoxicated by the Rocky Mountains. The answer was Colorado Springs and in the 1870’s Palmer began to develop this tiny resort that would someday be known as “Little London”. Palmer gave Colorado Springs over 2000 acres in parks and bridle paths. He lined wide streets with shade trees and used a system of irrigation canals to turn prairie land into an oasis. He also gave land to Colorado College, the Union Printers Home, the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and the Cragmor Sanitarium.
Dr. William Bell, Irish by birth and trained as a homeopathic physician, joined the Kansas Pacific Railroad survey crew as a photographer, the only job available. Bell met General Palmer in August 1867 in the Raton Mountains, about 140 miles south of Pikes Peak. The two became lifelong friends.
A tour of General Palmer’s landmarks and legacies rightfully begins at his (4) statue in the center of Nevada and Pikes Peak Avenues in downtown Colorado Springs. The general, astride his horse, eternally faces west looking at Pikes Peak. The statue by Nathan Dumont of Boston was unveiled in 1929. Nearby Acacia Park was given by Palmer to the city in 1871. At that time a fence surrounded the park to keep out the cows. (5) The original part of Penrose Public Library is a Carnegie Library and was built in 1905. Funds for the library were donated by General Palmer, the Carnegie Foundation and the City of Colorado Springs.It was designed by Calvin Keisling of Boston. Palmer’s grand hotel, the (6) Antlers, has been replaced by a newer hotel at the west end of Pikes Peak Avenue. Behind the hotel in (7) Antlers Park Engine # 168 is on display. Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, this narrow gauge engine pulled the first Denver and Rio Grande passenger train from Denver, Colorado to Ogden, Utah on May 21, 1883.There is also a large granite marker honoring the 100th anniversary of Pike’s sighting Pikes Peak.
Near Garden of the Gods Park on 30th Street is (8) Glen Eyrie, Palmer’s castle built for his wife Queen in 1872. The castle, built on 2000 acres, is a 67 room English Tudor-style castle with 24 fireplaces. Palmer’s castle features many innovations such as a primitive intercom system, a multi level shower system, hidden fire equipment and a chimney system that would hold the smoke until the wind was blowing in the right direction to take the smoke out of the valley.
(9) Garden of the Gods Park is the legacy of Charles E. Perkins, a friend of General Palmer. Perkins purchased the property in 1879 and always allowed public access to the magnificent park of sandstone. Perkins died in 1907 and in 1909 his children gave Garden of the Gods to Colorado Springs. The park is open daily.Information and maps are available at the (10) Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. (11) The Garden of the Gods Trading Post, built in the early 1900’s by Charles E. Strausenback, a local Indian trader, is located on the southern edge of the park near Manitou Springs.
(12) Manitou Springs. In 1868 General Palmer and Dr. Bell set out to investigate the soda springs in a small valley at the foot of Pikes Peak. Bell immediately fell in love with this beautiful area called Fontaine qui Bouille. Bell’s background in homeopathic medicine and General Palmer’s favorable impression of the area’s scenery, its climate and its springs led them both to envision Manitou Springs as a spa with a railroad. Bell saw Manitou Springs and its hillside villas catering to wealthy Europeans and it was promoted as “Saratoga of the West”.Fine hotels, tree lined streets and elegant homes replaced Indian dwellings and shacks of earlier settlers. Health seekers flocked to Manitou Springs to take the waters and breathe the pure mountain air, bringing with them Victorian charm and culture. Today nine of the mineral drinking springs flow freely, carefully restored and maintained by the Mineral Springs Foundation. A map for a self guided walking tour of the springs is available at the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce, 354 Manitou Avenue. From Memorial Day through Labor Day free walking tours of the springs are offered and the Chamber has details.Dr. Bell’s home (13) Briarhurst still stands as does (14) Red Crags, originally built by Bell as a private hospital.These buildings and 28 others have historic interpretive plaques that explain each building’s contribution to Manitou Springs designation as a National Historic District. (15) The Cliff House began as a stage stop and evolved into a grand hotel. Its beautifully restored rooms and suites are named for the luminaries who stayed there over the years—Teddy Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill and Thomas Edison to name a few. (16) Miramont Castle was built by the son of a French ambassador, Father Jean Baptist Francolon. In the 1880’s Fr. Francolon was assigned to the diocese Sante Fe and served as secretary to Archbishop Lamy. His poor health brought him to Manitou Springs in 1892. He donated his first home to the Sisters of Mercy who used it as a sanitarium. Miramont Castle with its nine different architectural styles was completed in 1897.
Briarhurst is now a restaurant and Red Crags is a bed and breakfast.
DAY 3 CRIPPLE CREEK –AMERICA’S GREATEST GOLD CAMP
Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains were formed by volcanic activity. After violent eruptions there were long periods of cooling and cracks in the deposits were created. Then more eruptions followed and while these occurred liquid minerals were forced up through the cracks, toward the surface. Cooling caused these minerals to solidify, creating veins.Cripple Creek is in a volcanic crater whose veins are gold mixed with tellurium. It earned its reputation as the greatest gold camp by producing more than 20 million ounces of gold. In the 1850’s and 1860’s there was some prospecting in the Cripple Creek area during the “Pikes Peak or Bust” gold rush. However, it was not until 1891 that Cripple Creek’s gold strike began.
Many of the legacies in the Pikes Peak region were funded by Cripple Creek gold. Gold was first discovered in 1874, but it was not until 1891 when Bob Womack struck a very rich vein that gold fever broke out in Cripple Creek. Horace Bennett and Julius Myers, Denver real estate men, owned a great deal of land in Cripple Creek and eventually staked out 80 acres for a town site. When the town was incorporated in 1892, it had over 5000 residents.
As the mines went deeper and produced more gold Cripple Creek’s growth exploded. Myers Avenue was one of the liveliest streets with its saloons and its brothels. Its 24-hour a day entertainment for the free spending miners inspired the song “There’ll Be A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”.
In some ways mining was an “equal opportunity employer”. (17) The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine was discovered by Mollie Kathleen Gortner on September 9, 1891. When she tried to file her claim, Mollie was told she could not because she was a woman. Undaunted Mollie grabbed the papers and signed them anyway, becoming the first woman in Cripple Creek to file a claim. (18) The Old Homestead House was the “other” woman, a brothel built after the great Cripple Creek fire in 1896. Owned by Pearl De Vere, the going rate was $250 a night. At its height the Old Homestead House was one of the finest and most sophisticated brothels with its “soiled doves” dressed in the latest fashions from Paris.
There was a more genteel side to Cripple Creek.It had 16 churches and one of the best school systems in the country. The (19) Butte Opera House, built in 1896 and originally named the Butte Concert and Beer Hall, featured nightly entertainment by the Ladies’ Vienna Orchestra. Today the Butte entertains visitors with classic Cripple Creek melodrama.
By 1894 two railroads served Cripple Creek, the Midland Terminal and the Cripple Creek Railroad. The (20) Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad continues the railroad tradition with a scenic ride from Cripple Creek to Victor.
On April 25, 1896 a fire started during a quarrel in one of the brothels spread quickly through the many wood buildings in Cripple Creek and half the town was destroyed. Four days later a second fire broke out in the Portland Hotel on Myers avenue and eight more blocks were destroyed. The arsonists suspected of starting the second fire were lynched.A short time later the city began rebuilding itself this time with brick and stone.
Cripple Creek continued as a mining town until the mid 1940’s when there were only (20) mines producing about a million dollars of gold each year, a significant decrease from the 500 mines and 23 million dollars produced in 1900.
(21) Ghost Town Museum is housed in the Midland’s machine and tin shops. Inside the buildings an 1890’s gold mining town is recreated with antiques and artifacts of that era.The buildings used to create the town are from Colorado ghost towns.
Day 4 LANDMARKS AND LEGACIES
Pikes Peak dominates the western skyline of the Pikes Peak region and overlooks the many landmarks left by those who came to build railroads, make their fortune, find the gold or recover their health.
Winfield Scott Stratton
Winfield Scott Stratton arrived in Colorado Springs in 1872 and began working as a carpenter, a trade he learned in his father’s shipyards.In 1874 after a brief encounter with silver mining Stratton decided to work as a carpenter during the winter months and prospect in the summer.He spent the next 17 years searching for gold and silver in the Colorado hills. On the 4th of July 1891 Stratton discovered a vein of gold on the south slope of Pikes Peak and staked his claim for the Independence Mine, one of Cripple Creek’s richest veins. Starting in 1893 Winfield Scott Stratton’s income from the Independence Mine and other properties averaged $1 million dollars yearly.In 1899 he sold the Independence for $10 million dollars.
(22) Grace Episcopal Church is a fine example of Stratton’s pre-Cripple Creek craftsmanship. His office building the (23) Mining Exchange Building still stands in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs at the corner of Pikes Peak and Nevada Avenues. The building was not complete when Stratton died in 1902, but his body lay in state in the unfinished lobby. A statue of Winfield Scott Stratton stands in the median in front of the Mining Exchange Building. Next to it is the (24) Independence Building built by Stratton in 1898. (25) Across the street east of the Mining Exchange Building is the main post office built in 1908 on land Stratton sold to the federal government at a fraction of its value with the understanding that it would be used for the post office.In 1995 by an act of Congress the building was renamed the Winfield Scott Stratton Post Office. Stratton always had strong feelings for the working poor and their families.After the Cripple Creek fire of 1896, Stratton paid for food and shelter for the thousands left homeless by the fire.In his will his main bequest was that a majority of his properties in Colorado Springs and Denver be placed in a trust to fund the Myron Stratton Home for needy children and the elderly.
The Home opened in 1913 and has been in continuous operation. Stratton’s other legacies included a trolley system connecting Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, the ground on which the current Colorado Springs City Hall stands on, money to complete the Short Line railroad and countless cash donations to the less fortunate. By 1902 his years of alcoholism made him an invalid and on September 13 he died in his home on Weber street at the age of fifty-four. In 1920 a mineral spring was drilled in Manitou Springs at the loop where the trolleys turned around and today (26) Stratton Spring still bubbles and gurgles in honor of a melancholy carpenter who was the Gold King of Cripple Creek.
Spencer Penrose was born to an aristocratic family in Philadelphia. After graduating from Harvard in 1886, he left that all behind to go west. His brother, Richard, was mining consultant in Colorado Springs and his friend , Charles Leaming Tutt, started a real estate business there, too. When Spencer Penrose joined his friend in the spring of 1891, Tutt was already investing in real estate and mining claims in Cripple Creek. Penrose went into partnership with Charlie Tutt , purchasing more land in the Pikes Peak region and Denver and mines in Cripple Creek. By 1906 Spencer Penrose was a multimillionaire. His is one of the greatest legacies in the Pikes Peak region.
In 1917 Penrose began construction of the (27) Broadmoor Hotel, which he declared would be “the finest hotel in the United States. He selected the firm Warren and Wetmore, the design firm for Grand Central Station and the Ritz Carlton in New York, as architects.On June 1, 1918 the Broadmoor Hotel with its distinctive tower and tiered architecture opened. The hotel’s interior design included intricately molded painted plaster decorations and floors created by Italian artisans. There was an indoor pool, Turkish baths , a polo field and a golf course. Today the Broadmoor is a five star resort
Just west of the Broadmoor is (28) Pauline Chapel, built in 1919 by Penrose’s wife Julie and named for her granddaughter. It was the first church built in the Broadmoor area.Later Julie built Pauline Memorial School. The Penrose home is west of Pauline Chapel on Mesa Avenue. (29) El Pomar (The Apple) was purchased by the Penroses in 1916. In 1944 El Pomar was donated to the Sisters of Charity. In 1991 the El Pomar Foundation acquired the house and it became a conference center for non-profit organizations.The home is now called the Penrose House. In 1926 Spence Penrose began constructing building to house his menagerie of pets including Prince Albert, an elk and Tessie the Elephant, given to Penrose by the Rajaf of Najpur.In 1938 Penrose deeded the (30) Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s only mountain zoo, as a non-profit public trust to the people of Colorado Springs. (31) Will Rogers Shrine to the Sun, built out of a single slab of granite, was designed by Spencer Penrose as his final resting place. The interior features murals by Randall Davey depicting the history of Colorado Springs. Penrose chose to name the building in honor of humorist Will Rogers shortly after Rogers died in a plane crash.
Julie Villiers Lewis McMillan came to Colorado Springs in 1901 with her husband, James, and two children. James was suffering from tuberculosis, which he contracted while fighting in Cuba during the Spanish American War. Julie was high society, the daughter of the mayor of DetroitThe McMillan family lived in the fashionable north end of Colorado Springs at 30 West Dale Street.Julie lost both her son, Jimmy, and her husband, James, in 1902. She met Spencer Penrose at an one of his extravagant parties and eventually she began sending her servants to handle the bachelor’s household chores and inviting Spencer to dinner. Julie “set her cap” for Spencer and they were married in London on April 26, 1906.
Julie Penrose’s passions were art and culture. After they purchased EL Pomar Julie decided the house at 30 West Dale Street would be perfect for an art academy, the Broadmoor Art Academy.The Academy did well and gained national recognition for its new artists. These artists created images of Pikes Peak and the American West. Some of the artists connected to the Broadmoor Art Academy include Randall Davey, Boardman Robinson, Larry Heller and Edgar Britton. By 1935 the Academy outgrew its Dale street home. Julie enlisted Elizabeth Sage Hare and Alice Bemis Taylor and the result of this collaboration was the (32) Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The building was designed by John Gaw Meem , a Sante Fe architect known for his modern adaptations of adobe style architecture. The center housed Alice Bemis Taylor’s extensive collection of rare books and Southwest folk art and Native American Art including blankets, pottery and silver. The Fine Arts Center also offered a theater, a music room and four galleries.The Center is still open to the public and recently hosted exhibits by Chihuly and Andy Warhol.
Day 5 PIKE AND THE ROYAL GORGE
On October 28, 1806 Pike and his party of 15 men followed the trail of a Spanish cavalry troop and headed west along the Arkansas River. Pike’s group, wearing summer uniforms and without cold weather equipment and supplies, was ill prepared for a winter expedition. Pike pressed on and after failing to reach Pikes Peak in November, he continued investigating the Arkansas River. When the branch he was exploring dwindled, Pike went due north by land. On December 12 he came across the south fork of the South Platte River and after crossing a mountain pass, came upon another river he thought was the Red River. Actually, Pike and his party were back on the Arkansas River, about 70 miles upstream from where they had left it two weeks earlier. Winter set in and the snow began to fall.Pike’s expedition celebrated Christmas near the modern-day city of Salida, Colorado.The Arkansas River turned into ice, solid enough to support the men and their horses. Blankets and clothing ragged, the expedition turned back, working their way through the towering vertical walls of the Royal Gorge. Today’s visitors can view the natural wonder of the Royal Gorge from the (33) Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the Pikes Peak region, this is our recommended reading list.
Newport in the Rockies by Marshall Sprague
Midas of the Rockies by Frank Waters
Broadmoor Memories by Elena Bertozzi-Villa
Cripple Creek: City of Influence by Brian Levine
Manitou – Saratoga of the West by Sharon A. Cunningham