A Swallow Press Book
In 1871, General William Jackson Palmer, a Civil War cavalry hero, dreamed of a Rocky Mountain resort town where sedate, temperate, wealthy folk could enjoy life in tranquil comfort. From its inception as a tiny resort hamlet, Colorado Springs has grown into the second largest city in the Colorado Rockies, with a projected population by 1990 of 400,000. Marshall Sprague tells the remarkable and colorful story of a community that, despite its massive growth, never abandoned its original vision of comfort and gentility. His account, illustrated with rare archival photographs, has been revised and enlarged for the 1990s. In the town's early years, rich easterners and Englishmen came seeking adventure, romance, and gentility. But when gold was discovered at nearby Cripple Creek in 1900, Colorado Springs became an instant boom town. A second major boom came several decades later, when local boosters persuaded the Army to choose Colorado Springs as the site for Fort Carson, a training center for 30,000 troops. Other military projects followed, including Peterson Field, Ent Air Force Base, the underground North American Air Defense Command Combat Operations Center, and in 1954, the U.S. Air Force Academy. More recent projects, discussed in a new final chapter, include the Olympic Training Center and the Olympic Hall of Fame, as well as high-tech industries and advances in culture, education, and recreation.
As the city sprawls eastward onto the prairie, it bears little resemblance to General Palmer's 1871 village. Yet the general's dream of a quality town in a quality environment has continued to inspire generations of administrators and boosters who have made Colorado Springs a model of urban prosperity.
Marshall Sprague, an Ohio native and long time Colorado Springs resident, wrote over 18 books on Colorado and western history. Among his many publications is Money Mountain: The Story of Cripple Creek Gold. He died in 1994.
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During the fabulous reign of Colorado Silver, innumerable prospectors passed by Pike’s Peak on their way to the silver strikes at Leadville, Aspen, and the boom camps in the Saguache, Sangre de Cristo, and San Juan mountain. Then, in 1890, a carpenter named Winfield Scott Stratton discovered gold along Cripple Creek. By 1900, this six square mile area on the south slope of Pike’s Peak supported 475 mines and led the world in gold production.
Marshall Spragues colorful lifetime spanned the century like a mountain rainbow. Somewhere between the time he learned the true function of the umbrella stand in the Midwest Victorian household of his youth and his first solo train ride to New York City, he surrendered to an innate talent and inquisitiveness that subsequently engaged tens of thousands of his friends and readers. He played the Tiger Rag with a Princeton band on transatlantic steamer crossings.
This book includes the story of 240 of Colorado’s mining camps, with emphasis on the human side. The men who swarmed to the mountains to find precious metal came in successive waves from the late 1850s on, combing the gulches, scrambling over the passes and climbing the peaks. Their story is full of adventurous chances, lucky strikes, boom conditions, reckless spending, banditry, claim jumping, railroad wars and labor troubles.