Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau
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Colorado Springs
Convention &
Visitors Bureau

515 S. Cascade Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

1.800.888.4748
1.719.635.7506

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A History of Serving Visitors

It seems appropriate that Colorado Springs, which annually draws more than 6 million visitors, was itself founded by a visitor. In 1870, General William Jackson Palmer, on first seeing the region, wrote to his wife: "Could one live in constant view of these grand mountains without being elevated by them into a lofty plane of thought and purpose?" Almost immediately, Palmer began planning the city of his dreams, one that would become a major resort community. Today, more than 130 years later, people by the millions continue to come from all over the world, drawn by the same beauty that forever changed Palmer.

Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike wandered into the region now known as Colorado Springs on a cool November day in 1806. Dressed only in summer uniforms, he and his exploring party turned away from what is now called Pikes Peak claiming that no man would ever ascend this great mountain. To reinforce this proclamation, he named it Grand Peak. Though he never made it to its summit, Grand Peak was renamed Pikes Peak in honor of his discovery.

During the boom days, construction was a major contributor to the area’s development. Many beautiful buildings remain on Wood and Cascade Avenues as a tribute to our rich heritage. Yet the city became a mecca for those with illness. Between the crisp mountain air, the more than 300 days of sunshine and the pure curative spring water available from the city of Manitou Springs, health seekers found refuge in many area hospitals and residential care facilities.

Colorado Springs is often known as the America the Beautiful city, for it was in a room in the Antlers Hotel that Katharine Lee Bates, a visiting professor at the Colorado College, wrote the words to America the Beautiful after an inspiring wagon trip to the 14,110 foot summit of Pikes Peak.

Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region is beautiful from sunrise until after dark. It is a city of towering trees, well-groomed parks, historic churches and majestic homes. The Ute Indians of the mountains to the plains, Indians from the prairies, rugged mountain men, soldiers, miners, ranchers and farmers, railroaders, health seekers, tourists, the military, and high technology have all sought haven at the foot of Pikes Peak.

General William Jackson Palmer founded Colorado Springs and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in 1871. Our city was the headquarters for this narrow gauge rail line. As a testament to his vision, Colorado Springs prospered as a visitor destination. Known in the early days as Little London, Colorado Springs enjoys a rich cultural history which provided an interesting contrast to the mining towns of Cripple Creek and Victor. General Palmer’s castle home, Glen Eyrie, which means eagle’s nest, still stands today as a memorial to this brilliant man of vision. Glen Eyrie is now owned and operated by the Navigators, a Christian organization , and is available for touring upon request.

Another man of vision during the 1800s was Spencer Penrose who made his profits in gold and silver mining. Owner and developer of the now historic Broadmoor Hotel and conference center, Spencer Penrose was yet another of our area’s colorful characters. His wife, Julie Penrose, had a significant role in the development of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center where her picture still hangs today.

The Midas-like success of her first thirty years carried Colorado Springs well into the twentieth century. The impetus slowed during World War I, slumped between the wars, and swelled once again in the World War II years. The new bonanza came dressed in a military uniform. Colorado Springs provides acreage for the Army’s Fort Carson, Shriever Air Force Base, the United States Air Force Academy, the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Consolidated Space Operations Center.

Colorado Springs enjoys a rich Western heritage as well. The ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy offers visitors a rare opportunity to learn about the champions and the history of America’s original sport. The mining industry has also played a very important role in the history of Colorado, and its heritage is preserved in the Western Museum of Mining and Industry.

As a vibrant space age city, Colorado Springs also plays host to a growing number of high technology industries. Drawn by the low humidity, business environment, military installations, and a winning quality of life and recreation, some of the country’s most sophisticated technological businesses have moved to the Pikes Peak region. Hewlett-Packard, first of the companies to locate here, arrived in 1962. A whole new electronics vocabulary joins those of tourism, medicine, railroads, mining and military in the latest Colorado Springs boom.


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