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Pikes Peak Area Trivia

In 1899, eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla chose Colorado Springs as the site for electrical experiments because of local electrical storms and lightning. His laboratory stood in a pasture east of the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. The Tesla Coil, a high-frequency electrical coil, is a hollow core transformer that laid the groundwork for every broadcasting system from radio to radar and for medical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).Tesla's 50-foot-diameter coil generated 10 million volts of electricity and 135-foot-long lightning bolts. The thunder was heard as far away as Cripple Creek. His experiment ruined the Colorado Springs Electric Company's generator and blacked out the city. Tesla, father of the alternating current, held patents that became the automobile ignition system, helicopter, radio, radar and TV, and touched on the concept of nuclear fission. So Tesla, not Marconi, invented the radio; Tesla, not Edison, devised the first system of electric power distribution.

At an elevation of 6,035 feet, Colorado Springs has two-thirds the oxygen found at sea level and Pikes Peak (14,110 feet) has only one-half.

Making a trip from the eastern plains of Colorado to the top of Pikes Peak is like traveling from Mexico to Alaska, a journey through five of the six life zones in North America.

Local resident Bobby Unser, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, has won the Hill Climb 13 times, giving the Unser family a total of 27 wins.

Round-trip records in the Pikes Peak Marathon are: Men-3 hours 26 minutes; Women-4 hours 15 minutes. Records in the ascent are: Men-2 hours 15 minutes; Women-2 hours 39 minutes.

After riding a burro up the peak in 1886, Zalmon Simmons, founder of the Simmons Mattress Co., said "there must be a more comfortable way to reach the summit of Pikes Peak," and built the cog railway in 1890.

In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates, a visiting professor at Colorado College, wrote the words to "America the Beautiful" after an inspiring wagon trip to the top of Pikes Peak.

The spectacular red sandstone formations, now known as Garden of the Gods, were declared sacred ground to the Ute, Arapahoe and Cheyenne Indians, therefore fighting was prohibited in the area.

The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the world at 1,053 feet above the roaring Arkansas River. It was built in 1929.

The Army's Fort Carson was named after the famed Indian fighter Kit Carson.

In 1984 a local mechanical engineer celebrated his 34th birthday by climbing the Peak five times in 24 hours with 31 minutes to spare. He thus trounced the 1982 climber who completed three trips in 23 1/2 hours.

Art students from Cheyenne Mountain High staged the world's highest art exhibit on top of Pikes Peak in 1984.

The 1986 World Cycling Championships featured 140 bikers ascending the Peak 18.7 miles from the tollgate to the top with a winning time of 1 hour 50 minutes.

In 1990, students from Mankato State University in Minnesota drove a solar car up the Peak for the first time. Called "Northern Lights," the car had 947 solar cells, a 10 hp motor and a 48-volt battery backup.

By 1955, Penrose Hospital was recognized as one of the nation's top cancer facilities. In the late 1950s, more than one-third of the country's radiotherapists trained here.

Shove Chapel on the Colorado College campus is designed after the original Winchester Cathedral in England.

Colorado College pioneered the "Block Plan" in which students complete a semester's work in one subject in 3 1/2 weeks.

The best white-faced foxes, used for a fashionable two-pelt shoulder ring in the 1930s, were raised in the Black Forest.

Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Clinton have been speakers at Air Force Academy graduations.

The Pauline Chapel near the Broadmoor Hotel is designed after the Pope's private chapel at the Vatican.

David May had a store in Manitou Springs before starting the business in Leadville that became May Company department stores.

Helen Hunt Jackson, author of "Ramona," lived in Colorado Springs and is buried here.

A daughter of Confederate President Jefferson Davis moved to Colorado Springs when a doctor recommended the climate for her husband's asthma. Some of her descendants still live here.

Woodrow Wilson was a guest lecturer at Colorado College in the summer of 1893 with Katharine Lee Bates and was in her party on the trip up Pikes Peak.

Film director Sidney Pollack was stationed at Fort Carson in the late 1950s and acted in Civic Theatre productions.

Colorado-born astronaut Scott Carpenter has a home in Palmer Lake just north of Colorado Springs. Astronaut James Irwin (deceased) founded the High Flight Foundation in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs is known as the Space Capital of the World, with more space-related agencies and military space commands than anywhere else.

The buildings inside Cheyenne Mountain which house the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are supported on 1,319 springs weighing half a ton each to protect the delicate electronic equipment inside from shock.

Born in Colorado Springs to deaf-mute parents (his father was a barber), silent film star Lon Chaney wrote and acted in his first play here.

George Stokes operated a restaurant on Pikes Peak Avenue in Colorado Springs in his teens and early '20s. His chili became so popular that he went into the canning business. Stokes' chili is still one of the best-selling chilies on the market.

Shredded wheat was originated in Colorado Springs in the 1890s by the Colorado Springs Cereal Food Company.

At sunrise, the shadow of Pikes Peak extends as far as 50 miles to the west.

Pikes Peak (traditionally spelled without an apostrophe) was named after explorer Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pikes while exploring the headwaters of the Arkansas River for President Thomas Jefferson. Pike estimated the mountain's height at 20,000 feet (it is actually 14,110) and said it would never be climbed after failing to reach its summit in November, 1806.

Bob Womack, who first discovered gold in Cripple Creek in 1878, sold his claim for $500 and died broke. When bachelor Scott Stratton, the first Cripple Creek gold millionaire died, 13 women claimed to be his widow.

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