Colorado Springs History Facts and Timeline

(Colorado Springs, Colorado - CO, USA)

Photo of the Garden of the GodsA former military general by the name of William Jackson Palmer visited the modern day Colorado Springs area, surveying the landscape for possible routes for the Pacific Kansas Railway Company.

Liking the region at the foot of Pikes Peak, General Palmer was granted permission and funding to construct the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, an event that was to mark the start of Colorado Springs history. Originally he had surveyed and secured the area hoping the Kansas Pacific railroad might follow the Arkansas River. He established the settlement here in 1871 as the first stop along this railroad to the south of Denver.

Resort Frontier Town

With the booming gold rush of the Pikes Peak region, the settlements of Colorado City and Manitou Springs were already well underway by the late 1800s. However, General Palmer didn't enjoy the 'rough' ambiance that these mining supply towns boasted. He had visions of developing Colorado Springs into a safe and desirable resort town. Life here in the 1800s can be experienced today at the Ghost Town Museum.

Little London History

Within several years of its establishment, Colorado Springs grew into a popular resort settlement. The famous Antlers Hotel had opened by 1874 and the settlement had already been aptly nicknamed 'Little London' on account of the many tourists from England. Travelers also arrived in good numbers from elsewhere in Europe and other parts of the United States.

Many wealthy mining tycoons from nearby Cripple Creek, such as Winfield Stratton and Spencer Penrose, chose to build residences and neighborhoods in Colorado Springs, rather than in the other mining settlements. Visitors can still explore sites built by Spencer Penrose, including the Broadmoor Hotel and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Further picture showing the Garden of the Gods

20th Century Health Tourism

By the end of the 19th century, the history of Colorado Springs changed course. The gold rush and mining industry deteriorated, but due to the natural beauty of the landscape around Colorado Springs, along with its rejuvenating mineral waters and naturally dry climate, the township became a haven for health tourism. In 1909, dentist Dr. Frederick Mackay founded the link between fluoride and cavity reduction in teeth here, due to the abundance of fluoride in the local water.

Post-War Military Influence

Tourism continued to allow growth in Colorado Springs and eventually the city expanded to engulf (old) Colorado City, which is now part of the historical western districts of the city. By 1942, the city developed even further with the construction of a US Army base, Camp Carson, which is today known as Fort Carson.

This event in Colorado Springs history was followed by the establishment of the United States Air Force Academy, which is located at the Peterson Air Force Base and dates from 1954. Throughout the 1960s and '70s, the Cold War continued to spur military growth and the overall economic stability of Colorado Springs. Tours of the military bases in the city are available daily.