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The History of Colorado Springs

The Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho were among the most prominent Native American tribes that have historically inhabited the area. The tribes drank from Manitou Springs, which was sacred to them, and during the winter months, they’d take shelter in the geological masterpiece which is today known as the Garden of the Gods. The Ute actually has a legend that says the people here were created on Pikes Peak. Stone hearths and fire rings were found in the Garden of the Gods site that dated back to 3,000 years ago, potentially left over from the land’s earliest inhabitants.

A Ute Indian photograph by Robert N. Dennis
A Ute Indian photograph by Robert N. Dennis

Prior to the Louisiana Purchase, Colorado Springs flew under both the French and Spanish flags. The area's first Anglo-American settlement was Colorado City, founded in 1859, but in the decades leading up to that, it had already captured the hearts of many adventures, travelers, and businessmen.


A gold rush hit the area in the 1890s when gold was discovered on the western slope of Pikes Peak (one of the richest gold strikes in American history) and Colorado Springs soon got the title of “The City of Millionaires.” Gold is still being found in places like Cripple Creek to this day. Many of the people who struck rich here (whether through the gold rush or well-timed business ventures) gave back to the community, establishing some of the most iconic sites that are still around today, like the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Sluicing for gold, photo by the U.S. Geological and Geographic Survey of the Territories. (1874–1879) Photographer: William Henry Jackson
Sluicing for gold, photo by the U.S. Geological and Geographic Survey of the Territories. (1874–1879) Photographer: William Henry Jackson

Pikes Peak is also famous for inspiring the poem by Katharine Lee Bates (who hiked to the summit when she was a professor at Colorado College) which went on to become one of our country’s most cherished songs, “America The Beautiful.” A true testament to the beauty of that mountain which has been honored and admired by Colorado inhabitants for thousands of years!


By the end of the 1800s, Colorado Springs had become one of the most-visited destinations in the whole country and remains a popular destination today. The rest, as they say, is history…


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