COBWEB CORNERS: Palmer and his towns

By Mel McFarland

       In early 1871, General Palmer and his men were surveying the details of the train route south from Denver. In laying out the preliminary route to Colorado Springs, the location of sidings, water and fuel stops required new towns. There were only a few at the time between Denver and Albuquerque. Railroads need towns about every 5 to 10 miles for fuel and water. Not only that, the new towns provided income. There was land to sell. And, once the town got started, there was a need to bring people to live and farm, even tourists.
       Palmer started towns even if ones already existed near his tracks. One of these was Colorado City. It sat in a rather hard spot to get to, so a new town was started.
       Palmer wished to be instrumental in naming these towns. He had visited in England and took some of his inspiration from towns there. There is a little notebook down at the Pioneers' Museum with his list. Some of the names Palmer proposed were: Aceqeua, Aloe, Pickwick, Foothill, Cedarcamp, Parkwater, Cragmoor, Cliffbound, Solitude, Waterbreeze, Watercamp, Streamside, Moccasin, Gypsy, Nutshell, Glenlake, Wonderland, Wigwam, and many other similar euphonious names. His proposed names for familiar places (and their modem equivalent) included Edge Platte (Littleton), Hillskirt (Sedalia), Citadel (Castle Rock), Park Gate (Glade), Pine Land (Greenland), Crestlake (Palmer Lake), and Coal Town (Florence).
       Colorado Springs was not even the first choice for that town; "Fountain" and "Park Gate" were also considered. The locations and names were still being sorted out when construction began on the railroad in Denver in March 1871. I know the name Fountain was being considered seriously, even though the present town of Fountain had already been started. Palmer's town company was called Fountain Colony even after Colorado Springs was decided upon.
       Did you know that there really were springs in Colorado Springs? Several were in what is now Monument Valley Park, in an area that was later made part of Colorado City!
       Palmer was not always successful with his towns. His rivals to Pueblo, Walsenburg and Trinidad failed. Durango, however, was a success story.