COBWEB CORNERS: Teddy was a fan of the region

By Mel McFarland

       Teddy was known for his love of the west, and Colorado was one of his favorites. Starting in 1901, he would become a regular visitor to this region.
       He had a friend who lived in town, and he would stay at his home for a few days. He traveled in style, and if there was no really good place for the night, he would stay on his train! He had a small one, only three cars: one for baggage and two private cars. One of these was for him, the other for those who came along.
       While in the Springs in 1901, he helped dedicate the new YMCA building. The YMCA was one of his favorite organizations. He also met with with other groups and area leaders. But he was mainly in Colorado for hunting. Mountain lions, bears and bighorn sheep were his fare.
       His train was headed west to Rifle, Colorado. Using the Colorado Midland Railway, it went up Ute Pass, across South Park to Leadville for another short stay, then on to Glenwood Springs and Rifle.
       You may already have figured out that this was Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, then vice president of the United States. He would be back again in 1902, and take the trip to Cripple Creek. The assassination of President McKinley in September 1901 made his trips to Colorado more important.
       Roosevelt was not the first President to visit Colorado, and definitely not the last. Probably the first was U.S. Grant. One of his stops in 1880 was Manitou, where he met with Dr. William Bell. Warren G. Harding toured the state in his 1920 campaign. Woodrow Wilson was here twice. He lived in Colorado Springs, teaching a summer at Colorado College. His second visit was historic: He suffered a stroke in Pueblo while giving a 1919 speech advocating his League of Nations plan. Harry Truman campaigned in Colorado via private railroad car. Presidents to fly here have included John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Barack Obama.