COBWEB CORNERS: When a landowner from 1885 returned after 40 yearsBy Mel McFarland
This is the tale of a visitor who returned to the Pikes Peak region after being gone for nearly 40 years. If you see people today who have not been here for that long, they are amazed. This fellow has a name most of us know, but he did not see the first big growth of the town. He bought 15,000 acres of land east of Colorado City not long after General Palmer started buying land here.
He bought a scenic section, even though what he had in mind was not scenery. He paid about $1.25 an acre mainly to raise sheep. His property ran up Sand Creek, north as far as Black Forest and west. The home he built was east of downtown Colorado Springs four miles (just beyond Nob Hill.) In this property was the section we know well by his name. He had a friend in the east, Tom Blair, who had a landscaping business in the Chicago area. He invited him out to help lay out this interesting property he had bought. Blair laid out a set of roads and overlooks. The area was Austin's Bluffs, named for F.H. Austin, the man in this story.
At the time Austin bought the property, he had decided to develop the bluffs portion as a public park. He had Blair lay out the first roads to allow the visitors to reach the best view points. He introduced Blair to General Palmer, who found his skills quite needed around the town. Austin, after living here nearly 10 years, broke up his ranch and sold off the property. The buyers ranged from the Pring Family, Mr. Templeton, and even General Palmer. The general wanted to preserve Austin's Bluffs as a city park. Both names are still well-known in that area - Palmer Park and Austin Bluffs Parkway.
Austin was here when Colorado Springs had 600 residents. When he left, in about 1885, it had grown about double that in year-round residents. He moved to Kansas City, where he used his money to develop real estate in that area. He retired in 1922 and out of curiosity returned to Colorado Springs to see what it had done. He was treated to quite a time. He also found a much bigger town than he had left behind, with the population up to 30,000. His property had also changed some. He'd known nothing of the extent of the coal mines under his land, which were going strong on his return. His park had become quite popular. He could have never imagined the changes between 1885 and 1920, but how about between 1920 and 2014?
Also do you know where there is a spot named for Blair? Just north of Glen Eyrie is Blair Athol.
(Posted 4/23/14; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)