COBWEB CORNERS: Early summer visitors
By Mel McFarland
Each summer tourists come to see Pikes Peak and all that the area offers. It was not that easy over a hundred years ago. In fact, looking back into our tourist past shows a few trends which are almost forgotten.
Back in the early days of Colorado City, the scenic splendors around us were only a tiny bit of our attraction. George Ruxton, and later William Truman Williams and General William Palmer had quite a bit to do with the future tourist industry. Indeed, even the soldiers who lived on top of Pikes Peak in the 1870s made the visit interesting.
There were few places to stay with much comfort in the early days of Colorado City. It was not until the Denver and Rio Grande's Colorado Springs connection started bringing in prospective residents that some actually became tourists. The railroad heavily promoted this area all over the country and beyond. Many visitors were put off by hotels, and rougher accommodations were popular.
From Manitou and beyond, summer visitors could rent sites to pitch their tents. As this developed, many of the property owners built level tent floors on the hillsides. In Colorado City and even Colorado Springs, some built small cottages for the summer travelers. There were agents for some of these people, but simple signs were all that these early units had for advertising. In Manitou some of these tents were given unique names, partly for identification, but also for mailing purposes. They were not really street addresses.
Later, when Colorado began to attract a health-seeking clientele, the cottages were often rented out to these visitors. Some of these became available when the first motels were built. It is fun to see that over in Manitou a few motel/ "cottage camps" have survived longer than 70 years. In addition, dozens of houses over there started as a tent floor!