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COBWEB CORNERS: Tourist camps and the road to Manitou

By Mel McFarland

Nov. 7, 2017
       The Buffalo Lodge at 2 El Paso Blvd. has been a subject here before, as has the Villa Motel in Manitou. But did you know there was a connection between the two? We'll talk about that today.
       Back in November 1941, a Denver man bought the Buffalo Lodge for nearly $100,000. It was called one of the area's most modern tourist camps. A Gazette article at that time said it had been in business since 1933. It had 50 cottages, and the lodge was well known for its cast buffaloes.
       El Paso was then the main road into Manitou from Colorado Springs and popular for its access to the Garden of the Gods as well.
       The seller was C.J. Burkhardt, who was not about to leave the area, or the lodging business.
       Sitting on Manitou Avenue, the Denver and Rio Grande's former Manitou station, built in 1881, had not seen a train in over 10 years. The city was looking for someone to come up with a good use for the old depot grounds. All but two of the railroad buildings had already been removed, including an engine house where the old D&RG steam engine, "Uncle Sam," had been stored. The depot and nearby baggage house were on some very special flat ground.
       In early 1942, along came a familiar name: Mr. Burkhardt. He had put together an idea for using the depot's original stone structure.
       Once the weather improved, crews set about leveling the site. The railroad had long ago removed the tracks, but quite a bit of "railroad rubble" remained. A row
Above is a slightly edited version of a 1917 map that appears in the book, "Pikes Peak Trolleys: A History of the Colorado Springs Streetcar System," by Morris Cafky and John A. Haney." The streetcar line and Denver & Rio Grande line going west can be seen converging at Columbia Road just before the bridge, then following the route of what is now the Midland Trail just north of the avenue and the creek. Note that the location is identified as "Adams Crossing." At the time, the main road to Manitou used Columbia Road and El Paso Boulevard, but that would change when the traffic bridge was built at Adams Crossing in 1934. Note: That bridge is being replaced, by a span to be called the Adams Crossing Bridge, in the current Westside Avenue Action Plan project.
Edited from "Pikes Peak Trolleys"
of nice little cabins were built to complement the old depot and would prove to be quite popular. When additional cottages were later needed, the depot's one-time baggage building was moved to Woodland Park.
       Some years before that, Manitou Avenue between Beckers Lane and Adams Crossing had been improved into a nice, wide road. After the traffic bridge was built over Fountain Creek at Adams Crossing in 1934, the avenue replaced El Paso as the "main road" into town. That led to another "cottage camp" lodge being built, the El Colorado, a short distance west of the bridge.
       Until the early 1930s, when both stopped running, the D&RG line from Colorado Springs to Manitou had followed the north side of Fountain Creek, as had the streetcar line. Their intersection, along with that of the creek and avenue near the home of General Charles Adams (who died in 1895), had led to it being called Adams Crossing. By the 1940s, Adams' old property was also being used as a cottage camp.
       Manitou's stone depot building was torn down in the 1970s, when the Villa Motel owners decided to add a swimming pool. Its stones eventually became part of the exterior of an office building on South Cascade Avenue. The architect used the flavor of the depot's design in this building, augmented by brick.

(Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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