Eskeldson remembered for area mining contributions
William Peter Eskeldson, a Pleasant Valley resident for more than 50 years, died in his home Nov. 1 at age 95. After first working in a mine at age 14, he would go
on to be significantly involved with two major Colorado Springs mining activities - Castle Concrete Company's limestone quarry above the Garden of the Gods and
the construction of NORAD inside Cheyenne Mountain.
A graveside service will be Saturday, Nov. 10 at Evergreen Cemetery, with a reception following at 815 N. Pleasant St. Cremains will be interred at Evergreen Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to the Pikes Peak Hospice Foundation.
He is survived by his daughter, Margaret Ellen (Peggy) Dorr of Steamboat Springs; his son John Eskeldson (wife Maralee) of Colorado Springs; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his father, Peter Eskeldson, and mother, Emma Marie Poulson; two brothers, Ivan Christian and Waldemar Andrew Eskeldson; a sister, Marie Gilyard Spilver; his wife of 48 years, Margaret Ellen; and a son, Peter.
Eskeldson was born April 11, 1912, on a farm near Boise, Idaho. His father had been an immigrant from Hjorring, Denmark, and his mother was from Offerdahl, Sweden.
He attended schools in Boise, graduating from Boise High School in 1932. He worked as a surveyor for the Land Office (now Bureau of Land Manage-ment) in remote sections of Idaho before attending and graduating, with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering, from the University of Idaho in 1938.
In 1941, he married Ma rgaret Ellen Sandmeyer of Boise. They had three children, Peggy, William Peter, and John Andrew.
Also in 1941, Eskeldson began a 20-year career with Morrison-Knudson Company. He was sent on airport, dam, tunnel and other heavy construction projects from Alaska to Kentucky to California, alternating with estimating and bidding jobs throughout the world at MK's home office in Boise.
In 1953, after learning that the U.S. Air Force Academy was to be built near Colorado Springs, Eskeldson resigned from Morrison-Knudson and relocated to Colorado Springs. He filed a claim on a high-quality limestone vein above Queen's Canyon and established Castle Concrete Company. Although later criticized as the "scar on the mountain," the quarry was used to make concrete for the Academy and other construction projects in the Colorado Springs area for many years. A brochure from the mid-1950s (part of Eskeldson's estate) shows elaborate rock extraction/ crushing equipment, stating that production was at the rate of 400 tons per hour.
Eskeldson sold his interest in Castle Concrete in the 1960s. According to Dorr, he always was an advocate for restoration of the site.
Eskeldson later started Springs Silica Sand and operated a sand plant near Fountain.
Another job was with Boyles Brothers Diamond Drilling of Salt Lake City. This included the initial core sample drilling of Cheyenne Mountain, prior to the construction of NORAD within the mountain.
His final employer was the Colorado Springs Utilities, where he worked as an engineer with the Water Division.
After retirement, Eskeldson taught surveying and algebra at Pikes Peak Community College. He also worked as a volunteer on the trail systems at Rock Ledge Ranch and the Garden of the Gods.
Peggy Dorr offered recollections of what her father had told her about his younger days. As a kid, because he would find any job he could, "he never began or ended a school year," she said. "He showed up in October and left in April. The schools said it was OK because it was during the depression and if you had a job that was good."
In college, "it went the same way," Dorr said. "That was how he met my mother at Boise Junior College. He was behind in his classes and she took the most perfect notes in the world."
Having broken his hip on a trip to Hood River, Oregon, Eskeldson was cared for by his daughter for the last two years of his life. His only regret, Dorr said, was "that he would now be unable to take the Trans-Siberian Railway across Asia."
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