City: Artifacts from long-ago Glen Eyrie trash provide insight to Palmer eraNov. 15, 2018; updated Nov. 16
Close to a century and a half ago and continuing into the 1900s, trash from Colorado Springs founder William Palmer's Glen Eyrie estate was being dumped downstream along Fountain Creek.
Discovered about three years ago, the dumping ground has become "a little bit like Christmas" in terms of finding artifacts related to the upscale lifestyle of the
The city's cultural services director was one of several speakers Nov. 15 in a press conference next to a temporarily established archeological dig in two trash-heap areas at the north end of what's now the Garden of the Gods City Park, just east of Camp Creek.
Mayberry noted that the dig, which started Oct. 2, will be shut down after Nov. 20.
Between Nov. 17 and 20, guided tours of the dig are being offered, starting from the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center. (See Westside Pioneer article at this link).
After Nov. 20, the extracted artifacts will be taken away to be analyzed and catalogued by a city-contracted company, Alpine Archaeological Consultants of Montrose. Alpine is slated to present a detailed report sometime in 2019.
Later in 2019, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum plans to display the extracted artifacts as part of a major new exhibit about Palmer. Mayberry added that the dig
Alpine has identified the Palmer trash time period as from the 1870s until as recently as World War I. The latter proof is a newspaper scrap found in one of the heaps with news about the war.
Palmer started building Glen Eyrie (and living there) from the time he started Colorado Springs in 1871. He died in 1909, with his daughters finally selling the property less than 10 years later.
Artifacts found in the trash have included (examples in parentheses) building material from Glen Eyrie (bricks, lightbulbs and batteries); fragments of ceramic plates; fully intact glass bottles; textile and clothing remnants (shoe leathers and buttons); and, food debris (peach pits, fish bones and shells), the press release reports.
The overall cost of the archaeology work is about $300,000. The amount is essentially being absorbed by the $7.8 million budget for a 17-acre stormwater detention pond and dam that will be built in that area of Camp Creek. That project is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (75 percent), the city (12.5 percent) and the Colorado State Office of Emergency Management (12.5 percent).
UPDATE, Nov. 16: Colorado Springs Engineer Mike Chaves elaborated Nov. 16 that the $300,000 is not being taken away from the
Delayed since 2016 by the trash study, the pond's construction is now due to start in early 2019, according to the city press release, and Chaves narrowed that down to probably March. That will allow time for the city to advertise for bids, then to review them and decide on which contractor to hire, he said.
The dumping ground was accidentally unearthed in 2016, during pre-pond creek stabilization work, a city official has previously said. But the Palmer connection was not established until about a year ago, Mayberry elaborated at the press conference. The proof was the discovery of a set of surface enameled bricks, matching those used in building Palmer's Glen Eyrie castle, added Mike Prouty of Alpine.
That find led FEMA, the city and the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office, to eventually sign a memorandum of agreement this August “requiring data recovery before work on the drainage project [the pond] could continue,” the press release states.
Typically, trash from people at the pinnacle of society, such as Palmer's family, would be randomly mixed in at a public dump. Mayberry said the Camp Creek site is unique because it appears to consist entirely of Palmer trash, which allows distinctions to be made about the family that was then at the pinnacle of Colorado Springs society - “who these people were and what kind of a day-to-day life they lived.”
Mayberry was asked at one point during the press conference what it said about the Palmers that they dumped their trash along the creek. He replied that their thinking was probably that the creek would wash away the stuff over time, and “people have got to put their trash somewhere.”
Westside Pioneer article