COLORADO SPRINGS — This year marks a major milestone for the city. On July 31, the city will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding. Colorado Springs has gone through lots of transformations over the many years. News 5 and the community plans to celebrate it all.
A Brief History
The first people who lived in the Pikes Peak region knew it was a special place. According to the City's website, oral tradition of the Ute people says that they always lived close to the mountain and called it the "Sun Mountain."
Then in 1806, an Army lieutenant named Zebulon Montgomery Pike became the first American settler to discover the area. He tried to climb Pikes Peak but was unable to because of the weather. In 1810 he published his account and put the mountain on the map which would become his namesake.
Over time more settlers flocked to the area, the township was then officially created in1871 by General William Jackson Palmer. The city then joined the newly formed state of Colorado in 1876.
Since its early beginnings, Colorado Springs has grown immensely, it boasts a strong military community with U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, a high-tech industry, and a growing downtown area, all while surrounded by the beautiful landscape that people from across the country flock to see.
Celebrating the Sesquicentennial
COS 150 Downtown Celebration
Saturday, July 31 is the official anniversary, and there will be a community-wide celebration.
Starting at 11 a.m. 60 floats will participate in a “Parade Through Time,” which will represent major moments in Colorado Springs history. The parade will then be followed by a downtown festival, which will have fun for the whole family.
The maps below show the street closures that will be in place Saturday; first for the parade and then for the celebration throughout the rest of the day.
"We have a number of historical characters represented on floats. We have representations on floats for Nikola Tesla, we have general William J. Palmer and Spencer Penrose," said John O'Donnell, the parade organizer.
O'Donnell says the city has been planning the parade since last year. It will feature more than sixty groups with floats. Some organizations have made floats to celebrate the Colorado Springs Sesquicentennial, including GE Johnson Construction Company.
"We're doing an America the Beautiful float. The theme is perfect for us since our company is just doing the finishing touches on the Pikes Peak visitor complex on top of Pikes Peak," said Mario Elliott.
Elliott is the logistics coordinator for GE Johnson, and he says part of the float is honoring Katharine Lee Bates who wrote the song "America the Beautiful" after a visit to Pikes Peak. The float is also in the shape of Pikes Peak and is a tribute to the newly-built summit house.
After more than 1,000 trips to the top of the Pikes Peak summit, Elliott and the crew are ready to make a trip down Tejon this weekend. Meanwhile, others are excited to celebrate as a community once again.
The parade gets underway at 11 a.m. The festival for COS150 kicks off at the Pioneers Museum at noon and lasts until 8 p.m.
For more information about the COS150 Celebration, click here.
COS@150 Exhibit at the Pioneers Museum
150 years of greatness is now on display at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.
"We think these anniversaries are really important to look backwards, but also what is to come, and our role in making that community what it will be," said Matt Mayberry, Director of the Pioneers Museum.
The exhibit is called "COS@150", and features over 150 objects that tell the inspiring stories ofpeople who had to overcome some of the same challenges we are facing now, from recessions to illnesses and disease.
"You'll see the stories about people who made a difference in Colorado Springs," said Leah Davis Withorew, Curator for Pioneers Museum. "You'll see people who worked hard to make this place better, and that can be really inspiring when you're going through difficult times."
You must make a reservation before you pay a visit. Admission is free, and masks and social distancing are required. For more information, click here.
Then and Now Photo Exhibit opens at Library 21c
A photo exhibit called 'Then and Now' is also open to help celebrate the big anniversary. There are 50 pairs of photos in the exhibit, and each one of the photos is all about teaching the community the history in the area we live in, and sharing how far the city has come since the late 1800s.
Mike Pach, the Colorado Springs photographer in charge of the project said the exhibit, "is the culmination of two years worth of work, and I am equating it to getting my master's degree."
Pach worked with the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and the Pikes Peak Library District to collect the old photos, and as he was searching for pictures he said there were a couple of dozen that stuck out more than others.
"I was most interested in photos that included people because I wanted to know their stories, I wanted to know what they were all about," said Pach. "So I made the decision to use a lot of those photos and then pair those with my own images of people that are doing great things in our community. I think that's one of the things that makes this project unique because these people are part of our history moving forward."
Each pair of photos has a description of the 'then and now' information, plus a QR code that people can scan, which links to Pach's website. On the website, there are photographer notes and journal entries for each of the photos taken.
The oldest photo is from 1871, which is the first survey stake being placed by General Robert Alexander Cameron. There is also a photo of the first vehicle on top of Pikes Peak from 1890.
"I hope people learn about our rich history. When I first decided to do this project, I thought, 'how much could there be in 150 years?'" said Pach. "I learned a lot about a lot of things, and I still don't consider myself a historian, but someone told me I will be by the time we're finished here."
Pach said he's also encouraging people to keep records of their photographic collections, hand them down to family members, or donate them to an organization with an archives section.