Sesquice…what? Celebrating 150 Years Of What Makes Colorado Springs Colorado Springs

February 25, 2021
This photograph circa 1875-1880 shows Pikes Peak Avenue before the construction of the first Antler's hotelThis photograph circa 1875-1880 shows Pikes Peak Avenue before the construction of the first Antler's hotelColorado Springs Pioneers Museum.
This photograph circa 1875-1880 shows Pikes Peak Avenue before the construction of the first Antler's hotel

The following is part of KRCC's 'Peak Past' essay series.

It’s the hardest word to say, but one we’re all going to have to embrace this year...sesquicentennial.

It marks the completion of 150 years, which is the precise age the city of Colorado Springs turns this summer on July 31st. 

Normally cities don’t have birth stories, but we know that the first stake went into the ground on what was then called “Fountain Colony” on July 31, 1871. William Jackson Palmer estimated there were only “perhaps 40 to 50 people” then in a city that now approaches half a million. 

This birth story is merely the Big Bang that awaits as you walk into the COS@150 exhibit at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. From then on, you’re treated to all the stuff that makes Colorado Springs Colorado Springs.

There’s an alligator bag someone used to get here by train, a picture of former president Richard Nixon and Dr. Henry Kissinger on a Cold War visit to NORAD, and a tape-editing kit from our very own KRCC, which first took to the air seven decades ago in 1951.

Think about it for a moment. What makes you, you? It’s your choices, the details. Do you drink Coke or Pepsi, coffee or tea, wine or beer? Do you prefer blue or green, snow or sun, mountains or sea?

Each choice accumulates over time like the grooves in a fingerprint, and the COS@150 exhibit has our community’s fingerprint all over it.

And it’s still growing.

As you leave COS@150, a sign asks: “What stories will fill the next 150 years? What will your contribution be?”

Good question. 

Until our next mountainside chat—be good, be well, and no matter what, climb on.

See the exhibit at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

  • Visitors are encouraged to reserve free tickets online.
  • Opening hours are Tuesday - Saturday, from 10 a.m. – Noon, Noon – 3 p.m., and 3 – 5 p.m. with a limited number of visitors in each time slot.
  • Face coverings are required for all staff, volunteers and visitors for ages 10 and older.

Peak Past (formerly Peak Perspectives) is a weekly segment written and voiced by Matt Cavanaugh, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and a resident of Manitou Springs where he lives with his wife and two young children. Through his writing, Cavanuagh explores life in the Pikes Peak region, including the gradients and subtleties of our lives in the shadow of America's Mountain. 

You can find more work by Cavanaugh here.

KRCC's Abigail Beckman manages the "Peak Past" series. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of KRCC or Colorado Public Radio.

Peak Past is sponsored by Pueblo Recycle Works.