Going for the gold

We all know about the Gold Rush and the 49’ers in California. It was the later gold rush of 1890 at Cripple Creek on the far side of Pike’s Peak that had a lot to do with populating the area around Colorado Springs.  General William Palmer, a Quaker from Pennsylvania who fought against slavery as an officer in the Civil War, planned the city of Colorado Springs as the antidote to the wild mining towns all around, and it seems to have always attracted a better class of folks, those who already had found their fortune.  When the town only had 10,000 inhabitants, 20 of them were millionaires.

In 1903, Colorado Springs thought they should have a county court house that reflected their prestige, and so a lovely edifice was erected, that now serves as the Pioneers’ Museum. It has a wonderful working 1913 Otis elevator.

You see the dreams of many people reflected in its history. To the Indians, the land’s wealth was beyond measure, and had little to do with shiny minerals. (Note the modern take on what can be beaded.)

For the American pioneers, dreams of a better life and worldly success drove them to surmount amazing hardships to reach cities like this, and maybe carry on to California.

One of the lovely things we discovered was that CS was the home to Van Briggle Art Pottery, popular early in the last century. It is lovely stuff, and just proves that more than gold can come out of the earth and be beautiful.

And then there are the U.S. Olympians, who seek another kind of gold and who train here in Colorado Springs.

We visited the U.S. Olympic Complex, which is very impressive and does get your blood stirred up for Sochi, a mere 75 days away.  Even the restroom signs are reminders of athletic prowess!

The visit starts with the museum, where we saw our old friend Jesse Owens again, and various artifacts of past Olympics. We got to tour the building where the wrestlers and men gymnasts train, and saw the swimming pool, at that moment being used by local young hopefuls.  One of the features of the pool is that two of the lanes have pulleys that will move swimmers at their fastest speeds, or at the current world record.  They knew that Michael Phelps would do well at the Olympics when in training he was the first swimmer ever to be pulled at the record speed and have slack in the line as he beat it every time. The dorms are off limits, but you get the idea.

It’s all about America, guys, and that winning spirit.  As usual, there is a T-shirt that says it all:

And then we finished our day with the Fine Arts Museum of Colorado Springs, another cultural center that demonstrates you have the gold to indulge in things like a portrait of your daughter by John Singer Sargent, and continue to support the arts today. More Van Briggle pottery and several works by Dale Chihuly. And have you ever seen Indian playing cards? These are Apache, circa 1860.

The gold we were seeking today was a good view of the mountains, especially Pike’s Peak.  We did see some dramatic vistas, but the visibility didn’t make for a lot of drama.  Here is what we could salvage; a painting of the actual thing is on the header.

It’s a lovely town, Colorado Springs, and it is still about striving and aspiring to something better.

2 thoughts on “Going for the gold

  1. I have recently been working on a family history for a dear family friend (born 1924). His father, born in 1864, lived in Colorado Springs in the 1890’s. He was a farmer. However, his other job was as a stagecoach driver making the run from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek and back in the early 1890’s. Can’t believe I actually know somebody who knows somebody that was a small part of that gold rush.

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