Denver to Pueblo
Colorado Springs Area
Royal Gorge Route
Marshall Pass Area
Tennessee Pass Area
Grand Jct.- Green Riv.
Green Riv.- Provo
Provo- Salt Lake
Colorado Springs Area
(U.S.G.S. Bulletin 707, 1922)
ONE-DAY TRIPS FROM COLORADO SPRINGS.
As most travelers on the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad stop here to sample the
mineral waters of Manitou and to explore the peaks and canyons of the near-by mountains,
the more interesting side trips that may be made in a single day will be described.
MANITOU AND THE GARDEN OF THE GODS.
The place that is first visited by most travelers stopping at Colorado Springs is Manitou,
6 miles to the west, at the foot of Pikes Peak. In order to reach Manitou from Colorado
Springs the traveler must pass through the historic town of Colorado City, which sprang
into existence as a. result of the rush of gold seekers to the Pikes Peak region in 1859.
A cluster of log cabins was built at the base of the peak, but no gold was found. In 1862
Colorado City again came into prominence, when the second legislative assembly of the
Territory convened there, but after a four-day session it adjourned to Denver, the real
capital of the State. It is said that the building in which the meeting was held is still
standing but in a much dilapidated condition. In 1910 Colorado City had a population of
4,333; since then it has been consolidated with Colorado Springs. In the palmy days of
the, Cripple Creek camp it had four cyanide plants 11 in operation treating the ores, but
with the decline of that camp the mills have been allowed to fall into decay. At the
present time only one of them is in operation.
The town of Manitou has a permanent population (1920) of 1,357, but during the summer it
has many times that number. It was originally called Villa La Font, but this name was
later changed to Manitou, which is the Indian name for the Great Spirit. It is said that
the Indians were familiar with the springs before the advent of the white man, and that
they believed that the bubbling was caused by the breath of the Great Spirit. In Manitou
there are 16 springs whose waters differ widely in the composition and quantity of the
mineral matter they contain. Some of the waters are strongly impregnated with soda, others
with iron and magnesia, and some contain, it is said, lithia, lime, sulphur, potash, and
other minerals The principal springs are known as the Soda, Ute Iron, Ute Chief, Navajo,
Geyser, Mansions, Soda-Iron, Twin Shoshone, Minnehaha, Magnetic, and Magnesia.
Garden of the Gods
The second most attractive natural feature of the region is the Garden of the Gods, which
can easily be reached from Manitou or from the trolley line that connects Manitou and
Colorado Springs. This interesting bit of wonderland is now a part of the Colorado Springs
park system, to which it was transferred in 1909 by the heirs of the late Charles Elliott
Perkins with the stipulation that it should be forever kept open and free to the world.
There are two entrances to the Garden of the Gods, but the traveler should by all means
approach it from the lower entrance, the one nearest Colorado Springs, for he will there
get his first view of it through the celebrated "Gateway," which is in itself
one of its most striking features. Plate
XIX shows the great upstanding ledge of red sandstone in which the "Gateway"
has been cut by a small stream. The view here shown is not that which the traveler will
get from the main road but is one he could get by climbing and walking a little distance
to the north before reaching the deep cut. The white rock in the foreground is a thick bed
of gypsum, which contrasts strongly with the deepred sandstone beyond.
After passing through the "Gateway " the traveler will find himPelf in a
wonderful array of tall spires of red and white-sandstone and of many fantastic forms,
which have been produced by the slow weathering of the massive rock. These features are
shown in Plates
XX and XXI.
The rocks of the Garden of the Gods are of the same general character as the upturned red
sandstones between Denver and Colorado Springs, but the forms are larger and more
picturesque here than they are at any other place on the mountain front. These great
natural monuments look as if they had been pushed up from below the surface by some giant
force, but they are really mere remnants of great masses of red and mottled rock that were
long ago tilted up on end and then were partly removed by the dissolving action of the
atmosphere. This is a. slow process, but it is always in operation, and each day a few
grains of sand are loosened and carried away. Under this constant attack new and
picturesque forms are being produced and the old pinnacles and towers are being -worn
away. All these interesting monuments of the activity of weathering processes will at some
time be worn down to the level of the plain, but that time will be so far in the future
that the loss of the monuments need not give much concern to the present generation.
The great ledges that give to the Garden of the Gods its picturesqueness extend to the
north and are again strikingly exposed in Glen Eyrie, which for a long time was the chosen
home of Gen. Palmer.
Manitou is the place from which the start is made on the Cogwheel Road for the ascent of
Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak, the highest mountain in this part of the system (14,109 feet), was
named for its discoverer, Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike, who was commissioned by President
Jefferson to explore certain parts of the western country acquired from France by the
treaty of Paris, signed April 30, 1803, and generally known as the Louisiana Purchase.
Pike had already made a trip to the source of the Mississippi when he was directed to
explore what was then known as the " Southwest." He and his party left Missouri
in July, 1806, and went across the country to the Arkansas and up that valley to the site
of Pueblo. At the mouth of Purgatory Creek he caught sight of Pikes Peak, far to the
north. Pike, in his journal, calls it the "Grand Peak." He was fired with the
ambition to climb it, so he started off from his camp at the site of Pueblo, on Arkansas
River, supposing that he could easily reach its summit and return in the course of a few
days. He was not accustomed to the clear air of the mountains and did not realize that the
peak was 45 miles distant in an air line and about 9,500 feet above him. The party
traveled directly toward the peak, and finally, on November 27, 1806, after great
hardships, they reached the summit of the plateau, at an altitude of probably 9,000 feet,
far south of the peak. The mountain was covered with snow, and they saw that they were but
little more than halfway to the top. As they were not prepared for such cold weather, they
suffered severely and concluded that it was then impossible to reach the summit. They
returned as they came and then pursued their way up the river toward the site of Canon
The first person to climb to the summit of Pikes Peak was Dr. Edwin James, botanist,
geologist, and surgeon of Maj. Long's expedition, in 1820. On account of this ascent Maj.
Long named the mountain James Peak, and it was called by this name for a number of years.
Eventually, however, the name of its discoverer, Pike, was given to the mountain, and it
is now firmly fixed as the most appropriate one that could have been chosen.
Pikes Peak stands at an altitude of 14,109 feet, or more than 1 1/2 miles (7,920 feet)
above Colorado Springs. Its summit may be reached by the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway,
better known as the Cogwheel Road, or by automobile over the road recently completed from
Cascade to the top. The first part of the Cogwheel route through Engelmann Canyon, which
is nearly filled with large granite boulders, is very picturesque. The small stream
tumbles over the, great blocks of rock in continuous cascades, and overhead and around is
the deep green of the native forest. Near the upper end of the canyon is the intake of the
main that supplies Colorado Springs and Manitou with pure, cold mountain water. The water
supply of these towns is derived not only from this particular valley but is gathered by a
system of tunnels and canals from a number of rocky basins whose natural outlet is to the
After passing through the rough part of Engelmann Canyon the road emerges onto a.
comparatively level terrace of the mountain side at an elevation of about 9,000 feet. On
this terrace the ancient glaciers that came down from the high peak above dumped great
quantities of loose fragments of rock in ridges that are called moraines. The ice has
disappeared, but the moraines still testify to the existence and the extent of the ice.
The most conspicuous moraine to be seen from the Cogwheel Road is that which encircles and
holds in place Lake Moraine, on the left. The moraine had formerly been breached by a
stream, but it has been artificially restored to its original condition, and it now holds
a lake of considerable size.
The surface of the mountain above timber line consists of granite, which is bare except
where it is covered by snow. After circling around a long spur that projects to the south
the train arrives at the summit. On the east are Colorado Springs and Manitou, which look
like small villages or gardens spread at the foot of the mountain, and still farther east
are the plains, which stretch like a carpet as far as the eye can see. On the west and
southwest the mountains roll like, the billows of the sea, far into the hazy distance. The
Sangre de Cristo and the great Sawatch ranges tower like giant rollers high above the
others, as if the sea had been consolidated at the very moment of its greatest agitation.
On the north is the Rampart or Front Range, but in this direction, instead of rugged
mountains, one sees only a gently undulating plateau, which from this great height looks
much like the plains on the east except that it is dark with a growth of evergreen trees.
To the traveler who is unfamiliar with high altitudes one of the most striking features
here is the effect of weathering on the rocks. The summit and the slope on the southwest
side for some distance down are covered with blocks of granite that have been broken from
the massive rock that forms the top of the mountain. The rocks on the summits of all high
peaks are broken and thrown down in the same way, evidently through the rigors of the
climate in such high and exposed places. The warm rays of the sun during the day expand
the rocks and melt some of the snow, and the water so formed sinks down in cracks and
crevices and during the ensuing night freezes. The expansion and contraction of the rocks
due to changes in temperature and the freezing of water in joints and fissures soon break
to pieces even the most massive granite, as shown on the summit of the peak.
The first railroad that was projected up Pikes Peak was an ordinary steam road. It was
planned to follow a circuitous route with a maximum gradient of 250 feet to the mile and
to reach the summit in a distance of 30 miles. Construction was started in 1884, and about
8 miles was graded when. the scheme failed through lack of financial support. Surveys for
the present road were begun in 1888, and the golden spike was driven on October 20, 1890.
The maximum gradient of this road is 1,320 feet to the mile, and the length is 9 miles.
The automobile road reaches the same point on the summit that is reached by the Cogwheel
Road. The length of the road is 18 miles; its average grade is 370 feet to the mile, and
its maximum grade is 554 feet. The view from the automobile road is even more impressive
than that from the Cogwheel Road, for, owing to the numerous bends, the traveler can see
the ever-widening landscape on all sides. The route passes through Manitou and up the
narrow defile of Ute Pass, at first over the edges of the eastward-dipping quartzite and
then over the underlying granite. The road as well as the contact between the quartzite
above and the granite below is well shown in Plate XXIV, B. At
the village of Cascade the new road turns and climbs the west wall of the canyon, and as
it rounds the point directly above Cascade the traveler can look down the pass to Manitou,
far in the distance. The road follows Cascade Creek for some distance in a canyon hemmed
in by granite walls, but these grow less and less steep as the automobile moves on until
finally the road passes by a gentle grade, from the head of the valley to the divide
between Cascade and Catamount creeks. At this height, about 9,250 feet, the traveler gets
a wide, view, particularly to the north, and he may note that the sky line, as shown in Plate
XV, A, is as level as that of the plain about Colorado Springs, except that here and
there low knobs rise island-like above the level surface, and far away in the hazy
distance he can just make out the blue outline of Tarryall and Mosquito ranges. Could the
traveler, however, cross the apparently level plain at which he is looking he would find
that it is smooth only in appearance from a distance, for it is really cut up into
numerous ravines much like the one followed by the automobile road. Another feature which
the traveler will probably notice on the surface of this plain is the deep and perfect
disintegration of the granite rock which composes all this country. No ledges of rock can
be seen, and the soil is made up largely of small fragments of granite broken up by the
action of the weather.
This plateau can be traced northward at least as far as Denver. It is the result of long
exposure to the action of the weather and the cutting of the streams when the entire
region was at a much lower level than it is to-day-so low, in fact, that the streams could
cut no lower and it remained in this position so long that most of the hills and other
inequalities of the surface were worn away and the region was reduced to a plain as truly
as the country about Denver and Colorado Springs is a plain today. That was long, long
ago, as man measures time, even before man was there to see any of the operations that
produced the change.
Then came a slow but steady uplift of the mountain region and probably also of the plain,
until the land reached its present height above sea level. Such an uplift accelerated the
streams, and they soon cut deep canyons-such as Ute Pass and the canyon of Cascade
Creck-in the surface of the plateau, until today it is level only as one looks across
broad tracts of its old surface and at a distance so great that the details fade and the
plain looks as it once did before the uplift came. At that time, owing to the fact that
the rocks of Pikes Peak are more resistant than those of other parts of the region, the
mountain stood nearly 5,000 feet above the surface of the plain, just as to-day it stands
nearly 5,000 feet above the surface of the plateau.
From the plateau the slopes of the mountain above appear to be unscalable by a road, and
it is only by constant turning and looping back upon itself that the road finally reaches
what appears from below to be the summit but what is really a long spur of the mountain
that branches off to the northwest. The northern slope of this spur, up which the traveler
came, is very steep, but the opposite slope is so gentle that it scarcely can be
considered mountainous. The difference in the appearance of the two slopes is well shown,
at a place called " the Bottomless Pit." Here the traveler may stand in his
automobile and gaze down on the north into a jagged pit about 1,700 feet deep, whereas on
the other side the slope is very gentle. As the rocks are the same on both sides of the
ridge there must be some cause other than rock texture for this great difference in
appearance. Geologists recognize that the steep, jagged slopes on the north side, are the,
result of the action of moving ice, but the traveler may inquire: Where is the ice? The
climate here is now so mild that practically all the snow which falls in the winter is
melted away during the succeeding summer, but ages ago the, climate of all the United
States was much more severe than it is today, and large glaciers were formed on almost
every mountain peak. The most favorable place for the snow to accumulate was on the north
and east sides, for it was not blown away by gales coming from the west, and it was
protected from the heat of the sun more than it would have been on the other sides. Thus
the glaciers were, restricted to the north and east sides, or at least they were more
numerous and larger there than they were on the other sides.
In that far-off time fairly large glaciers lay on the side of Pikes Peak, and they gouged
out great amphitheaters or cirques, as they are generally called, in the mountain side. In
this manner the original more gentle slope was converted to nearly vertical walls. The
rocky material that was removed from these cirques was carried down by the glacier and
deposited at its extremity as a. ridge or moraine or was washed down Fountain Creek. If
the traveler wishes to see how steep are the cliffs produced by a glacier he has only to
walk to the end of the Cogwheel Road and look down a thousand feet or so into the rocky
basin that the ice has cut.
CRIPPLE CREEK BY WAY OF THE "SHORT LINE."
The trip from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek over the "Short Line" affords
the traveler an opportunity to see some fine and extremely diverse mountain scenery and to
visit one of the active goldmining districts of Colorado.
The route extends directly west from Colorado Springs, past some of the big mills that
were built to reduce the Cripple Creek ores, and then passes up along the right side of
Bear Creek canyon. Here the sedimentary rocks are upturned so steeply that they stand on
edge and make great hogbacks across the country. The train passes the limy outcrop of the
Niobrara and then goes through a projecting point of the Dakota sandstone. Just beyond
this ledge the railroad crosses Bear Creek canyon and swings back on the other side. At
the point where it crosses the canyon the Dakota sandstone abuts "end on"
against the granite of the mountain. Such a contact is not normal, and it means that the
two diverse kinds of rocks were brought into contact by a great break, or, as the
geologists call it, a fault, in the rocky crust of the earth, the granite having been
thrust up out of place until it rested against the broken edges of the beds of sandstone.
This fault is the one that separates the granite from the red sandstone a few rods below
the station of the Cogwheel Road in Manitou, and its course is marked by Ute Pass, which
it produced and through which the Midland Terminal Railway (formerly the Colorado Midland)
finds a way to Woodland Park. South of Bear Creek the fault is marked by the base of the
mountain, and to it is due the abrupt change from steep mountain slope above to flatlying
The "Short Line" climbs t he mountain front, gradually attaining higher and
higher altitudes, until it rounds Point Sublime, from which the traveler can look down
nearly a thousand feet into North Cheyenne Canyon. The view from this point is shown in Plate
XXV, A. Beyond this point the railway winds in a serpentine course around spurs and
ravines as it adjusts its course to the contour of the slopes. But here and there a
mountain spur is so large or so rugged that the cost of grading the roadbed around it
would be very great, so the train plunges through the spur by a tunnel that reaches its
very core, and in some places it crosses on high trestles rushing torrents that cascade
down the steep granite walls, as shown in Plate
XXVI. In this manner the train circles around the slopes of North Cheyenne Canyon far
above the rugged scenic part and then tunnels through the dividing ridge and circles
around the slopes of South Cheyenne Canyon, all the time climbing so as to cross the
divide at its head.
In this long climb the traveler may obtain many beautiful views of rugged mountain
slopes covered with a stately forest of evergreen trees, of foamy cascades that plunge
down gulches and ravines, of great bare rock slopes, such as the one shown in Plate
XXV, B, and of far-off Colorado Springs, spread out on the level prairie like a
The crest is passed at the station of Summit (altitude 9,913 feet), and the train then
begins the descent of the west side. This side is much less steep than the one up which
the train has laboriously climbed, and along it the roadbed winds about from one valley to
another as it crosses the headwaters of a number of mountain streams. Many of the valleys
of these streams contain ranches, but some are mere gorges in the rugged granite, such as
is shown in Plate
The train finally arrives at Goldfield Junction, in the midst of some of the largest
gold mines of the Goldfield district (Pl.
XXVIII, A [and Pl.
XXVIII, B]). If the traveler wishes to see the big mines and mills to the best
advantage he should here transfer to the " High Line " trolley, which carries
him around mountain tops, among mines, mills, and dump heaps of waste rock, and finally
lands him in the once famous town of Cripple Creek, the center of one of the best-known
mining districts in Colorado. Returning he can see most of the low-lying part of the
Cripple Creek district from the steam cars, especially the great mines at Victor and
Goldfield. The district was prospected at several periods, but it was not until the autumn
of 1890 that Robert Womack discovered gold in place at what is now the Gold King mine, or
in the flank of Poverty Gulch, just southeast of the town of Cripple Creek. Since then the
district has produced more than $300,000,000 in gold, and its present yield is about
$350,000 a month. A more detailed account of the discovery, development, and present
condition of the district is given below by F. L. Ransome.
SOUTH CHEYENNE CANYON.
One of the most romantic as well as most beautiful places in the region about Colorado
Springs is South Cheyenne Canyon, immortalized by Helen Hunt Jackson and for some years
the resting place of her body.
This beautiful canyon lies 3 miles southwest of Colorado, Springs and can easily be
reached by trolley or private conveyance. The canyon (see Pl.
XXIX) is attractive not only on account of the beauty of its magnificent granite
walls-a miniature Yosemite-but also because the cut in the massive granite is the enduring
record of events that took place long before the white man saw this country and in all
probability before man existed on the globe. All the mountains, hills, valleys, and plains
constitute, records of similar events, but here the record is so clear and distinct that
anyone may decipher it after he has had a slight training in the, alphabet Nature uses.
South Cheyenne Canyon and the form of the mountains in this part of the State indicate
to the geologist, as already explained, that at a time long, long ago this part of the
earth's crust was much nearer sea level than it is now. The mountains of Colorado were not
then the magnificent spectacles they are to-day but were more like the Appalachians. Pikes
Peak of that time was probably not more than 5,000 or 6,000 feet above sea level, and the
plains reached back many miles into what is now the heart of the mountains, with isolated
low ranges here and there projecting above their even surf ace. Then came a great uplift
which finally raised the mountains to their present positions. On this uplifted mass of
rock the streams, on account of their increased slope, were very active and at once began
to cut deep trenches; these in time were widened where the rocks were soft, and finally
all the higher land on the plains was cut away, but in the hard rocks of the mountains the
streams have succeeded in cutting back only a short distance and have formed canyons like
that of South Cheyenne. At some places in South Cheyenne, Canyon this backward cutting has
proceeded rapidly because the granite is shattered, but at the Seven Falls the joints, and
fissures in the rock extend to one side, as shown in Plate
XXX, whereas the stream tumbles over a wall of the most massive rock imaginable, and
the canyon ends so abruptly that it seems almost as if it had been the work of man. If the
rock were not of this character the stream would probably have cut considerably farther
back, and in that event the Seven Falls would probably have been replaced by a series of
cascades. In time this cutting will doubtless be accomplished, for the stream is always at
work-it knows no cessation from its labors-and, although the work of cutting the granite
is extremely slow when compared with human standards, it is continuous, and if conditions
remain the same as they are to-day the canyon will be cut far back into the mountain,
until, in even more remote. time, the mountains themselves may be worn down and a plain
may be found where now we have our grandest scenery. The regularity and smoothness of the
walls of South Cheyenne Canyon are due largely to the massiveness, of the granite in which
the canyon is carved.
The traveler should climb to the top of the falls, where he can obtain a much better idea
of the magnitude of the gorge, and then he will doubtless be impelled to climb still
higher, to Inspiration Point., which is said to be the spot most beloved by Helen Hunt
Jackson., the place where she wrote many of her most noted works of fiction. One can
hardly imagine a more inspiring sight than that of Colorado Springs and the broad stretch
of plain seen from this point; and here, amid the grandeur of the mountains, the romantic
imagination of so ardent a lover of nature would readily be quickened into new life. She
pays this tribute to Inspiration Point:
Beautiful cradle of peace! There are some spots on earth which seem to have a strong
personality about them-a charm and a spell far beyond anything which mere material nature,
however lovely, can exert; a charm which charms like the beauty of a human face; and a
spell which lasts like the bond of a human relation. In such spots we can live alone
without being lonely. We go away from them with the same sort of sorrow with which we part
from friends, and we recall their looks with the yearning tenderness with which we look on
the photographs of beloved absent faces.
Although Helen Hunt Jackson died in California, her last request was that her body be
brought back and laid to rest in this spot on Cheyenne Mountain that she so dearly loved
and that the place be marked only by the boulders which nature had provided. This was
done, and many thousand travelers still visit the grave annually and pay tribute to the
gifted author, though her body now lies in Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs.
If the traveler returns from the canyon late in the afternoon he may see some of the
beauty of the plains as it appeared to her poetic imagination:
Between the pines and the firs are wonderful vistas of the radiant plain. Each glimpse
is a picture in itself-now an open space of clear sunny distance; now a belt of cottonwood
trees making a dark-green oasis in the yellow distance; now the majestic bluffs, looking
still more castle-like, framed in the dark foreground lines of pine boughs. We are in
shadow. The sun has set for us; but it is yet early afternoon on the plain and it is
brilliant with sun. * * * The brilliance slowly fades, and the lower sunset light casts
soft shadows on every mound and hill and hollow. The whole plain seems dimpling with
shadows; each Instant they deepen and move eastward; first revealing and then slowly
hiding each rise and fall in the vast surface. Away in the east, sharply against the sky,
lines of rocky bluffs gleam white as city walls; close at the base of the mountain the
foothills seem multiplied and transfigured Into countless velvet mounds. The horizon line
seems to curve more and more, as if somehow the twilight were folding the world up for the
night, and we were on some outside shore watching it.