More than half-a-million people will ascend Pikes Peak by foot, bike, horse, train and automobile this summer. In 1873, Grace Greenwood, travel correspondent and the first female reporter on the New York Times‘ payroll, made the ascent by burro to the newly constructed signal station pictured above. In this first video you can listen to local arts maven Kathleen Collins reading excerpts of Greenwood’s account of her ascent along with historical images of Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak from Special Collections at the Pikes Peak Library District.

In this second video, Craig Richardson and Noel Black visit the Summit House on Pikes Peak where the intrepid tourist can now enjoy a “world famous donut” atop America’s Mountain.

Many thanks to Kathleen Collins, Special Collections at the Pikes Peak Library District and to the employees of the Pikes Peak Summit House.

You can hear the radio versions of these pieces HERE at KRCC’s Western Skies page.

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6 Responses to Donkeys to Donuts: Pikes Peak Then & Now

  1. Chris says:

    Thanks for both videos, guys. I’ve heard that the station house is no longer in operation. If that’s true, it’s a crying shame. Is nothing sacred?

  2. Libby says:

    Love the’ accent to Pikes Peak signal station’! Love the photos and nice job, Kathleen.
    Thanks to all who cantributed. Love this website,too.

  3. Craig Richardson says:

    Thanks for the comments! Chris, The Signal Station was first constructed in 1873 as a weather observation station by the US Army Signal Corps. The original structure was 18ft by 30ft and was continuously manned by at least one member of the US Army Signal Corps. In 1882, the Signal Station was replaced by a larger building, mostly to accommodate the influx of visitors arriving at the summit by way of horse and burro. In 1888 the Army closed the station after it was concluded that observable weather phenomena atop Pikes Peak had little to no impact on conditions at the base of the mountain. The Signal Station lay dormant until 1892, when the Cog Railway was constructed and the station was refinished as a summit house, including accommodations for 15 guests, a lunch counter and a souvenir shop. In 1900, the building was expanded again and an observation tower was added. In 1917, a new summit house is built and named The Pikes Peak Auto Summit House to cater to the growing number of automobile traffic on the Pikes Peak Highway. This building was destroyed in an explosion caused by an oil heater in 1953. In 1963, the present summit house was constructed and the earlier cog railway summit house was demolished in 1964. If it’s any conciliation, they still observe the weather up there in some form or fashion…

  4. Chris says:

    Thanks for that extra bit of history on the summit house, Craig. I hope that when the recession is finally over, if it’s ever over, they will re-open. It’s really sad when history takes a back seat to economics.

  5. Deborah Harrison says:

    Kudos for you, Craig, for highlighting Grace Greenwood. We, at the Manitou Springs Heritage Center, are always talking about her and no one knows who she was. Very famous lady in her day. As the Manitou Springs History police, I do have to say that the little house you showed was called Clematis Cottage, her summer home in Manitou where she entertained many artists and writers in the early 1870s. It had an unhappy demise during an 1890s flood and the location is now known as Mansions Park, behind our City Hall. Thanks for these cool little videos.

  6. Pete says:

    Thanks indeed, Mr. Richardson (May I call you Craig?), for the exciting and, frankly, surprising, history that you have set forth! Meaning that, in re: the explosion, Who knew?! Were there, perchance, at the time, suspicions circulating, and if so, were they “run to ground”, as the Pros like to say? Well anyhoo, it has all contributed to my overall sense of Historical Empleasurement! Oh! Before I forget, Craig, thruout this evening, whilst hearing multiple deployments of the Emergency radio thingy, I swear dude, it sounded like CultureTron was doing the honors!! Is that polecat cheating on his Colorado Culturecast gig?!

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