Sunday, December 21, 2008

100 years no big deal when old as a mountain


In the Centennial state, celebrating a 100-year anniversary is always a big deal. That was especially true in this area more than a century ago, when locals planned to mark such an occasion for the first recorded sighting of “America’s Mountain.” The Peak, of course, had been there for a while.
“In 1906, the City of Colorado Springs celebrated the Pike’s Peak Centennial. The event attracted from around Colorado and all over the nation. Special excursion trains were run from Pueblo and Denver, and many leading hotels in town were filled to capacity. Always eager to cash in on tourism, The D & RG (Denver and Rio Grand Railroad) advertising departments distributed brochures describing the festivities,” writes Allen C. Lewis in his 2006 photo book “Railroads of the Pikes Peak Region, 1900-1930.”
But the D & RG was not the only railroad that promoted the event.
“The 1906 Pikes Peak Centennial was a major event for Colorado Springs, and a large celebration was planned. Many railroads were quick to capitalize on the celebration, including the Rock Island. The advertising departments of several railroads shared resources in an effort to attract additional passengers,” wrote Lewis. The Rock Island collaborated with Frisco Railroads on their advertising efforts.
So the hotels were full, the trains to this area were packed, and great fanfare planned and expected for the weeklong schedule of events from September 23 to September, 29 in 1906.
An effort to build a monument to Zeb Pike apparently fell flat when the coins minted to finance the effort did not sell but other elements of the celebrations were carried off without a hitch. Instead of the statue, a huge boulder from the mountains was moved into the Springs to mark the event. Also, the weather did not cooperate fully as cold and snow marred at least one presentation at the top of the mountain that week.
In addition to changing weather here in the shadow of the peak, it was a changing nation and world in 1906.
In mid April, a devastating earthquake had ravaged the Bay Area of San Francisco killing more than 3,000 people and injuring 225,000. Property damage expense ran to $400,000,000 in 1906 dollars according to the University of California at Berkeley.
In Russia, Czar Nicholas had announced the implementation of the “Fundamental Laws,” and then dissolved the Duma and began purging of the dissidents. Also, U.S troops occupied Cuba at Cuban leader Tomas Estrada Palama’s, request for intervention.
But when all was said and done, the mountain, awe-inspiring and steady, looked like it would stand and deliver for at least another 100 years.
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