In 1859 the small settlement of El Dorado, at the eastern entrance to the pass through the mountains to the west, was renamed Colorado City by the founders Melancthon Beach, Rufus Cable, Anthony Bott and George Bute. Colorado City became the first permanent town in the Pikes Peak region.
Early settlers included farmers, ranchers, freighters and outfitters for the people who were rushing to the western mine fields. By 1886 the Colorado Midland Railroad was one of the city’s largest employers, with its headquarter offices, terminals and repair yards in Colorado City.
A Glass Works was established in 1887 by Adolph Busch, Jerome Wheeler and General Adams. Bottles were made for the Manitou mineral water, local liquor and wine by Bohemian glass blowers. Anheuser-Busch, Mayor Charles Stockbridge and others bottled beer in Colorado City at the turn of the century. When gold was discovered in 1891 at Cripple Creek, prosperity came to the city from the four gold ore reduction mills operating in Colorado City.
Because Colorado Springs was founded as a “dry” town, the sale of alcohol became a lucrative business in Colorado City, and the town soon became infamous for its many saloons and brothels. The hardworking residents were proud of their schools, Carnegie public library and churches and the desire to make their town more respectable led to the prohibition of liquor in 1914. The “wild west days” were destined to fade for Colorado City and in 1917, after a second vote, it was annexed by Colorado Springs.
*Pikes Peak and Colorado City, pencil drawing by artist A.E Mathews. Located at the Pioneer Museum, Colorado Springs
Interested in discovering more about local history. Schedule an appointment time to meet with our Research Volunteers to dig deeper into our collections
Looking to find more on the local history that surrounds Old Colorado City? Did your family grow up here, and you want to know more about them? Interested in old buildings, railroads, or past Civil War battles? Let us help you discover the answers to you seek. At the Old Colorado City History Center, we have a Reference Library and Collections Department. Visitors can email or call the museum to make appointments with OCCHS Research Volunteers to research local history in the Reference Library .
We recently converted our photograph collection into categories so pictures can easily be identified by their subject matter. If you are looking for a particular subject, drop by our bookstore and ask to see the category list.
Materials in the Collection Department can be viewed in the Reference Library, requiring retrieval by Research Volunteers . Collection Rooms are only accessible by Research Volunteers and Board Members.
Some walk-ins can be assisted on slow days if Research Volunteers do not have appointments or are not giving tours. Appointments are encouraged, especially when conducting research within our Collections Department which includes our photograph collection.
The History Center maintains an ever-growing research library. Within the library there are:
The Old Colorado City Historical Society maintains both archival and artifact collections. We have over a dozen individual collections within our Special Archives Collections which contain thousands of personal papers, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and maps donated by individuals and/or families from the local area.
As an example, the McKnight Collection alone includes thousands of original photographs of the local area taken by the late, longtime resident/inventor/and collector Luther McKnight.
The Ellis Collection contains a wide variety of photographs, archival material, and books, all representing life in the Colorado City/Colorado Spring area as the local Ellis family lived and experienced it.