History of the Garden of the Gods
The human history of the
Garden of the Gods commences many centuries before our present time.
Stone hearths and fire rings found in the Garden dating over 3000 years
ago indicate the presence of early inhabitants, According to Ute
traditions, their people have always lived in this area, not having any
stories of migration from elsewhere. The Utes were known to winter in
the Garden of the Gods prior to removal to reservations in southwestern
Colorado and northeastern Utah.
Modern history of the Garden begins in 1858 when gold was discovered
along the Front Range and in South Park, northwest of Colorado Springs.
Thousands of prospectors and settlers flocked to the area, including a
party from Lawrence, Kansas, who camped along the stream known as Camp
Creek, and carved their names on the sandstone boulder we call
“Signature Rock.” In 1859, the Garden was named by two surveyors who
were laying out the town of Colorado City, south of the Park. As they
were riding their horses through the Garden, Malancthon Beach remarked
the place would be a “capital place for a beer garden.” Rufus Cable
replied, “Beer Garden! Why it is a place fit for the gods to assemble.
We will call it Garden of the Gods."
The city of Colorado Springs was founded in 1871 by General William
Jackson Palmer, founder of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, who
built his home in Queens Canyon, just north of the Park. In 1879,
General Palmer talked a fellow railroad man, Charles Elliot Perkins,
into buying 240 acres of the Central Garden for a summer home. Perkins
later added another 240 acres. However, he never built on the land but
always kept it open to the public. It became Mr. Perkins wish to give
the land to the city of Colorado Springs for a park, but he died before
making these wishes know in a will. However, his 6 children honored his
wishes, and on Christmas Day of 1909 the 480 acres were conveyed to the
city with the provision it would always remain free to the public.
Later acquisitions by the city brought the total park size to 1,367
With thousands of visitors exacting a toll on the Park's environment,
attempts have been made throughout the years to preserve the beauty of
its natural wonders. In the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation
Corps planted hundreds of juniper trees in the Central Garden to
control erosion. In the early 1990’s, members of the general public,
including hikers, bikers, climbers, equestrians, scientists, Native
Americans, and historians, worked together to develop a new master plan
for the Park to insure its preservation. Commercial structures, such as
the Chuckwagon Pavilion and the Hidden Inn were removed. The road
through Gateway Rocks was replaced by a sidewalk, the paths in the
Central Garden were paved, and a new Visitors Center opened on private
land east of the Park.
Today, we continue to wonder at the natural beauty of the Garden of the
Gods as we share this National Natural Landmark with millions of
visitors from around the world.
2008-2013 The Friends of Garden of the Gods City Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado