The Early Years

If we could travel 25 years back in time, we would find four dedicated volunteers—meteorologist Bob Short, computer expert Dick Taylor, retired ice-skating champ Rena Langenberg and businessman James Langenberg—completing the paperwork to establish the Friends of Garden of the Gods as an official nonprofit organization. They are meeting in the old Visitor Center, a converted house atop the Dakota Ridge near the Garden’s south parking lot. The year is 1991.

With thousands of visitors already overwhelming the Park and the small Visitor Center (with only one toilet for women and one for men), it is obvious to the volunteers and city park staff Andrea (Andi) Schmidt Andres, Lenore Fleck and Parks Director Nancy Lewis that the Garden is going to need all the help it can get, and that a Friends group could help support the Park. Bob, Dick, Rena and James volunteer to serve as FOGG’s first Board of Directors.

The first edition of the FOGGhorn, published in June 1991 did not have “FOGGhorn” on its masthead. Instead, it said, “All We Need Is A Name” and the first paragraph of the new newsletter proposed a naming contest. In the second paragraph, co-editors Dick Taylor and Lenore Fleck wrote, “the newsletter has been produced on an IBM 286 compatible using Publish It. We have imported files in ASCII text on floppies from the Visitor Center’s computer.”

Page 2 listed the names of the Charter Friends, 31 members strong! Three of those are still FOGG members today. They are: Andi Schmidt Andres, Lenore Fleck and Bob Short.

By the second issue, the newsletter sported its name “The FOGGhorn,” submitted by Andi Schmidt Andres who had won the naming contest. The July 1991 FOGGhorn listed the June statistics: # Visitors – 15,998; Walks – 71 for 747 people; Talks – 24 for 327 people; Volunteer hours – 306 hours.

Beginning FOGG’s Next 25 Years

“The future depends on what we do in the present” (Gandhi). As FOGG celebrates its Silver Anniversary, we are indebted to everyone involved in the establishment of the Friends of Garden of the Gods “way back” in 1991. Our annual Accomplishment List is evidence that FOGG indeed helps support the Park. Here in 2016, the Garden’s volunteers and staff are energized by the fantastic new exhibits and additions to the Visitor & Nature Center. The enthusiastic, interpretive staff has offered many new training opportunities for volunteers and have developed new school field trip programs. New and experienced volunteers are planning new presentations for summer.

As FOGG begins its next quarter century, we note that the Garden still has many challenges. FOGG has already participated in discussions with the City Staff about mitigating the Park’s increasing traffic woes, and is helping to fund RMFI’s 60 workdays to restore the Park’s trails and re-vegetate eroded areas. The planning for new restrooms at the Main North Parking Lot will begin soon, thanks to the fact that City Council voted unanimously to spend $470,000 for these needed improvements, initiated by FOGG. With everyone and every organization working together, we will continue to make a positive difference Wouldn’t it be ideal if every citizen and visitor could experience the Garden of the Gods in the way that Palmer did in 1869?

“They could find nothing more attractive, perhaps, in the whole range of the Rocky Mountains. Here where the air is fraught with health and vigor, and where life would be poetry. An idyll of blue sky…fantastic rock…high mountains and distant view, of the kind that gives wing to the imagination.” General William J. Palmer