Manitou Springs is an eclectic mixture of art, history, and culture
Though a small town at the base of Pikes Peak, Manitou is brimming with charming tidbits and fun facts just waiting to be discovered. We’ve compiled a list of just eight…but there are a lot more!
Fun Fact 1
Did you know that there’s a Grecian Goddess looking over the health and wellness of all Manitou residents? Her name is Hygeia, and she sits atop the prominent clock tower in the middle of town. Erected by Jerome B. Wheeler, the town’s first banker, to commemorate the Manitou Mineral Water Bottling Company in 1890, it is said that this statue is modeled after one Mrs. Wheeler became fond of during a trip to Italy.
Fun Fact 2
Before you could grab a pint of beer at 725 Manitou Avenue (thanks to Manitou Brewing Company), you could saddle up on a burro that would take you to the top of Pikes Peak, if you dared. Believe it or not, this was the preferred method of transportation when trying to reach the summit until WWII. Many decided to turn around mid-way because of the change in climate due to elevation and the discomfort of riding up a steep terrain on a burro…and who could blame them! Maybe if they had a beer waiting for them at the end they would have carried on!
Fun Fact 3
If it tastes bad, it must be good for you, right? According to the Mineral Springs Foundation, there are 14 prominent minerals found in the naturally occurring (and totally free!) spring water including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fluoride, which aid the body in various ways from bone strength to digestion to blood pressure regulation. All of the nine springs also have traces of lithium, which is used to treat mental illness. And if you’re looking for a spring with the highest concentration of these minerals, look no further than The Shoshone, which is located in the little sunken mini park just west of Manitou Jack’s.
Fun Fact 4
You’ll be shocked to know all of the famous people who have stayed at The Cliff House over the years! Perhaps you’ll recognize these names: Henry Ford, Crowned Price Ferdinand of Austria, F.W. Woolworth, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Clark Gable, Zalmon Simmons (of the mattress fame), and Buffalo Bill Cody.
Fun Fact 5
For those who love gardening, take note! Inside the Manitou Springs Library and set inside the small drawers of a vintage card catalog cabinet is a “seed library” filled with all types of vegetable seeds. Free for the taking, you can fill your garden with lettuce, beets, beans, pumpkins, squash, and more. All of the seeds are categorized by color to indicate how difficult they are to grow (green, yellow, and red). The library does ask for something in return, however…seeds from your harvest to help replenish the cabinet for future gardeners.
Fun Fact 6
Look around Manitou Avenue and you’ll quickly discover that the majority of the buildings constructed between 1890 and 1940 were built with “greenstone.” Indigenous to Ute pass just west of Manitou Springs, greenstone has properties similar to red sandstone but contains iron, making it stronger. Fountain Creek Bridge, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Post Office, the posts supporting the timber gables above the famous Penny Arcade and much more are all made with this unique rock. Attempting to carry on the tradition, some of the flowerbeds and storefronts along Manitou Avenue were designed with manufactured greenstone. Look around…it’s everywhere!
Fun Fact 7
The barn-like structure connected to PJ’s Stagecoach Inn seems a bit out-of-place, and even more so when you learn that it was never an actual barn! In 1895, Dr. William Bell, one of the founding members of Manitou Springs, constructed a giant wheel in Fountain Creek with the intention of producing electricity. It didn’t work, so he later installed a coal plant to produce steam, but it was only enough to light the city lamps. After that, it became home to the Manitou Journal before being sold in 1941 to a paperboy, A.B. Armstrong, who turned it into a restaurant, which it remains to this day.
Fun Fact 8
By 1900, it was estimated that one third of Colorado Springs’ population was suffering from tuberculosis. Doctors had been sending people to Colorado for several decades in order that they might be healed by the high altitude, dry climate, mineral water, sunshine, and fresh air. These red conjoined “teepees” are actually two of about a dozen remaining tuberculosis huts still in existence. They were meant for individual use and designed in a way that maximized airflow.
Hopefully we’ve piqued your interest in what this little town has to offer!