In 1871, General William Jackson Palmer, a Civil War cavalry hero, dreamed of a Rocky Mountain resort town where sedate, temperate, wealthy folk could enjoy life in tranquil comfort. From its inception as a tiny resort hamlet, Colorado Springs has grown into the second largest city in the Colorado Rockies, with a projected population by 1990 of 400,000. Marshall Sprague tells the remarkable and colorful story of a community that, despite its massive growth, never abandoned its original vision of comfort and gentility. His account, illustrated with rare archival photographs, has been revised and enlarged for the 1990s. In the town's early years, rich easterners and Englishmen came seeking adventure, romance, and gentility. But when gold was discovered at nearby Cripple Creek in 1900, Colorado Springs became an instant boom town. A second major boom came several decades later, when local boosters persuaded the Army to choose Colorado Springs as the site for Fort Carson, a training center for 30,000 troops. Other military projects followed, including Peterson Field, Ent Air Force Base, the underground North American Air Defense Command Combat Operations Center, and in 1954, the U.S. Air Force Academy. More recent projects, discussed in a new final chapter, include the Olympic Training Center and the Olympic Hall of Fame, as well as high-tech industries and advances in culture, education, and recreation.
As the city sprawls eastward onto the prairie, it bears little resemblance to General Palmer's 1871 village. Yet the general's dream of a quality town in a quality environment has continued to inspire generations of administrators and boosters who have made Colorado Springs a model of urban prosperity.