Monday, March 13, 2017

Manitou Springs, Colorado

Manitou Springs, Colorado, is a small and charming town minutes away from Colorado Springs, and nestled between Garden of the Gods Park and America's most famous mountain, Pikes Peak. The word "Manitou," is a Native American word for "great spirit." Ute, Cheyenne and other Native American tribes attributed the natural mineral springs they found in the area as sacred, as a place of peace and healing.  General William Jackson Palmer, a western railroad magnate,  and Dr. William Abraham Bell founded the town of Manitou Springs in 1872, intending the town to be a "scenic health resort."

We visited the town in the fall of 2016, where most of these photos originate, and again recently when we had some family members visiting us--see that post on this link, and I thought I'd tell you more about this interesting and historical town.

(All photos, and photo collages, will enlarge when clicked on)

This boulder near the center of town marks the eastern end of the Ute Pass Trail, one of the oldest Native American Trails in the United States. The Ute Pass Trail runs along the north side of Pikes Peak. Native Americans first paved the trail on their travel over the the Ute Pass, and then in the 1860's it became a wagon road.  Now it is used for hiking, biking, running or horseback riding. The trail head is located near the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad parking lot.

 Please click on to enlarge

As you can see by the photos above there were many natural mineral springs located in the area that the ancient peoples and Native Americans used for eons. These waters became known as "healing waters" and during the Victorian era when diseases like tuberculosis was rampart people sought out natural cures. Mineral water was felt to cure liver, kidney and digestive aliments. 

Please click on to enlarge

The town of Manitou Springs was built up around these springs and became a resort area with bath houses, a mineral water bottling plant and hotels and spas.  If you enlarge the collage above you can read where the mineral water originates from and more about the town history.

Manitou Springs has eleven naturally carbonated mineral spring drinking fountains throughout the historic district, and eight of these springs are open to the public to sample for free. Each one tastes a little different from the next. You can get a map of all the mineral spring fountain locations at the Manitou Springs Visitor Center, located at 354 Manitou Avenue. They will also provide you with a plastic cup if you ask for one. 
My husband and I enjoyed searching out all the springs and sampling small sips of the water. Our favorite was Seven Minute Spring, located in a park near the beginning of town.  We felt it taste similar to club soda. Our least favorite was the Iron Geyser, which is closest to the mountain along Ruxton Creek, and definitely has a strong metallic iron taste. We could see why it was called "the strongest of tonics" at one time! 

The other mineral fountains are the Shoshone, the Navajo, the Cheyenne, the Wheeler, the Stratton, and the Twin.

If you click on the highlighter names of the fountains it will bring you to the Mineral Springs Foundation page that will describe the characteristics of each spring and its location.

The historic center of Manitou Spring is filled with interesting and picturesque Victorian era architecture

I particularly liked this baby blue building, on Canon Avenue, that was built in 1887 by Dr Isaac Davis to house his pharmacy. It is now privately owned as an artist's studio.

 Please click on photo to enlarge

The Wheeler Town Clock was donated by Jerome Wheeler in 1889 for the opening of the Manitou Mineral Water Bottling Company that existed at that time. Click on the photo to read more about this historical clock.

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The Nolan House was built by John Nolan in 1890.  Nolan was the owner of the Colorado Springs Lumber Company at the time and also owned several saloons and a Cripple Creek gambling hall. Click on the photo to read more about the house.

Please click on to enlarge

The Cliff House was built in 1874 by two Canadian investors and was the second largest hotel in Manitou Springs at the time.  It was visited by many famous people over time--click on the photo to read its history.  This Queen Anne style hotel has been fully renovated and is still used as a hotel and event center..

My husband and I dined in the elegant  Cliff House Dining Room for a delicious lunch.

A another step back into time is the Miramont Castle Museum. This incredible Victorian style castle has over 30 rooms and nine styles of architecture. Built in the late 1890's by a French priest, Jean Baptiste Francolon, who came to Manitou Springs in hopes of restoring his ailing health. His mother and her servants joined him soon after. The family came from wealth and the mansion was filled with artwork, fine furnishings and tapestries. The Francolons left for France in 1900, never to return. In 1907 the Sisters of Mercy purchased the mansion to use it as a tuberculosis sanitarium for twenty years.  In 1928 it became a boarding house and vacation retreat for the wealthy until 1946 when it became privately owned. In 1976 the Manitou Springs Historical Society purchased the mansion as their headquarters and began renovations.  It now conducts tours of the house, many events throughout the year, and hosts a tearoom for High Tea and light Victorian Tea, reservations required.

The historic district of town is lined with many unique shops, art galleries and trading posts filled with handcrafted Native American treasures.  Manitou Springs is home to many artists, and attracts a young bohemian crowd, especially during the summer months.

Another attraction in town that draws athletes, and the physically fit who like a challenges, is the Manitou Incline, seen looming over the main street in the foothill above.

A close up of the incline.

The Manitou Incline is the remains of a former narrow gauge funicular railway, whose tracks washed out during a rock slide in 1990. It is now used as a fitness challenge trail, as it has steep grades of 45% to 68%, and gains over 2,000 feet (610 m) of elevation in less than one mile. It recently went through renovations from August, 2016 to December, 2017 and is now open again.  

Do you think you are up to the challenge of hiking so many steps at such a steep climb?

The Manitou Springs Penny Arcade is located at 930 Manitou Avenue in the middle of town, and is one of the oldest and largest amusement arcades west of the Mississippi! With over 250 machines dating back to actual penny pinball machines to modern video game machines, skeeball, and rides for small children, this area has been a favorite attraction for many, many years.

Opened in 1891, the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railroad, is the highest cog railroad in the world! It is located at 515 Ruxton Avenue in Manitou Springs.  You can purchase tickets to ride the railroad--reservations required a few days in advance--most months of  the year, to visit the top of Pikes Peak, at an elevation of 14,115 feet, and back.  A train runs every 80 minutes, with an average grade of 12%, and at times reaches a grade of 24%.  Once on top of the mountain you will be able to see five states on a clear day! 
When my younger brother visited Colorado a couple years ago in October we took a ride together up the cog railroad and really enjoyed the views!  To see my blog post about driving up Pikes Peak in the summer, click here.  The panorama from the top of the mountain is remarkable!

Some famous people from Manitou Springs past.

Sadly, in 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire occurred near Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs and Woodland Park. It destroyed 346 houses, killed two people, and burned 18,247 acres (28.511 sq miles) in the Pike National Forest.  The burn area created "burn scar flood" in 2013 as rain water increased flow in six waterways and picked up mud and debris that caused damage to many homes and businesses in Manitou Springs. Much mitigation was done and the resilient town is thriving again.  It is definitely a wonderful place to visit, and to stay, to enjoy many local attractions.  Come and sample the mineral water, climb the incline, shop in the quaint stores and dine in one of the many restaurants.  You will have a memorable time!

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Daniela said...

Such a lovely place to visit and what an outstanding living room inside Cliff House, what a charming environment !

Thank you for sharing all the lovely shots about the fascinating places you visit, darling Pat, I'm so grateful to you for this !

Sending you much love


your friend Dany

Mersad said...

Wow. Such a beautiful town! Colorado is truly amazing, love the places you show us. I really do hope to visit soon!

Mersad Donko Photography

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, it is a charming town. I like all the houses, buildings and the springs sound great. The shops look awesome too. What a great tour, thanks for sharing your visit. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

Snap said...

So much fun to see Colorado through your eyes. I have been to Manitou Springs many years ago ... so long ago I don't remember details. Ha! Happy Monday!

Maggie said...

I so enjoyed the tour of Manitou Springs today, it's history is absolutely fascinating I'm so happy to learn that after the devastation the town is thriving again today. Thanks for the tour, it was just like taking a mini vacation!
Happy MM!!

Rue said...

Oh wow! It's so beautiful there, Pat! I definitely think I need to check it out someday. I'm not climbing those stairs though LOL!


Come Away With Me said...

Thanks for sharing, Pat. I've often wondered (lazily) about the name Manitou because in my weird mind it is so close to the wrld Manitee, which of course no one would ever find in Colorado! Some of those old buildings are magnificent; it is an interesting tour you have taken us on.

Tom said... what a great collection of buildings. The baby blue building is a Second Empire style, a style I love, but too bad that is was painted! Thanks for stopping by and enjoy "In The Good Old Summer Time."

Tamar SB said...

How cool is this!

Anonymous said...

Good morning Pat! What a charming place to visit and to explore. Love the photos and the information. Hope you have a good week.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

An informative tour of Manitou Springs was just what I needed this Monday morning. We were there a number of years ago...and have fond memories of the town, as well as our ride up Pike's Peak.It was somewhat cloudy when we were there, so the view wasn't the greatest. But the mini-donuts were!!! Thanks for sharing, Pat!

Rajesh said...

Beautiful shots from the town. The place looks interesting.

Anonymous said...

Love the in scripted rock! I realized that in the old days they had different "traffic" signs than we do now. Had to smile at the artist house! There is often something about them, that is different! some years ago had the opportunity to go to Pike's Peak - still snowy, but didn't, because we had no coats with us (coming from Southern Calif.)
Your posts are always so interesting, and it's nice of your hubby to treat to to a nice lunch! Thank you much from ALL SEASONS, and enjoy your week!

Lorrie said...

Manitou Springs is in a lovely setting with the mountains all around. I like that baby blue building, too. So pretty. What a beautiful dining room in the Cliff Springs Hotel; it looks very elegant.

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

Hello Pat
What an interesting post.
Manitou Springs is such a pretty town with lovely old interesting buildings.
I love visiting these places and learning about the history - you've done a great job!
We have thermal springs throughout New Zealand and their therapeutic benefits are great - especially to ease aches and pains!
The blue building caught my eye too - it's lovely!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

So much rich history in Colorado and it seems like you two are on a perpetual hunt for new experiences. I never knew that about the mineral waters there - kind of like in Europe where people still go to "take the waters."

Photo Cache said...

I like to visit charming little towns like this one.

From the Kitchen said...

What an interesting place! I love the idea of going about sampling the waters.


Lady Fi said...

What a lovely spot. I adore that baby blue building too!

Linda W. said...

What a pretty little town. The only thing I've ever heard about it is the famous incline trail. Thanks for providing more information.

Lowcarb team member said...

This looks so nice.
I enjoyed your photo's, information and description.

All the best Jan

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Great place to visit and your photos are excellent.

elizabeth said...

So many beautiful spots I've yet to see of Colorado!

Al said...

Nice shots of this fun town. I need to get down there again one of these days and get some shot of my own!

Ruth Rieckehoff said...

Such a coincidence you post about this town because the other day my husband was reminding me about some friends who invited us to Colorado Springs. We were looking to things to do in the area. This town looks gorgeous and those Victorian houses very colorful. I really love small towns. #WordlessWednesday

Rose said...

Oh, my, lots of interesting photos...loved the museum and the cliff house I adore that baby blue art studio...

Michelle said...

This seems like an interesting place to visit and I like the way you set up your posts when you travel. Very nice and easy reading. Great photos too! Thanks for linking up today and have a great weekend!

bettyl-NZ said...

What a charming and historic place. The photos you shared are gorgeous.

Cathy Keller said...

Happy St Patrick's Day to you!! Wishing you a grand day!

Rambling Woods said...

You always share historical information which I enjoy Pat...Michelle

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Beautiful pictures; that town surprised me so much when we saw it. That was before the fire and flood and I'm glad to know it has recovered well.

Katie Mansfield said...

Great photos. I've been there and we had a wonderful time. I liked getting an even more detailed look through your perspective! I'm a new follower.

Rhonda Albom said...

This town has a lot to offer. I like the idea of naturally carbonated mineral water although Iron Geyser doesn't sound too appealing. I wonder if the Victorian era diseases that brought white people to the area affected the indigenous population. BTW, I don't think I would do the incline.

indah nuria Savitri said...

Such a charming city! I wish I could visit it myself. So many beautiful places and things to do. Love all your photos..

Jan Robinson said...

Wow the Manitou Incline would be a killer track to climb/run/walk. There was something similar on a mountain in Spain near where we were house-siting. It went straight up to a tower on the hilltop. I tried it but had to bail only about 1/4 of the way up!

Jim Vail said...

Naturally carbonated? That's wild. Most of the spring water I've tasted has been more about its "healing qualities" and not the taste. The town looks extremely explorable though! Thanks for linking up, see you next weekend! #wkendtravelinspiration

Gemma Wiseman said...

Fascinating variety of scenes. Adore the baby blue building style.

eileen gunn said...

I've never heard of this town, but it seems to have a lot to offer. i like the idea of finding a new use for an old trail. It keeps history alive. #wkendtravelinspiration

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

You always give us so much history with your trips and adventures. My grandson is skiing in CO this week...oh, snowboarding! Hugs!

Florence said...

Manitou Springs looks like a charming place to visit. I love the old houses which remind me of my hometown. Thanks for sharing.

Pat Tillett said...

You had great trip! So much to see and do. This is another place I've never heard of. Now, I want to go there. Thanks for the great post!