History of the Cheyenne Mountain Region

Cheyenne Mountain is a place both haunted and holy. The land, flanked by historical sites such as The Broadmoor hotel and North Cheyenne Cañon, was recently declared the last surviving desert ecosystem along Colorado’s Front Range. In ancient times, Ute and Cheyenne tribes rendezvoused here, and during the 1850s, miners scoured the stream beds, dreaming of gilded luck. Entrepreneurs, such as Spencer Penrose, wrenched from the natural beauty formulas for their own success, while others, such as the multitudes of tuberculosis patients, wished for a place that would heal. Today, with the influx of new families into the Cheyenne Mountain region, there is a great urgency for keeping alive those voices of the past and, in turn, creating a collective consciousness about the region’s unique history and character.

– Julia Abbott Janeway as published in KIVA, Vol. 1, Number 1, Summer 1997

Historic Timeline of the Cheyenne Mountain Region

  • 1867  William F. Dixon began acquiring land west of the present Broadmoor hotel.
  • 1874  General Palmer dedicated land for the development of Colorado College.
  • 1892  Spencer Penrose arrived in Colorado Springs.
  • 1905  Colorado College professors (Noyes, Bartlett, Hayes and others) began the Overlook Colony in Dixon Heights on Cheyenne Mountain.
  • 1907  Mount Manitou Incline was constructed to transport materials and building equipment before being converted into a cable car.
  • 1918  Penrose purchased McKay property, including the McKay Tunnel and its water supply, with the exception of 12,000 gallons daily which belonged to the Overlook Water Company.
  • 1922  First cages of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo placed on Broadmoor property.
  • 1925  Cheyenne Mountain Highway completed. Penrose purchased Cog Railroad and Crystal Park Road.
  • 1937  Building of Penrose mausoleum started. Will Rogers died. The Shrine of the Sun, a monument to Penrose’s friend Will Rogers, also serves as the tomb for Spencer and wife Julie Penrose. It stands on a point a few miles above the zoo.
  • 1939  Penrose died.

The above information was taken from The Cheyenne Mountain Story by William R. Conte, pp. 92-94.