Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stereoviews of Crystal Park

Below are three stereoview cards of Crystal Park scenes from the late 1800's.  All three are different views taken from the general area where the paved road terminates at the entrance to what we today call the Upper Park.  The first two are courtesy of Miramont Castle.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Snow Plow Rock

Snow Plow Rock was a rock formation just before the entrance to what is now called the Upper Park.  It was pretty dramatic and was a favored place to take photos.  The rock was removed during a road improvement project in the 1970's, as it was deemed a hazard.  Below are some photos that show it from sometime around 1895 (estimated) up to the present time. As always, click on images to enlarge.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Overhanging Rock

About 4 1/2 miles up Crystal Park from the present-day gatehouse, just past the upper switchback, is a large rock that projects over the road, know as "Overhanging Rock" or simply "The Big Rock".  Below is a series of photos that show the progression from before road construction, then as this area was excavated for the initial construction of the roadway and it's modification since.

The Turntable

When built in 1910, the Crystal Park Auto Road had many twists, turns, switchbacks and steep grades, as does the road today.  However, there is a major difference from the early Auto Road days (beside the fact that the road was paved in 2002).  That difference is the absence of the turntable.  As the building of the road progressed, it became apparent that there was a major issue.....this was the Pikes Peak region, and Pikes Peak was visible from almost everywhere, but there was no view of the Peak from anywhere on the Auto Road Trip.  In order to rectify this, the road was extended around the shoulder of Eagle Mountain at the upper switchback so that tourists would have a very excellent view of the Peak.  However, because of the steepness of the slope in that location, there was no easy way to build a turnaround for the large touring cars to continue uphill to the Park itself.  The solution was the installation of a turntable.  The vehicle was driven onto this device, the passengers and driver would get out, view Pikes Peak, and then push to rotate the car 180 degrees.  They would then continue their tour.  The turntable was abandoned at some point in time and the road reconfigured so that vehicles could make a turn before the Pikes Peak viewing point and continue uphill.  In 2003, it was rebuilt and installed at a different location as a historical exhibit. Evidence remains of the original site, but because of tree growth, there is no real view of the Peak from there.

Below is the "information board" located at the restored turntable.
Over the years there has been lots of speculation about whether or not there were additional turntables on the Auto Road.  Diligent research has failed to find any evidence or even a single contemporary reference to more than one.

The following is from "The Military Surgeon" from the Journal of Association of the Military Surgeons of the U.S. - 1913:

 Leaving Denver in the morning by train, the party was met at Colorado Springs by the committee of Colorado physicians and taken to the Antlers Hotel, where were in waiting the autos which took the party through Colorado Springs, through Colorado City, over the road to Manitou, and then along the private auto road of the Crystal Park Company. The Crystal Park Road is a wonderful scenic mountain roadway, having a succession of loops and switchbacks, and at one point a turntable. In this thirty-mile ride there is an ascent of more than 2,500 feet, the elevation at the highest point being more than 8,500 feet above sea level.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Scenic Wonder Trip of the World

When it started in 1910, the Crystal Park Auto Road was billed as the "Scenic Wonder Trip of the World" in a flight of hyperbole by it's creators, typical of the times.  Below is a photo of the company's ticket office (exact location undetermined). As always on this blog, click on the photos to enlarge.

Complimentary passes were issued to important people that could steer others to the attraction.  Below are passes that were issued to a Mr. A.R. Stith of the Denver & Salt Lake RR, and his wife.  The "T.P.A." after his name stands for "Traveling Passenger Agent", so evidently they were hoping he would book tourists on his railroad's trains to take the Crystal Park trip.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Here are some additional Tour Group photos.  If you want to see more, look back at earlier posts.  Click on the photos to enlarge.