Behind the Springs: Princess Alice

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Jen Schreuder, Ted Skroback, Mayor Suthers, Matt Mayberry sitting around a very small table in a tiny recording booth.

Left to Right: Mayor John Suthers, Jen Schreuder, Ted Skroback, Matt Mayberry

In this episode of our Behind the Springs podcast, Mayor John Suthers and Cultural Services Director Matt Mayberry talk about the history of Colorado Springs, which includes a unique zoo with Princess Alice as the headliner. The Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) celebration for Colorado Springs is two years away, so what’s in the works for the big party?

Related Links


entrance to soological park founded by Bath House John

Bath House John's zoo.


Jen: (00:00)
Behind the springs. Mostly we just want people to meet everyone from our mayor who has agreed to go on the show.

Ted: (00:06)
Unbelievable. By the way, I mean, what a victory that you pulled out for us. It was the biggest upset I've ever seen. We thought by episode eight nine maybe

Jen: (00:14)
we'd be begging mayor Suthers, but he's gonna. He's gonna do it. An inside. Look at your local government.

Ted: (00:20)
He's chomping at the bit to get on this show. Like most people probably

Jen: (00:23)
we are. This is going to be great.

Theme: (00:28)
Colorado Springs, nearly 500,000 people, Olympic City, USA, garden of the gods, pikes peak. It's a growing city. Our local government has a lot of employees. What it's definitely do they do? How does it impact my life? This is where you find out behind the springs and inside. Look at your local government.

Jen: (00:53)
Word of the day is sesquicentennial. What does it mean for our city? Well, first of all, ed, what does it mean?

Ted: (01:00)
We'll let you know and hear from two people with great stories about Colorado Springs that you've likely never heard.

Jen: (01:07)
One of those People runs our amazing Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Matt Mayberry. [inaudible]

Ted: (01:17)
and the other is Colorado Springs. Mayor John Suthers. No intro needed obviously. But mayor, thank you so much for being here as well as Matt Mayberry, I know you guys have plenty of other things to do then than waste a good half an hour with us. So we appreciate you guys coming in to talk about hopefully both of your favorite subjects, the history of Colorado Springs.

Matt: (01:39)
It's a great topic

Jen: (01:40)
and we want to start, um, mayor, we'll start with you and if you don't mind us first asking both of you, I know you're both history buffs, um, and, and love. I have a deep love for history. Can you tell us why? What got you interested?

Mayor Suthers: (01:53)
I had some good history teachers in a grade school in high school and one of them, um, convince me, uh, how important history was. You know, it's sold as kind of this dry thing and so many people think of it is so dry. But, um, this teacher made you understand that you can't understand the present without understanding the past and what's happening in the present is shaping the future. Uh, and made history a lot more relevant in, in that regard. Do you remember how old you were? Uh, I think I really clicked in, in high school and understood how important it was, uh, not to, to understand history so that you don't make the same mistakes that have been made before, which we tend to do as a society. And, uh, uh, I just became to understand that, uh, history is very important.

Jen: (02:53)
And Matt, how about you? Same thing, right? You had a great team.

Matt: (02:56)
Similar thing. Yeah. I had a teacher that changed my life, um, and helped me understand not only that history is important and you can learn from it. It's also fun. Um, and so really engaging around history. Also, I had a grandmother who was person of the depression, kept everything in their basement and it was always like a treasure hunt. Anytime she'd just let me kind of rummage through and, and find evidence of our past.

Jen: (03:21)
Even before you realized what you were doing. Yeah. Right, right. Yup. Yeah. Oh, that's great.

Ted: (03:25)
Well, and how do you turn your love for history into the job that you've had? Now for, what'd you say? About 25 years?

Jen: (03:31)
Well, 25 years with the city. Right. And then 17 years heading our Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, which let me put a plug in if you haven't been, it's a great place to visit.

Ted: (03:40)
Yeah. The best free museum around.

Jen: (03:42)
Yes. Um, well I did, I grew up in a small town without museums. Um, some museums weren't part of my life growing up. Um, we had a small kind of community volunteer run museum, but um, went to college history major. You're thinking I would teach, cause I didn't know what else you could do with a history major. Um, had a chance to go do an internship at a museum. It got in my blood and I couldn't get out of it. So I've been in the field for longer than I care to admit.

Jen: (04:12)
That was going to be my question for you, mayor too. Do you feel that, that you've used history in your political career and your career as an attorney? I mean, do you feel like it's, it's been there? Um, I mean, you talk about it a lot as mayor as, as an important thing to really keep in mind as you move forward.

Mayor Suthers: (04:26)
Well, history is a big part of what I do and how all my speeches, my state of the cities always have some history in it. But I do have a funny story that tells you that you can go too far. Um, I was at a meeting when I was attorney general and I had all my important staff around me. We'd been debating this thing for a long time. And finally I said, folks, it's time to cross the Rubicon. And I looked up at these highly intelligent people. These are all lawyers. Okay. And they look back at me like, what the heck is he talking about? Uh, you gotta be a Roman history scholar to understand that. Uh, that's what Cesar said, you know, when it was time to, uh, you know, uh, basically dump the republic. Uh, unfortunately, uh, he said it's time to cross the Rubicon. And that's kind of a statement. But I find when I use some of those historical phrases, not everybody's I'm around is quite so uh, involved in history as I am.

Jen: (05:29)
Right. That's okay. You don't have to be quite at up to these guys level to,

Ted: (05:33)
well can that be a problem in 2019 and this will be to you Matt, are you seeing a, the younger generations, do they not care as much about history or are you seeing more people coming into pioneers museum that are looking for, for good tidbits to bring back to their family?

Matt: (05:49)
We've had record setting visitation at the museum for the past number of years. So yes, we see people have an interest in it and want to learn about the past, but unfortunately we also hear a lot about colleges are really having trouble getting people interested in history programs that there's the academic side, the, the, the formal education side of history I think is struggling with the cost of education and other things that are creating challenges in, I think it's a concern for us. That's why we think it's so important to engage the public about history because they may not be getting it anywhere else. And I think

Mayor Suthers: (06:29)
if I can say so, I think our teachers, uh, you really need good history teachers, uh, that will have the ability to show how important it is. You can understand the United States without understanding the civil war. Uh, you can't understand the world today without understanding World War Two. Uh, as David McCullough says, uh, and I quote him often, uh, you have to understand that there's nothing inevitable about history. Um, it wasn't inevitable that the, uh, United States would win the revolutionary war. It wasn't inevitable to the allies would win World War II. And when you think about history in those terms and how it's shaped where we are today, it becomes a heck of a lot more interesting.

Jen: (07:13)
Yeah, it sure does. And I was going to say another way that Matt and his crew make it more interesting is you have adapted and made a lot of your exhibits interactive. There's so much online that people can get involved with. And that's important to our younger generation. To everyone.

Matt: (07:26)
It's our job to meet people where they are and to use learning techniques that people are comfortable with. And so museums adapt over time, at least if they're successful, they need to adapt over time. So using technology and, and interactive content and things like that are just part and parcel of what we do well.

Ted: (07:44)
And going back to what mayor said, uh, look what happened to you. Two, two great history teachers that got you guys into loving history and sharing that with us all. And speaking of sharing it with us all coming up here in two years, we have a pretty big birthday for the city. Um, mayor, you said that you really like to kind of put some historical touches on maybe speeches or other things that you're saying. What can we expect on Wednesday, uh, when you, when you come out and, and, and talk to the city.

Mayor: (08:14)
Well, we're going along such a, the two year preparation period for the sesquicentennial, which will culminate on July 31st, 2021 and a we're going to do it in fine fashion. Um, I'm gonna take the part of General Cameron. Um, turns out on July 31st, 1871, a William Palmer was out of town, so he got one of his friends and business associates General Cameron to, uh, give the speech at the time. The first stake was driven at the founding of Colorado Springs and he gave a speech that I just find incredibly interesting, incredibly visionary in terms of what would happen to this city. And when you think that he gave it when there was, you know, maybe a few little, uh, um, wood shacks in the background and virtually no trees and site. It's pretty visionary. Uh, so I think that will be fun. One,

Ted: (09:11)
I'll listen to it in a couple of days here, but don't spoil it too much. But can you hit on some of maybe his visions that came true for the city? Well, first of all, he pointed out what the strengths of the area were and he was dead on, you know, he talked about this is going to be a health Mecca. And that was the early part of Colorado Springs history. Uh, the dry climate, of course, the scenery. He says, look, Switzerland's got nothing on us. Look at that, uh, Pike's peak. And, uh, he said it's gonna. I mean, think about it. He says it's going to be a place where poets and are going to want to come. He didn't know who Katherine Lead Bates was. Right. You know, uh, and it really is amazing. And then I think they probably did have a sense that they were going to build a, a pre fancy hotel across the street. But he said, you know, in future years what we're going to be sitting in this splendid place looking at all the wealth that we've, uh, built around us. And sure enough, that's essentially what we do every day. And it's, um, it was incredibly foresightful.

Ted: (10:15)
Well, I'm talking about a, that this is a healthy community. Uh, I want to turn it over to Matt. Now. Is it true that this was once marketed as a germ free environment, which I think as you know, being in communication, somewhat marketing, that might be the best thing that I've ever heard the DePaul now. But is that, is that a true marketing ploy that was used? It was, we have the actual advertisement that was, uh, developed and, and distributed by the Chamber of Commerce, um, for Colorado Springs and it like, I don't remember off the top of my head the exact phrase, but that, uh, uh, Colorado Springs is, uh, is in an environment that is absolutely a septic and free from all germ life. Um, so what happened two weeks later when somebody caught a cold? That's what I wanna know. Why, why the people on the east coast? It, yeah, if you're on the east and you're trying to move west, you didn't know people were getting sick out here. You're still coming forward. Didn't travel fast. Well,

Jen: (11:12)
certainly our a health Mecca in such a, um, I mean, so, so many of those visions did come true, which is really cool. We want to take a short break and come back and further defined sesquicentennial, which by the way means 150th.

Ted: (11:24)
Yeah. We should, uh, should have hit ourselves with the, uh, where is it, the, that's the acronym alarm, which I guess could have come in handy for saying sesquicentennial confusing

Jen: (11:35)
for some folks. But, and talk a little bit more about why are we doing the two year countdown. What's the purpose of doing kind of a countdown period and we have specific reasons for that and a lot of them involve you, the public,

Theme: (11:47)
you're loving this podcast, right? Of course you are. And what are you waiting for? Follow us on social media at cityo Cos and check out our website, Colorado

Ted: (11:59)
friend of the show, Vanessa zinc promoting our social media platforms. You can also follow the Colorado spring city council at Cos city council as well on all those major social media platforms. Now when we left off, we were talking about the sesquicentennial and a lot of people probably don't know outside of the city, don't know what sesquicentennial is. So, uh, I'm going to throw it to either of you guys and if you want to start off by saying sesquicentennial five times fast, we, you know, we're not against that either, but, but I'll let you guys choose which one of you would like to explain what sesquicentennial is. Well, I took Latin

Mayor Suthers: (12:34)
and then high school and I had a good Latin teacher as well as a good history teacher. So I know that sesquicentennial means 150 years and that's what we're celebrating in 20, 2,150 years since the founding of Colorado Springs. For me, it's a celebration and an opportunity to, uh, introspectively look at the future. We're celebrating the past, the incredible vision of so many people that brought us to where we are, but we're also as a community thinking about where do we want to go. And I think it can be a great opportunity to do both

Ted: (13:12)
well. And uh, we have a two year lead up here. So talk about the importance of what this two year leadup is all about and maybe some of the things that we can be looking forward to in the next couple

Mayor Suthers: (13:21)
four yours. Well, Matt is the chairman of the sesquicentennial committee. Uh, and I've tasked a this committee to come up with a bunch of fun things and educational things. Um, what I want. Uh, I'm hoping that our citizens will learn a lot about the history of Colorado springs come to appreciate the vision that got us here. And, and as I've talked about earlier, you got to understand the history to formulate your vision for the future

Jen: (13:50)
and not too early to get involved, right. Matt.

Matt: (13:51)
what we want to do is we want to encourage the public community organizations, companies to find a way to come up with a meaningful way to participate in this activity. For instance, the Adam man club, people may or may not know this. They climbed the, uh, the mountain pikes peak. Um, every new year's Eve, they should fire off, um, fireworks at the stroke of midnight to celebrate the New Year. I've been doing it since almost a hundred years now. Um, the, and, uh, at the end of 2020, they will be dedicating that climb to the sesquicentennial and helping us really kick off the actual sesquicentennial year. That's one way for people to get involved. Um, later this year in September, the museum is opening the first of three major new exhibits about the history of the community. We will be, um, unveiling for people to see, um, Palmer artifacts that were excavated as part of his trash site in what is now garden of the Gods Park. Wonderful way for us to explore the history of Palmer, learn new things about him. And again, to engage in with this individual whose vision this city was, um,

Mayor Suthers: (15:07)
and has put together a reading list. Um, and this week we'll unveil that and the citizens will have a reading list that they can look at and spend a lot of the next two years reading about the history of our springs.

Jen: (15:19)
And speaking of the history, I was gonna say, would you all, would you both mind sharing, you know, a little tidbit or a favorite story that you have from our past?

Ted: (15:27)
Something Fun. This is supposed to be a fun podcast, which obviously you guys are having a lot of fun with us. I can tell I'm so something funny, a interesting, a tidbit that the listeners can take back with them.

Matt: (15:39)
One of my favorite because um, we have a newspaper from essentially the very beginning of Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs was well documented because we had general Palmer who was interested in, in writing down his thoughts about our past. Um, we know a little bit about what was going on at the time. Um, one of my favorite stories is that Palmer was kind of laughed at when he decided to create Colorado Springs by some of his peers, people who were creating similar towns at the time, such as Greeley. Um, Palmer actually stole General Cameron from Greeley who he was working up there helping to create that town. Um, and some of the, the founders of Greeley came down and looked at this site and there's little water, you know, there's not much other than the mountain to speak of for, for this site. And so they kind of poopooed this idea in 25 years later, Palmer wrote a long interesting, a retrospective about the founding of the town. And you know, he's kind of laying it out there that, well, they made a mistake with this diminishing the idea of what Colorado Springs could become. And of course, Palmer's vision was to make Colorado Springs the finest place in the west to build a home. And that was his stated vision for Colorado Springs. And then of course, now we're celebrating that Colorado Springs is one of the, is the most desirable place in the United States to live. So we're still following that vision.

Mayor Suthers: (17:07)
One of my favorite stories, uh, evolves from the fact that not everybody that was attracted early Colorado Springs was the most morally upright, uh, type of incident. Say, I know you're shocked by that. There was a guy by the name of a bathhouse, John Cauflin, who was an Alderman in Chicago for 40 years, got elected in 1898 and left office of via death at 1938, 1938. And, uh, he is reputed to be the most corrupt politician in the history of Chicago, which is saying something, uh, that's not us low bar. Uh, and the, what he was graft and corruption and would shake down all the businesses and the, uh, bars and, uh, brothels and all that sort of thing. And, uh, he shows up in car. He came out here in the summertime, really liked the place, and he shows up the next summer with a tin box with $88,000 in it, in cash. That was a lot of money in 1900 and 1902 and a. So all the bankers immediately took to him and all that sort of thing. Uh, so basically what he did is he'd funnel all his, uh, ill gotten proceeds from Chicago, uh, and not just proceeds. So, for example, he convinced the is a fellow Alderman that two elephants was too many for the city of Chicago, of course, for one there. And so he brought the other one, uh, uh, Princess Alice, uh, out to the zoo that he created at the corner of what's now eighth street and Cheyenne Boulevard. And it was quite a zoological park. He pumped a lot of money into that place. Alice was particularly famous cause I think she drank a quart of whiskey a day or something like that. And um, so this went on for quite a while. He built a fabulous house here. Uh, and the zoo was quite popular, a stratton and made sure that it was a stop on his, uh, trolley system and all that sort of thing until the reform movement started hitting and graft and corruption wasn't quite as productive. And then what really, uh, ruined a bathhouse. John Cauflin was prohibition and, uh, basically he, uh, died, uh, uh, broke. Uh, but he sure contributed a lot of color to the early days of Colorado Springs. Apparently he was a flamboyant dresser, quite the ladies, man. And, uh, it would have been interesting to see, uh, John Cauflin in the summertime walking the streets of Colorado Springs.

Ted: (19:44)
Well, maybe a for the sesquicentennial, you can dress up like him and

Mayor Suthers: (19:48)
probably wouldn't be good.

Ted: (19:49)
We'll get your princess Alice as well. And

Jen: (19:51)
the lesser known characters of Colorado Springs as well.

Ted: (19:55)
And the, would that technically be the first zoo of Colorado Springs?

Mayor Suthers: (19:58)
I think that's correct. Yeah. Yeah, that's correct.

Jen: (20:01)
People think it's always been Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, not the case.

Ted: (20:04)
Well, and obviously the history, and we talked about it a little bit on the last episode because this first month is just going to be about parks. I'm also part of Colorado Springs history. A huge part of it is parks and coming up here, we did talk a little bit with Karen from Parks Department last week about, uh, about maybe a tabor a question here on the ballot coming up. So talk to us about what that would do for some of our historical parks.

Mayor Suthers: (20:29)
You Bet. In 2018 the city took in 18, I'm sorry, took in $7 million more than we were allowed under the tabor growth cap. That money will be refunded to tax payers at a $30 per household. So depending on the size of the household could be pretty minuscule per person. Um, but we're going to offer an opportunity, uh, to allow the city to retain it and invest it in our parks with particular attention to our Palmer legacy parks. Uh, which our w which parks are those for people that don't know a lot of our downtown parks, Acacia, uh, Alamo, which is, uh, the pioneer, a park, uh, antlers parked behind that. And of course, Monument Valley Park. And of course the other Palmer legacy park is Palmer Park. Uh, we'd spend about half of it in the palm or legacy parks and others in other parks around all around town that need quite a bit of work. The fact of the matter is, will the city has really recovered well in public works and uh, uh, police and fire and things from the recession. Our parks budget is actually general fund budget is less than it was pre recession. And we have, uh, somewhat estimated as much as $100 million in, uh, parks capital, uh, needs. Uh, and I would love it if we were able to, as part of the sesquicentennial celebration to convince the voters to allow us to keep 7 million and invested in the Palmer legacy parks. We could do some tremendous things with, for example, Monument Valley restore the ponds, uh, the, the historical pavilion there to bring it to the grand jury. And particularly with so many more people now living downtown, I think that could be, uh, extremely, uh, impressive. Uh, so, uh, that's what we're talking about and we'll be talking to the voters quite a bit about it the next couple of months.

Jen: (22:28)
And I was going to mention, and Matt, maybe you can expand on this, that, um, those plans are not in stone yet. We're in the middle of a master planA plan for the development of a portion of the city that contains proposed land uses, a generalized transportation system, and the relationship of the area included in the plan to surrounding property. process, which means we want the public's input on what do they want to see at Acacia or Alamo or some of those parks.

Matt: (22:40)
Correct. We're doing the historic parks master plan right now with the three downtown, the triple a parks, we call them Alamo Square antlers and Acacia Park. Um, and because they are Palmer legacy parks, we're looking at them together. Uh, the master plan is underway now. There will be a public input, um, opportunity for, uh, members of the public over the next two months for them to tell us what, um, what they would like to see in these parks. And we will use that information if the, uh, citizens allow us to retain these TABOR dollars, um, to make the parks all the better.

Mayor Suthers: (23:16)
But we'd also be talking about parks like a Cottonwood Creek, uh, artificial turf out there. We'd talk about the new Coleman Park, a panorama park down in the southeast. Uh, we've got a lot of thorndale and boulder. We've got some, uh, uh, courts that haven't been operational and years and years and years. So, uh, it will benefit the entire community.

Ted: (23:40)
Yeah. And especially some of those neighborhood parks that you're naming there. And thank God as some improvements could be happening in your backyard. Um,

Mayor Suthers: (23:48)
and trails by the way, uh, for trails including the legacy loop, homestead trail, uh, and a couple others that meet needed a lot of work,

Ted: (23:56)
which is another obviously a big pull to Colorado Springs. Everybody's going on parks and trails and we're talking to Scott Abbott last week about that as well and getting some more of those rangers out there too. And I think a lot of people might not know that cultural services sits under parks pioneers museum. And what you do there is, is part of parks. Um, I also want to ask you, cause you brought up the uh, parks master plan. You're working on another master plan right now and trying to get some input. So I wanted to give you a few moments here to quickly plug what you're doing for public art as well.

Matt: (24:28)
We are working on a public art master plan right now, asking the public, uh, help us to develop a roadmap for the future of public art in Colorado Springs. We have 99 pieces of sculpture that belonged to the city of Colorado Springs. Uh, all, all of those have come through donation. We're now thinking about what can public art look like as we move forward. And we want the public to give us some, uh, some insight. So there are, there's a way for the public participate in a, um, a questionnaire, a survey that will help us to develop our ideas and we can find that on the city's website. Yep. Perfect. Yeah.

Ted: (25:07)
Look up public art master plan and a, and take that survey. And then the other thing I wanted to touch on, we've been talking so much about the history moving forward into the future, uh, working on a new summit complex, um, at the top of Pike's peak. There's also something launching if you're listening to this podcast as it's launching at this week. Um, talk about the my mountain campaign and, and community credit unions.

Mayor Suthers: (25:31)
The summit complex is a $60 million, uh, construction project. About 45 is that is raised through the city enterprise. Um, America's mountain Pike's peak America's mountain. It gets no taxpayer dollars. It's a center, a city enterprise. We charge people to go up the road. That's how we maintain the highway. Are Building this a summit house that takes care of about 45 million to the 60 million. We've got to raise 15. I'm pleased to say we've raised eight. We need to raise another seven. We're just now moving into the general public campaign. We've hit up most of the rich folks now we're hitting up everybody. Okay. And, uh, one of the, we're going to, uh, Ent uh, credit unions can help us by having a places you can donate a couple bucks and all of their facilities. Uh, and we hope that we'll get a lot of response to that. Uh, cause you know, Pike's peak is part of who we are. Uh, anybody who's lived here for any length of time probably has some sort of attachment. I can remember freezing my butt off. I can up when I was a little kid and camping under, um, picnic tables so I could watch the race the next day.

Jen: (26:39)
We've been interviewing a couple of people about their special connections. The mountain, one of them has Don Sanborn whose parents homesteaded on the west side of Pike's peak. His Dad was superintendent of the highway and started the ski club back in the 30s, and um, literally grew up on the mountain and has a fascinating story. We'll be sharing that on some of our social media. We also interviewed Ling Lee who has submitted a 105 times since 2011 so she does it once a month and she's training for, you know, larger endeavors like, um, Kilimanjaro and different, um, uh, big climbs that she does is she travels the world, but she loves that she has this training ground right in her backyard. And even if you just love to sit out on your porch and enjoy the view, I think it's your mountain.

Ted: (27:20)
Yeah. And this is, it sounds like the perfect way for anybody to give back. Like you said, everyone's connected to this mountain in some way. Um, my first story isn't as great. I just was struggling to breathe there, but, but I did make it back down and maybe I'll open up a, an oxygen facility out there, something.

Mayor Suthers: (27:39)
Uh, we just want to make that 45 minutes that you can survive up there as pleasant as possible.

Ted: (27:45)
Get a donut and get on out of there. And so, uh, well both for being here with us. Yeah. And I kept joking, you know, we're gonna have the mayor on episode two. Gosh, I hope we make it to episode three. So do we have our blessing, your blessing to continue with this podcast?

Mayor Suthers: (28:00)
I may have to listen to it one time before I make that decision.

Ted: (28:04)
Okay. Well, we're going to hope to see everybody for episode three, which we've been been setting up with our, uh, our road crews. We're going to be talking a little bit about two c and a and some of the future improvements that you'll see here in Colorado Springs. And, uh, for now, Jen, you want to, you want to sign us off?

Jen: (28:22)
Thanks for tuning in. We hope we'll see you next time.

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