Peak Past: Sesquice…what? Celebrating 150 Years Of What Makes Colorado Springs Colorado Springs

*Note: This audio essay first aired on KRCC (Colorado Springs’ NPR affiliate, 91.5 FM) on February 25, 2021. The link to the program is here; the audio file and the text from the essay are below.

It’s the hardest word to say, but one we’re all going to have to embrace this year…sesquicentennial.

It marks the completion of 150 years, which is the precise age the city of Colorado Springs turns this summer on July 31st. 

Normally cities don’t have birth stories, but we know that the first stake went into the ground on what was then called “Fountain Colony” on July 31, 1871. William Jackson Palmer estimated there were only “perhaps 40 to 50 people” then in a city that now approaches half a million. 

This birth story is merely the Big Bang that awaits as you walk into the COS@150 exhibit at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. From then on, you’re treated to all the stuff that makes Colorado Springs Colorado Springs.

There’s an alligator bag someone used to get here by train, a picture of former president Richard Nixon and Dr. Henry Kissinger on a Cold War visit to NORAD, and a tape-editing kit from our very own KRCC, which first took to the air seven decades ago in 1951.

Think about it for a moment. What makes you, you? It’s your choices, the details. Do you drink Coke or Pepsi, coffee or tea, wine or beer? Do you prefer blue or green, snow or sun, mountains or sea?

Each choice accumulates over time like the grooves in a fingerprint, and the COS@150 exhibit has our community’s fingerprint all over it.

And it’s still growing. 

As you leave COS@150, a sign asks: “What stories will fill the next 150 years? What will your contribution be?”

Good question. 

Until our next mountainside chat—be good, be well, and no matter what, climb on.

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