If you’ve ever visited Colorado Springs, you may have a straightforward question – where are the springs? Most questions are quickly answered with a search engine, but this one isn’t. Instead of turning to Google or Bing to find the answer, you need to turn to the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. According to the experts at the museum, Colorado Spring, not Springs, would have been a more accurate fit.
“People say well there are no springs in Colorado Springs,” said Leah Davis Witherow, the curator of history at the Pioneers Museum. “We say well there are. There’s one.”
The city’s moniker came from its founding by General William Jackson Palmer, Dr. William Bell, and the Colorado Springs Company in 1871. Nearby Manitou Springs was founded a year later and keeping Springs in the name of both cities made sense at the time. At this point, there was still no natural spring in Colorado Springs. Residents of the community noted the mistaken identity, and it became somewhat of a joke to residents and visitors until 1880 when a local doctor located a bubbling stream on the west bank of Monument Creek.
The town was pleased with avoiding the punchline and celebrated the newfound spring – there was even a write up in the local Gazette about the spring and its discovery. Though the original article has been lost to time, local historians believe it said something to the effect of the locals can rid themselves about tiresome jokes about the springless springs – we finally have our own spring.
The spring became a local hot-spot with some residents using it as their primary source of drinking water. Years later a pavilion was added around the area for tourists and residents alike. Unfortunately, the pavilion was damaged in the Memorial Day Flood of 1935 and altogether destroyed by a second flood in 1965.
The current spot where the pavilion stood is more of an eyesore than a historical area. A simple rock cairn marks the spring. It’s not all bad news for the Spring’s spring. The Historic Preservation Alliance of Colorado Springs wants to rebuild the pavilion, so residents can enjoy the famous spring again. Despite not being rich in them, Colorado Springs does have a spring – you just have to look for it.