Colorado Springs — It isn’t what you think it is
I came to Colorado Springs in 1994 to visit a friend from college and immediately fell in love with the place.
I was here for 7 days and during the visit, I changed my car registration and license. This was going to be my new home state and city. My husband and I had just started dating, and I hoped that he would be willing to come along with me.
Sure, there is Focus on the Family here and there is a lot of military here. Heck, we have four military bases. But that doesn’t make up the entire city. We have a city of half a million people in El Paso county. That is half the population of Denver. These two cities make up nearly half of the population of the entire state. Yet, it is still considered a small town.
What I find in this city is a city full of diverse people who, when you take the time to get to know them, are full of color and depth. The city has people who are evangelical and people who are pagan... Conservative, and Liberal. That is what makes this city so wonderful. We don’t fit into just one mould.
When we first got here, we had no job and no place to live, yet we were able to couch-surf on in a friend’s apartment. Their landlord was willing to take us on with just first and last month’s rent and we were able to get jobs quickly enough that we could stay. We slept on sofa cushions for months until we could afford a real mattress.
I read the local magazine The Independent and found out about local community groups and went to their meetings. This is how I met several people who were connected locally. I met Chris who was one of the board members for Earth Sprit Pagans. I met some amazing and loving people through this group. I also met many amazing people in town because of these connections.
One person I met was a business owner, Ty. He is so very interesting. He spent the last nearly 40 years here in Colorado Springs and he was, and still is, very dialed into the community. When he sold off his business a few years ago, he started helping others with their businesses, studying to become a chef, and investing in new ventures. Ty is so full of energy. Even in the dead of winter I have never seen him out of shorts. He keeps moving and trying new things, I can only hope for half of that energy most days.
Colorado Springs has a most interesting history. In its early days it has two key elements of notoriety: tuberculosis and gold.
The climate in Colorado Springs is such that TB patients would rebound for a while. Therefore, Colorado Springs, and adjacent Manitou Springs, built TB asylums. In fact, Colorado Springs was Colorado City until people were flocking to Manitou Springs thanks to the healing waters of the natural springs, Colorado City renamed itself Colorado Springs to attract more people to the city, despite the lack of any springs actually being located within the city limits. Today, Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs are so close to one another they are practically one city these days. Except where it comes to city council and where the recreational marijuana sales occur.
In the gold rush days Colorado Springs was a hot bed of commerce and the city even had a smelting factory. There was even an underground train from the factory to the mining exchange in the center of the city to prevent the train from being robbed. In its hay-day the main strip of “Old Colorado City” had a “good” side of the street and a “seedy” side of the street and “gentlemen” didn’t want to be seen going into the seedy side so the owners dug tunnels under the street to allow for the commerce to happen but to avoid any embarrassing encounters with others.
My adopted home city is much more than a pretty face and an assumed attitude. It is a place that I love to live and a place where one can find those of similar ilk, if you are willing to look for them. If you live in a place you love. Get out and get to know the people in your city, get out there!