‘Prospector’ presides over Westside
He’s called “The Prospector,” and he and his equally bronzed burro have been gazing at the mountains from the northwest corner of
21st Street and Highway 24 since 1999.
The sculpture, which has come to symbolize the pioneering spirit of Old Colorado City (and now this newspaper) was the creation of widely known bronze artist Cloyd Barnes of Centennial, Colo.
The sculpture was the brainchild in 1993 of the late George Fisher, a Colorado Springs resident who himself was a prospector. “He had a mineral mine in South Park, with specimens in museums,” according to Jack Patterson, a retired engineer and historian who lives in Kissing Camels. “He’d box them up in his backyard.”
Barnes developed a design – based on Fisher’s concept – that won the favor of the Pikes Peak Arts Commission.
In February 1997, Patterson joined Fisher in creating a non-profit foundation to raise the roughly $120,000 required to get the work done. The fund-raising was necessary because the City of Colorado Springs had requested proposals for a sculpture at the site, but only had money to pay for site preparation, not the sculpture itself.
It wasn’t that Barnes demanded such a huge fee, but that the making of large bronze sculptures is very “labor-intensive,” Barnes said in a phone interview with the Westside Pioneer. A lengthy foundry process is needed just to cast the bronze pieces, which, on a sculpture the size of the Prospector, number about 50. These in turn must be welded together and treated to appear seamless.
Five people started the foundation, called Prospector Inc., each putting up $500 seed money to get the effort started, Patterson said. The biggest donation came from the El Pomar Foundation ($25,000). Also helping with the effort was sales of smaller versions of the statue (14 and 27 inches high), called maquetes.
“I didn’t think it was going to take three years,” Patterson said with a laugh. But he has no regrets. “It’s a symbol for the beginning of the city of Colorado Springs,” he said, “because the prospector is really responsible for everything that’s here now. The original Colorado City guys were selling equipment for prospectors.”
Barnes said he was happy with the final product. “It turned out great,” he said.
He did research to make the sculpture authentic – for instance, the rope that ties the pack on is a diamond-hitch loop. “A man who does pack trips showed me how to do that,” Barnes said. The rifle is a “Winchester of that era,” which the sculptor initially shaped in pine.
Westside Pioneer article