COBWEB CORNERS: Not an anniversary to forget

By Mel McFarland

       I recently discovered we have an anniversary coming that is quite significant. It is about as important as the Pike celebrations last year. There is an odd twist to it, and that sort of thing always catches my interest. There is a large chunk of land at our back door that was given to one of our neighbors 100 years ago.
       The piece of land was purchased in 1879 by a friend of General Palmer, and because of that it wound up as a gift to the City of Colorado Springs, not Colorado City. The 480 acres that make up most of the present day Garden of the Gods was purchased originally by Charles E. Perkins of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad. Perkins and Palmer had known each other for many years, and Palmer had shown Perkins the area in the very early days of Colorado Springs. It was his wish that the Garden be preserved much as it had been before the earliest settlement.
       But it was not until Perkins' death that his family made public his intention to preserve the area as a public park. In 1908 the donation was brought into the public eye, with a stipulation. The citizens of Colorado Springs had to agree with the desire to have, and maintain, the area as a park. The decision had to be made before 1911. It is hard to believe that anyone might say no to the proposition, but some did. There were problems with access, requiring the purchase of a number of small, adjoining parcels. One of these included the Balanced Rock. It had been privately owned and was well used as a money making business. At one point it was even surrounded by a fence that blocked its view unless you paid for admittance. Eventually, all the needed parcels were added to the Garden of the Gods.
       There is a large bronze panel on Kissing Camels rock, at the Gateway formation, that tells about the gift. The years 2007 and 2008 actually mark the Centennial of the gift to the city. There is a stipulation in the gift that if the city loses interest in maintaining it, the area goes back to the Perkins family.