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COBWEB CORNERS: Early car camping and Stonewall Park

By Mel McFarland

       In the time after World War I, the tourists coming here were doing much of it in their own automobiles. Two were built, and opened in 1922. The most obvious was Stonewall Park, later Stonewall Court, northwest of Adams Crossing (where Colorado Avenue crosses Fountain Creek at Columbia Road).
       Stonewall Park was the first large organized campground west of Colorado City. There were several informal spots along the "Manitou Road" that we know as Colorado Avenue. I have written about this before.
       I.M. Johnson bought the open land between Adams Crossing and the Manitou city limits in 1921. In the winter he built 39 one-room cottages. The plan was to have 80 in all, some with more rooms, and a common shower/restroom facility. His cottages were mainly for sleeping. A kitchen would serve as a dining area too. Electric lights were provided. A free area for camping was also in the plans. The park's cafeteria opened just before summer 1922. Plans for a garage, where minor repairs and services could be done to vehicles, were still being worked out.
       Advertising was as far east as Hutchison, Kansas. The area has now been in operation as a campground for almost a century, and a major portion of the stonewall has survived in what's now the Garden of the Gods RV Resort, but most of the original cottages are gone (some replaced by modern versions that are similar in size and type). The old central building with the "facilities" and the one time cafeteria burned around 1961.
       The second of these cottage camps was at the west end of Manitou, across from the Ute Chief Bottling works. Ten cottages, with two or three rooms each, were available. More cottages were in Mrs. A. Schueler's plans. The land was on the side of the hill, which made the locations of the cottages quite interesting. There are a few remnants of the camp, but the cottages are gone. Today this is just east of where the zipline attraction is located across from the Ute Chief mineral spring.
       Also in 1922, Colorado Springs was still trying to sort out the problem at Mushroom Park, better known as Balanced Rock Park, and the owners, the Goerke family. The rock was fenced in 1922, and you had to pay to see it. Colorado Springs constructed Ridge Road entrance to Garden of the Gods, to let people avoid having to pay to go by Balanced Rock.

(Posted 4/13/14; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

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