COBWEB CORNERS: Who was Ruxton?

By Mel McFarland

       In western Manitou Springs, Ruxton Creek comes down the east side of Pike's Peak from a place called Ruxton Park. In 1846, a young Eng-lish adventurer ventured into this area. He spent most of the winter camped near what is now Manitou. He made notes of the scenery, the excellent hunting and his narrow escapes from the Indians. This area was special to them, located between the plains Indians and the mountain Utes are the magical springs. Both groups traveled here, but neither claimed it as their own.
       The Englishman's name was George Ruxton. He eventually wrote a book on his travels. It is this book that recorded what we know of the legends around Manitou and the Garden of the Gods. He lived that winter largely alone, battling the elements. Thanks to a few traveling mountain men, he learned some survival skills. In his book, the men are described with great detail and color. He compared the men more to the resident Indians than to their civilized kin in the east. He eventually became known to some of the Indians. It was through this that he learned the legend of the springs at Manitou.
       Our English visitor also wrote a novel, "Life in the Far West," using his own experiences as well as those shared by the mountain men. In 1847, he returned to England, where he published more stories of the American West.
       After the founding of Colorado Springs in 1871, his name was given to the stream he had described in his books.
       Many of the early residents of this area came from England. A large number of them credited Ruxton with the idea of visiting the valleys below the great white mountain. In fact, until the turn of the 20th century, Colorado Springs was often referred to as "Little London" because of the large numbers of visitors and residents from England.
       The English were not the only early visitors. Others from Europe included French and Germans, Italians and Poles. Even Russians came to the Great Plains to settle. Many brought their skills to help the West grow and prosper.