COBWEB CORNERS: The second-most-asked-about mountain
By Mel McFarland
Up on the cog railroad, the mountain I get asked about most, after Pike's Peak, is Cheyenne Mountain. Tourists, if you have not already figured it out, are my favorite entertainment. When they ask about Cheyenne Mountain, most assume its location is a secret. Others assume it is a big mountain. I even get asked if NORAD is under Pike's Peak! From the famous mountain's summit we look way down to Cheyenne Mountain, and for only a short time can you see it as you ride the train.
Years ago I told of the legend attributed to the Indians of this area, as told to the early residents. There was sort of a local Noah who took a great cornstalk and fashioned a very large canoe. When the canoe was ready and the rains came, "Noah" and his wife traveled over the water collecting animals they found floating in the flood. Soon they had collected animals of the entire animal kingdom. The canoe, which had become large and heavy, landed on top of a great mountain. The Spirit of the Earth, out of compassion, sent the Lizard Dragon to drink the waters of the flood. As he drank, he grew larger and larger, and the land became dry. Fearing the dragon would drink all the waters, the Great Spirit called him to return. When the dragon attempted to fly, his little wings would not hold his huge mass, and he crashed back to earth, in a great fall. From the great animal flowed blood and water, enriching the land, but leaving red stains on the rocks. The outline of the great monster is plainly visible to anyone on the plains, even its horny spine and long flat nose pointed north. The Indians called this the Mountain of the Dragon. To us, it is Cheyenne Mountain.
On the side of Cheyenne Mountain, you can make out a former road to the top. Built in the 1920s, it went to a hotel on the summit, owned by the Broadmoor Hotel. The mountaintop hotel was closed in the 1960s, and the Flood of 1965 damaged the road so much that it too was closed. Today more people are familiar with Cheyenne Mountain's many broadcast towers for radio, television and telephones on the summit. NORAD really is not a secret, but it is fun telling about it to tourists who think it is!