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COBWEB CORNERS: The only 'real' grave at the Pikes Peak summit

By Mel McFarland

        I have told the fictional story of Erin O'Keefe, the little child supposedly eaten by rats on Pike's Peak in 1876, whose wooden headstone was on display at the summit for some 40 years.
       But there is one person who actually is buried there.
       Carl Lotave was an artist who lived in Colorado Springs in the early 1900s. He was from Sweden, but had moved to Lindsborg, Kansas, in the 1890s to teach painting. After visiting the Pike's Peak region to get inspiration for landscape paintings, he moved here in 1901.
       He painted numerous portraits of many world leaders, and did murals in New Mexico's statehouse. When he became ill after moving to New York following World War I, he looked for a final resting place.
       In 1924 Spencer Penrose owned the automobile road up Pike's Peak. Lotave knew Penrose and approached him with an idea. It was to start a special cemetery on the summit for creative people. It would be the highest burial ground in the United States.
       The plan was for a building to be constructed near the Summit House, where services would be conducted. A wall of stone from the mountain would have pockets for placement of the urns of the famous artists, writers, scientists and others.
       Lotave's urn containing his ashes was ready in January 1925, but official permission for the cemetery was not. In the end it was decided that there would not be a cemetery, but there would be one grave.
       Carl Lotave's marker can be found on the summit, if you know where to look. A plaque on a stone gives no clue that it is a grave marker. He is the only person buried on the top of the mountain. I have seen ashes scattered for others who wanted to be part of the mountain, but officially, it is not allowed.
       One of my co-worker's ashes were scattered on his favorite spot on the mountain, but that was on land owned by the railroad.

(Posted 9/2/14; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

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