COBWEB CORNERS: Local history with the Army

By Mel McFarland

       Do you know when the Army first came to this area? You might think of Camp Carson or Ent Air Force Base. A number of residents in the area can point to their service at Fort Carson for the reason they chose to settle and/or retire here.
       But the Army's first two missions in the area were years and years ago. The first assignments date back to the 1880s. A small detachment was located in the Pikes Peak region to acquire stock for the cavalry. Over the years, thousands of horses and mules were shipped to posts throughout the country by rail car. Many of these came in from the area's ranches, others from the mountains. One of the detachments was housed in the Broadmoor area. There were offices in Colorado City and Colorado Springs, but there were forts before Carson. These were built by families and were far from what we would see in a movie!
       One of the first forts was Pike's Stockade, built at Pueblo in 1806 for his men's short stay there. One was built of stone near the present county line between Pueblo and Fountain, and part of it still stands. Another is the famous house in Colorado City over on Pikes Peak Avenue in the 2700 block, but there were others.
       There were two up in Monument, on either side of I-25. One of these, west of town, is now the site of a housing development. The one east was owned for a time by my great-grandfather. It was torn down when Woodmoor was being developed.
       In the years after World War I, the Air Corps looked at establishing an air field here. For a short time, there was an airport near where Circle Drive meets I-25. Later, a spot near Sand Creek, east of Kelker, was considered. What is now Peterson Air Force Base was built in 1942 at a site called the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport. Colorado Springs had about seven different "airports" until the 1960s.
       Fort Carson actually dates from 1941, when the war in Europe was picking up speed. Camp Carson's name was acquired in 1942. The post became Fort Carson in 1954. Do you know the name of the Mountain Post's actual mountain training post? It was Camp Hale, located north of Leadville. The 10th Mountain Division trained there for World War II, but it was still being used in the 1960s. I can remember seeing convoys moving up Colorado Avenue in the early 1950s, from Carson to Camp Hale.