Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

SIDE STREETS: History center focuses on man who made Red Rock Canyon possible

BILL VOGRIN Updated: February 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

Perhaps you love the Red Rock Canyon Open Space for all it offers: miles of hiking trails amid dinosaur tracks and fossils of prehistoric trees and extinct sea creatures.

Maybe it’s rocks you love in this geologic extension of the nearby Garden of the Gods. Who isn’t inspired by its 320-million-year-old red sandstone lifted from the depths of the earth?

History buffs like me cherish its history as an Indian camp, a late-19th century quarry, as a site of factories and mills, home to Old West horseback tours, a campground and even a landfill.

Or you just want to know more about John G. Bock, the cowboy/entrepreneur who pieced together the huge parcel we now enjoy after his arrival here in 1923.

Then get to the Old Colorado City History Center, 1 S. 24th St., 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday for your only chance to see an exhibit of memorabilia from the pioneering Bock family.

The one-day exhibit will include many items Bock displayed in his own Western history museum before he closed it and put everything in storage in 1939.

Many items subsequently were bought by avid historian Dave Hughes for preservation.

The exhibit coincides with the 10th anniversary of the city’s $12.5 million purchase of the 789-acre canyon property.

“It’s nice to see how the park was established and how it was saved,” said Sharon Swint, president of the Old Colorado City Historical Society board of directors.

The display will include lanterns, pottery and spurs collected by Bock, who left Philadelphia in 1907 and took a train to Colorado Springs.

 In his autobiography, “In Red Rock Canyon Land,” Bock wrote of a life working on ranches across the West and prospecting before returning to Colorado Springs in 1923 as a disabled World War I veteran to sell real estate.

He bought a house near the entrance to Red Rock Canyon at 31st Street and Colorado Avenue — where the family home would remain until 1965.

He also ran the Roundup Saddle Stables and led guided horseback rides into the canyon. Over the years, Bock collected antiques from his travels.

There’s a military uniform as well as scrapbooks, family photo albums and books.

In addition, there will be documentation for what might have been in the canyon if John G. and his sons Richard and John S. Bock had been able to develop the property as they hoped.

They had big plans. They wanted to build a resort, golf course, homes and businesses.

Even a world trade center.

It’s all contained in architect Richard Bock’s nine-volume business plan, which was translated into six languages and distributed around the world in an effort to generate interest.

His plan called for 800 hotel rooms, 3,600 residential units in three-winged towers, some 36 stories tall.

 There was a shopping center of 1 million square feet, convention center, sports arena, theater, museum, a medical research center, communications tower, industrial park and underground parking.

(You can read more about his plan and see photos in a 2004 story I wrote about Richard Bock and his project, with this column at gazette.com.)

The history center will have architect’s drawings and documents related to that and other development efforts.

After Saturday, the artifacts will be available to researchers through the society’s librarian, Swint said.

“This is everyone’s chance to see this stuff,” she said.

Read my blog updates at http://blogs.gazette.com/sidestreets/

 

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