In early July 1924, plans for a spectacular mountain road were announced by Spencer Penrose. The road would climb Cheyenne Mountain. A toll road to a new facility that was planned to be built would require considerable planning. The first bids to come in were rejected as too expensive. Negotiations worked down the cost, and finally a contractor was selected.
At the top a stone building included a cafe, lounge, and dance floor with a grand stage. Large windows would allow those inside to view the plains up to Pikes Peak and on down toward the Spanish Peaks. The spot, some 9,400 feet above sea level, was 3,200 feet higher than The Broadmoor hotel below. The original plan was for a road starting at the old Stage Road, but this was changed to be a road up the east face of the mountain. The top of this part of the mountain features the “Horns” — two large rock formations, which are behind in the legend that described the mountain as a giant lizard.
Col. L.T. Ginger conceived the road idea in 1890 and purchased some of the land. The plan surfaced several times in the years to come, as did a proposal for a cable railway up from The Broadmoor, but it took Penrose to get it going. Construction started in mid-September 1924 and the road opened in the summer of 1925.
The idea of building the shrine to the sun came along during the road’s construction. The building of a zoo was also added to the plans as work continued.
The pavilion at the top of the road was expanded to include hotel rooms. A zoo display and one of the retired cog locomotives from Pikes Peak was put in place a couple of years later. It was said that the spot was used for parties during the Prohibition era, since it was virtually impossible to sneak up to the spot. The hotel was closed in the early 1960s, and flooding in 1965 heavily damaged the road. It was then being used for transmission towers for local radio and television stations, and a new circuitous road was built up the west side of the mountain. Eventually all the remnants of the buildings were removed and the towers were moved south to the actual summit of the mountain.
The Broadmoor hotel has an exclusive set of rooms on the old site, with special vehicles to transport the guests up the mountain, but it is not open to the public.
E.M. “Mel” McFarland is an artist, historian and railroad enthusiast. He is a Pikes Peak region native and has written a handful of books and guides highlighting the area’s rich history. Contact Mel at firstname.lastname@example.org.