Without the friendship of two men, Colorado Springs would likely be a very different place today.
Charles Leaming Tutt (who went by the nickname “Chas”), and Spencer Penrose (aka “Spec”) lived in the same Philadelphia neighborhood during their boyhoods. Both of their fathers were doctors, and they grew up in households of considerable means. They played together as youngsters, and moved in the same privileged social circles, forming a lifelong bond. The twosome was a study in contrasts, with Tutt becoming a planner and established businessman, while Penrose was a risk-taker and visionary. Their personalities complimented each other in a way that would frame the growth and expansion of Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas.
As a boy, Tutt contracted rheumatic fever, possibly contributing to a lifelong heart condition. He arrived in Colorado Springs in 1884, optimistic that his new locale would help his health improve. He also wanted to put his considerable business skills to use building his fortune. By the time his close friend Penrose arrived in Colorado Springs in 1892, Tutt was married, had three children and was developing several business ventures.
Penrose arrived in town broke and with no job prospects. Tutt offered to sell Penrose half of his real estate and insurance business for $500 if Penrose would run the business in the Cripple Creek branch office. Penrose accepted, hoping for an opportunity to get rich quick.
According to R. Thayer Tutt Jr., great grandson of Charles L. Tutt, “Chas” was delighted to have his trusted friend become his business partner. Penrose was the ultimate bachelor, fond of his whiskey and cigars — a man who looked to the future and commanded a presence. Tutt was very involved in day-to-day family and community life, quietly going about his business. Occasionally there was conflict between them, mostly over poor business decisions Tutt’s absences from Colorado for long periods due to continued health issues. However, any conflict was minor, as Penrose was named executor of Tutt’s will and guardian of his children.
The timing was right for the two entrepreneurs to merge as the mining boom in the area around Cripple Creek was beginning to take off. The rest is history, as it is well-known that the partnership flourished providing each man with astounding, life-changing benefits. Tutt had already dipped his toe in the waters of the mining industry by acquiring the C.O.D. (Cash on Delivery) mine in Cripple Creek. Penrose shared part interest, and the two split the profits when the mine was sold for $250,000. And so began the golden success story that would transform the Pikes Peak region.
Around the turn of the century, the partners, along with third partner Charles MacNeill, organized a mill trust to process the gold ore from the mines surrounding Cripple Creek. MacNeill had been brought into the business to fill in when Tutt was ill. It made sense economically to transport the ore rather than process it on site, and lucrative mills were built in Colorado Springs, Canon City, Florence, and Victor. Much of the business in the mining camps was now controlled by this transport and processing monopoly.
In 1903,Tutt, Penrose, MacNeill, and other investors created the Utah Copper Company. The three men made a huge investment in a very risky venture. Luckily, through due diligence and patience of the investors, Utah Copper eventually became enormously successful. The vast majority — 95% — of Penrose’s wealth came from the Utah Copper Company, allowing him to finance The Broadmoor Hotel and multiple other endeavors.
Tutt’s ongoing health issues took a toll. It is likely that he was very focused on putting his considerable estate in order, and in 1907 he sold his interest in Utah Copper to the Guggenheim family, giving them 50% control, while Penrose got 25% and other investors the remaining 25%. According to R. Thayer Tutt Jr., selling his Utah Copper stock was “the biggest mistake he (“Chas”) ever made.” Tutt announced his retirement in The Gazette in 1905. He spent the remaining years of his life sailing on his yacht, Anemone, and at his homes in California and Washington state. He died of a heart attack at the age of 45 in 1909.
The collaboration between the Tutt family and Penrose continued as Penrose took Tutt’s son, Charles L. Tutt Jr (known as “Charlie”) under his wing as the son he never had. Charlie Tutt was part of a small circle of friends that Penrose trusted, and although they were never business peers, Charlie spent his life involved in the economical concerns spearheaded by Penrose. Under Charlie’s diligence, the businesses ran smoothly, and Penrose continued to be hugely successful, expanding his financial empire.