The history of construction on Pikes Peak is colorful yet murky.
It took a years-long deep dive into records and photographs for the story to become clear. This came courtesy Eric Swab, the Colorado Springs historian whose yet-to-be-released book, “The Granite Attraction,” chronicles man’s developments along the 14,115-foot mountain leading up to this inaugural summer of the Summit Complex.
Here’s a timeline based on Swab’s research:
1873: The U.S. Army builds a weather station atop the peak, believed to be the first habitable structure there.
1888: A rugged carriage road is completed to the summit. It, along with the forthcoming Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway, introduces tourism to the mountaintop. The weather station eventually becomes the first summit house concept as we know it.
1916: Spencer Penrose, owner of The Broadmoor hotel, funds the completion of a modern highway closely following the old wagon route. A second summit house is later built specifically for drivers, only to later burn down.
1936: The U.S. Forest Service takes over the highway and summit house envisioned by Penrose, who before his death in 1939 proposed a grander concept that never comes to fruition.
1948: The city of Colorado Springs takes commercial control of the highway and summit house in an arrangement similar to today.
1964: The official Summit House to stand for generations is built.
1987: Engineers declare the Summit House unsafe for occupation, citing a sinking foundation. The city continues to order stabilizing work.
2013: Officials meet to begin planning for a new summit house.
2018: Contractor breaks ground on the Summit Complex.
2021: The Summit House is demolished as the state-of-the-art Summit Complex anticipates opening June 24.