Recently I read an extended letter by Samuel Le Nord Caldwell, a medical doctor who lived in Colorado Springs at the end of the 19th century. He writes about the people and the ways in which they lived at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. For today’s reader, there are fresh insights about Colorado Springs you may find interesting.
Caldwell writes “Until the discovery of the gold mines at Cripple Creek in 1891, Colorado Springs was exclusively a tourist and health resort, but now it is a lively business town and railroad centre … It is now the leading market for mining stock in the country, and there are more transactions in those securities in this little town than any other city in the world except London.”
On Colorado Springs, Caldwell writes, “the residences are mostly built of wood with an occasional stone or brick house; they are lighted by gas or electricity and heated by hot air, hot water or steam from furnaces in the cellar. Soft coal costs $3.00 to $5.00 a ton and anthracite coal $8.00 a ton.
“Our house servants are mostly women, Irish or Swedes: their wages are $25 to $35 a month according to their skill; good cooks command the higher prices. A few people employ a man for butler, but it is exceptional.
“One of the characteristics of our age is the desire to go everywhere in a hurry; horses are no longer speedy enough for transportation purposes and are becoming more and more instruments of pleasure and less and less the servants of utility. The electric trolley car and the bicycle are our chief means of local transportation; the trolley fare is five cents in the city limits and ten cents outside…The electric trolley extends to the northern limits of the city, to Cheyenne Canon on the south and to Manitou on the west. The electric current for the trolley system is generated in a power house at the corner of S. Cascade and Moreno Ave.
“Bicycles are the most popular and convenient means of getting about and there are thousands of them in use. A bevel-gear chainless wheel costs $50 to $75; a chain wheel can be bought for $25… When women first began to ride the bicycle, it was considered a bold and immodest act, but now women of the highest respectability make use of them.
“The favorite forms of entertainment are lunches, afternoon teas, dinners, evening receptions and dances. The price of a table d’hote dinner at the Antlers is $1.50… The average American woman of today is bright, clever, quick-witted, self-possessed, independent, and often a college graduate. Children nowadays are too independent and forward, and are too often old before they are young.”
In reading Caldwell’s letter one is struck by what is missing: no automobiles, no airplanes, no radio or TV. All entertainment is live.
The times have changed considerably.
Richard Marold has served as editor of Cheyenne Mountain Kiva, the journal of the Cheyenne Mountain Heritage Center. The Center’s mission is to gather and share the unique heritage and traditions of the Cheyenne Mountain area and the Pikes Peak region. For more information, visit cmheritagecenter.org.