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Saturday, June 28, 2014

At the Top

These are two post cards showing The Summit House on the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado as it was in the early 1900s.
In July of 1873, after the US Army sent a couple of scouting expeditions to the top of Pikes Peak it was agreed that it would be a perfect location to observe the weather in order to be able to perform better forecasts. Later that year a weather observatory was built with two rooms: an office & officer’s bedroom and a kitchen, storeroom and sleeping quarters for the other men. It was not very big (18 x 30 feet) but the walls were very thick (18 inches) to protect it from the weather they were going to observe all year round. It was officially opened on October 11th of that year. In 1882, the building was enlarged to accommodate the number of visitors they were receiving. In 1888, the weather observatory was closed.

In the meantime, Pikes Peak was gaining in popularity as a destination, so a railway was built to the summit. In 1889 a log cabin was added to the top of the mountain by an entrepreneur who wanted to sell things to the tourists. The first train arrived June 29, 1891.

In 1892 the owners of the railway renovated the signal station. When they were finished, what they now called “The Summit House” could hole up to 15 guests, a small cafeteria and a souvenir shop. Soon, it was upgraded to hold more people and more business.

About 10 years later The Summit House was again upgraded and expanded. This time, they added a tower at one end of the building. Soon, it was moved to the roof of The Summit House so those who paid the 25 cent entry fee could see in all directions from the top of the Peak. This is the building seen on the post cards.
The above information was gleaned from the website:

If you would like to see what it is like at the top of Pikes Peak right now go to this website:

Both post cards are from the White Border Era (1915 - 1930). The top post card was printed by Curt Goerke from Colorado Springs. He was quite the entrepreneur himself. He discovered a rock formation that looked like a boulder balanced on one of its ends. During the 1890's at the age of 14 he began taking photographs of visitors to the rock for a quarter of a dollar each. Soon he was making so much money that his father Paul quit his job, learned photography, and bought Balanced Rock and nearby Mushroom Park for $400. By the first decade of the twentieth century, they were taking pictures of tourists - often seating them atop the four burros kept nearby. Curt published post cards of other tourist destinations in Colorado and advertised on those cards that the purchaser (and the receiver of the post card, if it was mailed) should see . Balanced Rock no longer was private property but became a part of the Garden of the Gods Park the early 1930's.

The little “M” in the coffee cup at the bottom, middle of the second post card represents the Miller Art Company out of Brooklyn, New York, the printer of this post card.They existed from 1921 to 1941. It was published by the Puffer Mercantile Company. This was a grocery store chain that was founded in the early 1900s by L.A. Puffer and Milo Rowell. L.A.’s son Harry continued in his father’s footsteps and helped the company to grow across the Midwestern United States.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.