at The Loop
Commuter rail service came rolling into the bustling resort community of Manitou Springs in late October 1890. The trolley line boasted the area’s first electric powered streetcars carrying passengers from downtown Colorado Springs, initially to a terminus opposite the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad depot, later to a turnaround point at the corner of Ruxton and Manitou Avenues coined “The Loop”. That same month, Bob Womack discovered gold on the south side of Pikes Peak triggering Cripple Creek and Victor’s legendary gold rush. Nine months later on Independence Day 1891, Winfield Scott Stratton stakes a mining claim on Victor’s Battle Mountain. The celebrated “Independence Mine” strikes a payload of 1,350,000 ounces of gold and Stratton becomes the region’s first self-made millionaire. Eight years after staking his prosperous claim, Stratton cashes out selling it for 11 million dollars.
Stratton’s entrepreneurial spirit endured with the 1901 acquisition of the modern electric streetcar system servicing Manitou Springs, renaming it Colorado Springs & Interurban Railway Company. A short electric trolley line dubbed “The Dinky” was built to connect the Colorado Springs & Interurban to the Pikes Peak Cog Railway station and Iron Springs Hotel. The Dinky passed by Twin Spring, Iron Springs Geyser and Ute Iron Spring on it’s short journey up and down lower Englemann Canyon. Passengers could catch the Interurban line from downtown Colorado Springs, elevation 6,002 ft, travel to Manitou, hop on the Dinky for a short ride up lower Englemann Canyon, then board the world famous “Pikes Peak Cog Railway” for the legendary ride all the way to the top of America’s Mountain (Pikes Peak), elevation 14,115 ft.
Stratton died in 1902 leaving his fortune to care for the county’s less-fortunate children and elderly residents. The Myron Stratton Foundation named in honor of his father was set-up and continues to provide community stewardship to this day. Under the direction of his trustees, The Colorado Springs & Interurban Railway Company reached peak ridership in 1911 maintaining municipal transit for two more decades ending service on April 30, 1932. After the demise of the streetcar trollies, Stratton’s legacy lives on. A new mineral spring well was drilled to bring distinctive character to Stratton’s “Loop” properties at the southeast corner of Manitou and Ruxton Avenues. At a depth of 283 feet on February 21, 1936, sparkling soda water was struck flowing at 25 gallons per minute. Today, Stratton Spring stands as one of Manitou’s iconic mineral spring assets along its downtown corridor.
About the Font Artist:
Fred Darpino’s sculptures in bronze are masterpieces illuminating humanity – from an ebullient dancing St. Francis to the strapping, sweat-soaked steelworker to the serenely joyful old pumpkin farmer. In these life-like bronze pieces, Fred coaxes from the metal subtleties of movement and an ethereal quality of emotion. We see him pulling joy, strength and love from the cold metal; we not only observe but also vicariously feel the subject’s character and spirit. It is this facility to reveal an individual’s essence that distinguishes a Fred Darpino sculpture.
Whether he is crafting an exact likeness for perpetuity or revealing the human form interpretatively; Fred Darpino creates in bronze a timeless authenticity of life.