||Manitou Springs is an eclectic mix of modern
and Victorian buildings nestled at the foot of Pike's Peak in western Colorado.
It is also home to ten wonderfully restored mineral springs.
The springs rise from aquifers fed by rainwater
and snowmelt from Pikes Peak and on its thousand year journey from deep
underground the water absorbs high concentrations of minerals as it passes
through the limestone and dolomite caverns deep in the rock. The flavour
of the water is different at each spring depending on the intensity of
the iron, sulphur or soda in the water.
Manitou was a sacred place for the Ute Indians
of the mountains and the various other tribes who moved in and out of the
area including Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapahoe, Comanche, Kiowa and Algonquin.
‘Manitou’ is an Algonquin name for the Great Spirit
who was believed to have given the gift of the healing waters. It
was thought that many of the nature spirits lived beneath the springs and,
as at holy waters everywhere, offerings of beads, pottery, weapons and
talismans were left for them.
Although Manitou started as a mining town in the
goldrushes of the 1860s and 70s (it was incorporated in 1876) it soon decided
it was better off as a health resort. The original mineral springs
beloved of the Indians were added to with several more being drilled between
1880 and 1936. Spas for water therapy, simple bathhouses and bottling
works mushroomed and were joined by hotels, casinos, restaurants and theatres.
Invalids and holidaymakers alike came to breathe the clean mountain air
and drink the health giving waters which were believed to cure everything
from headaches to tuberculosis to cancer. By the
end of the nineteenth century Manitou was one
of the most popular vacation destinations in the west.
A tourist information booklet published in the
1920s describes 14 mineral springs within the city limits but only names
10 of them: Creighton, Manitou, Navajo, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Ute Chief,
Ouray, Little Chief, Ute Iron and Soda Lithia. The names of the 10
springs in the town today are: Ute Chief, Stratton, Twin (or Twin Link),Wheeler,
Navajo, Shoshone, Cheyenne, Iron Geyser, Seven Minute and Soda.
According to the excellent Everytourist Guide
to the Springs (by Becky Marr, published by Aldendale Studio) there are
28 mineral springs in the area.
In September 2000 there were eight carefully and
imaginatively restored springs and two more (Soda and Shoshone) being renovated.