Context-Where It All Fits

This post written and copyrighted by Doris McCraw

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Context, it is where all the information fits. As I have talked about the early women doctors in the Pikes Peak Region, it is their stories I have told. Now, let’s look at the time and place that they were ‘working’ in. What was going on in the region between 1850-1900.

In 1853 or 1854 there was a large fire, possibly the largest fire during the 19th century, that burned through the Pikes Peak area.  According the Cherokee, Who You, the fire was approximately 70 miles long and burned for three weeks. For those who would like to know more about this Herbert M. Sommers wrote a chronicle of the event in “The Story of the Big Burn of 1853-1854” published in 1965.

In Pueblo, Colorado 1854 saw the Ft. Pueblo Massacre. This town is about 40 miles south of  Colorado Springs. There are many versions of what happened that Christmas day.  For more information on what might have happened here is a link to one story.

I point these events out to illustrate how the area was not far removed from the ‘wild west’ that many of us think of. Colorado City was the first town of substance in the Pikes Peak region. It was platted in 1859 and became a stop for the “Pikes Peak or Bust” gold rush, as gold seekers headed for their El Dorado further west. This town, created for business, continued as the ‘working class’ town in the area after being bookended between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.

Former El Paso County Courthouse located in ‘Old’ Colorado City

In 1871 Both Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs came into existence. Although both towns had great plans, Colorado Springs as a resort destination and Manitou Springs and a ‘health’ resort destination. That both achieved their goals is pretty amazing.

When Colorado Springs began, the post office was a soap box inside the Field and Hill store. Manitou was to have had large lots and chalets, but the panic of 1873 destroyed that idea. Still with the various mineral springs and the promotion by the various doctors, especially Dr. Edwin Solly, the area grew as a destination for various health seekers and travelers.

Canon City, 38 miles south and west of Colorado Springs, had the territorial prison, which began in 1871.

Cripple Creek and Victor had their heyday beginning in the early 1890’s when the population grew to almost 20,000. This was the last big gold strike in the lower 48 and took place at altitudes from 9,000 plus feet above sea level.

There is so much more to tell, but this will give you and idea of what these women dealt with and perhaps why they took the chance to make the move to the area, to follow their dreams.

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21 thoughts on “Context-Where It All Fits

  1. As usual you’ve written a very interesting post Doris. Knowing the layout and conditions gives us a better perspective on why women doctors chose to go to a place that needed them and probably didn’t care that they were women because they needed medical help so badly. The links were great too. I am fascinated by this stuff – keep them coming!


    1. Thank you Linda. I realized I knew what had been happening, but the readers of my posts didn’t. So I tried to rectify a bit of the missing links. So glad you enjoyed it. Doris


    1. Cher’ley, glad you enjoyed it. History is so exciting, at least for me. Texas and Wyoming are where most people think of when they talk of the West, but Colorado had a bit of excitement also. (At least I think so) Doris


  2. I always enjoy your history posts, Doris. You live in a wonderful locale seeping with wild west history. I’ve always had a fascination with Civil War history, and enjoyed living 25 years in Wilmington with its “Fort Fisher” history, and it’s a fairly easy jaunt up to the Virginia battlefields.


    1. Mike,
      Thank you. I sometimes wonder about my love of history and space. It is easier to write about history, and like you, being so close to where the events took place, priceless. Here is to finding the great history in the region you are in now. Look forward to hearing about it. Doris


    1. Thank you Abbie. The history is very interesting, especially when you realize the ‘big burn’ and Ft. Pueblo massacre happened so close to each other in the timeline, and so close together in proximity to each other. Doris


  3. Sounds like a combination of hard living and travel/spa area, of both opportunity and challenge–interesting. I visited Cripple Creek many years ago. This brings back memories. Stephanie


    1. Cripple Creek/Victor is so full of history and such a great place to visit. I have to confess I love this area and its history. Hope the memories are good one.

      This area was one of extremes and I think that lends itself to some amazing people, including the women doctors.

      Thanks! Doris


  4. I confess to needing to resort to maps to keep me straight, Doris. I truly do find it amazing that those pioneers went into such vast areas where the living was so tough adn no doubt so unpredictable. The area of the fire you’ve quoted is immense and I can ‘see’ it in terms of how far south I would drive in Scotland to cover that distance. Thank you for the added info. 🙂


    1. Nancy, it was horrific fire. The one thing you can say about the area I live in…it is vast and I love it. The type of people who came to this area to settle and live in those early days are endlessly fascinating. (I have always had a decent sense of direction…thank goodness)

      Thank you. Doris


  5. I recently read a story featuring that fire but it just dropped the reader in the middle without giving any background. After reading your post, it makes more sense. Context is everything.


    1. Thank You Kate. I am glad it helped you out. It was a pretty massive fire, fortunately there were not a many inhabitants in the area then. Doris


  6. L. Love all your posts regarding history. Women are so often disregarded in the settling of the west, or all history in general. You are researching and blogging at the same time, such a great way to write a book. The west has always intrigued me. Women really had to have gumption to go into unsettled territory and start a new life. Good post.


  7. Thank you Sherry. I always loved history, fell in love with the west when I moved here, and now have fallen in passion with finding and telling the stories of these women doctors. (And like you said, they have been disregarded so when I find something I really celebrate. *Grin*) Doris


    1. Anne,

      The Springs is a pretty good place to be, especially for rich history. Every time I turn something up it leads me on a great treasure hunt.

      Thanks for stopping by and letting me know your connection to the area. Doris


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