July In Colorado History

Original Broadmoor Casino in Colorado Springs
Original Broadmoor Casino | thebroadmoor.com

Colorado historical headlines from the month of July include the inaugural “Hardrock 100” endurance run, the Great Eclipse of 1878, the Broadmoor Casino ribbon cutting, and the incorporation of Cherry Hills Village.

July 1, 1891: Broadmoor Casino opens in Colorado Springs

View of original Broadmoor Casino from across the lake
Original Broadmoor Casino, Moonlight on the Lake | Pikes Peak Library District

The original Broadmoor Casino opens its doors in Colorado Springs. A Prussian man named James Pourtales built the casino on the eastern side of his manmade Cheyenne Lake. His reason was strategic—he hoped to entice buyers into purchasing homes in his upscale housing development nearby.

 

An opulent Georgian-style building, the casino featured game and billiards rooms, a grand ballroom, entertainers, and French chefs. It attracted tourists from across the United States but resulted in few homes being sold.

 

Pourtales went insolvent and turned the casino over to the bank, a possible harbinger of the fate to come. In 1897, the casino was destroyed entirely when fire ripped through the elegant building, burning it to the ground. In its place, a second casino was built, along with the Broadmoor Resort in the decades that followed.

July 10, 1992: Ultrarunners compete in inaugural "Hardrock 100" Endurance Run

Handies Peak Wilderness Area in Colorado
Handies Peak, high point of the "Hardrock 100" | Bureau of Land Management

High up in the alpine of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, ultra runners hit the trail for the inaugural Hardrock 100 Endurance Run. This grueling 100 mile race is still going strong, and famously tests runners with 66,000 feet of elevation change at an average altitude of 11,000 feet.

 

Runners must tackle the extreme terrain of mountain passes and river drainages as they loop through Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Abandoned mines and ghost towns are encountered along the route. Snowfields and severe weather conditions are encountered too. A challenging ascent up Handies Peak, an unforgiving fourteener, is the pinnacle of the race.

 

Of the 42 runners who entered the inaugural “Hardrock 100” Endurance Run in 1992, 18 crossed the finish line. First place went to a renowned mountain runner named David Horton, who won with a finish time of 32 hours, 34 minutes.

July 19, 1945: Cherry Hills Village Incorporates

A snowy scene in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado
A snowy scene in Cherry Hills Village | Jared Winkler

The affluent Denver suburb of Cherry Hills Village started as an equestrian community in 1938. A small number of lovely homes with generous acreage were built in the area along the Highline Canal, which was popular amongst horsemen. But long before then, in 1898 a local family built the 17.5-acre Quincy Farm in the area that would go on to become the heart of the village. Quincy Farm still stands today.

 

When Cherry Hills Village incorporated in 1945, easements for bridle trails were set aside, but the trails weren’t established. With so much of the area still undeveloped, formal trails seemed unnecessary. As Cherry Hills Village expanded in the 1960s, a group of passionate horsemen formed an association to map out the trails and enforce the easements, which are still accessible today.

July 29, 1878: Colorado experiences the Great Eclipse of 1878

A solar eclipse over Denver, Colorado
Solar eclipse in Denver (2014) | Anders Knudsen

Residents of Colorado, along with visiting “eclipse tourists” from other parts of the country, were awestruck when a solar eclipse darkened the state in 1878.

 

Astronomers and meteorologists traveled to Colorado to view the phenomena as part of well-funded “eclipse expeditions.” These expeditions were scientific in nature.

 

Astronomers expected the solar eclipse would provide a unique opportunity to study the sun’s atmosphere. They also aimed to prove, or disprove, the existence of an undiscovered planet. No such planet existed, of course, but the Great Eclipse of 1878 put the young state of Colorado on the map for scientific research.