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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

United States Air Force Academy in El Paso County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Before the Academy

United States Air Force Academy

 
 
Before the Academy Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 10, 2020
1. Before the Academy Marker
Inscription.  

The first Anglo explorers journeyed th[r]ough this area in the early-to-mid-1800s. The Homestead Act of 1862 opened the land to pioneers to select a 160-acre parcel to establish a dwelling and start their adventure in the west. First pioneers on the Academy include Aaron Blodgett in Pine Valley and Charles Schubarth in the north. Harlow and Leafy Teachout established a hotel that became a stage coach stop near the southern boundary. William Burgess was one of these pioneers whose legacy continues here on the Academy. His log cabin, built in the mid 1870's still stands in Douglass Valley as a tribute to the pioneer spirit.

In 1871, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad was constructed southward from Denver and passed through what would become the USAFA lands. Sixteen years later in 1887, the Santa Fe Railroad built tracks along the eastern boundary. The small communities of Husted and Edgerton emerged as stops along the way. In the early days of railroading on the Academy, Husted hosted helper locomotives which would hitch up with a north-bound train and help it overcome the uphill grade over the Palmer Divide.

Edgerton was located near

Before the Academy Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 10, 2020
2. Before the Academy Marker
Looking east
what today is Ice Lake. In the 1890s several entrepreneurs in Edgerton formed the Cascade Ice Company and would harvest ice from three lakes they made on the West Monument Creek. The blocks of ice were loaded onto rail cars to help keep produce cool. Edgerton was the home of District 20's first school-the Edgerton School. Students attended grades K-8 in Edgerton from 1874 to 1915. The one-room schoolhouse included a bus barn--which was actually a horse shed for students to tie up their ride[s].

Cathedral Rock, located in the remote northwest of the Academy reservation, was a popular destination for outings and picnics. Many of the early citizens of this area chiseled and carved into the rock their names and the date[s] they were here to mark their presence. Ranches sp[r]outed up in all areas of the Academy including the Cathedral Rock Ranch located in what today are the cadet athletic fields. Elkhorn and Pine Valley Ranches occupied the Pine Valley. The USAFA equestrian center is located where Elkhorn Ranch stood.

The hustle and bustle of the small railroad communities would fade in the early 1900s as automobiles became primary transportation. Highway 85-87 was built north to Denver and more businesses and homes sprouted up along the way. On the north, Husted was a place to stop to fuel up or get a bite to eat and on the south the small village of Breed came to be.

By

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the 1940s, homes, small businesses and ranches dotted the landscape of the area. Pine Valley was the site of many equestrian gatherings and events. A thriving dairy operation existed and there was even a church camp located in the valley. To the north, Cleo and Zelda Jack ran cattle in the valley that someday would take on their name. Earl Douglass was a landowner in the wooded central valley. In 1954, a rich history of pioneers, railroads, small businesses and ranches awaited the news that the 18,000 acre area would be selected as the site of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Tribal Relationships
USAFA lands are rich with Native American heritage and history. USAFA is currently working with 27 federally-recognized Native American tribes that have cultural affiliation with USAFA lands. The USAFA is committed to forming collaborative relationships of trust with these tribes in order to capture a well-rounded understanding of USAFA's heritage and history for future generations and the public alike.

USAFA curates all artifacts at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) Artifacts at their State certified storage facility which opened in 2011. The facility has restricted access and is climate controlled. Photos courtesy of USAFA Special Collections and the Valle Museum.
 
Erected by United States Air

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Force Academy.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureNative AmericansRailroads & StreetcarsSettlements & Settlers.
 
Location. 39° 0.407′ N, 104° 53.593′ W. Marker is in United States Air Force Academy, Colorado, in El Paso County. Marker is along the walking path from the Visitor Center to the Chapel. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: USAF Academy CO 80840, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. An Ancient Geologic Past (here, next to this marker); Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Fuel Hazard Mitigation (within shouting distance of this marker); Forest Management (within shouting distance of this marker); Landscape Fire Ecology (within shouting distance of this marker); Scrub (Gambel's) Oak (within shouting distance of this marker); Abert's Squirrel (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Memorial Pavilion Roll Call Record Locator Room (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in United States Air Force Academy.
 
More about this marker. Visitors must have an unexpired official photo ID to present to security to access the USAF Academy grounds.
 
Also see . . .
1. USAF Academy History. (Submitted on October 19, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. El Paso County at Colorado Encyclopedia. (Submitted on October 19, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. El Paso County, CO, Genealogy Resources (Pikes Peak Genealogical Society). (Submitted on October 19, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 19, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 46 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 19, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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Mar. 3, 2021