It’s All About the Choo-Choo: Antlers Park in Colorado Springs
I have a two-year old son. Therefore, we spend a lot of time in our house talking about “choo choos.” I also love stumbling across a new place, discovering a new tidbit of local lore. So, you can imagine how excited both my son and I were to find a small, hidden park with a big train in it, in the middle of downtown Colorado Springs.
The park is Antlers Park (wedged between the Antlers Hilton Hotel and Giuseppe’s Depot Events Center), and it is one of the oldest parks in the city. Land for the park was donated by General William Jackson Palmer’s Colorado Springs Company in 1882, and was originally “used as a demonstration garden and planted with flowers, shrubs, vegetables and fruit trees to encourage the early settlers to landscape their own properties.” (See a historic image of the park here.)
And now for the “choo choo” part. Not only is there a large steam-era locomotive–Denver & Rio Grande’s Number 168, in operation from 1883 to 1933–sitting on historic tracks, but the park sits right across from the 1887 Denver & Rio Grande train depot (now Giuseppe’s Depot), which served a passenger train line until 1971. And, there’s even a train related piece of public art: the Supperstein Bell Tower, created by local artist Don Green out of steel and steam locomotive bells in 1997.
A lot of the park has been changed since its original days–the gardens are long gone, and a portion of the park was sold off by the City to a private company in 1964.
But, there’s still a whole lot of “choo choo” in what remains.
Resources: City of Colorado Springs Architectural Inventory Form, 2003-04