Click to view this PLHS brochure in pdf format
Palmer Lake Historical Society
Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Assembly
The Palmer Lake Historical Society is proud to present the 2016 Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua in our historic town of Palmer Lake, nestled at the foot of Rampart Range 20 miles north of Colorado Springs and four miles west of Monument.
The original Chautauqua Assembly came to Palmer Lake in 1886 and was an annual summer event for more than two decades. Palmer Lake hosted one of the first Chautauqua Assemblies in the Rocky Mountain West.
The purpose of the Chautauqua Assembly was to provide entertainment, education, inspiration and outdoor recreation to enrich people’s lives. The Chautauqua Movement flourished in the U.S. from 1874 into the 1920s. At its peak, over 400 locations around the country held an annual summer Chautauqua Assembly.
The Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Assembly made Palmer Lake a destination point for many. People from Colorado Springs and Denver, as well as elsewhere in Colorado and Midwestern states, arrived on the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.
Palmer Lake’s Chautauqua took place in Glen Park centered around an auditorium built on what we now know as Chautauqua Avenue. Chautauqua activities included lectures, debates, concerts, campfire gatherings and burro excursions up to the reservoirs.
Many homes in “The Glen” neighborhood began as rustic tent cottages, where Chautauqua-goers stayed for the six-week long assembly. Several Chautauqua cottages eventually evolved into permanent homes where some descendants still live today.
Due to changing times, the Chautauqua eventually faded away by 1910. However, in August 2008, the Palmer Lake Historical Society sponsored a one-day event to revive the Chautauqua Assembly, followed in August 2009, by a three-date event, 2009 Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua. This event included a Vaudeville show, dinner theater, old-fashioned baseball game, historical walk, nature walk, ice cream social, church service in the Pinecrest Church, Model A and T cars, box lunches and much more. The Chautauqua was also held in 2010 through 2015.
The 2016 Chautauqua will be held August 6, 2016. History-related events this year will include portrayers of historic men and women who helped build Colorado, historic crafts, wildlife exhibits, and interactive activities for the entire family. So mark your calendars and get ready to enjoy history!
2016 Chautauqua Schedule
In 1956 a group of citizens recommended that a manuscript written by Marion Savage Sabin, detailing the founding of Palmer Lake, Monument, and the surrounding Tri-Lakes region, entitled "Palmer Lake, A Historical Narrative," be published. To accomplish this, they also recommended that a Historical Society be formed to continue the preservation of the area's history. The Palmer Lake Historical Society was subsequently founded by Marian McIntyre-McDonough and was incorporated with a full slate of officers and directors. Click on the brochure cover under the menu on the left to open the PLHS Brochure in .pdf format.
There are approximately 150 current members who support the Society through their dues ($15.00 individual or $20 family for a one-year membership; print out our Membership Form to join or renew your membership). Both the Palmer Lake Historical Society and the Lucretia Vaile Museum are non-profit.
The PLHS holds special occasion programs once a month which have included "An Evening with John Fielder," famous Colorado Author/Photographer and "The Semi-Annual Tour of Estemere," a magnificent Queen Anne Victorian home. Calendar of Events
The PLHS proudly presents their new book:
Communities of the Palmer Divide
Native American tribes once traversed the east-west anomaly of the Rocky Mountains known as the Palmer Divide as a passage between the high ranges and the Great Plains. Lying between Denver and Colorado Springs, and named for William Jackson Palmer, found of Colorado Springs, the offshoot range divides the great Platte and Arkansas River Systems. Settlers homesteaded, farmed and ranched the area. Railroad construction in the 1870s led to towns supporting commerce and tourism, particularly in the western section of the Palmer Divide, in what eventually became known as the Tri-Lakes Area. The area drew tourists who enjoyed hiking, wildflowers, and the outdoors, and facilitated such local industries as ice harvesting, lumber milling, ranching and potato farming. A vast area north of Colorado Springs, the Palmer Divide retains a picturesque rural nature and cohesive small-town feeling ---creating such social events as the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua and the Yule Log Festival, as well as the enduring Palmer Lake Star on Sundance Mountain.
The Palmer Lake Historical Society, founded in 1956, selected these vintage images from their archives and private collections to provide a rare look into the Palmer Divide's past through the 1930s.
The book, authored by the volunteers at the PLHS, captures the basic histories of Monument, Palmer Lake and the surrounding area with 127 pages of fully captioned photographs. Book price is $22 and is available for mail order. Follow the link to our book order form: book order form. Copies may also be purchased at the L. Vaile Museum, at our monthly meetings or at local shops and bookstores.
The bronze statue of Dizzy may be seen in the Village Green of Palmer Lake. Dizzy helped build the Star of Palmer Lake in 1935, during the Great Depression. Dizzy was presented as a gift to the people of Palmer Lake on October 21, 2006 to commemorate the Society's 50th anniversary. In keeping with our unofficial motto, "History Should Be More Than a Memory," Dizzy will be watching over the Star on Sundance Mountain for many years to come. Read the full story of the Star and Dizzy here: The Star of Palmer Lake
The Society has commissioned a bas-relief panel titled "Monument 1879" to display and commemorate significant historical events and people of The Town of Monument. The sculpture is a gift of the Society to the people of Monument. The panel measures six-feet wide by four-feet in height. The bronze panel is done in medium relief by noted artist Ronny Walker of Palmer Lake. Ronny has captured the essence of Monument history in the scenes and people portrayed. The three people in the middle of the panel are from the top: Caroline & Henry Limbach with David McShane under. The panel, presented to the Town of Monument on June 13, 2009, is now on permanent display in the new Monument Town Hall. Click on the brochure cover at the right to open a new window explaining the history seen in the bronze sculpture.
Click on image to enlarge it.
In 1998, the PLHS provided a fountain for the lake to partially replicate
the one that existed at the turn of the century. The fountain runs during the
spring, summer and fall months.
In 1964 the Historical Society opened the original museum which was housed in what is currently
the Town Sheriffs' offices (originally the AT&SF Section Foreman's house). The Museum
moved to the current building as the Lucretia Vaile Library and Museum in October,
1981. The PLHS Board of Directors oversees and appoints a director for the museum
and pays major museum expenses.
Historical Society & Museum New Projects/Exhibits
Contact us by e-mail for the latest up-to-date information.
- A Brief History of the Palmer Divide Area
- This is a one page history introduction to the area including early explorers and native American tribes that were along the front range.
- The Tales of Two Towns
- Our area has interesting people and historical events that will acquaint you with the Towns of Palmer Lake & Monument as well as the surrounding countryside.
"As Rare As Fairies" - Lucretia Vaile
Countess Katrina Murat
The most famous pioneer woman of Colorado was sixty-three years old when she retired to Palmer Lake in the spring of 1887 and built a cottage below Sundance Mountain in which she spent the remainder of her life. She died there on March 13, 1910. Life had taken her far away from her ancestral vineyards in Germany where she had passed her carefree girlhood, but the spirit of generosity and independence for which she was noted, and her love of the western wilderness, never left her. She is remembered as the Betsy Ross of Colorado.
Read the story of the Countess.
- Old Town Walking Tours
- Join us for a virtual tour of the historic sites in the picturesque Towns of Palmer Lake & Monument.
- Along the Santa Fe Trail
- Jack Anthony "loves running the trail and learning the long ago history" of the people and towns that once populated the area along the railroad track-bed that has become the New Santa Fe Regional Trail. Take an illustrated 17 mile journey along the trail.
- Lucretia Vaile Library-Museum
- The Museum maintains a collection of historical data, artifacts and other items of significance relating to Palmer Lake, Monument, and the Palmer Divide area and arranges changing exhibits of local interest.
- Current & past exhibits
- The Vaile Museum is open every Saturday from 10 AM - 2 PM and on Wednesdays from 1 PM - 3 PM year round. From June through August, the Museum is open an additional hour on Wednesdays from 1 PM – 4 PM. We are located at 66 Lower Glenway St. in Palmer Lake with easy access from Highway 105. You may leave a message at 559-0837.
- Calendar of Events
- See a list of Historical Society activities for the current year.
- The Historical Society Newsletter
- Historical Society & Museum happenings and information. Read the current and past editions (.pdf ).
- William John Crawford Memorial
- View this memorial dedicated to Bill, who was the recipient of our nations highest award, the Medal of Honor, for service in WWII.
- Books for sale
- The Historical Society offers a variety of books and other gift items related to the history of the Tri-Lakes region.
The Society announces that the book, Through The Years At Monument, has been fully revised, and expanded to 168 pages. This fifth edition has been totally redone with new material, and a new layout with over 130 photographs rescanned and digitally enhanced. The book now includes a Timeline, an Index with over 550 entries, and a Table of Contents. Many new photographs have been included some of which have never been published. Professionally reprinted. The definitive volume of the History of Monument, Colorado.
- DVD, Video and Gifts
- The Society has just sponsored and released a new DVD by historian/filmmaker; Jim Sawatzki titled "Summer Sojourn." This offering is a History of Glen Park & the 1st Rocky Mountain Chautauqua which was held in Palmer Lake. Long before silent movies, radio, and television, over 45 million rural Americans relied on the Chautauqua stage for their cultural entertainments. President Theodore Roosevelt called the Chautauqua "America at its best." The Chautauqua may have been the forerunner of today's community colleges. As such, it was an experience that moved forward the idea that continuing education was worthwhile. The Chautauqua was sometimes referred to as the "peoples university."
The DVD includes another video "The Village on the Divide" a history of Palmer Lake, Colorado plus 30 minutes of bonus footage of Glen Park (The Glen) for a total running time of about 90 minutes. Produced by the Palmer Lake Historical Society.
- Order form
- Print out our order form to order books or other gift items from the Historical
- Patrons and Benefactors
- We wish to recognize the patrons and benefactors that have made very generous contributions thus furthering the mission of the Vaile Museum and the Historical Society.
Please visit the websites of these fine people & organizations. They have all helped make the job of preserving and displaying the history of the Tri-Lakes area possible.
- Visit other websites dealing with Colorado history.
The Palmer Lake Historical Society
was named the
Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce
Non-Profit of the Year for 2014.
The Selection Committee was unanimous in their choice.
It was based on our past years of service to the community
and our many events and activities that promote,
protect, and preserve local history.
The Board of Directors of the Historical Society
All are volunteers. Without their many hours and dedication to community service, the many fine projects and accomplishments of the PLHS would not have been possible.
President: T. Baker
Vice President: P. McCarthy
Secretary: M. Walker
Treasurer: B. Arbuthnot
Museum Director: R. Davis
At Large: R. Voelker
At Large: S. Ketchmark
At Large: M. Robohn