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Glen Eyrie “garbage dump” yields wealth of artifacts

ìThe find of a lifetimeî is how the city of Colorado Springs archaeologist, Anna Cordova, described an old garbage dump, discovered during a recent construction of a water retention area between Glen Eyrie, the estate of Gen. William Palmer (founder of Colorado Springs), and Garden of the Gods.The garbage dump dates back to the 1880s and the early 1900s; the current construction of the water retention area was necessary to prevent flooding because of the destruction of brush and trees upstream in Queens Canyon during the Waldo Canyon Fire of 2012.Articles found there were confirmed to have come from Glen Eyrie, and they provide a picture of everyday life on the estate. Among the first objects discovered were bricks made by the Tiffany Enamel Brick Co. of Chicago. Advertisements put out by the company stated that their products were used, among other places, in the construction of Glen Eyrie. The bricks were documented to have come from the bowling alley and the light plant at Glen Eyrie. Lightbulbs also helped confirm the find since Glen Eyrie was the only house in the area with electricity at that time.In the fall of 2018, Alpine Archaeological Consultants found more than 60,000 artifacts, which they cleaned up and cataloged, on the site. Some of those artifacts are on display at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. The items discovered include ceramics, medicine bottles, soda bottles, condiment bottles, toiletries, an inkwell, shoe polish and even a pair of shoes. Bones from a mixture of wildlife and domestic animals show us that the general’s diet consisted of elk, as well as pork, beef and chicken.The display also contains an exhibit to show children how archaeologists piece together finds from discoveries such as this to form conclusions about the life of the people who owned and used those items.ìWith big historical figures it is always interesting to see the personal details of their life, and it helps connect to them as a person,î Cordova said. She also said that such personal details as revealed by this archaeological find help people better understand and appreciate Colorado Springs, since the general played such an important part in the establishment of the city.One of the myths the display debunks is that Gen. Palmer was a teetotaler. Evidence suggests that although he did not allow the sale of alcohol in his new city, he drank alcoholic beverages in moderation. However, it was not from moral or religious reasons that he forbade the sale of alcohol. He wanted his new city to be unlike nearby Colorado City, with its drunkenness and carousing. In his own words, he wanted to create ìa habitable and successful town in the broadest sense of the word.îThe Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is located in the old El Paso County Courthouse, 215 S. Tejon St. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and the admission is free. On a busy day, 200 people will visit the museum to see artifacts from Glen Eyrie’s garbage dump; as well as other exhibits pertaining to the history of Colorado Springs.

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