Monument Not A Traffic Stopper, But Worth A Drive Colorado Springs may not have an actual spring, but it does have a statue to its founder Gen. William Jackson Palmer. Sunday marks the 140th anniversary of the city's founding. Colorado Public Radio's Mike Lamp tells us about Palmer, whose statue is in the middle of a busy intersection.
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Monument Not A Traffic Stopper, But Worth A Drive

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Monument Not A Traffic Stopper, But Worth A Drive

Monument Not A Traffic Stopper, But Worth A Drive

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host: We have another marker this morning on our summer road trip that we call Honey, Stop the Car - as in, you're on the road sightseeing and you want to pull over and check something out. Well, Mike Lamp of Colorado Public Radio visited a monument that thousands of cars drive past every day. But stop? They can barely slow down.

MIKE LAMP: The statue honors General William Jackson Palmer, a Civil War hero who came west, built railroads, and on July 31st, 140 years ago, founded what's now Colorado's second-largest city, Colorado Springs. The general, on horseback, sits dead center in a busy downtown intersection. There's no crosswalk, no legal way to get to it and no room to stand next to it.

MATT MAYBERRY: OK. Let's go.

LAMP: But we give it a try.

MAYBERRY: Run for your life, I think is the best strategy.

LAMP: Matt Mayberry is director of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, and, Matt, it's lucky for us that there's not a lot to read at the base of the statue.

MAYBERRY: That's right. The sign on the statue says, General William Jackson Palmer, founder of the city of Colorado Springs, 1871.

LAMP: That's enough standing in the middle of traffic so we scoot back across the intersection.

MAYBERRY: OK. See, there's one car right there that doesn't know if they're supposed to turn before or after the sculpture. That's one of the big problems.

LAMP: The statue's location has been a traffic problem, and a long-running controversy almost since the unveiling 80 years ago. Mayberry says talk of moving it comes up every few years. And while the city keeps talking about the statue of the founder, people might not remember the man himself who imagined and helped create a city that was different from other frontier towns.

MAYBERRY: What he didn't want it to become is a typical mining camp, with saloons and brothels and gunfights, and all of that that we kind of picture when we think of a Western town. So, he envisioned one with a great liberal arts college, which he helped to found, Colorado College, with terrific newspapers, with theater, opera.

LAMP: Much of Palmer's vision came true. But Matt Mayberry says he didn't get everything he hoped for.

MAYBERRY: People who visit Colorado Springs are often blown away by how much parkland and trails and open space that we have here. Palmer wanted even more, and more of the mountain backdrop to be preserved as open space.

LAMP: It is toward the mountains on the western horizon that Palmer's statue looks now, from the intersection where cars approach day after day, from all directions and stop - for as long as it takes the light to change. For NPR News, I'm Mike Lamp.

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WERTHEIMER: Our road trip, Honey Stop the Car continues through the summer on WEEKEND EDITION and MORNING EDITION. You can follow us at NPR.org.

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WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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