A photograph of the topmost of the Seven Falls has a sign that reads, “Burros, for Helen Hunt Grave 25¢, to Car Line Via Helen Hunt Grave 50¢, Around Daniels Pass Car Line -1.00”. This photo is reminder that traveling in the mountains on burro back was a popular form of recreation in the late 1800s and early 1900s. So popular that people were still riding burros to the summit of Pikes Peak in time for the sunrise as late as 1960. The library’s photo is not dated; however, they have another photo of the same bridge that is dated, April 28, 1907. It is reasonable to assume the photo with the “Burro” sign dates from around 1905. At the time several burro and carriage livery companies were in business at the end of the trolley line in Stratton Park.
It may be interesting to consider where these three trail rides went. The first, “Helen Hunt Grave 25¢” is easy. There has been a trail from the top of falls to Inspiration Point, since 1883, just a year after the first stairs to the top were built.
That trail passed Helen Hunt’s (H. H.) grave. Inspiration Point was a favorite destination for H. H. and for tourists. H. H. asked to be buried there when she died. Even after 1891 when her body was removed and reinterred at Evergreen Cemetery it was a popular destination. This would have been an out and back burro ride.
The second ride, “to Car Line Via Helen Hunt Grave 50¢”, is a bit more speculative. From a 1908 brochure promoting South Cheyenne Cañon and Seven Falls we read this description of the approach to the base of the falls. “A short distance beyond the ‘Pillars of Hercules,’ on the left is Observatory Point. This is one of the objectives of the burro brigades, which leave the terminus of the electric car line at the entrance of the Cañon. … At this place the burro trail leaves the canon and winds its way through a thickly wooded gulch to Point Lookout and the top of Seven Falls, and from thence to Observatory Point by whose base we have just come.” The “terminus of the electric car line” is undoubtedly the end of the trolley line at Stratton Park.” Obviously, the trail that would take a rider from Stratton Park to the top of Seven Falls, could be used for the ride from the top of the falls to the “Car Line”. Most of this route followed the dirt road next to South Cheyenne Creek to the base of the falls. Observation Point and Inspiration Point were probably one and the same.
The only map I have found that shows a trail that meets that description is the USGS Colorado Pikes Peak Special Map dated May 1909, which was surveyed in 1906 and 1907. It shows a trail from the top of the falls to Inspiration Point (passing H. H. grave) and continuing on to Old Stage Road. It also shows a trail from the road leading to the base of the falls that climbs the canyon wall to join the trail to Inspiration Point. As steep and that terrain is, that would have been a pretty exciting ride!
The third ride, “Around Daniels Pass Car Line -1.00”, may have been the most interesting. Most of the trail from the top of the falls to Greenwood Park has been washed away by flooding of South Cheyenne Creek. There is evidence on old maps and on the ground that it did exist. A trail from Greenwood Park, over Daniels Pass and down into North Cheyenne Cañon still exists. From there the rider would follow the dirt road down North Cheyenne Canon, back to Stratton Park and the trolley.
Greenwood Park was private property, having been homesteaded by Bertha Bourne in 1894. Bertha deeded the property to her daughter Stella Martin, who owned the property until 1918. From Stella the property passed through three owners before being purchased by the Seven Falls Company in 1925. Because of their later construction dates, burro riders wouldn’t have seen all of the seven buildings that now lay in ruins in the park. Early riders may have seen Bertha and Stella’s cabin.
The trail running north from Greenwood Park passed through the middle of land homesteaded by Clara Cassatt. She received her patent for the property in April of 1893. Riders would have seen the two log cabins she built on the property. Continuing over Daniels pass, riders entered North Cheyenne Cañon City Park. Colorado Springs purchased 640 acres of the park in 1885 and General William Palmer donated another 480 acres to the City in 1907.
Burro rides to Seven Falls probably began as soon as the falls was recognized as a tourist attraction. The burro livery business began to flourish when Winfield Scott Stratton developed Stratton Park, which opened in 1901. It was located just east of the Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center. Between 1900 and 1910 at least three burro lines were in business in Cheyenne Cañon.
James M. Havis may have been the first to have a burro concession at Stratton Park. The 1901 City Directory lists Havis and Evans as proprietors of the Cheyenne Cañon Burro Line, located at the canyon terminus of the Colorado Springs Rapid Transit Railway. The next year James alone is listed as proprietor. He was also in the photography business, and a retail confectioner. After 1902 he is only listed in the photography and souvenir business.
Henry T. O’Brien manufactured harnesses, saddles and trunks in the 1890s and early 1900s. His Burro & Pony Passenger Transportation Company is first listed in 1901. However, it is not clear that he was doing business in Cheyenne Cañon until 1907, when he lists the company location as Cheyenne Park, the first name for Stratton Park. In 1908 he advertises a second livery business in Cheyenne Park, called the Rustic Burro Stand. Both companies continued doing business in the area, however, there was an interesting twist in his advertising. He promoted the Rustic Burro Stand as “A trip to Mt. Cutler over the O’Brien Trail, viewing both canyons and seeing Seven Falls without paying a toll.” It is unknown where the “O’Brien Trail” was, however, the Manly Ormes map shows two trails leading to Mt. Cutler, while only one exists today.
The 1903 City Directory lists Herbert Hunter was proprietor of the Hunter Carriage Line. In 1905 he is listed as the gate keeper of Cheyenne Cañon. The next year he is president of the Cheyenne Burro and Carriage Company. The company does business through the end of the decade, however, by 1910, Mr. Hunter has moved to Salt Lake City, and W. E. Pettit is president.
The Seven Falls Company also owned burros. One was white, named Rags, and the other black, named Satan. They didn’t transport tourists over the mountain trails, instead they were used as props for tourist photographs. In 1910, Gustaf Sandahl, an employee of the Rustic Burro Stand, advertised “photos taken on postal cards, burro pictures a specialty.” Gustaf would later become the official photographer for Seven Falls Company.
The three “Lost Trails” promoted by the sign at the top of the falls are lost to the general public due to private ownership or erosion. Only the re-built Daniels Pass trail is accessible today. The “Lost Tails” belong to those long gone “Rocky Mountain Canaries!”