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Friday, May 13, 2016

Werewolves, Pyramids, Giants - Oh My!

I would be remiss if I didn't write about something a bit odd or unusual on this Friday the 13th. So, here goes....


Werewolves. Why does this person depicted in this painting have fangs?


This is part of a larger installation which can be found at the Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs. The museum is actually the old county courthouse from 1903 to 1973. It is built from granite blocks. The building became the home of the museum in 1979.






But back to the painting. There are four sets of murals on the second floor of the museum. Two of which can be seen in each stairwell and then two panels flank the doorway into a display room. The panels depict the history of the Pikes Peak region beginning with the Louisiana Purchase and continuing on until the post WWII era. The mural was painted by Eric Bransby.


Now about the guy with the fangs. In case you didn't know, many famous people either lived in Colorado Springs or were born there. Among them are Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), Robert Heinlein, Lewis Black, and Lon Chaney to name but a few! And I mean only a few! 

Lon Chaney was born in Colorado Springs on April 1, 1883. Lon Chaney is reported as being the man depicted in this particular part of the mural. Lon Chaney made a lot of films and was famous as Quasimodo as well as the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera. Chaney was a master of make-up which enabled him to play a lot of roles. The museum brochure about the murals states that the last mural panel with the man with fangs is Lon Chaney. But in the research I did, Lon Chaney never portrayed a werewolf in films. His son, Lon Chaney Jr., was the one who became famous as The Wolfman.


So, we are back to the beginning...Who is the man with fangs in the mural????




Outside the museum is a pyramid. It is entitled , Follow the Setting Sun. It was designed by a local artist and depicts historical events of the Pikes Peak Region. The uprights are lit from within at night. Interesting to say the least.....a pyramid outside a granite building. Lots of energy there!

And lastly, the Giant. In a 1907 newspaper from the nearby town of Castle Rock, is this article - Workmen excavating for the lake to be used in connection with the shoot the chutes at the Zoo near Colorado Springs , have unearthed the skeleton of a . giant Indian and a horse at a depth of about ten feet . With the skeleton were found the remains of a bow and arrow and a half decayed fragment of a blanket . The supposition is that the Indian was a Cheyenne and was carried from the cliffs in a landslide .

A wealthy businessman from Colorado Springs, who was more loan shark and mob boss than entrepreneur, owned some property in the foothills to the southwest of town. Always looking for the next way to make a buck, this ambitious man decided to build a sort of amusement park complete with animals and various rides. There is some controversy as to the "Chute the Chutes" ride. Some say it was a roller coaster while other reports claim it was a water ride. I have a tendency to believe it was a water ride because there is an area adjacent to one of the local parks which bears the name "The Chutes". This area is in a very steep canyon with a stream running through it. Perfect location for a water ride.

Were there Giants once living in the Pikes Peak area? If the Indian was a Giant, then was his horse of large proportions as well?  Can't say for sure. But I do know that the area where The Chutes are located is currently off limits to the public. It is owned by Colorado Springs Utilities. What better way to keep people out of some place and 'accidentally' discovering a relic from the past.

These are but a few of the 'oddities' found in or near Colorado Springs. There's still Tesla, and NORAD, and the Garden of the Gods, and ....... so, you'll just have to wait till next time to see what is written about.

2 comments:

the dogs' mother said...

Great history lesson! I always enjoy hearing
about more of local wonders. :-)

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I love to see beautiful old buildings like that repurposed for a modern use. Looks like a great museum! And what an interesting collection of strange tales about Colorado Springs!