My Secret Oasis (The Town Clock of Manitou Springs)

Manitou Springs Wheeler Clock 2
Photo: Denverite Express

I believe everyone has a special place that brings them an indescribable feeling of inner peace. Manitou Springs is that place for me. Growing up, my family would often take day trips to visit the tiny mountain town near Colorado Springs. I have so many fond memories of being dragged to numerous boutique shops, drinking mineral water, and munching on salt water taffy from Patsy’s. The older I got the more I fell under Manitou’s spell. My favorite spot in Manitou, in particular, was the old town clock.

Manitou Springs has a history of being a place of healing. In 1900, it was estimated that 1/3 of the Colorado Springs area population was suffering from tuberculosis.  People from all over were sent to Colorado in the hope that the clean mountain air, dry climate, and mineral water would heal them.

tb-huts6
“Transferring the Deed” by A. Newman, 1909. Courtesy of Special Collections, Pikes Peak Library District

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Tuberculosis was a growing force in the growth of the  Colorado Springs area. (Pictured above)  Tuberculosis treatment facility filled with huts. (Pictured below) Tuberculosis huts repurposed for a business in Manitou Springs.

The clock was originally donated to the town of Manitou in 1889 by the town banker, Jerome Wheeler to honor the opening of the Manitou Water Bottling Company. Wheeler originally moved to Manitou Springs as an effort to improve his wife’s health.

MineralSpringsFoundation_Poster
@Manitou Springs Heritage Center

The pretty lady on top of the fountain is the Greek Goddess Hebe, the keeper of the elixir of youth. She holds the pitcher for the elixir at her side. For many years it was believed that she was Hygeia, the goddess of health. An honest mistake, since both ladies are perfect representatives for the healing waters of Manitou.

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Manitou-Springs-Town-Clock-Detail
“Manitou Springs Town Clock Detail” by Mryon Wood, August 1980. Copyright Pikes Peak Library District
When the clock was a working fountain, the lower spouts poured water into bowls designed for dogs. (Proving that Coloradoans have always had a special bond with "man's best friend".

A poem I wrote in high school that was inspired by the Manitou Springs clock:

“She stands on top of the ancient clock,
Seen time go by without a stop,
Seen the day swallowed by night,
Dreamt of more than this endless life,

Ding-Ding sleep and dream the keeper of time is here you see,

Told the birds to hush their song,
Heard the chimes of hours long gone,
Seen great giants stumble and fall,
Felt the warmth of the morning’s sun,

Ding-Ding sleep and dream the keeper of time is here you see,

She stands on top the ancient clock a goddess of time for all to see,”

Manitou Springs-Wheeler Clock
Photo: Denverite Express

 

For Further Reading:

The Repurposing of Tuberculosis Huts

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