Museum Blog

Camping Is In Tents

Back in June 1917, the city Council was asked by the chamber of commerce to give thought to a conveniently placed camping ground for automobile tourists and visitors during the summer. On June 18, 1917, the council announced they had purchased a tract of land at 12th Street and College Avenue that was to be used as a public automobile camping ground. The grounds were ready for use by July 5, 1917 with water pipes having been laid and signs directing tourists to the spot. However, complaints were put forth by residents that he headlights of the automobiles were blinding after nightfall. Despite complaints, the campgrounds were popular with the Cañon City Record reporting on July 19, 1917 that the grounds were filled nearly every night. The register at the pavilion at the top of the Royal Gorge recorded 40% more out of state visitors during 1917 than the previous year, perhaps due to the addition of a place to camp overnight.

The city began charging 25 cents a day for the use of the campgrounds and that money was used towards improvements. On April 24, 1924, it was reported that a building was being constructed for kitchen and cooking purposes. It would feature a chimney with four connected places to heat or cook food. The space was screened to keep out bugs and provide a place to eat in bad weather. In June 1928, a new bathhouse was erected at the grounds. It had two showers for women and two for men as well as toilet and sinks. Two tennis courts and a croquet ground were also under construction at the time. The campgrounds were still open in 1932 according to the city directory but closed shortly after. The playground at Rudd Park opened in June 1934.

City campground at 12th Street and College Ave, ca. 1922. Object ID: 1986.043.154; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center
City campground at 12th Street and College Ave, ca. 1920. Object ID: 1994.035.316; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

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