August 26, 2013 – US Air Force Academy, Old Colorado City and Manitou Cliff Dwellings

Although we’d been to the Air Force Academy last fall, another trip proved well worth the time. 

B-52 just inside the entrance gate

At the Visitor’s Center, they have an excellent movie on the lives of the Cadets through their four years and in their own words.  The Center also has an informative museum.


However, clearly the highlight of any trip to the Academy is the Cadet Chapel (150 feet tall, 280 feet long and 84 feet wide) with its dramatic exterior

and multi-denominational interior chapels.

PROTESTANT CHAPEL (capacity of 1,200)

Note the cross in the shape of an Air Force Dress Sword

CATHOLIC CHAPEL (capacity of 500)

JEWISH SYNAGOGUE (capacity of 100)


Outside the cadet’s dining mess hall are sculptures of a number of vintage USAF aircraft


and one memorializing the Tuskegee Airmen …

At the corners of the interior quad, four combat fighters flown by USFA pilots

and a memorial to the victims of the 9-11 tragedy.

After lunch at

where they served some of the most outrageous, not to mention huge, burgers on the planet, Debbie and I took another drive through Old Colorado City.

The Prospector

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Native American Building Wall Mural

One of the earliest structure in Colorado City, this false-front log cabin was built in 1859 by Dr. Paul Garvin. In 1869, the cabin became a pioneer county office building. It also served as a Chinese laundry and an antiques shop. Slated for demolition in 1927, it was rescued and moved to the Broadmoor Hotel’s golf course and displayed for the Colorado “Rush to the Rockies” centennial before being finally relocaetd to its present location in a park in the heart of Old Colorado City.

We then drive to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings,

which proved absolutely fascinating and informative. Within the Visitor’s Center is a museum which includes a number of interesting exhibits.

It is also unique in that visitors are not kept at “arm’s length” from the ruins but are able to wander through them and are actually encouraged to touch and feel the handiwork of the Anasazi who lived there between 1,000 and 1,300 AD.


Four-room – Four-family home (rooms were roughly 6 feet by 8 feet and just 5 feet high)

Nine-room – Nine-family home

Kiva (the center of the society’s religious celebrations)

Narrow Passageways located between the structures the Anasazi built and the cliff walls enabling them to move freely between rooms and structures without having to leave the safety of the complex.

Interior access from one floor of a multi-family building to another was by ladder


Believed to have been a Watch Tower

The current Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop is a pueblo built in 1898 and occupied by Native Americans until 1984. 

Most archeologists agree that the Pueblo Indians are descendants of the Cliff Dwelling Indians.  Fifty years before Columbus “discovered” the New World, Taos Pueblo was built around 1450 and has been continuously inhabited since then. 

Defense was a primary reason for building pueblos five stories high with no doors or windows in the lower floors.  The only access to these floors was by ladders to the room and then down an opening.  The exterior ladders could be quickly pulled up during enemy attacks.  Today, doors and windows have been cut into the lower levels; yet there are no interior hallways, and ladders are still used to access the upper levels.

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