The Pioneer Monument - Denver, CO
Posted by: Outspoken1
N 39° 44.417 W 104° 59.256
13S E 501062 N 4398931
Quick Description: Beautiful monument and fountain to honor our early pioneers
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 4/10/2010 7:08:56 AM
Waymark Code: WM8JH7
18. The PIONEER MONUMENT, on a triangular landscaped plot, NW, corner Broadway and W. Colfax Ave., marks the terminus of the old Smoky Hill Trail over which thousands of gold seekers reached the Cherry Creek settlements in 1859-60. Designed by Frederick MacMonnies, the $75,000 fountain was unveiled in 1911. A bronze equestrian figure of Kit Carson surmounts the memorial; around the rim of the fountain are three reclining bronze figures, The Hunter, The Prospector, and The Pioneer Mother.
In the original design the sculptor had placed a defiant Sioux at the top of the monument, but pioneers rose in wrath, held indignation meetings, and created so much furor that MacMonnies made a special trip from Paris to confer with them. The pioneers were pacified when the figure of the noted scout was substituted. Later, however, criticism was directed at the modeling of the figures. Kit Carson said the resemble a "rococo cowboy on a pony of the same extraction"; Julian Street on a visit in 1914 remarked that the scout "looked like something that might have been modeled by a Frenchman whose acquaintance with the country had been limited to the reading of a bad translation of Fenumore Cooper." The entire fountain, he added, "might have been intended for a mantle decoration in Dresden China, which, through some confusion, had gotten itself enlarged and cast in bronze." (pg. 144)
Colorado. A Guide to the Highest State, 1941
Located in Civic Center in downtown Denver, the Pioneer Monument Fountain and Smoky Hill Trail Monument was a part of Mayor Robert W. Speer's participation in the City Beautiful movement. Renowned sculptor Frederick MacMonnies was hired to design a fitting monument marking the end of the Smoky Hill Trail. MacMonnies originally planned on topping his pioneer fountain with a bronze Indian. Denverites took such offense to this that the Indian was replaced by a figure of Kit Carson.
The monument was dedicated in 1911 along with Civic Center Park. A plaque memorializing the Smoky Hill Trail was added in 1936 and reads as follows:
"Here was the end of the famous Smoky Hill Trail. Immigrant and Stage Road extending from the Missouri River to Denver. Traversed by Pioneers in 1858. Surveyed by W. G. Russell in 1860. Route of Butterfield's Overland Dispatch and Wells Fargo Express. The trail took its human toll - by thirst and Indian raids.
Placed by the State Historical Society of Colorado from the Mrs. J. N. Hall Foundation and by the City and County of Denver 1936."
Over the years, the fountain had fallen into disrepair, despite its central location. The fountain was restored in 1983. The plaque reads as follows:
"The Pioneer Monument restored in December 1983 by the Park People and City and County of Denver." (Major donors are then listed as well as on a second plaque.)
The sculpture on the woman with child and rifle is also honored by the Daughters of Colorado. There is a plaque below this woman that reads "Honoring Pioneer Mothers of Colorado. Dedicated by Daughters of Colorado May 14, 1950."
The fountain runs in the summer (unless there is water rationing) and is a gathering place for lunchtime workers and children. During the winter, as with most fountain in the Denver-metro area, the fountain is drained. The fountain was cleaned for the 2008 Democratic Convention, so it is now in excellent condition.
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