The Treatment of Tuberculosis Was Our First Industry
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The Treatment of Tuberculosis Was Our First Industry

The sanatoriums for the treatment of tuberculosis was Colorado Spring's first real industry. the treatment of TB played such a key role in the Spring's history that we have a permanent exhibition portraying the history of the TB Sanatorium on permanent display at the Pioneers Museum.

The city of Colorado Springs is rich in historical firsts and is known for many fascinating things. During the Pikes Peak Gold Rush (1858 to 1861)100,000 people headed for the region from all over the country, but only about half of them ever reached the Pikes Peak Region. The participants in the rush to the gold fields became known as “The 59ers” because the rush was at its highest level in 1859. The rush to the California gold field peaked in 1849; hence they were known as “The 49ers.” Because of the bustling, densely populated gold camps, the population of Colorado grew by leaps and bounds, leading to the creation of the Colorado Territory in 1861.

The Hordes of 59ers, with Pike Peak or Bust painted on the sides of their covered wagons, not withstanding, Colorado Springs is best known for its TB sanatoriums. The “Rush of the Lungers” started in the 1860 and lasted well into the early 1900s. In August of 2006, Matt Mayberry, the director of the Pioneers Museum, told a Colorado Springs Gazette reporter: "It was really our first industry. We were not an industrial town, so TB recovery and that kind of service environment was our first industry. There are a lot of legacies of that in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area."

Modern Woodmen of America Sanatorium

The Modern Woodmen of America Sanatorium, located in a valley on the northeast side of Colorado Springs, treated over 12,000 people suffering with TB. The sanatorium is long gone, but the valley is now known as the Woodmen Valley, and the road running through it is called Woodmen Road.

Glockner Tuberculosis Sanatorium

The Glockner Tuberculosis Sanatorium opened its doors to TB patients in 1890. In time, the Glockner Sanatorium evolved to become the Penrose St Francis Health Services. Today, the Penrose St Francis Health Services provides a full range of health services, but it is still closely tied to the Glockner Tuberculosis Sanatorium that gave it life.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

The campus of the University of Colorado Springs was built where the Craigmore TB Sanatorium once stood. They, sanatoriums, were everywhere you looked during that period of Colorado Springs history because the city was known as “The City of Sunshine”, a city where there was sunshine 300 days out of every 360 that time, doctors felt that sunshine, lots of sunshine, was the key factor in curing TB. They had chosen the right city to build their sanatoriums in, but it was not the sunshine that effected the cures they experienced, it was the altitude. Dr. Michael Ansfield, a Spring’s physician who specializes in lung diseases told the Gazette reporter, "It's the altitude, not the weather. TB germs like oxygen, and the higher you go in altitude, the less oxygen there is to breathe. TB bugs don't grow well when there's less oxygen.”

Tuberculosis was them Leading killer of that Day

The sanatoriums that spread throughout the Pikes Peak region was the TB sufferers only chance to live a longer life. Back during that period, there were no medical treatments available for that bacterial infection. Medications to treat that bacterial killer were not developed to the late 1940s.

Permanent Display at the Pioneers Museum

The sanatoriums and the treatment of TB played such a key role in the history Colorado Springs that we have a permanent exhibit about TB and its treatment on permanent display at the Pioneers Museum.

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Comments (10)

A great history lesson with fascinating detail. I love to see pictures of these sanatoria if they survive.

I'll try and locate some pictures that I can copy and send to you Michael but the only ones that I have seen so far are at the Pioneers Museum. They may have some for sale through the Museum Store but I'm not sure about that. The perpetual display at the Pioneers Museum is definitely worth many visits if you ever get to my city.

A nice historical account on TB sanatoriums in Colorado.Thanks.

Thank you for this history lesson about TB and the facilities that treated that disease.

All very interesting, thanks Jerry.

Wow, this is really great information.

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Interesting issue on TB, I thought Americans do not know this disease, thanks Jerry.

Good information Jerry. You know TB is still also one of our major concerns here. The fact is people just couldn't afford to continue treatment.

We have pretty much made TB a disease of the past, Ron. I was writing about an age in American history prior to the development of medicines to control the disease. TB played a big role in the history of Colorado Springs, Colorado but it isonly of historic interest to us here in the Springs now. We value our history.

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Thanks for the message Jerry. I also heard about some history in Europe connecting TB with the death of the so-called witches vomiting blood but in fact, they had accumulated TB at the worst stage. Here in my country, in the past, TB was once considered a killer disease and without-cure because of ignorance on health but modern medicine and health-conscious awareness of the new generation makes it less concern but still there are huge numbers affected in some public hospitals here, buildings separating males and females patients.