Category: Architecture

US Air Force Academy

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

It was a beautiful morning at Cheyenne Mountain State park as the sun rose over Colorado Springs.

Cheyenne Mountain behind our campsite
You feel like there should be buffalo on these beautiful grasslands

Cheyenne Mountain has quite a story. Deep within the granite is a NORAD site built during the cold war. The Broadmoor has a resort up there and a zoo. An antenna farm sits on top. There is a host of luxury housing areas. Cheyenne Mountain State Park has another park on the mountain, and North North Cheyenne Cañon Park has 20 miles of trails and seven waterfalls. We need to go back for another week just to explore the mountain!

Across the highway from Cheyenne Mountain State Park is Fort Carson. It is very cool to hear the bugle calls in the distance, although I was usually asleep before taps 😊, but I was up long before reveille (wake up call).

The Air Force Academy is the youngest of the service academies, starting in 1959. The Academy sits inside 4,630 acres that was formerly Cathedral Rock Ranch owned by Lawrence Lehman of the famous Lehman Investment family. The price was $300,000, or about $65/acre. It is a gorgeous setting at the base of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains. “140 different parcels were eventually purchased to make up what is now a nearly-18,500 acre government property.” (

We stopped beside the runway where they practice flying and parachuting. It would be fun to watch that some time. They had several airplanes on display. Martha thought one might have been one her father tested in the wind tunnel at Langley Air Force Base where he worked as an engineer.

Rampart Range with Cheyenne Mountain to the south and Pike’s Peak to the north
What a great place to learn to fly!

We went into the Visitor’s Center, watched a movie and poked around while we waited for a guided tour given by a graduate of the school. He gave a nice tour, but we couldn’t go into any of the buildings, and we were disappointed they didn’t march to lunch. I think it was too hot.

I wondered what it would have been like to go to school here in stead of VMI. It certainly is a gorgeous setting, but our guide said they never saw much of it. Their lives were busy with school, chores and physical fitness. Their rooms were assigned by squadron, not by class as it was at VMI. 

A lot of money was spent on the facilities, and their sports complex is top notch. The school design is very modern with a lot of glass and aluminum. Entering class size is about 1,200, 20% of whom don’t graduate. 

Flagler College

We have toured beautiful St. Augustine before, but have wanted to see the Tiffany stained glass windows in Flagler College, so we signed up for a tour. It was pouring down rain as we found a parking place for my big truck with two kayaks on top, then walked a few blocks to the college. All the tours are given by students, and we were lucky to have a good one. The college was once the Ponce de Leon Hotel, extravagantly built by Flagler for the ultra wealthy, who paid a flat fee of $4,000 for the season of February through March. His railroad extended from Newport, RI to St. Augustine and Flagler Beach. Built in 1887, the city was ready to tear it down in 1968 when Lawrence Lewis gave the money to restore it and start Flagler College.

Our tour really only covered the lobby, an event room, the courtyard and dining room. With heavy rains, we couldn’t go out in the courtyard, but it is truly magnificent. His father being a priest, the courtyard is laid out in a cross. Electricity for the hotel was installed by Thomas Edison and his Edison Electric Company. Murals were done by George Maynard (

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