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The Garden of the Gods trading post was built as an example of southwestern culture for those visiting the park. It is the oldest and largest gift shop in Colorado—and the local’s hidden entrance into the world-famous Garden of the Gods.

Garden of the Gods Trading Post 1924

Sky, Plant, Shade, Tree

Garden of the Gods Trading Post Founder, Charlies E. Strausenback

Hat, Sleeve, Coat, Collar

Garden of the Gods Trading Post

Building, Plant, Mountain, Nature

1917: The man behind it all

Charles E. Strausenback was a born entrepreneur. At the age of 10, Charles spent his summers selling paintings and figures that he carved from gypsum to visitors in the Garden of the Gods. Always enamored with Garden of the Gods, Charles even worked one summer at Balanced Rock—taking photographs of tourists. He opened his first store in 1917 and it took off running.

1929: A dream realized

In 1929, construction of The Trading Post was completed. Charles and his wife, Esther, spent $10,000 on the new store, resembling a true adobe with cupolas—traditional hollow frames that protrude up from the roof. At that time, Charles was already a well-established entrepreneur in the Garden of the Gods area. The Trading Post opened for business on June 9, 1929—realizing Charles Strausenback’s dream of a quarter of a century.

1967: The end of an era

Strausenback passed away in October of 1967 from an unexpected stroke, near his home in Lupton, Colorado. His widow, Esther, continued to run the Trading Post until 1979 when T.A.T. Enterprises acquired the business. Since then, the store has drastically expanded.

1979: Years of expansion

The store expansion, from 2,000 square feet to an impressive 25,000 square feet, now houses a general store, restaurant, art gallery, gold panning and arcade games—all while honoring the original building and its nearly century of history.

Historic Manitou Springs, Inc., is an educational non-profit based in Manitou Springs, Colorado, at the foot of Pikes Peak which operates the Manitou Springs Heritage Center and was formed in 1997 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Our mission is to collect, preserve, research, and interpret the history and culture of Manitou Springs and the Pikes Peak Region.

The intent of the organization is to educate citizens and visitors in order to increase appreciation and understanding of this unique community. Before opening the Center Historic Manitou was operated by a board of three persons–Jean Garrity, Deborah Harrison, and Michelle Anthony. During the initial 10 years, we developed a track record of participating in and supporting community projects and events, such as restoration of the Eastern Gateway Arch, rehabilitation of Mansions Park, installation of over 30 Historic Interpretive Plaques throughout town, and placement of the memorial in Crystal Valley Cemetery for Emma Crawford. We have presented the “Ghost Stories of Old Manitou” haunted walking tours as part of the Annual Emma Crawford Festival (i.e., the events surrounding the Coffin Races) since its inception.

Garden of the Gods Trading Post. Accessed December 17th 2021.

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