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  • McAllister House Museum McAllister House Museum Colorado Springs, Colorado
    The McAllister House Museum was originally the home of Major Henry McAllister, who had come to Colorado Springs to work for the founder, General William Palmer, who had known Henry when they were both fighting in the Union and both had been Quakers. McAllister constructed his Downing Gothic house in 1873-1874, just after the town was established, with George Summers doing the design work, after leaving Philadelphia to come to the west and start a grand new life. The eastern architecture was using the Queen Anne and Gothic venues to design homes and the fashion had traveled west with many of the architects that came here to find a better life. Inside the house, there are marble fireplaces that were brought here from Philadelphia, with thick almost two feet walls, a charming children's room and Victorian furniture. After exacting research, the state has returned this marvelous home and its contents to its wonderful condition. Henry was born in 1836, in Brandywine, New Castle County, Delaware, to Henry McAllister Sr., who was a first generation American. His mother, Hannah Askew, was the daughter of a family that had been in this country since colonial times and who were members of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. The family moved to Darby, Delaware County, Pennsylvania by 1840, close to Philadelphia, and Henry Jr. was soon joined by two sisters that would grow up and remain in the city of brotherly love, always faithful to the Quaker ideals of faith. When Henry finished his schooling at the Darby Friends School, he tried his hand at merchandising, but enlisted when the Civil War broke out. Quakers were the first abolitionists in the country and numerous people in the liberal branch of the faith wanted to fight to help free the slaves. While in the service, he would come under the command of General William Jackson Palmer, a Quaker born in 1836, in Kent County, Delaware, and like Henry Jr. had moved to Philadelphia as a young man.  While serving, Henry was in the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry and soon rose to the rank of major, showing himself to be an apt leader, both brave and resourceful. Items from his service period are still found in the house/museum. In 1866, he married Elizabeth Cooper, the daughter of an important Darby Quaker, and he had the promise of a great job as the Secretary of the American Iron and Steel Association working for influential Quaker Joseph Wharton, but he soon changed his mind and moved west to work for his old commander, General Palmer. Elizabeth soon showed what a good wife and mother she was to their three children and the community began to know her as kind and caring. Their children became successful in their own right, with Henry Jr the third, going to Swarthmore College and coming back to Colorado Springs to be a well known lawyer. Mary McAllister went east to college as well and taught Greek and Latin at the Colorado Springs High School, eventually marrying George Taylor. The youngest child, Matilda, graduated from Colorado College and became a local school teacher, and after Henry passed on went to live with Mary and George. 

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  • Cave of the WindsCave of the Winds Colorado Springs, Colorado
    The Cave of the Winds is located in the Pike's Peak region of the state, just west of Colorado Springs, Colorado by the Manitou Cliff Dwellings with daily tours. The most famous area of the cave is the Silent Splendor room that was discovered in 1984, which contains many rare crystalline speleothems. Unfortunately, the room is sealed off from the public so that the very delicate balance of nature can endure. Other attractions at the cave include the bottomless pit and the rat. It was the setting for a 2006 episode of South Park called ManBearPig. The cave is one of the natural wonders of the Colorado area, with geology and adventure as part of the aura of these magnificent caves. It has become one of the best show caves in the country, which has been enjoyed by many for over a hundred years. The Jicarilla Apaches came through here in 1000 AD., and spoke of the cave where the Great Spirit of the Wind lived. In the latter part of the 1800s, two brothers, John and George Pickett, had been out exploring with their church group when they stumbled upon the cave. Over the decades, many visitors have come here to enjoy the caves that are great family fun, that will keep every member of the family mesmerized by the unusual rock formations that have grown from the ceilings, walls and up from the floor. Cameras are always welcome, and encouraged since these caves are unique and quite spectacular. Extremophiles are what cave dwellers are called, since there are extreme conditions inside a cave that requires special senses that only certain organisms contain. These extremophiles have been further broken down into groups of troglobites, trogolxenes and troglophiles. Troglobites are any kind of cave dwelling organism that spends its whole life in the caves; adapting to the darkness and dampness that is part of the environment. They usually don't have any skin pigment and are always blind, these could be fish, crayfish, insects, spiders and salamanders. Their environment is so fragile that if any of the cave's conditions should be varied, they will perish. Troglophiles are those that come to the cave to get shelter and end up making a home of them, close to the entry where the light is better. They will go outside the cave to get food, and then return to their safe environment. These can include snakes, bears, bats, skunks, moths, packrats, swallows, raccoons and foxes. On talking about bats, they are important friends to the Cave of the Winds, and the state is home to 15 species of bats that are seen in the surrounding areas. Although there are many misconceptions about bats, they do contribute to the ecosystem and help control insects, pollinate plants and have been found to distribute new seeds to the rain forests. The bats in the western United States feed almost entirely on insects, which make them the main predator of these minute creatures, and they will eat about half their body weight in insects every nights. The cave is a proud sponsor of Bat Conservation International and they have encouraged people to put bat houses in their yards to bring in the weird little flyers into their yards where the bats will devour as many insects as possible.

January 11, 2011