Humans have been fascinated with the stars since, well, the beginning of time, and the five-pointed star has remained one of the most powerful and persistent cultural symbols through the ages. For the last 80 years, the small mountain town of Palmer Lake has shone a celestially inspired beacon visible for miles—one you have undoubtedly seen if you’ve driven Interstate 25 north of the Springs.
Since 1935, the city’s residents (Palmer Lake had a population of 2,540 as of 2013) have cherished the 185,000-square-foot illuminated star on nearby Sundance Mountain and have lighted the symbol each December and for other special occasions.
The origins of the star trace back to a proposal by former Palmer Lake residents B.E. Jack and Bert Sloan. They suggested the construction of a large “Star of Bethlehem” to inspire hope and prosperity in motorists along Highway 105, which was the main road linking Colorado Springs and Denver until the 1950s and still traces the Front Range from Monument to Sedalia.
“I think they saw it as a great symbol of courage, determination and perseverance in the face of the Great Depression,” says Jack Anthony, a board member of the Palmer Lake Historical Society.
Visitors to the Village Green in Palmer Lake can see a bronze statue of Dizzy, the German shepherd who carried supplies to workers during the original construction of the Palmer Lake Star in 1935.
Learn more about the complete history of the Palmer Lake Star from the Palmer Lake Historical Society.
Various members of the community, including an equipment-carrying German shepherd named Dizzy, helped the two men complete the project on a 14-acre swath of land then-owned by Art and Reba Bradley. The star was first lit for Christmas 1935.
The Bradley family eventually deeded the land to the citizens of Palmer Lake in 1966 and in 1979 donated funds for the maintenance of the star. Since then, the city’s volunteer fire department has taken care of it with money it raises each year at an annual chili supper.
The star’s nighttime appearance has changed little through the years, although it has gone through two overhaul projects. The city of Palmer Lake has replaced and modified parts and pieces to quell the effects of erosion and the ravages of time.
Palmer Lake Elementary School has also played a valuable part in the preservation of the star. In 2014, the school raised $1,000 to replace each of its 91 incandescent bulbs with safer, energy-saving LED lamps.
“The old star is holding up pretty well,” Anthony says.