Happy summer! As the weather starts to finally warm up and feel like summer, we thought we’d feature a refreshing beverage: Manitou Mineral Water with Lemonade. We’ll also discuss the history of Manitou Springs, tuberculosis in Colorado, and the Denver & Rio Grande “Scenic Line of the World.”

Figure 1 Denver & Rio Grande “Scenic Line of the World” map, circa 1910.

Before Manitou Springs was established as a town, it was known by the local Indigenous nations for its healing mineral springs. When Europeans came to the area, they too discovered those healing properties. In 1872 William Jackson Palmer (of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad) and Dr. William Bell officially established the town as a health resort.

Figure 2 Manitou Springs from Denver & Rio Grande promotional brochure, circa 1890s.

One of the most deadly sicknesses in the 19th and early 20th century America was tuberculosis, also known as TB. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the right mix of antibiotics was discovered that cured the disease, so before then, patients were frequently prescribed cooler, drier climates as a restorative. Colorado became one of those places. Colorado became so well known as a healing place that an estimated one third of the early settlers who came to the state, did so because of TB. Sanatoriums and hospitals were built in places like Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs to treat patients with the illness. Treatments included spending hours in the sun, eating excessive amounts of food, and drinking restorative elixirs such as Manitou Springs Mineral Water.

Figure 3 Cragmor Sanatorium was built in 1905 to treat patients with Tuberculosis in Colorado Springs.

Manitou Springs was not just a health resort for those with tuberculosis, however. It was promoted as a healing place for anyone and everyone. Though the town was established in the 1870s, it wasn’t until a railroad spur connected the town in 1881, that it began to thrive. The Denver & Rio Grande, or D&RG, railroad included it as a destination on their Scenic Line. Their promotional brochures touted it for its views, mineral waters, bathhouses, and hotels. It was one option for adventure that the D&RG offered in addition to places like Glenwood Springs and the Royal Gorge.

Figure 4 D&RG Scenic Line promotional brochure, circa 1890s.

Passengers did not have to stop in Manitou Springs to enjoy the mineral waters offered there. D&RG offered bottled Manitou Springs Mineral Water as part of its dining car beverage options. Competing bottling companies put out thousands of quarts of water and Ginger Champagne that was shipped across the country. One of the beverage options D&RG offered was lemonade with mineral water.

Figure 5 Ute Chief Mineral Springs water bottle label, circa 1910.

Before we share the recipe, let’s talk about the history of lemonade. The first written instance of lemonade shows up in an 1100s Arabic treatise written by physician Ibn Jumay who was describing its health benefits. Originally the ingredients for lemonade were only available for the rich or those who were sick, but it became a popular drink in Europe in the 17th century. The drink traveled to America with Europeans, and was enjoyed both with and without alcohol.

Our recipe today comes from the Mineral Springs Foundation in Manitou Springs. Though bottled mineral water is not currently available from Manitou Springs, the drink can still be enjoyed with replacement mineral water, or at Manitou Springs itself. We hope you enjoy the refreshing beverage, and if you try it, as always, let us know on any of our social media sites, or in the comments below!

Manitou Mineral Water Lemonade
Lemonade made with the naturally effervescent mineral waters of Manitou’s springs has been a local favorite since the 1880’s. The high soda content of the water softens the acidity of the lemons and all the ingredients combine into the perfect drink for a Colorado summer day. Sweetening the lemonade is a matter of personal preference. Traditionally, a simple syrup of boiled sugar and water used but for something a little less caloric, try agave, honey or stevia. Take a hint from the folks of Manitou Springs and try this with Twin Spring water.
 – 2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice, Zest from four lemons if a stronger taste is preferred (optional)
 – 2 cups simple syrup or sweetener of your choice
 – 6 cups Manitou mineral water
 – A few springs of mint (optional)
Combine the lemon juice and sweetener of your choice. Pour into a pitcher of Manitou mineral water and add mint, if desired, for an extra zip. The natural combination doesn’t last long so put up any leftover lemonade in an air-tight container.

Figure 6 “Around the Circle” beverage menu.


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