That’s because it’s arguably one of the most impactful geographical features that alter weather patterns in the area between Denver and Colorado Springs.
With a western border that can be marked by Palmer Lake, according to the Palmer Lake Historical Society, a northern border that roughly runs along the Platte River drainage and a southern border that runs along the Arkansas River’s drainage, the divide’s reach is vast.
“It’s really the areas above 6,000 feet of elevation,” Pinpoint Weather Meteorologist Chris Tomer said when outlining what areas of Central Colorado meteorologists consider to be a part of the Palmer Divide. “So, that’s Castle Pines all the way to Monument Hill, and that area has a big impact on our weather year-round.”
Something else you may have wondered in regards to the divide concerns where its name came from.
Naming the Palmer Divide
According to the Colorado Encyclopedia, the year was 1871 and Civil War Medal of Honor recipient General William Jackson Palmer had been traveling west.
Palmer was on this journey to play a role in both breaking ground on the town of Colorado Springs and launching the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.
The technology of choice at the time was the steam engine, which required water to refuel, along its route.
The PLHS said that after a steam engine’s climb to the top of the Palmer Divide, it would need to be refueled in order to make the journey down the other side.
So, Palmer decided to buy up the area around and including Monument Farms and Lake Property, which eventually would be called the Town of Lake Palmer.
This lake, which again sits on the most western edge of the unofficially bordered Palmer Divide, was the only known natural source of water that was readily available year-round, according to the LPHS. A train carrying passengers could stop and refuel in roughly 10-minutes, using solely the waters of Lake Palmer.
Palmer made additional philanthropic efforts in the Colorado Springs area, according to the Colorado Encyclopedia, including establishing the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind in 1909. He also founded a hospital dedicated to fighting tuberculosis and helped bring the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs into existence.
Today, you can venture to the Palmer Divide area for hikes, picnics, historical reflection and whatever you’re outdoor roaming heart desires. More importantly, next time you hear the forecast and General William Jackson Palmer is mentioned, be sure to reflect on the Civil War veteran’s role in fueling the region’s growth instead of ruminating on how it’s going to impact your day’s weather-adjacent plans.