Me Neither. But I have now. Glen Eyrie was our SOWER project for the month of July.

William Jackson Palmer was born in Delaware into a Quaker family and was raised in Pennsylvania. At age 17 he started working at a railroad company in the engineering department. He rapidly progressed with the company and they even sent him to Europe to study railroading and mining there. When he returned to the U.S., the Civil War was starting. Even though being raised a pacifist Quaker, he felt convicted to fight on side of the North. At the age of 29, he became the second youngest brigadier general. General Custer was the youngest. After the war, he returned to his railroad career and traveled west. He fell in love with an area around Pikes Peak, Colorado. He purchased 10,000 acres at $1.25 an acre and founded a town there, now called Colorado Springs. A little later, he purchased an additional 2,225 acres near what is now called the Garden of the Gods.

He married a lady, whose grandfather nicknamed “Queen”, and they began building their estate on what is now called Glen Eyrie.

The home they built was a 22 room frame house and over time was renovated and made into a castle.

They hired a Scottish landscape architect who convinced them to name their estate Glen Eyrie after he had seen some Eagles flying over the area. Glen Eyrie means valley of the eagle’s nest.

<Eagle’s Nest

General Palmer loved to ride horses on the many estate trails until the day he had a very unfortunate accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He passed away at the age of 72. Queen had passed earlier. One of their three daughters remained at the estate for a while but when it became too expensive to maintain they sold it to a group of Oklahoma business men who planned to develop it into an estate with 150 country homes and to use the castle as a clubhouse. World War I changed their plans to develop the property since no one was interested in investing money in anything at that time. Finally, they sold the property to a New York multi-millionaire.

The New York millionaire and his family enjoyed the property for many years until he died and the family later sold the property to a Texas millionaire. The Texan and his family enjoyed the property as a summer home and cattle ranch until the family tired of going to the mountains every summer.

They listed the property for sale and it sat vacant on the market for several years before it finally sold. This is where the story gets interesting.

In Southern California, there was a young man named Dawson Trotman who had a great love and hunger for God. So much so that he wanted to share the gospel with others. He shared the gospel with military men, primarily mostly Navy since he lived close to Navy shipyards. After sharing the gospel with them, he began training them to share with others. This led to discipling and teaching them to Navigate through life.

That was the beginning of the world wide evangelical group now know as The Navigators.

Dawson continued to work on ways to witness, train and disciple others. He began traveling extensively and eventually met and became friends with Evangelist Billy Graham. Dawson Trotman and The Navigators took on the responsibility of follow up and counseling with new Christians from the Billy Graham Crusades.

A real estate broker from Colorado Springs learned that Billy Graham was looking for a headquarters for his ministry and contacted him about Glen Eyrie since it was still on the market and had been for several years. With its beautiful landscaping, the multi-room castle, multiple buildings, some with large conference rooms, it would be a great place for conferences and retreats. Billy Graham made a down payment on the property, but after several months and reviewing the decision, Billy Graham convinced Dawson Trotman that the property would be better suited for The Navigators to make their headquarters there. The Billy Graham Evangelical Association eventually purchased property near Asheville,North Carolina call The Cove

The problem with this arrangement was that The Navigators had no money and no benefactors. But through a series of miraculous God events, God’s timing and serious fund raising activities they raised the $110,000 down payment needed plus an additional $8,000 that came in the day of the closing and was just enough to cover the required legal fees. Both the Navigators headquarters and their International headquarters are located on Glen Eyrie property now.

Once the seller understood what the property would be used for, he threw in an additional 300 acres with the stipulation that it be used for a kids camp. This is now Eagle Lake Camp adjacent to Glen Eyrie. If you take the winding, dirt, treacherous, no longer passable, road up over the mountain, it’s 17 miles. If you take the highway it’s an hour drive.

So, what were we doing here? Glen Eyrie is now open to the public with reservations for retreats, conferences, special events, trainings, scheduled tours and concerts including their annual Christmas Madrigal dinner and concert. SOWERS along with many other volunteers help maintain and serve at this property.

This month, July 2022, the men SOWERS remodeled and painted some office spaces, handled routine maintenance calls, pressure washed and water sealed the wood on several bridges, repaired and painted some benches on the many hiking trails, while the women SOWERS worked on the flower beds – weeding and watering – and sewed some costumes for the Christmas Madrigal event.

Glen Eyrie is a paradise filled with beautiful landscape, rocks, mountains and wildlife. We’ve been blessed to serve here.

Below, I’ve included many pictures and videos from our time here at this project as well as a final video one of the SOWER ladies put together. I hope you enjoy them.

Until next time…

The Castle
Big Horn sheep enjoying a snack at the Volunteer R V Park
Time to Go!
Volunteer R V Park

Thank You, Gena Lester for putting this final video together for us.