In 1901 William S. Jackson, President of the El Paso County Bank, submitted a summary of the Colorado Springs banking industry, expressing his desire for its’ continuity 100 years on. “The Banks of Colorado Springs are the underlying force of much of the business of this section, they are under safe, liberal & wise management. I venture the hope that those who read this paper one hundred years hence may find the financial institutions of the city with the then existing conditions, under as safe liberal & wise control.”
Banking in Colorado Springs in the late 1800’s had a peculiar character due to the circumstances of life in the West. Individuals could start a bank regardless of holdings or capital. All it took was enough faith from private citizens to entrust their money to an institution. This meant that early private banks were dependent on the community trusting the leadership. Due to this fact the founders or part owners of many of Colorado Springs’ banks were wealthy figures whom citizens trusted could ensure their deposits. Such figures included Jackson, Charles Tutt, and Spencer Penrose.
William B. Young opened one of the first banks in Colorado Springs in 1872. Without capital Young’s bank went under during the panic of 1873. William S. Jackson, with two other men, purchased all of the holdings from Young and started the El Paso County bank. That same year the People’s Bank opened. The next year Young, working with local and eastern capitalists, started the first national bank in the Pikes Peak Region, aptly called the First National Bank. The Exchange National Bank, founded in 1888, became one of the city’s largest with deposits of $2.5 million.
The Colorado Springs’ banking community was one of the strongest in the Pikes Peak region. It wasn’t until the Great Depression that a Colorado Springs bank failed to repay its customers when it went out of business. The integration of city builders and businessmen into banks contributed to this robustness. Loans and capitol were readily available for a variety of investments from a variety of sources. However, Colorado Springs was dependent on a wealthy ruling class, one unencumbered by responsibilities to civilians and civic duties. The banking system of Colorado Springs changed forever in the 1930’s with the onset of new banking regulations and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The last private bank in Colorado closed in Akron in 1938.
Generously Submitted by Patrick Lee, CSPM Museum Technician