One of the most well-known landmarks in the Tri-Lakes area shines brightly and it may soon shine statewide and nationally.
The Palmer Lake Star may soon be added to the Colorado State Register of Historic Places. One Palmer Lake Historical Society board member has made it his mission to get it on the state register and if it does the next assignment is to get it on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We're applying for the state recognition but we're going to seek their support in granting us national as well. I think we're worthy of national honors,” Jack Anthony, PLHS board member, said. “We have something really significant here to tell the country about.
The Palmer Lake Star, originally called the Star of Bethlehem, sits on a 58-degree slope on Sundance Mountain. The 500 foot star shines every December and has been a tradition in Palmer Lake since 1935.
The star was the brainchild of B.E. Jack, a regional manager of Mountain Utilities. Jack envisioned a star on Sundance Mountain that could be seen for miles so he shared his idea with Bert Sloan, owner of Sloan's Café in Palmer Lake and the idea took off from there. They wanted the star to be the town's contribution during the holidays for years to come and it is.
Anthony said the star is a symbol of what the town wanted to do in the face of the Depression. It was to be something that made the town proud.
In an essay to the state register Anthony quotes Sloan who said, “We tried to keep the town from dying and make it a good place to live. We wanted to do something the town could be proud of for many years and the star did just that.”
It took three months and many volunteers to build the star including Sloan's dog Dizzy who carried supplies to those working on the star. Local residents hand dug the holes for the posts and concrete was hauled up the mountain in a concrete bucket brigade.
The five point star has 91 light bulbs. All the bulbs are industrial grade filament bulbs that can withstand the wind and occasional deer.
The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department has maintained the star since 1937 and raises funds for the star during their annual chili supper. Other keepers of the star have been Palmer Lake resident Jesse Krueger and his sons Orville, Harry and Kenny whose job it was to change the bulbs. After Harry Krueger retired from the U.S. Army in 1973 he returned to Palmer Lake and has been keeper of the star ever since.
Anthony said in 1976 work was done on the star to replace the wooden posts to galvanized steel posts. Then in 2002 the electrical was upgraded to replace the electrical wiring, light fixtures and to meet the National Electrical Code.
Anthony said the application to be considered for the state register was turned in Oct. 5. He will go before the approval committee Jan. 18.
“It's a great honor for the town if it's accepted. It brings recognition to the community and I think it will bring more people to Palmer Lake,” Anthony said.