Spencer Penrose, founder of the Broadmoor and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, along with a group of his associates from Colorado Springs, formed the End of the Trail Association. The End of the Trail Association acquired property for the shrine and began construction in December of 1934, and finished in 1937. The edifice’s design was commissioned by Colorado Springs architect Charles E. Thomas, and at the time construction began the tower had yet to be named. The shrine has an entry gate with stone piers, an eighty foot high observation tower, looks like a fortress with a stone turret, and is built of 5,000 cubic yards of native Cheyenne Mountain gray-pink granite quarried from a single boulder. Anchored 28 feet into a solid rock buttress, the entire structure, void of nails or wood, is bound by 200,000 pounds of steel and some 30 wagon loads of cement. The elevation of the shrine is 8,136 feet on the top deck, and it provides spectacular views of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region.
During the shrine’s construction, Will Rogers, an American humorist, was killed in an airplane crash in 2 Alaska. This tragedy inspired Mr. Penrose to honor his close friend by naming the tower after him. Jo Davidson, an artist in Paris, was commissioned to sculpt a bronze bust of Will Rogers, which stands in the ten-acre courtyard in front of the shrine. The shrine was dedicated on September 6, 1937, in a ceremony broadcast nationally on the NBC radio network.
Check out their website for more detailed information on the various tours and pricing available: Will Rogers Shrine