Colorado Legends: Nikola Tesla

Of all the famous legends in Colorado, Nikola Tesla, the world-renowned scientist, made his home in Colorado Springs and worked on many beneficial experiments.

Tesla was born in Austria on July 10, 1856.  He was a gifted child and an exceptional adult. It is said that Tesla had a photographic memory, that he could memorize every book he read.

As a child, he suffered from an unknown illness.  He stated in an autobiography that he would have blinding flashes of light behind his eyes and see visions. These “visions” were the result of an idea or article he had read and sought to improve upon.

Many of his groundbreaking ideas and inventions came from these visions. He would see them in complete detail, dimension, and accuracy and then begin his scientific research. In 1884, Tesla arrived in New York City with a reference letter to Thomas Edison.

Edison hired him as an electrical engineer and he immediately began to solve problems that had been plaguing the Edison Company.

Tesla worked for Edison for years, and after asking for a raise and turned down, he quit the company and formed his own, the Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing Company.

Tesla became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. on July 30, 1891.  Not long after, he established a laboratory in New York City.

In 1899, he decided to move to Colorado Springs and set up a laboratory. Here he would have lots of room to work on his latest high voltage and frequency experiments.

Arriving at the Colorado Springs depot, he was met by reporters who were curious as to why the famous scientist was there. He stated to them that he was experimenting with wireless telegraphy by transmitting signals from Pikes Peak to Paris. Some of his experiments in Colorado Springs consisted of artificial lighting, atmospheric electricity, transmitting power and energy over long distances and receiving wireless signals from space.  And let’s not forget his popular “Tesla Coil” electric generator.

At one time in his lab, Tesla claimed to have received signals from Venus or Mars.  He supposedly invented the Teslascope to communicate with other planets.

In the one year that Tesla ran his lab in Colorado Springs, he developed numerous new and successful inventions that we are still using today.

He left the Springs in 1900 and his lab was dismantled.  In the year that he worked here, he invented the very important, trans-Atlantic wireless telecommunication facility, which he called Wardenclyffe.

Tesla eventually returned to his New York lab and continued to work on inventions for many years. He died in New York, on January 7, 1943, at the age of 86.

He was a great man and an innovative scientist.  We can thank him for many of his inventions that make our life easier.