COBWEB CORNERS: The welcome arch
By Mel McFarland
Back 100 years ago, Colorado City's business leaders decided to do more about welcoming tourists. Most tourists then were coming through on the trains, but more and more were traveling in other ways. The men thought that the automobile was likely to be a mode of tourist travel.
The Colorado City Chamber of Commerce had a great idea. They would build a steel arch over Colorado Avenue welcoming the travelers. George F. Geiger went about designing the structure. These arches were the rage all over the country. Eventually Manitou would have three! (One of those arches has been restored, at the east end of town.)
Geiger discovered several initial problems. His first was, "Where do we put it?" Colorado Avenue was a natural, but where? One idea was at the city limits, today about Limit Street. (Guess where that name came from.) The problem was, from there up to about 15th Street was pretty sparsely settled. Closer to the business district was suggested. At 21st Street maybe? Still closer to the businesses would be better. Well, how about at 24th Street? Fine, that idea was acceptable.
Who will pay for it? Ah, then came the real problem. Colorado City was in a bit of a downturn, and funds were tight. There was a suggestion of a tax on business. You might see where this is going to go. They did not even have a clue what it was going to cost! Mr. Geiger took his plan to a company that had built arches in other towns, then started selling pins with a proposed drawing of the arch on it for a dollar. It was thought that between $1,000 and $1,500 ought to do it. But the pins did not sell very well, and then disaster struck: The prospective builder gave up. The street was way too wide, and the arch would have to be very high to clear the streetcar power lines.
Mr. Geiger was a tenacious man and he did not give up the idea so easily. Eventually, however, he realized it was hopeless. It would be interesting to find one of those pins.