COBWEB CORNERS: Who were the Merry Maids?

By Mel McFarland

       Why would any group be called Merry Maids? Who would it be? Were they farm girls? Or “old maids”?
       Some of you may know of the Wildflower Excursions the railroads ran a hundred years ago. Well, you see there was a singing group made up of young ladies whose husbands or fathers worked for the Colorado Midland Railroad in Colorado City. The group's full name was the Midland Merry Maids. They sang on the special excursion train for a few years.
       The Wildflower train ran from about 1887 until about 1924, in the summer and fall. It left Colorado Springs in the morning, stopping along the way at Colorado City, Manitou, Cascade, Green Mountain Falls, Woodland Park, and Divide. Up until 1918 it went through 11 Mile Canyon to South Park. For the last few years, it went up to Gillett, near Cripple Creek. It returned in the late afternoon. On the return they would stop at selected meadows along the way to pick wildflowers. The train was called a Wildflower Excursion.
       The trip included stops near Florissant to find fossils, an informal picnic, and somewhere a grand group photograph was taken. The Midland Merry Maids were somewhat like a barbershop group, singing the latest popular tunes, as well as a few classics. They traveled from car to car entertaining the passengers. I have never actually heard any of their music, nor have I met anyone who claimed they, or any family member, ever belonged to this group.
       I have, on the other hand met several dozen people who were on one or more of the excursions. In addition, I have seen dozens of pictures of the passengers on the trip. They sold these pictures in a nice folio, after the trip, to anyone who wanted one through an agent on the train. In none of these have I seen anyone who looks like a Merry Maid.
        Today many of the open meadows where the people on the train picked their flowers are somebody's yard. Ah, somewhere in an attic trunk somewhere, is a Wildflower Excursion picture, advertisement, memento or the like. Perhaps one of you has grandmother's diary about her days as a Merry Maid.