COBWEB CORNERS: Up on Midland Heights
By Mel McFarland
There are some interesting bits of history south of Colorado Avenue. Fairview Cemetery sits in what was once called Midland Heights. “Midland,” because of the railroad and the neighborhood school; and “Heights,” because it sits higher than downtown Colorado City.
Actually, part of Midland Heights was an interesting area called Glass Town. In the 1890s, there was a factory here that made glass, mainly bottles. I told the story of that place a couple years ago, but Glass Town was where most of the workers lived. Midland Heights also was the home for mill workers and railroad men. There once was a railroad track up Arch Street to the Glass Factory and Golden Cycle Mill. It was 1949 when the tracks were taken up, but you might find bits of railroad history in some yards in the Heights.
Above Glass Town, where Bear Creek Park starts, was once a railroad yard. Some people are surprised to hear this, but indeed it was for the Short Line railroad. The company name was Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railroad, but Short Line is easier to say. Their yards were in Colorado Springs, where the power plant sits, and the tracks went straight west toward Bear Creek. Where the Norris-Penrose Center sits today was once the Portland Gold Mill, owned by W.S. Stratton. The remains are now well buried. The County Poor Farm operated about where 21st Street crosses Rio Grande Street. Some might remember the drive-in theater just west of 21st. Where Village at Skyline sits, the Short Line had a yard for tracks that went steeply down toward Colorado City. They brought ore from Cripple Creek to two mills that sat behind the cemetery. The tracks from Cripple Creek came down what is now Gold Camp Road.
After the Short Line was taken up in the 1920s, the area was pretty quiet until the 1950s when a gravel pit opened. Later, a big pavement plant was built. It was a handy spot, plenty of good gravel, and it really was not that visible from Colorado Springs. The one on Fillmore Hill was actually much larger. As years go along, the area certainly has changed, but like other places, there are still reminders of the past if you know where to look.