COBWEB CORNERS: The best route to the gold fields

By Mel McFarland

       In 1859 when Colorado City was the remains of the camp called El Dorado, a team of men set out to scout up Ute Pass and beyond. George A. Bute and five others traveled up Fountain Creek to the junction with Ruxton Creek, and followed the Indian trail westward as far as present day Florissant. In that area there were no settlements, and they returned to Colorado City to restock and try again. As they returned along the trail, they got a different look at the area and discovered a path along Fountain Creek. It was quite rough, but with work, perhaps a trail could be cut in the tightest spots. Later they loaded a wagon with supplies and headed west again. The second attempt took them to South Park, where they searched for gold in the South Platte River.
       With Bute's discoveries, Colorado City became a shortcut into the mountains. The trails from Denver up the South Platte were much rougher and longer than Ute Pass. Word spread east to Kansas City and St. Louis that Colorado City, this new camp at the foot of Pike's Peak, was the best route into the South Park gold fields. The early stories called it Yute Pass. For 12 years, the Ute Trail was used to travel from Colorado City to just below where Cascade is today. Then a rugged, but less steep path up along Fountain Creek was cut in.
       In the winter of 1859-60, Colorado City grew from a handful of cabins to well over 100. Once spring came, the town almost emptied! The residents who had built cabins moved on west. Many of the cabins were dismantled and rebuilt on land east of town, even as far away as the growing farm camp at Fountain. Other derelict cabins were cut up for firewood.
       This brings up another fact that is often overlooked. There were not many trees on the mountains then. A fire in the 1840s had destroyed the forest from way up Ute Pass, well south of Pike's Peak, to almost the Royal Gorge and all the way east to the plains. The area we know as Black Forest was the source for most of the logs that built Colorado City. That lumber was also used to help build Denver and Colorado Springs too! Manitou Park, west of Woodland Park, was above the fire, and it was also used for lumber in this area.
       Colorado City would not really "BOOM" until the Colorado Midland was built almost fifteen years later!