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COBWEB CORNERS: How the gold mill got powered

By Mel McFarland

       Over the years I was in this building many times, as it was near the railroad tracks. You too may have seen it, or even gone into it. It was torn down several years ago, without any fanfare. It was one of the last "original" buildings in Pikeview.
       It was built in 1923 as the power plant right next to the coal mine. Its main purpose was to provide power for the Golden Cycle Mill on the hill above Colorado City. At the time the City of Colorado Springs, which had annexed Colorado City a few years earlier, had not yet put its utilities department together. Several power companies were providing electricity for homes and businesses in the area. Eventually these would be purchased by Colorado Springs and the electric generation part of the utilities would result.
       Golden Cycle wanted to use its own coal to power the mill as well as the nearby Midland railroad yards. A 2,000-kilowatt plant could do that. The coal mine was located near where South Rockrimmon Boulevard now meets Mark Dabling Boulevard, along the railroad tracks. The power line was run south from Pikeview, over part of the Mesa and down 20th Street to the mill. A steam-operated, coal-fired generator was installed in the building at the western edge of the mine. The plant burned low-quality lignite coal. It was used well into the 1940s, but when Golden Cycle closed the mill and moved the process to Cripple Creek, it was of little use, except right at the mine. The mine itself operated into the 1950s, when it was closed and the town dismantled.
       Over the years the mine buildings and the town of Pikeview were forgotten, but the big, tall, concrete shell of the power house remained. There was really no clue to its use, except for "Golden Cycle Corporation" cast into it. A little research answered the puzzle.
       The company began redeveloping that area into what was designated Rockrimmon, but left the job for others to finish. Having coal mines under the ground became a tender subject when, during a wet season old mine grounds in Cragmor started sinking! A few mine holes in Rockrimmon also dropped.
       The area at the site of the power plant is now being redeveloped as apartments. The concrete shell was the last remnant of the Pikeview Coal Mine complex.
       One final comment about Pikeview coal: It was low-quality, never good enough to make coke, which is a highly refined, high-temperature coal used in smelters such as those in Pueblo.

(Posted 4/2/14; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

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