COBWEB CORNERS: The man named Roswell
By Mel McFarland
In May 1899, Mr. R. P. Flower died in New York City. Now, what did that have to do with us? He did have a bit of influence here. Do you know his full name?
He was born and raised on a farm near Watertown, New York. He moved to New York City to take care of an uncle's stock investments in 1869. This led him to Wall Street and the banking business. He was quite adept at it. When he died, he was one of the leaders in the financial markets of this country. It was thought that in the first few months of 1899 he had already earned an additional two million!
He was Roswell P. Flower, and both "Roswells" in this area are named after him. One of his investments was in the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Roswell City started even before the railroad reached here in 1890 and was quickly annexed by Colorado Springs. It was the area that is now north of Fontanero Street, west of 1-25 and south of Fillmore Street. Later the railroad started another area just north of Colorado Springs, just east of present-day I-25, and simply called it Roswell. It had a big rail yard and roundhouse at the north end of Monument Valley Park. At first there was a little station for Roswell City, but the railroad moved it over by the park when the new town started. The railroad track that runs under Cascade and North Nevada, just north of Penrose Hospital, was the Rock Island railroad.
Another famous investor was Henry Flagler, for whom the town of Flagler, Colorado is named. His primary investments were in Florida. I was surprised years ago after writing the history of the Rock Island in Colorado to learn that the Flagler Museum in Florida knew nothing about that part of his life!
It was common for railroads building in open country to name towns after major investors. Many of these towns eventually died out, but some survived. Even General Palmer named towns for his friends and investors.
Our own Irving Howbert had a town in South Park named for him. When he did something the Colorado Midland did not like, the railroad changed the town's name. Later when things changed, the old name was brought back! It is now under 11 Mile Reservoir!