COBWEB CORNERS: The Storm of 99

By Mel McFarland

       The rains came, as well as flooding. Fountain Creek rose to about the highest seen in some time; however, I'm talking about 1899. The Storm of 1899 was well beyond the recent storm.
       It all started in January. Although the major impact was felt in the mountains, occasionally it spread to the plains. It started with a very cold January. It brought daily snows of up to two feet, day after day. By the middle of February the railroads across the state had to close down under the deluge. Newspaper reports claimed it was the worst in 20 years! Little they knew.
       In early March, the coldest of the temperatures warmed, but only closer to freezing. The snow depth still increased daily. There was barely a day when some snow did not fall, pray even a bit of blue sky. Way up in Leadville, the snow was nearing five to six feet deep. High up on mountains, the depth was well over 20 feet.
       The snow was nearly 20 feet in the town of Aspen. There were no ski areas in those days, but if there had been, it would have done no good. There was no way to get there. Aspen, Leadville, and virtually every mountain mining camp was paralyzed. The railroad yards along Fountain Creek were filled with freight cars that could not be delivered to the mountain towns. None of the mountain railroads could run, even though they borrowed snow plows from as far away as Illinois. The roads were even worse.
       Colorado City received regular storms and the snow accumulation was considerable, but not enough to prevent local travel. In the mountains, the storm lasted into April. When the weather changed, finally, the snow melt brought flooding that continued for more than a week. The flooding, fortunately, was not sudden, nor extremely deep. Up in the mountains they talked about the Storm of '99 until those that remembered it were gone.
       Then there was the storm of 1913. It hit the Pikes Peak Region with a vengeance. Cripple Creek District was hit with up to six feet of snow in a day's time. Nothing moved for nearly a week! In Colorado Springs, the railroad's snow plows helped clear the streets, but that is another story!