COBWEB CORNERS: Changes in Colorado City
By Mel McFarland
I have talked recently about Colorado City and the changes brought by building the Colorado Midland. I recently found another set of stories about that era. We know a bit about the early days of Colorado City, but there is a great gap in our knowledge after Colorado Springs came into the picture in 1871. The old newspapers tried to not talk about Colorado City unless it was negative! This changed when the Midland railway came to town.
Shortly before that, in the mid-1880s, Colorado City was not doing very well. One source says there were just two stores on the main road: a grocery store and a saloon! The Denver and Rio Grande train went three times a day to Manitou, but it usually did not stop in Colorado City. South of Colorado Avenue were a few businesses, but fewer streets and the D&RG. A few more streets were north of Colorado Avenue.
Once the Midland arrived, changes were quite visible. Streets were cut and lots sold. Colorado Springs, which had started getting water from Fountain and Ruxton Creeks in the 1870s, installed a pipeline through Colorado City, providing running water to the Midland and a few homes. Two other services came with the railroad's construction: telephones and electricity. Curiously, it would take several years before a sewer system was built.
Colorado Telephone served Colorado Springs, but not until the Midland was being built did it add lines to Colorado City. As businesses opened along Colorado Avenue, most had telephones too! The Colorado Springs Electric Light Company at first added streetlights along Colorado. Later, buildings were wired for lights. Gas was discovered in Colorado City, and two natural gas wells later served both cities. Many of the better houses and stores built in the early 1900s had both systems. At that time there were a couple of utility companies serving Colorado Springs, Manitou and Colorado City. It would be many years before they would be consolidated under the City of Colorado Springs.
There is plenty more to look at in the changes the Midland brought to Old Colorado City. One is the school systems, so we will do more on this.