COBWEB CORNERS: Those Midlands, again!
By Mel McFarland
I've told this railroad story a couple of times, but I keep getting asked: “How did the Colorado Midland become the Midland Terminal?” On April 21, 1917, A. E. Carlton, Cripple Creek millionaire and owner of the Midland Terminal (with tracks from Divide to Cripple Creek), optimistically attended an auction on the steps of the Colorado City office of the Colorado Midland. The bankrupt Midland was being sold. The crowd for the court-held auction consisted primarily of scrap dealers. Carlton, backed by Spencer Penrose and his associates, wanted to save the Midland. The sale went to Carlton, and he quickly put his own men in control. In 1917, it came under the same owners as the other Cripple Creek lines, and there was no real change in operations.
A sale was started for the disposal of excess equipment. The yards in Colorado City were choked with cars for sale. The best Colorado Midland cars became Midland Terminal cars, including most of the passenger cars. The sales provided the revenue to keep the Colorado Midland barely alive. Most of the old Midland employees had to be laid off. Many retired, and others moved on to other railroad jobs.
The Midland closed in 1918, never to reopen. The little Midland Terminal was granted the Midland's operating rights from Divide to Colorado Springs. (Colorado City had become part of Colorado Springs in 1917). The excess equipment filled the tracks in Colorado City until 1920! Everything from all across the 260 miles of the Colorado Midland that could be moved was brought to Colorado City. In addition to the cars, there were 60 locomotives to be sold. A wrecking crew worked west of Divide to Newcastle, scrapping the railroad. Some of that scrap was brought to Colorado City to be sold. It took until 1925 for the Midland Terminal to completely close out the Colorado Midland, and even then there were a few boxcars out on other railroads. These lines were asked to destroy the cars and not send them back to Colorado!
The surviving records of the Midland were stashed in its office building near the roundhouse. The tragedy of all this was the office building fire in 1953. Everything was lost, except for a few souvenirs some had taken home. Some of these things might be in your attic!