COBWEB CORNERS: Colorado City’s growth boom
By Mel McFarland
The growth of Colorado City, resulting from the development of the Colorado Midland railroad, brought many improvements to the sleepy little place. In fact it also helped Manitou.
Colorado Avenue was not yet an active business center, but it was well on its way. Shops in Colorado City were being built at a rapid rate. Many of these were owned and operated by shops in Colorado Springs, and a number were also opening stores in Manitou.
In 1888 Colorado City had three meat markets, seven groceries, a jewelry store, one clothing store and another with just men's furnishings, and one general merchandise store. There were also two drug stores, two doctors' offices and a lawyer. Some offices were on the second floors of new buildings. Prior to this, the town had few two-story buildings except the hotel.
Two services that weren't offered yet in Colorado City were hardware and banking. One of the area's colorful additions would take care of this problem in Manitou. Jerome Wheeler built a nice big bank over there, as well as a nice big house. He was also a primary investor in the Colorado Midland.
One of my early columns featured the variety of businesses along the avenue in 1900. In addition to Colorado Springs' "branch" shops, there were also a number of "first-time" shop owners in town.
The opportunities were numerous. With a population of nearly 2,000 in a community that had been hovering around 100, almost everyone in town was new. To meet the needs for the growing community, the number of trades that could be found along the avenue was increasing almost every day.
As for the "entertainment centers" that Colorado City would become known for, the number in 1888 was not yet what it would be in a few years. Actually, the increase would be supported by the construction of the street railway from Colorado Springs to Manitou, which was just being planned.
There were other ways that Colorado Springs was helping the growth of Colorado City. Much of the lumber and other building materials were coming from over there. The demand would lead to lumberyards, brick-making sites, stone quarries and a plaster mill in Colorado City. It must have been quite a time!