COBWEB CORNERS: Our industrial past
By Mel McFarland
In looking at the town's growth as the railroad was built, it is clear that many other businesses were starting too. As it was written in 1890, “As if by magic, the sleeping hamlet sprang into a flourishing town of over 2,000 people.”
One of the major industries was the plaster works, between 22nd and 23rd off Vermijo. Started in 1875, the plant used local materials in producing plaster and even quantities of concrete. This industry was aided by our other major enterprise, the quarries.
The quarries around Colorado City, not just in the Red Rock area, came into their own when the railroad was built because that made it possible to move large quantities of the stone long distances. Some of our stone was shipped as far east as New England. Greenlee and Sons and Snyder Brothers were the two earliest Red Rock-area quarriers. In 1888 alone, these two averaged five carloads a day with more than 35 men working. Anthony Bott, one of the Colorado City founders, operated a smaller quarry. There is a fine new book at the History Center about the local quarry works.
Just a short distance away was the glass works, also using local materials. Original owners were J.B. Wheeler of Manitou, General Charles Adams (of Adams Crossing), L.R. Ehrich, J.A. Hayes, W.F. Modes and Adolph Busch. The works ran night and day making bottles. The business had a boarding house for single employees and 21 cottages for married workers. Busch also had a bottling works down on Cucharras where he bottled beer shipped here from the Anheuser Busch brewery in St. Louis, mainly for the Cripple Creek District use.
One of my favorites was the Ute Pass Paint works next to the railroad yards, near where the post office mail distribution center stands. It used local minerals too, but to give the paint color. The plant crushed the rock and ground it finely, mixing it with oils and varnish.
Colorado City later had the mills, where gold was processed, as well as a foundry that produced fences and other iron work. Another foundry came to town and produced stoves. So far I have not found a Colorado City stove, but most of the coal and wood burning stoves were replaced years ago!