COBWEB CORNERS: Drilling in Colorado City
By Mel McFarland
A question was raised, “Was there oil and natural gas, or either one of them, in Colorado City?” In 1894, oil and gas were not as important as they are today. But energy sources were rather important to our industries (which I talked about here July 5). Natural gas, if it was available, would be cheaper and cleaner than coal.
Several local businessmen had a geologic study of the area done, and the report was favorable. A likely drilling spot was selected a short distance east of the Colorado Midland Shops, near the bank of Fountain Creek. "Iris Well No. 1" was named for W.P. Epperson, editor of the Colorado City Iris and promoter of the enterprise. The company raised $100,000 by selling stock at 10 cents a share.
Operations began in March by drilling a one-foot wide hole some 50 feet down. A pipe lined the hole down the first 50 feet. Later a six-inch pipe was run down almost 1,000 feet. During the drilling several pockets of gas were found. One report reads: "When a piece of burning waste was dropped down the hole there was an explosion which caused some very surprising acrobatic feats on the part of the spectators."
It was projected that drilling another three or four hundred feet ought to be needed to reach the oil. A story tells about an earlier well in Colorado Springs in what is now Acacia Park (then called North Park), which was actually for water. This well, in 1884, found a bit of gas, and oil, but no water. The Colorado School of Mines believed that the oil was part of the formation found near Florence. A field located near Fountain produced substantial quantities many years later. There was even an oil refinery at Piñon, north of Pueblo.
The well in Colorado City produced enough natural gas that a series of distribution lines were laid and customers served. The company drilled at least two more wells on the Colorado Midland property.
The wells were used for many years, just how many I do not know, at least until 1915. Colorado City had gas in many of the homes and businesses before some had electricity. Some of the Colorado City homes from 100 years ago actually still have gas and electric lighting fixtures.
When Colorado Springs Utilities was formed, many of the old gas lines were pressed into service, but that caused a problem. The original lines were designed to handle low pressure. The later gas service was of a much higher pressure. In the 1940s and '50s there were explosions in the older homes that still had the lower pressure piping.