COBWEB CORNERS: The first streetcar west
By Mel McFarland
In June of 1890, a great event was to take place. Mr. Tucker of the Rapid Transit Company was about to approve the final work on the Colorado City line. Many of the residents daily questioned the workers along what is now Colorado Avenue. At 5 o'clock on the evening of June 18th, the first streetcar headed west to check that everything was going to work. On the car were the officers of the company, stockholders and Colorado City officials.
From the car shops on Tejon, the car ran west on Huerfano street (the original name of Colorado Avenue in Colorado Springs). There was no long bridge over the railroad track, and there was a hill down to the level of the tracks. The car had to cross several railroad tracks, at level. (Later this would cause problems with the car schedules, as they had to wait for passing trains. This is partly why the long bridge was eventually built.) There was a short bridge over Monument Creek.
On the way up the long hill past Spruce, Walnut and Cooper the car jumped the track! A quick look found the problem: The rails were just a bit too close together. No problem. The little 16-passenger car was pushed a ways down the street, back onto the rails.
Word quickly spread, and once the car reached about where 14th street is today, people were lining the street to watch the event. Cheers went up as the car passed each intersection. In the business district the crowd was massive, blocking the entrances to the shops. No matter: Everyone was out there watching. The tracks continued almost all the way to the Manitou Rio Grande station, but the electrical wire stopped near present-day 30th street.
After a brief stop at "the Gypsy camp," the car returned to Colorado City and stopped at Armitage's Saloon for some more liquid celebration. Only Mr. Tucker declined the offer for a cold repast. After ringing the bell on the car, many of the celebrants declined the ride back to Colorado Springs. The car then traveled over to the Santa Fe station on Pikes Peak Avenue before returning to the car shop.
The next day regular service started on the line, and the scene at Armitage's was repeated often!