COBWEB CORNERS: Bicycles and cattle drives

By Mel McFarland

       Traffic in Old Colorado City around Founders Day gets a bit crowded now and then. In the early days, about a hundred years ago, quite a bit of the traffic was of the two-wheeled variety. I talked a while back about wagons in Colorado City, so I thought you might like a bit on this subject.
       The popular name for these devices was "wheels," but we call them bicycles. Horses and sometimes wagons were needed for most transportation, but bicycles were very popular when weather was good. Many stores used bicycles for delivery of small items. There were even regular races in the area. One of the most popular was from Colorado Springs to Fountain. Some racers rode their "wheels" home, while others bought a dollar railroad ticket. The railroad sometimes had extra space in the baggage car, reserved for bicycles. Trips as far as Denver and Pueblo were quite an event.
       My grandfather told me one of his favorite day trips was to go up to Woodland Park or even Divide on the Midland, and ride down on the bicycle. In the summer the railroad baggage car was often filled with "wheels." Picnic lunches helped make it quite a day. Green Mountain Falls was a popular destination, as was a stop in Manitou for mineral water.
       The introduction of the automobile saw fewer bicycles, and once the inexpensive automobile came along the sport died down.
       There were other sights on the streets of our mountain neighbors. Several hundred cows were to be found all over the hills, even occasionally right in town. In the fall, as late as the 1930s, cattle drives would come down the pass from Woodland Park to Colorado City and be shipped to Pueblo for slaughter. Before World War I, this was a big event. The Midland had several loading pens in Woodland Park and another at Paradise Ranch. You could see long lines of cows as they were herded along country roads bound for shipment. The herds were driven right through town. There is even one story of children in Woodland Park spooking the cows, causing a bit of a stampede. It took three days to get all of them back. It must have made for an interesting moment when a herd of cows passed the school house. Plus, you'd probably not want to ride your bicycle in the street soon afterwards either.