COBWEB CORNERS: The Blair Athol mine
By Mel McFarland
This is getting more and more interesting. I have learned a lot about the Blair Athol Mining and Milling Company, and I have just started. I wanted to acknowledge much of the information I have gotten from our readers. So what other bits have I picked up?
Blair Athol is two miles north of Glen Eyrie. Today that puts it west of Centennial Boulevard, behind Flying W Ranch. The location is closer to the present quarry operation than the older Castle Concrete operation just north of Glen Eyrie, which is where I thought it was.
Blair Athol was named by Colorado Springs founder William Palmer. The company operated on 40 acres that had been part of the Palmer property. It was actually leased from his daughter, Marjorie Palmer Watt. It was said that General Palmer knew of the copper deposit when he bought the property, but no development was done.
Work in the mine started in early 1914. In the summer of 1914 you could buy stock in the company, 500 shares for $100 cash! "If you visit our property and are not satisfied, you may have your money back," the company advertised.
Blair Athol had an office in the Bennett Building downtown. The officers were P.A. Hartwick, president; George Birdsall, vice president; R.J. Livingston and J.W. Kistler. Directors were William E. Weeks, E.P. Miller and E.D. Weeks. Of these names, the best known is Birdsall, who also was an El Paso County sheriff and Colorado Springs mayor.
A pipeline going almost a mile into the mountains brought water to the Blair Athol mill. Wagons took the consolidated ore from the mill to the Pikeview station on the Denver and Rio Grande railroad. This is about where the railroad crosses over Garden of the Gods Road today. The ore was then shipped to Omaha for further processing.
During the summer of 1914, there were great plans to run electric lines to the mill and a rail line from Pikeview. I learned that Blair Athol did ship about six tons of concentrate a month through the summer. As mining operations go, that really is not much.
Now, I am still researching this, so the story is unfinished. As I find further developments, I will share them with you.