COBWEB CORNERS: A new railroad for Colorado City

By Mel McFarland

       In the early summer of 1880, word spread in the quiet little community of Colorado City. A railroad was being built from Colorado Springs to Manitou. Called the Colorado Springs and Manitou Railroad, it connected with the Denver and Rio Grande just south of the freight station at Colorado Avenue (then called Huerfano Street). At General Adams' house (marked today by the Adams Crossing bridge at Colorado Avenue and Columbia Road), the track crossed to the north side of the road until it neared Dr. William A. Bell's property, where it crossed the creek and the road and continued into Manitou and a station.
       Colorado City, which until then had no railroad access, was eager to see the line built and granted it a right of way just south of the road through town (now Cucharras Street). The track would have an easy grade, and for the most part be well away from the carriage road to lessen the chances of frightening horses.
       A survey had been completed in the spring, and work started in June. Twenty days of construction were allowed. Grading teams using mules, drag lines and scrapers were unloaded at the D&RG station, and a camp was set up just west of the prospective junction. Soon fifteen hundred employees were working at spots all along the line. Several sections required more than just grading. West of Colorado City, cuts in at least one hill were needed. As they worked, crews made camps at different places between Colorado City and Manitou.
       A survey change near Manitou was suggested by Dr. Bell. He had a stone church under construction near his home. He thought it would make a wonderful station. The track would stop farther east and be higher than the surveyed route, but it was approved.
       When the line was ready, one of the first trains carried former President U.S. Grant to Dr. Bell's home for a short visit. This D&RG branch was used by passenger trains until 1931 and freight trains until the 1950s.