COBWEB CORNERS: Fighting traffic in pre-pavement days

By Mel McFarland

       Talking about the traffic through here raised a question about north-south roads. I-25 has been the main traveled route through here for almost 50 years! Before that, back into the 1930s, US 85/87 was the main route. Incidentally, US 85 and 87 come up from Texas and New Mexico as two roads, join in Colorado, separate at Castle Rock, meet again at Denver and again in Cheyenne, Wyoming. US 85 goes to the Black Hills and up to North Dakota, while 87 goes to Montana. I-25 generally follows the old route of 87 north of Colorado Springs.
       The first paved highway through Colorado Springs to Denver and Pueblo was built in the late 1920s and early '30s. It was a triumph for the automobile and truck driver. Prior to that, a driver going to Denver or Pueblo had to deal with many problems. The road was mainly a dirt road, in many spots not regularly graded. As it went through the little towns, the road might even be oiled, but towns were about five miles apart. (Many of these towns vanished in the 1940s, after the new road was built.) Another problem for drivers was the two railroad tracks between Denver and Pueblo. The road crossed the tracks about 20 times.
       The new road eliminated most of these dangerous crossings. In most places, where crossings could not be avoided, the road went under the tracks. The new road traveled through Castle Rock, Larkspur, Palmer Lake, Monument, Pikeview, Kelker, Fountain, Midway, and Pinon, as well as others you may have never heard of. When I-25 was built, some of those died.
       Before the paved road was built to Colorado Springs, the turn for Colorado City had been at Pikeview. The main road to Colorado City followed Garden of the Gods Road and 30th; that route goes back to the Indians. It had been well used before Colorado Springs was built and was improved when General Palmer built Glen Eyrie.
       Today, people complain about how long it takes to get to Denver. If you made the trip in 1940, it took about twice as long; in 1920, it was an all-day drive. The reason trains were popular was they took half the time a car or wagon did!