COBWEB CORNERS: Colorado Springs' second railroad

By Mel McFarland

       New Orleans was the goal of a group of Denver businessmen. In January 1881, the group planned and incorporated a new Denver railroad. The Denver and New Orleans was bound for the gulf shipping port. The company had set an optimistic route - running east of the prosperous Front Range to Trinidad. The D&NO construction crews followed Jimmy Camp Creek south to near Fountain by 1883. A branch was built to the coal mines near Franceville Junction. The railroad built down Jimmy Camp Creek generally well away from the D&RG. The two came close together near Fountain. They ran parallel for several miles to Little Buttes, where the D&RG crossed back to the west bank of the Fountain. The D&NO stayed on higher ground, hoping to avoid the flooding problems that plagued the D&RG. The railroad built a station called Manitou Junction east of Colorado Springs. Nowhere near Manitou, the station was located 10 miles east of Colorado Springs (now just north of Peterson AFB).
       Former Governor John Evans was afraid that General Palmer's interests in Colorado Springs would block the D&NO's construction into town. Property was quietly purchased or leased, and in the dark of the night a crew quietly built a rough track in the street south from the projected depot site, near downtown. At Moreno Street the crew worked eastward to the edge of town. In the morning a protest was raised, but the construction was in place, and legal. The little trick was not the last for Moreno Street.
       The crude track would not support a train, and it sat for a month before a finishing crew from Manitou Junction made it usable. The track was ready in early December. The first passenger train, a special excursion from Denver, arrived on December 5. The depot was a short walk from downtown. One of their main freight customers was a coal yard in Colorado City which got coal from the Franceville mine.
       Their little depot sat in what would be Sahwatch Street, a block south of Colorado Avenue. It was used until the big Antlers Fire in 1899 engulfed this area. There were railroad tracks in Sahwatch until just recently. The D&NO became part of the Colorado and Southern, and the line south of Denver was in use up until 1901 to Pueblo, and abandoned south of Manitou Junction in 1913. A short piece of it in Denver is now used by light rail, but most of it was taken up in 1935.