COBWEB CORNERS: The glass works
By Mel McFarland
Some may find the idea that Old Colorado City was an industrial center quite a surprise. In the 1880's, when Colorado City was starting to grow, several industries were important to the area residents. Over the next few weeks, I will talk about some of these.
The glass works was one of the early businesses to use our natural resources. Combining area sands and chemicals into glass seemed quite natural. Bottles were used for many things and the local need was seen as high. There were several local businesses that needed large numbers of bottles. The glass factory was located high above Colorado City to the south. It sat between Wheeler, Busch, Race and Arch streets, well away from other houses and businesses. The builders wanted not only room to grow, but wisely knew of the danger from fires. Jerome B. Wheeler and Augie Busch were early stock holders in the company, as well as customers. Wheeler was closely associated with the Manitou Mineral Water company. The Busch family is well known for their beer business.
The Colorado Midland built a steep track up Arch Street to the factory. Daily, they hauled bottles to local as well as distant bottling works. The mineral water company was an important customer. Its water was sold all over the country. When Cripple Creek developed the water and beer was in high demand, Busch had a bottling works in Colorado City. There was talk of even building a branch brewery here.
In 1893, the factory suffered a terrible fire. Several buildings in the complex, as well as several railroad cars, were lost. Many of the owners were already having financial problems and the fire only added to their difficulties. The company, however, made a recovery and was rebuilt. The company continued to have problems, and finally in 1895 it closed. The buildings sat derelict until about 1900, when the last one was torn down. In the area as late as the 1980s you could still find odd shaped chunks of colored glass. Some of this was from the fire in 1893.