COBWEB CORNERS: The storm of 1894
By Mel McFarland
After this last summer's dryness, I thought you would like to hear about the wet season! A huge snowstorm started the weather in 1894. It centered around Pike's Peak, as many do. Cripple Creek got over two feet of snow. On the peak itself there was much more. I have seen pictures of the summit with several feet of snow that year. June 6 was a big day for rain and snow.
The storm in early June was mainly rain down here. The railroads suffered as usual, with the strange exception of the Midland. Fountain Creek flooded from Ute Pass all the way to Fountain. Monument Creek was running over its banks from below Palmer Lake south! The streetcar line had a bad break near Colorado City, and the cars were at a standstill in many places on account of sand on the track and derailed cars. As to how much damage was done, the news tells us the tracks from about 30th Street to almost downtown Manitou were damaged or gone!
A newspaper story from Manitou tells us how happy people were when all had been repaired. A passenger train ran over the Manitou branch of the Denver and Rio Grande railway for the first time in four weeks. The track was but a temporary arrangement, laid sometimes in the bed of the creek, sometimes over the banks quite a distance from the right of way. It took several more weeks to rebuild the old roadbed. The D&RG's management stayed busy looking after the main line between Pueblo and Florence, and only came to the rescue of Manitou after that was done. The storm had washed out track and bridges along the Arkansas River as water from the west and south side of Pike's Peak rushed into those drainages.
Business in Manitou suffered through most of June. The cog railway only ran morning trains until passengers could get to the station. The hotels in the area were quiet! Once things were repaired, a large Masonic convention in July saved the day. The cog ran extra trains to the summit for the sunset. The trains did not get back to the station until almost 10 pm. The lunch counter on the summit actually served dinners!
We know the wet season is usually May and June. We will have to see what 2013 brings us!