COBWEB CORNERS: The man behind Adams Crossing
By Mel McFarland
You may never have heard of General Charles Adams, but I know you're aware of one or more of the important things he did.
Born in Germany, his name was actually Schwan-beck when he immigrated to the U.S., but he had it changed to Adams. He served in the Civil War, then came to the Pikes Peak region, eventually making his home west of Colorado City. He died in a Denver hotel fire in 1895.
During his years here, he was a brigadier general in the Colorado Militia, an Indian agent, a postal inspector, a labor negotiator and an investor in the Colorado City Glass Works and the Manitou mineral water company. He even served on the investigation board in the case of Alferd Packer, the cannibal. Adams also spent two years as the minister to Bolivia under presidential appointment.
Adams was one of the first Indian agents appointed in the Colorado territory by President Ulysses Grant. It was through this position that he and his wife Margaret became friends with the Ute Chief Ouray and his wife Chipeta. In the Meeker Uprising of 1879, Adams worked with Ouray to negotiate the return of several women who had been taken captive in the White River Utes' raid at Meeker.
The Adams' home was near the bridge at present-day Colorado Avenue and Columbia Road. In their day, it was known as Adams Crossing, because that was where the road to Manitou crossed the Denver and Rio Grande railroad tracks.
As a young lady, Margaret had lived in Washington, D.C. and was a popular guest even at the White House. Her sister was the wife of James McCook, first territorial governor of Colorado. She met Adams, then a member of the governor's military staff, when he was a guest at their home in Denver.
After her husband's death, she continued to live in their Adams Crossing home. In the summer of 1913 and 1914, Utes came to the Pike's Peak Region to reenact their traditional visits to the Garden of the Gods. Chipeta stayed with Mrs. Adams, and people passing on the Manitou road could see the two ladies chatting on the house's porch.
The house is long gone, and so is the railroad crossing, but if you look, you can still see two parallel cracks in the pavement that run long-ways through the street, a reminder of the Denver & Rio Grande's railway line.