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COBWEB CORNERS: The old Half Way House in Ruxton Park

By Mel McFarland

       When I was a conductor on the cog railway, I used to point out the location of the Half Way House, just below Ruxton Park. I was often asked when it was torn down. I heard several stories, with different details. I looked up the accounts, got a bit of a laugh, and here is what I found.
       The laugh was in the fact that in the original story no one was sure about the reason for the building. I enjoy research, but obviously the writer of the story did not do any! There are still loads of old newspaper stories about the place. One of my friends has enough for a book.
       Probably one of the oldest structures in the area, the Half Way House dates back to the early 1880s. It started as a cabin, but the owner, Thomas Palsgrove, kept adding rooms over the years until it became a 22-room hotel. Ruxton Park was developed as a town site by Palsgrove and his brothers. Lots were sold and several cabins were built. The brothers also tried their hand at mining in the area, but no valuable minerals were located.
       The Half Way House was bought in 1916 by the city of Colorado Springs as part of its Water Utilities development. In 1925, the city was planning to add a new reservoir in the area, called Big Tooth. A crew was sent up to tear down the old hotel. Some of The materials salvaged from it were used for workers' cabins at the dam, some for buildings at the Water Utilities power plant at Ruxton Park, which opened in 1925.
       Other parts of the hotel were incorporated into a fine, small house at Ruxton Park's power plant, a short distance up on the hillside. This white house has been used over the years by a caretaker, mainly in the summer. The scars of a fire, which had scorched the floor of the hotel near the fireplace, can be seen in the little house.
       Windows, doors and even cabinets were reused in the construction of the worker cabins at the dam. These are now in ruins, as are several cabins in the Ruxton Park area. But the city has maintained some of the Ruxton Park buildings, including two houses. Several storage buildings and garages are much newer.
       The power plant still provides power for the city, but there is not a caretaker in regular residence on the site anymore. When crews work at the site they travel up on the cog, or take the long, circuitous route to the area. Sometimes one or more of them even stay in the buildings.
       Over the years the city has bought back many of the original Palsgrove cabin lots. Cog employees report finding the property markers for these lots occasionally as they maintain the railway's tracks.

(Posted 12/8/14; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since early 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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