COBWEB CORNERS: The shops in the Midland yards
By Mel McFarland
After I talked about the roundhouse a while back, I had a few questions about the yards. The roundhouse was only one of many buildings the Colorado Midland used in its Colorado City shops. It sat in what you might call the corner of the yards. It was one of the first buildings. Other buildings ran generally west toward 25th Street where a little station sat. The tracks ran where US Highway 24 is now. There were dozens of long and short sections of track, and about 20 buildings in this area. The railroad built its own cars, freight and passenger, as well as buildings and bridges. Most of the time from 1887 until 1918, about 300 people were working in the yards and shops.
The machine shop building, now Ghost Town, was built a couple of years later. It was filled with large and small machines. A system of overhead lines provided power, via belts, to the machines. At first, the lines were powered by big steam boilers, later by big electric motors. Two tracks ran through the building from shops to the west, which led to the roundhouse.
A building north of the shop housed the main offices. It burned down in 1953. On the north side of the yards, where Naegle Road is now, there were other shops including a big saw mill. The mill cut everything from bridge timbers to the fine detail work in the passenger cars. The car-building shops were right next door.
On the south side of the yards, west of the machine shop, were two big buildings where work was done on the engines. Big overhead cranes could lift the heavy boilers off the frames. There was a separate shop just for boilers. A foundry could cast many of the big steel parts as well as finer brass and bronze parts. West of it was a huge ice storage building and two buildings where the passenger cars were maintained. Across the yards to the north, just east of the station, was the headquarters for the track maintenance men and a small stock yard.
A big fire in the 1890s destroyed the saw mill and the shops around it. The building where the steam engines were assembled and minor work was done was destroyed too. Within a year new shops were built to replace those lost in the fire, and I will tell you about some of that next week.
During the current construction, the center pivot for the steel turntable (which allowed engines to go through different roundhouse doors) was found. We don't know where the turntable itself went, but it was probably used for a bridge in the area.