COBWEB CORNERS: Where the Garden once extended
By Mel McFarland
You may have read the Westside Pioneer news article about my recent talk at the Old Colorado City History Center. I would like to share part of my story with those who could not be there. This is really a work in progress, as I said at the time. I doubt that many know of the early history, but just in case you do, and you have not said anything yet, perhaps you will share it.
This area in the 1860s certainly looked different than it does today. The red rocks known as the Garden of the Gods extended south of Colorado Avenue into what is now Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Most of the ridges are now different, because those rocks were quarried over the years. Pictures I have from 1908, show several ridges that are gone now. The rocks were used to build foundations, walls and even sidewalks all over this area. The first houses used stone foundations, and the sandstone was quick and available. It was not always very good. Much of this rock work crumbles away when it is wet. If you look around you can see this type of stone work in Manitou, Old Colorado City and Colorado Springs. One of my great-grandfathers came here and used his skill as a stone mason, building foundations that still support houses.
The quarries in the Arensdale, Adams Crossing and even Manitou area lasted from the 1860s up to the 1920s. They also provided building sites for much of what you see along Colorado Avenue going out that way. As I mentioned in my talk, back then industry was a bad word. The stone business was quite unsightly, and you would not want to see the scars in your picture of the Garden of the Gods or Pike's Peak. Only on rare occasions, and mainly by accident, do they show up in the old pictures. I pointed out that the early views of Colorado City were looking away from the quarry. If you still think of the Queens Canyon quarry as a scar, if it goes away as well as the operations between here and Manitou, no one will notice it in a hundred years. My point is that this work should be recognized and recorded.
As a young lad visiting the dump on Lower Gold Camp Road, I thought they were like the Roman runs I was reading about in school. Big walls, with grand sandstone arched doorways were being filled with trash. It was many years before I learned it was all that was left of the Portland Gold Mill. Now it is all buried.