COBWEB CORNERS: The red rock park that never was
By Mel McFarland
I often get asked questions on the Pikes Peak cog train, as well as here at the paper. Today is one of those questions come into action. I am about to join in on a recent “HOT” item here at the paper. The area of Colorado City known as Arensdale sits west of 31st Street and a hundred years ago was joined with Colorado City.
It was a prosperous industrial area once. Buildings were turning from logs to stone or brick. In this area, there were at least two quarries other than the Snyder, which is now the park (Red Rock Canyon Open Space) on the south side of US 24. These quarries were almost on present-day Colorado Avenue from the late 1860s to about 1890. The red rocks were used as foundation and building stone. The Garden of the Gods formation runs from Wyoming to New Mexico and is usually hidden. Here, it used to run above ground right through Arensdale. A few of these rocks still can be found, but many are gone because of the quarry operations.
In 1880, when the Denver & Rio Grande built its track to Manitou, there was even a quarry track (near where the Safeway now sits) that ran north. Every week, carloads of red and white stone went out on train cars. Peachblow is a name given to red sandstone. It is best known from around Glenwood Springs, but a lot of it actually came from Colorado City. There are few pictures to show the early formations that were cut away, but the ones that remain, such as those near 33rd and Kiowa streets, give a clue. People wanting to tell Easterners how nice this area was did not show industries. The Easterners wanted to get away from industry.
The rocks were even used as a basis for house-paint colors. Where the motor homes and RVs sit south of Highway 24 (on the 25th Street side) was once a paint factory that used local rock for its red-, brown- and yellow-based colors. A fire wiped it out in the 1890s (as it did a lot of buildings around here) on a cold winter night.
The removal of the red rocks made building sites along Colorado Avenue possible, but looking around, as I drive it almost every day, I wonder how it would have looked if the rocks were still here. Perhaps it would have been a park, between the other two.