COBWEB CORNERS: The (in)famous tunnels
By Mel McFarland
People ask me about a number of old tales. One question I get most often, after those about the railroads, has to do with the tunnels. Do you mean the ones in Ute Pass? No, the ones in Colorado City.
So, today I will share what I have heard of the tunnels. My next question in reply might be: Which ones? There are actually two sets of tunnels that could be found under the streets of Old Colorado City. I have heard from people who could point them out to you. I have seen the remains of bits of both - enough to know they were not just a wild story.
The two tales get combined a bit, but maybe I can clear things up a bit. The first set was mainly down around the 27th Street to 29th Street area. These tunnels were dug in the 1860's when there were some problems in the area with raiding Indians. The tunnels connected a number of the early houses, enabling travel security if needed. There were also escape tunnels down to Fountain Creek. Some of the tunnels eventually led to what are now the Amarillo Motel and the Surplus City building. These were two of the first stone buildings in town.
My favorite tunnel story has to do with the ones between 24th and 26th. These tunnels also had a protective objective, I suppose. In the early days of the railroad and the gold mills, Colorado City was certainly on the wild side. On Colorado Avenue there were many respectable businesses. I have pointed out many of these in the past. Behind these, on Cucharras, were less respectable businesses. Rather than just duck across the alley, one could walk through connecting tunnels to some of these "houses."
Residents of more restricted Colorado Springs could ride the street cars to Colorado City, go into a barber shop, for example, and not be seen again for hours. Upon leaving the barber shop they might be a bit tipsy. The street car "owl" transported many such riders back to Colorado Springs.
When Colorado City became less "hospitable," the gambling dens, wild bars and other businesses were closed, but not all of the tunnels. Some were crude and merely collapsed, but some were quite well built. Every now and then utilities crews dig up some of the remains!