COBWEB CORNERS: Coal mining in the region

By Mel McFarland

       In the past I have talked about the Franceville coal mines. There were others; in fact, the coal mine strip starts near Garden of the Gods and swings around Austin Bluffs, Peterson Air Force Base to Jimmy Camp. The first mines were opened in the 1870s near Garden of the Gods Road and 1-25. The mines east of town proved to be better coal, and much more popular.
       The coal mines north of Colorado Springs declined in the 1880s but saw a spurt of development in 1898. The mines east of town had almost died out, and new mines near Templeton's Gap showed strong prospects. The Santa Fe railroad opened a new spur from Pike View, just north of Colorado Springs, to the Curtis Mine in 1899. In 1901 the line was extended beyond the Danville Mine. Also at Pike View, on the Denver and Rio Grande, the Carlton Mine opened. It was purchased by the Pike's Peak Coal Company, which also bought the Williamsville and Danville mines. The Carlton was renamed the Pikeview. The original name carried no relationship to the Carltons who were owners of the Pike's Peak Coal Company.
       The town of Pike View was actually located near the old Carlton Mine. The D&RG's siding at this point was known as Carlton. The siding called "Pike View" was roughly one mile further south. The Santa Fe's Pike View was yet another mile to the southeast. A power plant built at Pikeview Mine sent electrical power to the mills in Colorado City even after the Colorado Springs electrical utility system was established.
       The coal-mining activity in the 1890s became heavily dependent on Cripple Creek's gold camp demand. It was used to power generators for operating mining and milling machinery. Water pumps and ventilation, critical to operating the deep mines, were helpless without electric power.
       In addition to the mining business, coal delivery to homes and businesses gave jobs to hundreds of people. The mines eventually all closed - as did the Franceville - and by the 1960s all mining activity in the area had ceased. The old Pikeview Powerhouse, a concrete ghost, was torn down about 15 years ago.