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COBWEB CORNERS: Streets that once had railroad tracks

By Mel McFarland

       Over near the Westside Pioneer office is a street with an odd alignment. Robinson curves from being an east-west street, to a north-south street. Across Bott it becomes 23rd and then Arch Street. It was not always that way.
       Prior to 1950 the big Midland railroad yards were located where US 24 is today, between 21st and 24th. Following a track from the yards, an engine would travel to the glass factory and from there to the Golden Cycle Mill. I have done a couple stories about those businesses, but today I want to talk about the streets.
       Imagine early in the morning six days a week (not on Sunday), a switch engine with 8 or 10 cars of ore chugging east a short distance, then up present-day Robinson, 23rd and Arch and then to Busch before going east to a scale house, where the cars were weighed. The engine would then travel to the unloader at the mill.
       After that, the train would take an equal number of empty cars back down to the yards. This work took all day.
       The trip up to the mill was hard and steep. The train was very noisy. No one lived on Arch, but there were houses on Market Street, and they backed up to where Arch would be someday.
       In the afternoon a train would take up to 80 empty cars to Cripple Creek, returning with about as many loaded with ore to the yards, arriving in the morning.
       In the winter, the train cars were often just a big block of ice. There was a warming building, called the "thaw shed," where they could warm up for unloading.
       The Midland operations ended in 1948 when the mill was moved to Cripple Creek, and the trains stopped running.
       Still known as the Midland area, this part of town became much quieter, and now loads of people live where only a few did when the noise was bad. A few "old-timers" might remember those days, but they are becoming quite rare! If houses could talk!

(Posted 4/24/17; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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