COBWEB CORNERS: The fish that didnít get away
By Mel McFarland
Fishermen are famous for their fish-that-got-away stories, but this one I could not pass up!
Back in 1906, Harry Newell caught himself a fish of some notoriety. He was a railroad fireman for the Short Line Railroad. That is the line that used the road we now know as the Gold Camp road. Up near Tunnel 6, the railroad had a water tank. The trains used a lot of water between Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek. After the train left the Springs, Tunnel 6 was a usual water stop for freight trains. Water in the tank came from a stream that runs down the canyon near there. The trains stopped two other places before Cripple Creek, and that water also came from mountain streams.
Harry's usual engine was in the shop for overhauls when an interesting discovery was made. As part of the repair, the engines water tender was to be drained and cleaned. As the water drained out, Harry stood watching the level go down from a big hatch where the water was usually dumped into the car. "Wait!" Harry called, and directed the man at the drain valve to "Shut her off, quick!"
What he'd seen was six fish swimming in the tank! Now, one was not out of the ordinary, but six? These were good-sized fish! Come to find out, some of the other men who used the engine knew of them. They had even fed them bits of their lunch over the last months. Soon a crowd gathered, some with knowledge of the fish. What to do?
Well, the fish were too big to go out the drain. So one of the smallest men they could find went down into the tank with a bucket. After much splashing about they were all caught and put into a barrel. There was talk of frying them up, but they backed down on that one. Next they thought of just putting them into Fountain Creek. That idea also was rejected. Finally, Harry took the fish back into the mountains and dumped them in a big lake up at Clyde, a lake near the railroad a few miles from the Cripple Creek District. There are still fish in that lake that might be relatives of those six!