COBWEB CORNERS: Did the elephant remember this?
By Mel McFarland
I love our weird weather. It was the big snow on Pike's Peak this week that re-minded me of this story! I found it in a May 1880 newspaper. It shows how un-predictable the weather can be!
A train carrying a menagerie and circus left Pueblo about six o'clock during a violent rain storm, en route to Denver. As luck would have it, the weather only got worse, turning to snow and sleet as the train traveled north. In open stock cars there were several animals, including an elephant, who were not used to this kind of climate.
As the train traveled along, the train crew and the circus hands watched the animals as best they could from cars nearby. It was soon clear that there were problems. One of the cars was swinging back and forth, and not like any car might. Near Fountain the crew signaled for the train to stop. An inspection discovered the car with the problem contained the elephant. The creature was quite upset about the cold conditions, and was rocking the car back and forth. The crew had the nearby station agent wire ahead with an idea. Colorado Springs was the next best place to stop.
As the train made its way to town the crew's plan to settle the animal down was being put into action. The rescue plan was ready when they arrived… a keg of beer. The animal drank it all down. Soon the situation calmed and the train continued on north. The storm increased in intensity over the divide at Palmer Lake, and the alcohol was wearing off. The crew then called ahead for more beer!
At Sedalia, some 20 miles out of Denver, another barrel of beer waited. After taking that one on, the elephant relaxed again. Once in Denver, the crew could not raise the animal from a sound sleep. They unloaded the other animals and sent the car to sit in a warm building, with the sleeping elephant on board. The next day it was ready to go, having slept off the "medicine." Now Colorado Springs at that time had no beer! It had to have come from Colorado City! This was actually BEFORE Colorado City developed its reputation as the area's nightspot!