EDITOR'S DESK: Deannexation - 'revote' early and oftenBy Kenyon Jordan
In 1917, the Great War was in full blaze, the federal income tax was brand new, cars vied with horses for road space, Laura Bell McDaniel still ran a bordello, the state didn't allow liquor sales and - at least until April of that year - Colorado City was its own town.
Strange how all but the last item seems like such a long time ago.
Oh, sure, from a purely functional standpoint, annexation was a wise move. The town was not in great financial shape, nor were its major employers. The Colorado Midland railroad was on its last legs, soon to be replaced by the less robust Midland Terminal, and the Golden Cycle Mill was continuing its steady fade (mirroring the decline in Cripple Creek gold production).
And let's not overlook the liquor part. As historian Dave Hughes wrote about Colorado City during its turn-of-the-century heyday, “on the south side of the avenue, one could get 20 drinks in a row and never go in the same bar twice.”
But that significant economic “flow” had long since dried up by 1917 - the former Wild West town itself having inexplicably voted out alcohol even before the state did.
So, yes, Colorado City was ripe for takeover by Colorado Springs, the flourishing newcomer which had started a dozen years later (1871) but boasted six times as many residents (roughly 30,000) by the time of the annexation vote.
The word “takeover” is no exaggeration. Colorado City relinquished its elected commissioners, its assets, its properties, its utilities, its police and fire
To top it off, the name, “Colorado City,” was legally recycled a few decades later by a new development south of Pueblo. It took Hughes, in his role as Westside promoter/revitalization innovator in the 1970s, to invent the moniker, “Old Colorado City,” so we'd have something left of who we were.
In truth, I don't believe 100 years has been long enough. The phrase, “red-headed stepchild,” is often used by disgruntled Westsiders. Look at the current PlanCOS online comprehensive plan survey, for example, with its emphasis on “their” downtown - even though ours has a cooler history and is better preserved. And don't get me started on the recent Bancroft Park bandshell fire, when City Parks staffers took zero interest in people's opinions over here until City Council forced them to.
So it feels like more than just a publicity stunt, seeing the Old Colorado City Historical Society ask people to come in this summer and “revote” on the annexation. (See our story at this link.) Even though it's all in fun - a historically educational yet blatant way to fundraise (your money literally buys votes) - there lingers an undeniable sense of a raw nerve being exposed.
Not that I'm urging votes/donations to the deannexation side, mind you. It made no economic sense in 1917 and even less so now. Besides, I wasn't here back then. It doesn't really matter. Nothing will change.
But I can't wait to see the results.
(Posted 6/7/17; Opinion: Editor's Desk)
Kenyon Jordan is the editor of the Westside Pioneer.