COBWEB CORNERS: The Midland Band, Part 2
By Mel McFarland
After organizing in 1894, the members of the Colorado Midland Band had started down a path that would truly amaze their coworkers at the railroad's Colorado City shops. In 1896, Charles Dipp became the band's first non-railroad member, and was engaged as its conductor. In October of that year the band made its debut in Denver at the Festival of Mountain and Plain and carried off first prize in a contest of 22 musical organizations. The Colorado Midland Band was then composed of 31 men, each an employee in the Shops. Later, traditional blue uniforms replaced the Indian-style buckskins, which were then only used for special occasions. The band traveled the country, including trips to Washington, D.C., for inaugural parades, including that of Teddy Roosevelt, who had traveled over the railroad to Glenwood Springs.
Over the years the band's membership changed as the men changed jobs, but the tradition grew. The only non-shop member was the director. Several directors stayed on for several years. The band played monthly, with weekly concerts in Colorado Springs, Manitou and Colorado City. In Colorado Springs the band played at North and South Parks, now Acacia Park and Pioneers' Museum. Stratton Park, a large amusement park off Cheyenne Road, was also used regularly by the band. The bandshell at Soda Springs Park in Manitou was quite popular, but where they played in Colorado City is a wonder. Bancroft Park was then Bancroft School, Thorndale Park had no band shell, and it is unknown if there was a shell anywhere in town.
The concerts continued right up through changes in ownership of the railroad. When the line was closed in August 1918, concerts had been scheduled right up through September, but they were not canceled. Some of the railroad men went to work at the Midland Terminal, which used them until 1920 when the Colorado Midland was officially closed. The band for a time became the Colorado City Band, but it eventually faded away as the members left for other railroads or bands.
Over the years we have looked for artifacts from the band at the Old Colorado City History Center. If you have something, call the center at 636-1225.