COBWEB CORNERS: The days of multiple gold mills
By Mel McFarland
In 1894 the first Colorado City gold mill was finally announced. The area's newspapers had literally begged for a mill for Cripple Creek's gold ore. The Midland Terminal and the Florence and Cripple Creek railways would soon be in Cripple Creek. There were no major mills up there, but Florence was building one, why not Colorado City?
The first Colorado City mill, the Colorado-Philadelphia, was built along the ridge west of the Colorado Midland yards (near present-day 31st and Highway 24). But there was a problem. The type of ore found in Cripple Creek was difficult to refine, and experiments had yet to find a really good way to get the most gold out of it.
The Telluride mill also experienced this problem. It was built in 1904, using a process called bromide. It was on the ridge south of Colorado City (the present-day Gold Hill Mesa development), near the new Short Line railroad. In two years it was closed.
The Telluride site was bought in 1906 and reopened by the Golden Cycle Corporation, which had run a small but successful mill near Goldfield in the Cripple Creek District. After a fire in 1907, Golden Cycle rebuilt the mill, expanded it and put it back in operation using the cyanide process.
The Short Line built a branch to the Colorado-Philadelphia, going through the dismantled Glass Works on Busch Avenue and east to Golden Cycle. A branch from the Midland's yards had at one time served the glass factory . The line was still in place, but needed a lot of repair work. It had been used mainly to store cars since the works burned. The route traveled what is now Arch Street past Busch. There, it connected to the Short Line tracks.
The Standard Mill was built south of the Colorado-Philadelphia. The Portland (where Penrose Stadium is now) and the Standard were served exclusively by the Short Line, while the Colorado Midland and the Short Line shared the services to the other mills.
The only mill used after 1920 was the Golden Cycle. The Short Line closed, and the Golden Cycle eventually bought the Midland Terminal, using it for delivery. Every morning the Midland shoved cars up Arch Street to the mill for processing. It happened every day until the mill moved near Victor in 1949. Arch Street would no longer have a railroad track up to the mill.