COBWEB CORNERS: The mountain connection
By Mel McFarland
Would you like a mountain cabin? Maybe you have one you can use now and then. A hundred years ago, it seems many were living in two places! Some lived here and in the mountains, either in Divide or Florissant.
So who were they? A number of them operated the trains for the Colorado Midland. At various times they would work from here to the mountains and back, but sometimes for months at a time they would have to live there. Many moved their families, but others just "batched it" (a term to describe married men living as bachelors again). Some owned houses up there, while some rented from other Midland men who were being assigned to crews running out of Colorado City. It was a regular item in the old Colorado City Iris when these men moved here or away!
Florissant and Divide never were big towns, and the number of houses never matched anything like those in Colorado City. If everyone from the railroad built a new house, they certainly would have made those towns grow. Indeed, a few did build houses, but most found other accommodations. Some of the families found country living to their liking and found places away from town. The local hotel hosted a number of the railroaders and a few even built what were called tent frames. One of these consisted of a wood floor and walls up to six feet tall and ridge poles to hang the canvas on. Some even had stoves, but it was no place for a winter!
When the Midland stopped running in 1918, Florissant nearly blew away. The town shriveled up to only a few buildings. It would be 20 years before it really started to recover, and 40 before it really showed signs of life beyond its railroad days. One interesting item: No one buried in the cemetery had any railroad connections. The railroaders who died preferred to be at Colorado City or even Manitou! I can walk the Midland neighborhood's Fairview Ceme-tery and see that probably half are railroad families, some in two or three generations. I did find one name in Florissant's cemetery that might have been a Midland hand. Divide is another story, but the trains ran there until 1949.