COBWEB CORNERS: The other Westside railroad
By Mel McFarland
The charter for building the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific to Colorado Springs was issued May 19, 1886. The company building the line would be the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska. Construction started July 1 at Horton, Kansas. The crew arrived in Colorado in mid-summer.
Eighteen miles east of Colorado Springs, the CK&N met the tracks of the Denver, Texas & Gulf. At a point east of the crossing a town was started, named Falcon. The McFerran Mine and the mine of Matt France, Colorado City politician, were producing good coal south of Falcon. A spur was built from Elsmere to just south of Manitou Junction, crossing east to the McFerran coal mine.
The CK&N reached Colorado Springs in September. The tracks followed a streambed to the D&RG. West of that junction, the company platted a new town, Roswell City (named for Roswell P. Flower, a CRI&P director). The main line then turned south, along the D&RG to the Rio Grande's station. The area east of the D&RG, at Roswell City, was laid out for railroad yards. A fine big hotel and an eating house were planned for Colorado Springs. A trackage agreement with the D&RG allowed trains to operate to Denver and Pueblo.
The Rock Island hoped to develop a strong connection with the Colorado Midland. The Midland even did switching for the Rock Island in downtown Colorado Springs. Rock Island advertising included numerous references to Ute Pass and other CM connections. There were soon regular rumors that the Rock Island would buy the CM, and complete it on to Salt Lake City and California. The rumor mill cranked these stories out until the day the CM was scrapped. The connection with the CM was beneficial to the Rock Island, but never brought the traffic that the Midland expected.
Roswell City was annexed into Colorado Springs in the mid-1890s, and a second Roswell started northeast of the railroad yard. Roswell City sat north of present Fontanero, south of Polk and west of present-day 1-25. Colorado Springs changed all the street names from Rock Island names to match those around them. For example, Cable Street became Cooper Avenue. Roswell City had a school called Rock Island School, which became Roosevelt School. My mother and other relatives attended there! It was eventually closed and torn down.