COBWEB CORNERS: A day of fires in Colorado City
By Mel McFarland
After the trauma of the Waldo Canyon Fire settles down, this story may be easier to read. On March 20, 1890, Colorado City had a fire problem - not like the recent event, but after five full-size fires erupted that day, there was certainly fear in the streets!
The first was at 3 a.m. at the new home of the town's mayor, Charles Stockbridge, on Colorado Avenue just west of the center of town. His earlier home had been lost in a fire several months before. His new house was not even finished! Fortunately the builder, G.C. Griggs, had some insurance on the job.
Across the street, the two-story American Hotel caught fire from the heat and sparks from the Stockbridge house. The building suffered mainly roof damage, but all the residents were forced out.
At noon the Irwin House on Grand Avenue (now Cucharras), which was being converted to boarding rooms, was discovered to be burning. It seems the building was owned by Mr. Stockbridge. This brought to life threats which had been made against him if he decided to run for reelection!
No sooner had this story come to light when another fire was discovered. A stone cutter from one of the quarries lived in a small building on Colorado Avenue west of town. At about four in the afternoon, the building was found to be burning. The building was quickly lost, as were all of the contents, including a quantity of stone-cutting tools.
A few hours later the night sky was aglow with the flames of another house. This fire was burning in a vacant house near the Denver and Rio Grande Railway station on Grand, near the Crystal Palace theater, a short distance from the center of town!
The population by this time was quite excited. Crowds from as far as Colorado Springs were flocking to Colorado City. The police swore in a hundred extra officers. The streets were patrolled by armed and angry men. Colorado Springs and Manitou fire companies brought over extra hose carts. Two more small fires were discovered and quickly put out.
Two suspects were arrested, but both were released after other fires were discovered. Although rewards were posted, no one else was arrested. The fires stopped, and the area quieted down.