COBWEB CORNERS: Bricks, greenstone and the president hills
By Mel McFarland
Here in Colorado, bricks were big business. The material came from the hills around us. Colorado City had a brick factory, if you can call it that, way back in the 1870s. One of Colorado Springs' earliest industries was making brick. Did you know two hills in Colorado Springs were named after Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and one of them is mostly gone? These two were over south of Colorado Springs, near Evergreen Cemetery. One, Mt. Lincoln, was largely turned into bricks over the years. The clay, mixed with water from Fountain Creek, made a variety of bricks used around here into the 1960s.
Colorado City's bricks were made until the 1930s not far from downtown, near the cement works. The clay came from hillsides all over the area. In Colorado City there were few brick houses, but along our streets there are still many brick business buildings. Most of these buildings were made from local brick, which was also shipped up to the Cripple Creek District.
Another stone quarry I missed was over on the far side of Manitou. It was called by a few different names over its use, mainly Ord's Quarry and Jones Quarry. It can still be seen if you drive US 24 west, just above Business 24, which goes through Manitou. Up high above the road still sits the remains of the crane they used to move their stone. A large chunk of the quarry was taken out when the new road into Manitou was built in the late 1920s. In this area, there was a very popular stone known as Manitou greenstone. This stone was very expensive and found its way into the "better" buildings. Uncut pieces of the stone are now rare. This quarry shipped enough stone on the Midland that it had its own service track.
Here is a piece of trivia for you. Our Mt. Washington was supposedly named that because its elevation was the same as Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. It does not have the same elevation anymore, because it too was used as a clay source for bricks. That Mt. Washington has the oldest cog railway in the world on it.