COBWEB CORNERS: A day at the Midland station in 1908
By Mel McFarland
I was eating at Giuseppe's, watching trains go by and thinking of the restaurant's board that shows trains that stopped there. In 1908, for example, about 10 passenger trains on the different railroads used only the Rio Grande station. So what about Colorado City?
Let's look at a typical day at the Midland station in October 1908. If we got there early enough, we would see a freight train heading west at 6 a.m. It was put together during the night and might stop at every station, if there were cars to pick up or drop off. Sitting in the caboose at one end of the train, the engineer had been told where to make stops before they left. The 6 a.m. train usually took 12 hours to go to Leadville. Soon after it left the Midland yards, a similar freight train came in from the west, directed into the yards where cars destined to go on railroads east of Colorado Springs were sorted out.
The morning was quiet except for the local switcher taking freight cars to customers near the yards, such as the mills. At 9:45, a passenger train from Cripple Creek arrived with businessmen from along the line as well as mail, mainly from south of Divide. It was a four- hour trip down from Cripple Creek. Right after noon, the fast passenger train arrived from Colorado Springs bound for the west. Usually there was mail to drop off and pick up, and sometimes passengers.
In the afternoon, traffic quieted down again until the fast freight from the west arrived. It too was sorted in the yards. Right behind it was the eastbound passenger train from Grand Junction, along with passengers from as far away as California. It had left Grand Junction at 6:30 p.m. yesterday! After a quick stop, it continued to Colorado Springs' Santa Fe station. Part of that train would soon come back to Colorado City to be cleaned for the return trip to Grand Junction tomorrow. The evening train to Cripple Creek came from the Rio Grande station with some of the same passengers that had come down that morning. During the night, several other freight trains rolled in and out. In the summertime another train was added to haul the additional passengers on vacation. Occasionally a special train might pass through with unusual cars, such as tours from the east in all Pullman cars, seen every summer. The yard crews were busy all night!