COBWEB CORNERS: Manitouís limestone operation
By Mel McFarland
We rarely think of Manitou as an industrial spot. I have talked in the past about Manitou's quarries, and this is related.
The name Jones has strong connections with Manitou. The first Master Mechanic at the cog railway was named Jones, and there is a spot on the line called Jones, but there seem to be other Joneses too.
In 1892 there was a spot above Manitou called Jones Spur. I had not been able to find much on it, but I had found a spot called Ord's Spur on early Midland maps. It seems they are the same place. The industry was a lime kiln. David Jones of Manitou planned to use the spur for his new lime kiln operation. The spur was between Tunnels 3 and 4 at the grand palisade you can see from Highway 24. Another spur called Lime Kiln was built east of Tunnel 3. Lime was needed in the refining of gold ore, as well as many other things.
There were originally three kilns, or ovens, built of brick where limestone was heated. The building had a red sandstone foundation, and was made of sheet iron, because of the heat of the kilns. Eighteen more kilns were in the plans, with six actually started. The fuel used was kerosene, brought in tank cars. An 18,000-gallon tank on the hill above the kilns stored the fuel.
The raw material for the operation is found in great quantity around the site. Tunnel 3 on the Midland is mostly solid limestone. The hard granular structure burns into a very pure white lime.
The product was either loaded into railroad cars or bagged for smaller sales. The Golden Cycle Corporation used huge quantities of the lime and sold hundreds of bags of it all over the country.
Other plans for the plant also included brick-making and rock-crushing. It is unknown if either of these ever occurred, but the lime kiln industry lasted until the Midland Terminal was abandoned in 1949. Scars from the mining operation can still be seen even by casual observers.
There were other limestone operations all along the Colorado Midland, mainly west of the Continental Divide, but this one in Manitou has been most elusive. The whole idea of industry in a resort area was seemingly in bad taste. I have found one picture of the operation, just before it was torn down!