COBWEB CORNERS: Glass Works once employed 200
By Mel McFarland
I have written about the Glass Works before, but a few questions have come in, so I am doing two stories about the place, appearing this week and next.
For less than a decade in the late 1800s, the Glass Works sat on the south edge of Colorado City, well above the town. Two streets in the area, Wheeler and Busch, are named after two of the prime investors in the project. The Colorado Midland railroad built a branch line up what is now Arch Street to the works. Later this became the track to the Golden Cycle Mill. So, why a glass works? 1n 1884, another local project, bottling Manitou's mineral waters, had started. The goal was to make the water available to a larger market, but the availability of bottles was a problem.
The raw materials for glass came from the hills all around. Anthony Bott had quarries providing stone for area buildings, and much of their waste was used in the Glass Works. Also used were minerals mined from Cheyenne Canyon.
The first heating ovens were being built when the Midland was building its yards, down along Fountain Creek in the late 1880s.
The Glass Works was in full production in early 1889. Up to 200 men worked at the plant. At first the bottles were hand-blown, but these were soon replaced by machine-blown bottles using wooden molds. The molds themselves were created by craftsmen.
Crews of workmen loaded the bottles into freight cars to go as far as St. Louis. Most of the shipping went to Colorado City's bottling works and Manitou.
The Glass Works was recognized as Colorado City's first manufacturer. Houses were built in the area, for workmen as well as managers. For many years the area was known as Glass Town. The area just to the north was called Midland Heights. Even today these areas differ from the community north of Fountain Creek. Some of the separation back then was caused by the creek, some by the large Colorado Midland railway yards. Many Midland people also shied away from the activities in the "houses" along Cucharras Street during the 1890s and early 1900s.
Next week: The disaster at the Glass Works.