COBWEB CORNERS: The tracks to the mill
By Mel McFarland
The community south of US Highway 24 in Colorado City has always been a bit of a different life. One of the things that made life unusual in the time a hundred years ago was the fact that it was surrounded by industry and railroads. A few buildings that have survived into our century go back to the 19th century. When Cripple Creek was just starting, an industry sat at the top of the community. Unfortunately it did not last long.
Some time ago I talked about the glassworks, which were up near Busch Street. It burned down a couple times, and was rebuilt. It was served by a track from the Colorado Midland's yards. The track started down near the station, about where 25th Street meets US 24. It followed roughly the route of Robinson Street today, then across Bott and up 23rd to Arch Street. The track was in before there was an Arch Street, and those tracks lasted until 1949. The glassworks was gone by 1900, so what were the tracks doing that long?
The tracks were used by the Midland to get to the Golden Cycle Mill. The mill was opened in 1906 as the Telluride Mill. The Short Line had a track that served the Colorado-Philadelphia Mill over on 30th. Its main line went up from Eighth Street and followed the ridge to Bear Creek Canyon. A branch wound down toward the Colorado-Philadelphia. In 1908, the Telluride was converted to cyanide processing and became the Golden Cycle. A few years later the old glassworks track was connected to the Short Line, and most of the Golden Cycle's ore came in on the Midland. Every day a train took cars of ore up Arch street, and just above Busch it headed east. Just before the track crossed 21st, the cars were weighed in a scale house. Back then, 21st was just a single-lane dirt road up to the mill. The operation had a big office building overlooking its operations. The cars were unloaded at the top of the mill. This let gravity be used in the processing, and the gold came out roughly at the bottom of the mill.
During most of the life of the mill, these trains ran day and night. After World War I, they were mainly during the day, but the sound of a heavy load of cars up Arch street had to be noisy. I am sure there are a few of you out there who remember the sound.