COBWEB CORNERS: The mid-20th century growth
By Mel McFarland
Figured out which house faces the wrong way on 31st? Well, it is right at the start of the 500 block. One of the Simpich boys lived there some years ago, and it was through him I learned of the placement.
Sixty years ago I remember playing in the intersection of 30th and Bijou, in front of the Husted House. It was all dirt streets back then, and was a very quiet spot even on a summer day. A couple of neighbor boys had gasoline-powered, U-control race cars. The intersection was just the right size, and they would not let you use them on the field at Whittier.
From the 1930s to the 1950s, Colorado City added lots of people. There was an unexpected problem that came with that growth. Colorado City had its own natural gas supply a hundred years ago. Quite a series of service lines were buried beneath the streets. Gas was at first used for lights, but later heat and cooking uses came in. When the city of Colorado Springs moved into the utilities business in the 1930s, it bought the gas system. In the years after World War II, every now and then a house would explode, mainly from gas leaks. The old Colorado City lines were being put under a lot more pressure than they were designed for. As new houses went in, new lines went in, but the old lines were still being used.
I do not know how many houses blew up or if anyone was hurt or killed, but until the cause was finally figured out, several would go up every winter. I remember one night in 1950 when one blew itself into the street a block east of Whittier.
It was in the early 1950s that houses in Pleasant Valley were being built. Soon after that, houses on the mesa went in overlooking the old town. The intersection of 30th and Bijou is no place to play now! Every time I drive through there, I think back to what it was like when it was still dirt, with no curb and gutter. Why, even 30th and Pike's Peak was not that busy in 1950.
You know that mobile homes and building codes do not always go well together. Even in the 1940s, there were several being used in Old Colorado City. I remember one at 27th and Bijou, but that will have to wait until some other time.