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Colorado City

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Colorado City (1860, 6,012 feet) was El Paso County's first Anglo-American settlement. It rivaled Denver and briefly captured the territorial capitol, but after the 1870s it was eclipsed by Colorado Springs, which annexed it in 1917. Colorado City became a smelting center, processing most of the gold ore pouring out of Cripple Creek. Although the Golden Cycle mill was dismantled in 1949, mountains of smelter waste at the base of the Golden Cycle smokestack (1906), south of Highway 24 near 21st Street, remain Colorado City's most massive monument.

“None of the refined gold was left here,” according to William “Big Bill” Haywood, a labor organizer in Colorado around the turn of the century. Haywood described it as “a forlorn little industrial town of tents, tin houses, huts, and hovels, bordered by some of the grandest scenery in nature.” Of some 6,500 remaining structures, about a fourth are nineteenth-century working-class frame cottages. Some feature ornate wrought iron fences from Colorado City's Hassell Iron Works.

The Old Colorado City Historic Commercial District, Colorado Avenue to Pikes Peak Avenue between 24th and 27th Streets (NRD), includes side streets north to Pikes Peak Avenue. Western commercial vernacular brick structures with sandstone trim generally extend to lot lines, creating a densely built environment of rhythmic rooflines and fenestration levels. This density is alleviated on the east end by Bancroft Park, with Dr. Garvin's Cabin (1859), a rustic log cabin with a frame false front, and a stone band shell (1929). A hospitable landmark is the Holden House (1902), 1102 West Pikes Peak Avenue, now a bed and breakfast, a comfortable restored Victorian house distinguished by turret and finial.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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