Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

A Look at Old Fountain


Last updated 12/12/2018 at 3:23pm

I recently read a description of Fountain as it was just before the turn of the Twentieth Century, 1891. There are some interesting things in it. Fountain was first considered a town in 1859, but not formally organized with a city government until 1904. In 1871 there was only one store in town, and several homes. In 1891 there were quite a few more businesses and over two hundred residents in town, even though most of the population was on ranches and farms all around the town. The town included two good churches, one a replacement for the one damaged in the 1888 explosion, and the Mitchell House, which was built near the Santa Fe station. The center of town which had been badly damaged in the blast, had largely been rebuilt. The early school had already doubled in size. A weekly newspaper, the Fountain Dispatch, had even established itself as a first class operation.

The Santa Fe had replaced the earlier depot with a nearly identical one. The area around it was being developed as the Santa Fe addition. The Denver and Rio Grande had recently finished a nice large depot on the other side of town. The passenger trains, except for the fast express ones, stopped at the stations. The area provided quite a number of shipments of hay, grain and animals. To the west Charter Oak Ranch was seeing a few test wells for natural gas as well as oil. The early tests looked quite promising.

Not far away were Franceville and McFerran, two towns in the coal fields. Franceville started in 1882. Even though the town had a mercantile store, most of the residents shopped either at Falcon or Fountain. A one room school was provided for the town's children. McFerran was started in 1889, northwest of Franceville. It was served by a line from the Rock Island railroad and connected to Colorado Springs. McFerran at the time had a general store, but at this time the children had to go to Bierstadt school, a mile away. The coal in both towns was being sold to towns all over the area. Much of the Franceville coal went to Colorado Springs, while the McFerran coal went to the east, all the way into Kansas. It was no surprise that this place was the one that was growing, and it seems good years were ahead.

The discovery of gold west of Colorado Springs, at Cripple Creek was just around the corner. It would soon see some of the area's men drawn up to the gold fields to try their luck. It is no surprise that a hundred years later much of this would be different. No passenger trains, coal mines, but even at that things have changed more since 1991.


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