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Smoky Times?


Last updated 11/23/2021 at 2:47pm | View PDF

The use of coal has been important to this area's growth. You may know about the power plant complex just down the road. With this area's activity in the power generation business, I thought this 1890 story might put things into some perspective:

"The consumption of coal in Colorado Springs has grown to immense proportions and now reaches over a thousand tons per month. Homes and businesses that heretofore burned wood now find it much cheaper to use coal.

When coal had to be hauled to the city by teams, it cost $4-$6 a ton. The trains now delivers coal for $2.50 a ton. There are a number of local coal yards that furnish most of the coal used here. The Franceville coal is the best for steam purposes. None of the local coal is used for coking. You may not understand the use of coke as fuel - it is refined coal and burns hotter. It is required in mills and smelters like at Pueblo. The coal from this area is basically lignite, which is not convertible to coke. The coal from Trinidad and Walsenburg is famous for its coking qualities. Yet in the house stove, nothing burns like kindling. The Pikeview company is now delivering, in the Colorado Springs market, about 140 tons of coal a week. About two-thirds of this amount is steam coal and is used in homes. The price of steam coal is $3.50 a ton."

Yes, that story mentions kindling. There were only a few trees in this area when the first settlers arrived, but those were often used for fuel. It would be many years before they started using natural gas instead. The building material trees were in Black Forest and the mountains. In 1871, when Colorado Springs was first laid out, new little trees were brought along the Arkansas River. If those 'old-timers' could see how many trees we have now, they certainly would wonder how we find the water for them, but that is another story!


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