Civilization came early to South Canyon |

Civilization came early to South Canyon

Willa Soncarty
Registrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum

The Boston-Colorado Coal Company breathed new life into the South Canon coal fields. The lands, previously owned by E.E. Pray, had remained idle for several years. Their purchase by eastern capitalists in October 1902 sparked development that forever altered the South Canyon area.

A crew of engineers and workers came to South Canyon in November 1902. Under harsh winter conditions, these men laid out the mines.

They also worked to prepare the electric tramway grade. This tramway, upon its completion, would haul the mined coal three miles to the tipple located at the Colorado River. Creation of this grade required the removal of several feet of snow and tons of frozen rock and dirt from the tramway route. By spring, the grade was ready to receive ties and rails.

As 1903 progressed, civilization came to the South Canyon mining camp. Cottages at the townsite were established. A company store supplied the needs of over 300 people. A town well was drilled and a company boardinghouse and dining hall opened.

A baseball field provided recreation and a school educated the young. The Rev. Bullis of the Episcopal Church ministered spiritual guidance. Dr. Marshall Dean oversaw the health of the camp. A ferry at the Colorado River provided transportation in and out of the community.

The South Canon mines survived fires, blowouts, accidents, and economic downturns for nearly 50 years after the electric tramway transported the first coal from the mines in the summer of 1903. When the mining came to an end, this area, now rich in history, was purchased by the city of Glenwood Springs.

“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday.

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