The humble town of Husted

Posted 3/17/11

Danny Summers Long before the Air Force Academy occupied the land in northwest Colorado Springs, the humble town of Husted played a key role in the …

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The humble town of Husted

Posted

Danny Summers

Long before the Air Force Academy occupied the land in northwest Colorado Springs, the humble town of Husted played a key role in the development of the Pikes Peak region.

Husted, infamously known for the great train wreck of 1909, was a community about six miles south of Monument. It was named after Calvin Husted, who homesteaded in the area in the 1860s. Calvin began his sawmills in 1867 and supplied wood to builders all over the state. Many of the buildings later constructed in Colorado Springs came from his mills, where oxen and horses made the trek south.

The town of Husted was once an important stop on the Santa Fe and Rio Grande railroads. It had a railroad station, roundhouse and section house, and a railroad bunk house. In Husted, passengers and workers could shop at the local stores, eat at a restaurant, or even get refreshed at the local saloon. Husted also had a church, schoolhouse and post office. The post office was discontinued on Oct. 15, 1920, and mail was then sent to Colorado Springs.

When the automobile became popular in the early 1900s, Husted even had several filling stations along the highway. They were in operation until the 1950s when the Air Force Academy purchased the property.

Local Tri-Lakes author Lucille Lavelett, in her 1979 book “Monument’s Faded Neighboring Communities and its Folklore,” tells of fascinating tales passed down to her from long-time residents of the area. Lavelett writes of the time a Mr. Davis and Job Talbert were “killed and scalped by Indians” near the Husted mill.

Lavelett also mentions a story of an event that happened in 1868 involving Henry B. Walker and his wife and child. They were living at what was the Dirty Woman Ranch in Monument when Indians took the mother and three-day-old child, tied them to a tree, and burned the house down. They did not harm the mother or child, however, just tied them to the tree. The next year, the Walkers built a house in Husted near today’s North Academy entrance. Mr. Walker started the first Sunday school at Husted in 1913.

Another tale takes place during Prohibition when federal agents discovered a “very large still” in Stanley Canyon. The buildings in today’s Cadet area are below Stanley Canyon.

One story that needs no embellishment is the great Husted train wreck of 1909. According to newspaper reports of the day, on Aug. 14 of that year, at about 10:25 a.m., there was a head-on collision between northbound passenger train No. 8 and southbound passenger No. 1 on the Denver and Rio Grande. The wreck, according to the article, was due to the misunderstanding of the orders.

Ten people died, including Jack Gossage — the grandfather of future Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and Colorado Springs resident Rich “Goose” Gossage. Jack was a fireman on the helper engine (No. 8) and lived in Husted. He had just waved to his wife as the train passed his home. He was struck by the No. 1 and trapped between the engine and the tender.

There were also 40 to 50 people who were injured. Spectacular photos taken that day by Wilbur Fulker, and his brother, Iven, show three engines in the ditch, two baggage cars, including the contents, were smashed to kindling wood, and several passenger coaches were badly damaged as the result the collision.

The coroner’s jury, which investigated the crash, returned its verdict six days later and found several people guilt of criminal negligence: engineers Lezsig and Hollingsworth, fireman Wright, conductor Dalton and brakeman McElhern. An order was then sent to Denver to arrest the members of the train crew.

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