Pueblo’s East Side History and Heritage
Prepared for the History Wall at the Patrick A. Lucero Library, East Side Pueblo
Pueblo City-County Library District, 2014
Research and preparation of history and images by
Jeffrey DeHerrera, Independent Researcher & Historian
and Charlene Garcia Simms, Genealogy & Special Collections Librarian, PCCLD
In 2014, three new libraries in Pueblo County opened their doors and became part of the Pueblo City-County Library District. They are located in the Greenhorn Valley, on the St. Charles Mesa and in the Pueblo’s East Side. Each library has a history wall as patrons enter that depicts the rich history for each library’s region. Jeffrey DeHerrera, researcher and local historian, and Charlene Garcia Simms, Genealogy and Special Collections Librarian were given the assignments of gathering photographs that represent the history of East Side Pueblo to go on the wall, along with writing an historical description of each image, and developing a chronological history. The assignment was very rewarding and enlightening. We hope the research and work that was done will inspire those who enter the doors of the Patrick A. Lucero Library to learn about the history of East Side Pueblo. Please encourage others to traverse this wall and discover the footprints left behind and listen to the voices that helped develop the East Side into the community it is today. CGS
The East Side of Pueblo, Colorado
Defining the East Side Neighborhood is only easily accomplished through geographical concerns and even that definition is not perfect. The neighborhood is bordered by Interstate 25, the Fountain River, and rail lines to the west, the Arkansas River to the south, Colorado State Highway 47 to the east, and the U.S. Highway Bypass to the north. One portion of the East Side rests north of the Bypass, just west of Colorado 47: Eastwood Heights. The following is a timeline of recordable events to happen within those boundaries, with leniency given to the prehistoric components. It is important to note that while geographic boundaries of the East Side can be established there has never been a discernible boundary for the spirit of the neighborhood collective. JDH
A timeline of recordable events to happen within Pueblo’s East Side Community
9500 BC-6000 BC - Paleo-Indian bands hunted the area for large mammals with spears propelled by atlatls.
Source: James H. Gunnerson, Archaeology of the High Plains (Denver, Colorado: Bureau of Land Management), 13.
6000 BC- AD 500 - Archaic peoples occupied the area, now hunting smaller animals with spears and darts.
Source: James H. Gunnerson, Archaeology of the High Plains (Denver, Colorado: Bureau of Land Management), 14.
500 BC-AD 1500 - Ceramic Period inhabitants occupied the high plains region.
Source: James H. Gunnerson, Archaeology of the High Plains (Denver, Colorado: Bureau of Land Management), 15.
1500-circa 1750 - Apachean tribes occupied the high plains region, moving south from what would become Canada. The Apache were historically, and are contemporarily, known by several different names depending on geographic regions and the term is a conglomeration.
Source: James H. Gunnerson, Archaeology of the High Plains (Denver, Colorado: Bureau of Land Management), 15.
Circa 1720 - Comanche tribes, assisted by Pawnee and French Europeans removed the Apache tribes from the high plains and forced them south.
Source: James H. Gunnerson, Archaeology of the High Plains (Denver, Colorado: Bureau of Land Management), 15.
1763 - The first semi-permanent European settlement, a French trading post, was established near the confluence of the Arkansas River and the Fountain River. The exact location of this trading post is impossible to determine and was short-lived.
Source: Jeffrey DeHerrera and Adam Thomas, A Place Set Apart: The History and Architecture of Pueblo’s East Side Neighborhood (Estes Park, Colorado: Historitecture, 2009), 13.
1779 - Spanish governor of New Mexico Juan Bautista de Anza led an expedition north through the San Luis Valley, around Pike’s Peak, and south following the Fountain River to its confluence with the Arkansas River. The object of the expedition was to eradicate Comanche tribes from the area. Allies of the expedition included Utes and Apaches.
Source: David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1992), 230-231.
1803 - Louisiana Purchase put the area and surrounding region under the authority of the United States.
1806 - Zebulon Pike led an exploratory excursion west to locate the heads of the Red and Arkansas Rivers. The United States government asserted that both rivers were included in the Louisiana Purchase three years prior. Upon reaching the terminus of the Fountain River at the Arkansas, Pike constructed a nearby fortification just to the west of the confluence to put his party “in a defensible situation.” To those ends, the men “cut down fourteen logs, and put up a breastwork five feet high on three sides…” in Late November 1806. This meager erection was the first official American edifice in what would become Colorado. The exact location of the structure remains unknown.
Source: Jerome C. Smiley, Semi-Centennial History of the State of Colorado, vol. 1, (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1913), 53.
1819 - In February, United States Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and Spanish Minister to the U.S. Luis de Onís signed the Adams-Onís Treaty. The Treaty designated the international boundary between the viceroy of New Spain and the United States. Among other areas, the Treaty set the Arkansas River in what would become Colorado as the border.
Source: Ralph Blodgett, Adams-Onís Treaty, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture, accessed September 21, 2013, http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/a/ad004.html.
1822 - Explorer Jacob Fowler established a post on a hilltop northeast of the confluence of the Arkansas and Fountain Rivers that would later be termed Fowler’s Lookout. The first structures at the site included a horse pen and a three-room house that were both used for about one month. These are the first structures positively identified as being in what would become Pueblo’s East Side Neighborhood.
Source: Jacob Fowler, The Journal of Jacob Fowler: Narrating An Adventure From Arkansas Through The Indian Territory, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico to the Sources of Rio Grande Del Norte, 1821-22, ed. Elliott Coues (New York: Francis P. Harper, 1898), 84-85.
1823 - Trader John McKnight established a post in the same area as Fowler’s Lookout, possibly using the same buildings and corral. Newspaper reports mention Comanche Indians killed McKnight shortly after he moved onto the hilltop.
Source: Jerome C. Smiley, Semi-Centennial History of the State of Colorado, vol. 1, (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1913), 173.
1844 - John C. Frémont led his second expedition into the Rocky Mountains. The expedition headed south from the Middle Park region west of Pike’s Peak, and then followed the Arkansas River to its intersection with the Fountain River. On July 14, 1844, Frémont’s expedition camped “at the mouth of the Fountain.” Frémont recorded in his journal that just a short distance away on the banks of the Arkansas were “a number of mountaineers, who had married Spanish women in the valley of Taos, had collected together, and occupied themselves in farming, carrying on at the same time a desultory Indian trade.”
Source: Journal of John C. Frémont, quoted in Janet Lecompte, Pueblo, Hardscrabble, Greenhorn: The Upper Arkansas, 1832-1856, (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978), 102.
1848 - Representatives from the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2 ending the Mexican-American War that began in 1846. This Treaty repositioned the southern international boundary as the Rio Grande, far south of the previously negotiated boundary of the Arkansas River. Before negotiations were to begin, U.S. President James K. Polk recalled U.S. representative Nicholas Trist in hopes of negotiating in Washington D.C. instead of the Mexican city of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Trist continued marching his army south in hopes of conquering the southern nation’s capital all while knowing the Mexicans favored a peace treaty late in 1847. Trist finally stopped his march in Guadalupe Hidalgo where he bargained the transfer of land with Antonio López de Santa Anna.
Source: Tom Gray, Teaching With Documents: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, accessed September 21, 2013, http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/guadalupe-hidalgo/.
1853 - Marcelino Baca became the first permanent resident in what would later become Pueblo’s East Side neighborhood. Baca constructed a log house for himself, about twelve more for his farmhands, and several corrals. These buildings were located just below Fowler’s Lookout near the bottom of the hill.
Source: State of Colorado Historical Marker near Joplin Avenue and Colorado State Highway 227 intersection.
1854 - After years of degradation from the United States government, the attitudes of the regional Ute Indians reached a boiling point. On December 23 several men from Marcelino Baca’s homestead spent the night and next morning playing cards at the nearby Fort El Pueblo. Early morning Christmas Eve brought the relaxed atmosphere to a halt as a group of Utes accompanied by Jicarilla Apaches rode by Baca’s abode stealing horses and running off livestock on their way to the Fort. The attack resulted in the death of twelve Fort inhabitants, an unknown number of Indian deaths, and the capture of three Fort inhabitants. The event would come to be known as the El Pueblo Christmas Massacre, but has more recently been termed the El Pueblo Christmas Tragedy. The attack led Baca to ponder future hostilities and abandon his homestead, moving south into New Mexico Territory.
Source: Charlene Garcia Simms, “El Pueblo 1854 Christmas Tragedy,” article available online, accessed August 15, 2013. http://escritorio.8m.com/books/el_pueblo/elp1854.htm.
1858 - A party traveling to the gold fields of Colorado from St. Louis arrived at the confluence of the Arkansas and Fountain Rivers on September 15. The party consisted of Josiah F. Smith, Otto Winneka, Frank Doris, and George Lebaum. Doubting the reports of gold coming from Cherry Creek the group decided to spend the winter in what would become the Lower East Side. During the autumn season, the group constructed approximately thirty structures made of logs and adobe. The mild winter convinced the men to survey and plat the town of Fountain City the following spring season. Main Street of Fountain City ran east-west near present-day Damson Street. The group of men also repaired a ditch used to irrigate crops first constructed by Marcelino Baca’s men; the ditch exited the Fountain River near present-day Twelfth Street and continued south and east toward the Walter’s Brewery site. The resourceful would-be prospectors realized the money to be made directly below their feet and planted crops which commanded top-dollar in the Denver-area markets. To supplement their personal accoutrements, members of the party traded with nearby Arapaho tribes who knew the surrounding landscape well.
Source: Milo Lee Whittaker, Pathbreakers and Pioneers of the Pueblo Region, (The Franklin Press Company, 1917), 41-42; Smiley, Semi-Centennial History of the State of Colorado, vol. 1, (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1913), 241.
1860 - Albert Bercaw, a Fountain City pioneer, constructed the first bridge to span the Fountain River. The Bercaw Bridge lacked any fortifications and required a toll to cross it; probably leading many would-be users to take their chances in the sand and mud of the usually shallow riverbed. The bridge would only last a few years.
Source: “Valuable Improvements: East and West Pueblo now Connected with a Free Bridge,” Colorado Daily Chieftain, August 2, 1872, 4.
1861 - Virtually all of the residents of Fountain City relocated to Pueblo, the upstart town just across the Fountain River. The next influx of residents in what would become the East Side neighborhood would not occur until almost a decade later.
Source: Source: Jerome C. Smiley, Semi-Centennial History of the State of Colorado, vol. 1, (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1913), 292.
1866 - Fountain City co-founder Josiah F. Smith filed the first homestead claim that included small portions of what would become the East Side neighborhood. Smith’s homestead straddled the Fountain River and included the area from Santa Fe Avenue east to Fountain Avenue, and Seventh Street north to Fifteenth Street.
Source: U.S. General Land Office, land patent 105050 (to Josiah F. Smith), issued 1 September 1866.
1870 - Allen A. Bradford received his first of three land patents in what would become the East Side; two other land patents would follow in 1872. Although Bradford initially farmed the land to prove his homestead, his landholdings marked the beginning of speculative real estate investments in the East Side. Bradford attained seemingly limitless prominence in the study and practice of law. He served as a district court judge in Iowa before entering private practice in Nebraska City and later Central City, Colorado. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Bradford as one of the first justices of the Colorado Territorial Supreme Court in 1862. He was appointed to the Third Judicial District and immediately made Pueblo his residence. In 1865, the people of Pueblo voted Bradford to represent their territory in the U.S. House of Representatives where he served two non-concurrent terms.
By this year, Lewis Conley became the single largest landowner in Pueblo. His holdings were valued between $200,000 and $250,000 only a few years later, with almost all of his holdings existing east of the Fountain River.
Source: “Hon. Allen A. Bradford,” in Encyclopedia of the New West, William Speer, ed., (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing Co., 1881), 44-45 Colorado volume; “Father Of East Pueblo Ceases Labors On Earth: Louis Conley, Pioneer and Builder, Dies at Age of Eighty-Two Years,” Pueblo Chieftain, October 6, 1905, 3.
1871 - Major William Townsend received three land patents this year, adding to the two he received the year prior. The patents made up 600 acres in the middle of the East Side neighborhood. Townsend procured enough land to make himself the largest landowner in East Pueblo before the period of initial development and land sales.
Source: U.S. General Land Office, land patent 1366 (to William H. Townsend), issued 10 November 1870; U.S. General Land Office, land patent 1363 (to William H. Townsend), issued 10 November 1870; U.S. general Land Office, land patent 109659 (to William H. Townsend), issued 5 June 1871; U.S. General Land Office, land patent 109845 (to William H. Townsend), issued 5 June 1871; U.S. General Land Office, land patent 109659 (to William H. Townsend), issued 5 June 1871; U.S. General Land Office, land patent 109845 (to William H. Townsend), issued 5 June 1871; U.S. Census of 1880, South Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado, Roll: T9_92, Family History Film: 1254092, Page: 297.3000. Enumeration District: 94; Image: 0600.
1872 - This was arguably the most important year in the development of the East Side neighborhood.
Henry Fosdick surveyed the first addition to the city of Pueblo east of the Fountain River. The East Pueblo Addition was filed with the County Clerk April 27. The developers of the East Pueblo Addition were Fosdick, Lewis Conley, and Allen Bradford. A second addition to the city of Pueblo occurred just over one month later named Conley’s Addition.
Also, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad reached Pueblo this year, opening the town up to trade and commerce outside the immediate region. For a time, Pueblo was the only Colorado city with mainlines extended in all four cardinal directions. The railroad reached Pueblo by building south from Denver. Once south of Colorado Springs, the railroad traveled along the western edge of the Fountain River to Pueblo. Now, not only the river but the railroad separated East Pueblo from the rest of the town. The East Side was now literally “on the other side of the tracks.”
On July 31, Lewis Conley opened a bridge spanning the Fountain River, connecting the East Pueblo neighborhood with downtown. This was the first bridge in Pueblo County that did not require travelers to pay a toll. Area businessmen pledged $1,600 of the total $2,500 construction cost while Conley provided the remainder of the funds. The bridge spanned the river somewhere north of Sixth Street, probably at Eighth Street, and was 20’ wide by 280’ long.
The Pueblo Chieftain reported on August 2 that at the beginning of the year, East Pueblo consisted of merely “two or three straggling buildings.” Several houses and buildings had been constructed by late summer, with at least an additional twenty-five under construction at the time of the newspaper article. East Pueblo building improvements accounted for over ten percent of those improvements throughout the town, including the industrial and downtown areas. Lewis Conley’s personal construction costs amounted to nearly sixteen percent of all construction costs in East Pueblo.
Fountain City pioneer Josiah F. Smith also constructed a house and outbuildings in East Pueblo. His carriage house alone cost $3,500 which was more than all but two houses. Only Lewis Conley’s and Judge J.W. Henry’s residences cost more to construct than Smith’s carriage house.
The Colorado Daily Chieftain reported that Lewis Conley set aside an entire city block within his East Pueblo Addition for a seminary. Only one seminary existed within Pueblo at the time, however, and was located in South Pueblo on the mesa. The seminary was never constructed, likely being a marketing ploy to sell lots and get people to move into the subdivision.
Sources: East Pueblo Addition to the City of Pueblo [plat map], April 1872, Pueblo County Clerk, recorded April 27, 1872; Ralph C. Taylor, “Colorful Colorado: Pueblo’s lusty bash to celebrate the railroad’s arrival,” Pueblo Chieftain, February 22, 1976, 5C; “Valuable Improvements: East and West Pueblo now Connected with a Free Bridge,” Colorado Daily Chieftain, 2 August 1872, 4; “East Pueblo,” Colorado Daily Chieftain, April 30, 1872, p. 4; “Pueblo: History and Progress for the Year 1873,” Colorado Daily Chieftain, December 30, 1873, p. 2.
1873 - The United States government stopped backing its currency with silver, leading to a severe economic recession. Lewis Conley lost virtually all of his wealth in the ensuing years. He procured advertisements in the Colorado Chieftain, practically begging people to buy his real estate holdings. In addition to the undeveloped lots in East Pueblo, Conley offered up for sale his business blocks on Santa Fe Avenue and his Conley Hall theater. Conley moved to Alamosa in the middle of the decade, not to return to Pueblo until the mid-1890s.
The first meeting to organize East Pueblo’s initial school district, District 19, was held on May 27. The District held its first classes the following autumn in a storeroom erected by Judge Mark G. Bradford. Enrollment peaked at 120 students the first year, with daily attendance of 86.
Source: “Father Of East Pueblo Ceases Labors On Earth: Louis Conley, Pioneer and Builder, Dies at Age of Eighty-Two Years,” Pueblo Chieftain, October 6, 1905, 3; Colorado Daily Chieftain, May 28, 1873, p. 4, and June 2, 1874, p. 4; James H. Risley, How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 38.
1874 - Lewis Conley commissioned the construction of a permanent school building on land donated by Mark Bradford.
Source: Colorado Daily Chieftain, June 2, 1874, 4.
1875 - The population of East Pueblo climbed high enough for Pueblo City Council to create Ward 5 of the city at its March 8 meeting. Ward 5 consisted of all of Pueblo east of the Fountain River. Previously, East Pueblo residents north of Sixth Street were part of Ward 4 and residents south of Sixth Street were part of Ward 1. At least fifty voters comprised the new ward. Though the East Side was wholly part of the town of Pueblo, many subsequent articles in the Chieftain segregated the neighborhood by referring to it as “East Pueblo” and the rest of the town as “Pueblo proper.”
On July 17, heavy rains north of Pueblo led the Fountain River to swell in town. The editor of the Colorado Daily Chieftain, Dr. R.M. Stevenson, left the office to dine that evening at his East Side home. Upon reaching the bridge, Dr. Stevenson found both approaches to the bridge under water. The river rose five additional feet that evening between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
Source: Colorado Daily Chieftain, March 10, 1875, p. 4 and 12, and July 18, 1875, p. 4.
1876 - On July 14, another flash flood occurred due to heavy rains upstream. The Chieftain reported that in about fifteen minutes, the Fountain River swelled from “almost dry” to covering both ends of the bridge and the railroad tracks on the western bank.
Local businessmen convinced the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad to extend its lines into Pueblo from the east. The AT&SF arrived at the downtown depot on February 29. Previously, Pueblo residents rode the D&RG north to Denver then another carrier east.
Also this year, only four years after its opening, residents began to complain about the deplorable condition of the East Pueblo Bridge.
Source: “The Storm,” Colorado Daily Chieftain, July 15, 1876, 4; Ralph C. Taylor, “Colorful Colorado: Pueblo’s lusty bash to celebrate the railroad’s arrival,” Pueblo Chieftain, February 22, 1976, 5C; Tivis E. Wilkins, Colorado Railroads Chronological Development (Boulder: Pruett Publishing, 1974), 7; Frank Hall, ed., History of Colorado Illustrated, vol. I, (Chicago: Blakely Printing Company, 1895), 471.
1878 - Pueblo procured its first streetcar system. The lines ignored the entire population of the East Side, even though city council granted a right-of-way to the private operator on all bridges and many East Side streets. Another private endeavor operated horse-drawn omnibuses along East Fourth Street, over the Fourth Street Bridge, and to the nearest streetcar terminal at Santa Fe Avenue. East Side residents were forced to pay for two rides, the omnibus and the streetcar, as there were no transfers allowed between the two.
Source: Morris Cafky and John A. Haney, Pueblo’s Steel Town Trolleys (Golden: Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation, 1999), p. 12 and 17; “Donald Fletcher’s East Pueblo Heights Addition!” [advertisement], Pueblo Chieftain, May 2, 1980, 1.
1879 - Enrollment in East Pueblo School District 19 dropped significantly by this year. Talks began with Pueblo School District 1 for the larger district to absorb the small East Side district. The schools of the East Side officially fell under the jurisdiction of District 1 in 1880. District 1 purchased the block surrounded by East Sixth and Seventh Streets and Erie and Fountain Avenues.
Source: James H. Risley, How it Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 38.
1881 - O. Elias Mertz moved his Pueblo Brewery to East Pueblo near the current intersection of Joplin and Portland Avenues. This operation became the first major employer located east of the Fountain River.
Source: Robert Collyer, “History of Brewing in Pueblo CO: The Walter Brewing Co.” [article on-line], American Breweriana Journal, 2000, accessed August 6, 2013, available from http://breweriana.com/82-history-of-brewing-in-pueblo-co-waltyer-brewing-co.html, internet.
1882 - The Denver & New Orleans Railroad entered the city from the north this year. Unlike the D&RG lines, the D&NO traveled south from Colorado Springs on the eastern side of the Fountain River. Once in Pueblo, trains rumbled directly down the middle of Erie Avenue in the East Side neighborhood before crossing the river between First and Third Streets and into the downtown area. Undoubtedly, this configuration led to many traffic delays once the automobile became popular. Freight trains continued to thunder down Erie Avenue for about 100 years until the early 1980s.
School District 1 held its first classes in the newly-constructed Fountain School in the autumn. Total cost of construction amounted to $12,000.
Source: Tivis E. Wilkins, Colorado Railroads Chronological Development (Boulder: Pruett Publishing, 1974), 41; James H. Risley, How it Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 79.
1888 - The Philadelphia Smelter began operations on December 20. The location of the smelter was immediately southwest of the Lower East Side, just across the Fountain River. The smelter became a major employer of men living in the Lower East Side, along with the railroads, due to its proximity. Housing in the area reflected the blue-collar nature of the men, with small houses packed together, built on narrow lots. Many of the workers who made the Lower East Side home were European immigrants.
Source: Eleanor Fry, Smelters of Pueblo, (Spearville, Kansas: The Spearville News, 2000), 62.
1889 - Developers platted and filed the Fletcher Hill Addition to the city of Pueblo with the Pueblo County Clerk. The subdivision was located on the highest points in the neighborhood, near the present-day Safeway supermarket. Donald Fletcher envisioned his namesake subdivision as the place for stately homes in the East Side for Pueblo’s white-collar workforce. Indeed, many smelter managers constructed homes in the subdivision. Martin Walter, proprietor of Walter’s Brewery, also purchased a house in the subdivision. Some of the largest homes in the East Side were constructed in the Fletcher Hill Addition within the 900-1300 blocks of East Eighth Street.
Additionally by this year, the City of Pueblo constructed bridges spanning the Fountain River at Fourth and Eighth Streets. The Fourth Street Bridge also spanned the tracks of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, allowing East Side residents at least one unimpeded entryway into downtown when a train was passing.
A new school opened in the East Side in a rented room at an unknown location to ease crowding at Fountain School. Upon learning of this, real estate developers O.J. Wiley and Humphrey B. Chamberlin donated land within their namesake subdivision likely located near the intersection of South LaCrosse Avenue and Catalpa Street. Construction proceeded quickly, and students attended the new Wiley School. Wiley School was located approximately one-half mile south of the present-day Bradford School.
Source: Adam Thomas, Pueblo’s North Side Neighborhood (Colorado Cultural Resource Survey Report for Phase I), (Estes Park, Colorado: Historitecture, 2007), 26; Frank Hall, ed., History of Colorado Illustrated, vol. I, (Chicago: Blakely Printing Company, 1895), 471; James H. Risley, How it Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 86-87.
1890 - The East Side neighborhood finally obtained streetcar service. Streetcars entered the neighborhood via the Fourth Street Bridge before turning north onto Glendale Avenue. At Eighth Street, the lines turned east before terminating at the intersection of East Eighth Street and Norwood Avenue. The Bessemer-East Pueblo route, as the line was coined, became one of the most heavily-trafficked routes in the entire city. The route was popular because many East Side residents worked at Colorado Fuel & Iron, the southern terminus of the route. The route would later be called the Bessemer-Park Hill route, reflecting the neighborhood resident’s sentiments of desiring a different neighborhood name.
Fire destroyed much of the Pueblo Brewery facilities this year. Only the below-grade cellars and vats remained unscathed. The costly rebuilding led the company to financial collapse within two years. The company changed hands several times before the turn of the twentieth century eventually falling into the hands of Martin and Christian Walter, along with one of their brothers.
Overcrowding became a major problem at Fountain School leading District 1 to construct an addition that doubled the size of the school to eight classrooms plus additional space. The addition cost the district $18,920.
Source: Morris Cafky and John A. Haney, Pueblo’s Steel Town Trolley’s (Golden: Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation, 1999), 17; Robert Collyer, “History of Brewing in Pueblo CO: The Walter Brewing Co.” [article on-line], American Breweriana Journal, 2000, accessed 6 August 2013, available from http://breweriana.com/82-history-of-brewing-in-pueblo-co-waltyer-brewing..., internet; James H. Risley, How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 97.
1891 - Enterprising individuals recognized the geologic significance of the confluence of the Arkansas and Fountain Rivers. As such, the fine sand, rich clays, and desirable shale brought entrepreneurs into the East Side. A large operation, the Iron City Fire Clay Company began firing its kilns about this year. The plant was so large that a tramway connected the brick presses and kilns to the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway.
Source: Sanborn map for Pueblo, Colorado, (New York: Sanborn Map and Publishing, September 1893).
1892 - Pueblo School District 1 opened a new school at the intersection of East First Street and LaCrosse Avenue. Originally named Capitol School, the district renamed the school Bradford School in honor of early Board of Education member W. G. Bradford.
By the end of the 1891-1892 school year, Fountain School overcrowded again. At this time however, District 1 could not afford additional construction at the school, forcing students to crowd into the existing classrooms.
Source: James H. Risley, How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 86-87, 97.
1893 - By this year, a small commercial district sprang up in the East Side at the intersection of East Fourth Street and Fountain Avenue. Businesses in the commercial district at the time consisted of: a cabinetmaker, a small flour and feed mill, and a cobbler, along with two other storefronts.
Source: Sanborn map for Pueblo, Colorado, (New York: Sanborn Map and Publishing, September 1893).
1894 - Another severe rainstorm began on May 30 that lasted two days. Water inundated the East Side neighborhood. Floodwaters severely disabled the eastern approach to the Eighth Street Bridge and literally carried away the Fourth Street Bridge, leaving East Side residents stranded. The torrent moved the channel of the Fountain River 200 yards east then encroached on Erie Avenue. The Army Corps of Engineers later estimated the peak flow of the Fountain River at 40,000 feet per second, higher than the forthcoming and well-documented 1921 flood.
Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Flood Plain Information-Fountain Creek-Pueblo Colorado (Albuquerque: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, October 1968), 25-26.
1896 - On June 3 Mrs. H.W. Mitchell (Rose), Mrs. Charles Gast, and Mrs. W.D. Latshaw (Clara) met with the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce and established four park districts within the city. The Ladies Parks and Improvements Association’s plan called for a park just near the intersection of East Tenth Street and LaCrosse Avenue which was the highest point in the city at the time. The establishment of individual parks was still a few years away however.
Source: Peter Roper, “Mitchell Park: The Heart of the East Side,” Pueblo Chieftain, June 9, 2003, 5A.
1897 - East Side resident Henry O. Morris published his novel Waiting for the Signal. The novel became a nationwide rallying point against capitalism and predicted an uprising of the American working class who were literally “waiting for the signal” to begin their revolution.
Source: Henry O. Morris, Waiting For The Signal (Chicago: The Schulte Publishing Company, 1897).
1900 - The Doyle Meat & Live Stock Company began operations at the location of the now defunct Iron City Brick Company. It appeared the livestock company would only last a few short years before being supplanted by the neighboring Union Stockyards.
By this year, what would become known as the “little red house” at 816 East Fifth Street was constructed. The Queen Anne style house developed importance as a sign of preservation in the neighborhood. Slated for demolition in the early years of the twenty-first century, the Pueblo House was donated to the organization Occupy the Roads (OTR). OTR rehabilitated and renovated the house into a community center and living quarters for the managers. A celebratory gathering in November of 2013 signified the end of major construction at the Pueblo House.
Sources: Sanborn Map for Pueblo Colorado, (New York: Sanborn Map and Publishing, September 1905), Sheet 70; Loretta Sword, “Activists mark Pueblo House opening [article online],” Pueblo Chieftain, accessed December 9, 2013, http://www.chieftain.com/news/pueblo/2004884-120/pueblo-wilson-art-bring.
1902 - Production ramped up at CF&I bringing an influx of new workers, many of whom were immigrants, into Pueblo. Many of these workers constructed houses in the East Side neighborhood due to the availability of public transportation between the neighborhood and steelworks.
Joseph Welte founded the Summit Brick & Tile Company. Within the first year of operation, Summit changed from the hand-pressed method of forming brick to a dry-press method. The company quickly expanded by purchasing local Acme Brick Company in 1908, whose plant was located approximately one mile to the north, and again in 1916 when it purchased National Clay Products Company of Colorado Springs. Summit expanded its plant at the corner of East Thirteenth Street and Erie Avenue several times, all while still purchasing its competitors. The company eventually exported its products to Canada and Japan, likely being the only international firm located in the East Side.
Mitchell Park officially opened in the East Side this year. The nine-acre park included a building that housed deer. Since no zoo existed in the city at the time, residents traveled to each park to view a limited number of wild animal species. The park also hosted several dances in the summertime evenings.
The Union Stockyards opened their new plant at 1200 South LaCrosse Avenue in the East Side near the Doyle Meat & Live Stock Company and just south of the Walter’s brewery. Constructed entirely on Missouri Pacific Railway land and operated by the railroad company, the Union Stockyards functioned as a “rest stop” for cattle, horses, and sheep en route from their western ranches to Midwestern slaughter houses or from their birth places in points east to their summer grazing lands . Government regulations demanded that the animals receive at least an eight-hour travel respite to be fed, watered, and cleaned, and the Stockyards provided just that. When initially constructed, the facility was state-of-the-art. Features included: a steam vat to rid afflicted animals from insects and pests, a 60-ton scale, a 12-room exchange building for transactions, offices for several shipping and ranching firms, a hotel for visitors, a dormitory for employees, a branding chute that could accommodate four cattle per minute, 125 pens (several of which were covered for weather protection), and more than three miles of switch track that appointed trains in all directions. The railroad operated the Stockyards until 1959, and likely continued operating under an unidentified owner. Fire destroyed the hotel on March 3, 1980.
Source: John Welte, “Summit Brick & Tile History [article on-line],” accessed September 1, 2013, available from http://summitbrick.com/summithistory.php, internet; Pueblo City Directory, (Pueblo, Colorado, The Chieftain Publishing Company, 1902), 32; Arla Aschermann, “Yards provided quick processing for stock,” Pueblo Chieftain and Star-Journal, August 23, 1980, 4.
1903 - East Side resident Henry Castellar opened his namesake Castellar Dairy at the far south end of La Crosse Avenue. Henry’s sons August and Henry Jr. took over the operation in 1912 renaming the operation the Stockyards Dairy. The name later changed to Park Hill Dairy, indicative of its East Side location.
School District 1 finally afforded a second addition to Fountain School to ease overcrowding. The addition consisted of the center portion of the building and cost the district $30,665.
Classes began at the incomplete Benedictine College building located at the southeast corner of East Seventh Street and Kingston Avenue. A college in name only, the school provided faculty for the Abbey School in Cañon City. The building also served as a place of worship for St. Leander’s parish in its early years. The school moved back to Cañon City in 1925.
The Diocese of Pueblo also began the St. Leander’s elementary school in 1903. Initial classes were taught in the Benedictine College building and were then transferred in 1950 to the new school building, located at the southwest corner of East Seventh Street and Norwood Avenue. The elementary school operated until the mid-1900’s.
Source: Mary Jean Porter, “History’s Heart: LaCrosse Avenue barn to celebrate its centennial,” Pueblo Chieftain, May 19, 2009; James H. Risley, How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 97; Rev. Vincent Peter, “Fifty Year Of Holy Cross Abbey History,” The Abbey Ideal 2, no. 5 (Autumn 1975): 8-9.
1904 - By this year, the commercial district at East Fourth Street and Fountain Avenue spread east almost to Hudson Avenue. A second commercial district in the neighborhood began to sprout at the intersection of East Eighth Street and Monument Avenue, but never grew beyond more than a few businesses until the 1950s.
Source: 1904-05 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.
1906 - The westernmost edge of East Fourth Street was paved, as well as several streets in the downtown area. The remainder of East Fourth Street would not be paved until 1923.
Source: “Notice [Public Notice]”, Pueblo Chieftain, May 16, 1906, 9; “First Street Paving Undertaken Here in ’06,” Pueblo Chieftain, January 2, 1955, 8C.
1914 - School District 1 added a print shop to the Fountain School curriculum. This training coincided with the district’s experiment to segregate classes based on gender: boys classes included training in handiwork while girls classes included domesticity. Entire schools were not segregated, only the classes within.
Source: James H. Risley, How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 129-130.
1917 - Classes began at the newly erected Park View School located on East Ninth Street one-half block south of Mitchell Park. As designed, the district was supposed to be able to add ‘units’ to the school as separate buildings to create a complex of learning. The first unit at the school cost $16,127 to erect. The school complex never developed as designed though; administration, heating, and maintenance proved too costly for separate buildings. Extra classroom space at Park View School later came as additions to the first unit.
Source: James H. Risley, How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 135-136.
1918 - The worldwide flu pandemic reached Pueblo. All schools within District 1, including those in the East Side neighborhood, closed from October 3 until December 30.
Source: James H. Risley, How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 142-143.
1920 - The diocese of Pueblo opened a second catholic church on the East Side this year at 814 East Second Street. Servin the nearby residents of the Lower East Side, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church provided weekly mass and also served as a community hall. The church operated until the late 1980’s, at which time the Diocese only operated the building as a hall.
Source: Pueblo City Directory for 1915 through 1995, (Kansas City, Missouri: R.L. Polk & Co.), consulted.
1921 - Arguably the most well-documented event in the city of Pueblo’s history occurred: the Flood of 1921. The Fountain River crested on June 4 at a rate of 34,000 cubic feet per second, the fourth largest measured for the Fountain at Pueblo. The deluge crippled the Eighth Street Bridge, completely washed away the First Street Bridge, and spared only a portion of the Fourth Street Bridge. Only the western half of the Fourth Street Bridge remained intact, while only the streetcar lines on the eastern portion dangled precariously over the ominous water below. The predicament forced the hand of East Side residents: either choose to cross the rickety remaining streetcar lines of the Fourth Street Bridge or ford the water and quicksand on foot. Three weeks later temporary repairs to the Fourth Street Bridge finally allowed pedestrian, streetcar, and automobile traffic to cross the span safely. The Fourth Street Bridge later received more permanent repairs and the Eight Street Bridge was rebuilt. The First Street Bridge was never rebuilt and any reminders of it were ultimately removed. The nearby smelter, which employed many East Side residents, is almost obliterated and was never rebuilt, resulting in high unemployment.
Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Flood Plain Information-Fountain Creek-Pueblo Colorado (Albuquerque, NM: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, October 1968), 22.
1925 - By the mid-1920s, a relatively large Jewish population called the East Side neighborhood home. Centered mainly in the Lower East Side, the number of Jewish families in the neighborhood climbed to over thirty; many of these families moved into the neighborhood in the early twentieth century. Additionally, a few of the families even operated general stores and markets both inside and outside of the neighborhood.
In addition to the Jewish population, the Italian-American population began to grow within the East Side. With several Italian-American families living in the nearby Goat Hill neighborhood, on the west bank of the Fountain River, the East Side became a natural extension of this community. When Interstate 25 descended on Pueblo, at least one family moved their grocery store from Goat Hill into the East Side. Runco’s Market which moved from 215 East Fourth Street to 714 East Fourth, was one such business. Members of the Runco family also purchased the Dairy Queen at the intersection of East Eighth Street and Erie Avenue. Renamed ‘Nick’s Dairy Crème,’ the descendants continue to operate the East Side ice cream shop today.
Source: Julia Vean. Interviewed by Charlene Garcia Simms and Jeffrey DeHerrera, August 21, 2013, Pueblo, Colorado; “Runco Family,” unpublished document, Peggy Runco Wilcox now at PCCLD Special Collections.
1926 - The Holy Cross Abbey of Cañon City sold the former Benedictine College building to Pueblo School District 1. The district utilized the building to ease crowding at Fountain School by moving grades seven and eight into the building while planning the construction of a new building immediately adjacent. The district could not afford to construct a new school building and instead chose to renovate the former Benedictine College building and construct a combination gymnasium and auditorium to the rear. The renovation cost $7,320 and the construction cost $49,650. The school was named Park Hill Junior High School, coinciding with efforts to rename the neighborhood.
Source: James H. Risley, How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 184-185.
1927 - By the mid to late 1920s the East Side Improvement Association, a neighborhood betterment organization, pushed to remake the neighborhood’s deteriorating image. The predominant order was to change the neighborhood’s identifying moniker to Park Hill to correspond with the name and location of the junior high school. The streetcar system identified it’s route in the neighborhood as the Park Hill route, though the Pueblo Chieftain would use ‘Park Hill’ for only a short while in newspaper coverage. The second change about this time occurred with the north-south street names. Streets became named alphabetically beginning with Albany, Bradford, Chester, etc. from west to east. The only street not to be renamed was Fountain Avenue. Prior to the street name changes, several streets were known by more than one name or changed names without changing directions.
Source: Jeffrey DeHerrera and Adam Thomas, A Place Set Apart: The History and Architecture of Pueblo’s East Side Neighborhood (Estes Park, Colorado: Historitecture, 2009), 58, 90.
1935 - Another breach occurred in the banks of the Fountain River on May 30 due to heavy rains upstream. Damage within the East Side neighborhood appeared minimal however, as newspaper accounts noted that the heaviest damage occurred north of the city limits. The peak flow through Pueblo was measured at 35,000 cubic feet per second, once again higher than the 1921 flood.
Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Flood Plain Information-Fountain Creek-Pueblo Colorado (Albuquerque: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, October 1968), 27.
1936 - Mitchell Park now included a wading pool, tennis courts, and basketball courts. A Depression Era program, the Works Progress Administration, provided the materials and labor for the additional recreational opportunities while providing jobs to some of the neighborhood men.
Source: Peter Roper, “Mitchell Park: The Heart of the East Side”, Pueblo Chieftain, June 9, 2003, 5A.
1940’s Baseball fever swept the nation and the East Side neighborhood was caught in the boom. The nation’s favorite pastime brought both competitive and noncompetitive players to the neighborhood. Walter’s Beer sponsored a team for adults and the Old Timers Baseball Associate fielded neighborhood adolescent teams. Though the adult leagues dwindled through the ensuing years, the children’s league still continues today.
Source: Justin Parker, “Play ball: OTBA has given generation of Puebloans their start in baseball,” Pueblo Chieftain, accessed December 9, 2013, http://www.pueblolibrary.org:2256/iw-search/we/INforWeb?p_product=AWNB&p....
1949 - Classes began at the newly-constructed Risley Junior High School. The building replaced the Park Hill Junior High building, which was razed. Construction costs at Risley amounted to $451,568; School District 60 continued to utilize the just over twenty year old gymnasium.
Construction began on the Pueblo Freeway project, a four-lane limited access highway running almost parallel to the Fountain River. Though it shortened the travel time to Colorado Springs to merely one hour, the Freeway became another barrier between the East Side and the rest of Pueblo, in addition to the Fountain and the multiple rail lines.
Source: James H. Risley, How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1953), 302-304; Colorado Department of Transportation, “The History of I-25 in Colorado,” accessed April 30, 2009, http://www.dot.state.co.us/50anniversary/I25.cfm.
1952 - School District 60 opened Spann Elementary School at the eastern end of the East Side neighborhood to ease crowding at both Park View and Bradford Schools. George “Pop” Spann worked at Risley Junior High for many years as a custodian. Parents with children at Risley and the newly-constructed school expressed support for the school to be named in honor of Spann, as it made no difference to the parents that Spann was not an educator. East Side parents both liked and respected Spann during his thirty-four year career within the schools. Spann knew most of the generations of students he met on a first-name basis and often spent his personal money on them when they needed supplies. A school district rule forcing employees over the age of sixty-five to retire, enacted September 1, 1952, brought Spann’s working career to an end. He would remain a fixture in the East Side neighborhood schools until his death in 1954.
Source: “New George Spann School Memorializes Common Man,” newspaper article found in Pueblo Subject Headings Schools-Spann clipping file, Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library Special Collections.
1956 - The Eastwood Heights portion of the East Side received its first neighborhood institution on January 3 --St. Anne’s Catholic Church. The Diocese of Pueblo purchased the building from the United States Army and moved the former barracks building from the Pueblo Air Base (the present-day Pueblo Chemical Depot) to its current location at 2701 East Twelfth Street. The move required nearly two weeks of work because the contractor graded the road ahead of the building’s convoy.
Source: John Norton, “Keeping The Faith: St. Anne’s parish traces history to World War II-era air base,” Pueblo Chieftain, May 15, 2006, 5A; “Special Road For Church,” Pueblo Chieftain, January 4, 1956, 5.
1960 - By this year, the US Highway 50 Bypass opened and defined the northern limit of the East Side neighborhood. The four-lane highway tore directly through the Eastwood Heights portion of the neighborhood, isolating the community from the rest of the East Side. The only intersection of the bypass and the established city streets was at East Eighth Street. Only a flashing yellow signal light warned motorists traversing the bypass of the intersection. East Side residents on both sides of the Bypass now braved fast-moving traffic when visiting their friends and neighbors who only lived a short distance away yet on the other side.
The Bypass also restricted the growth of the East Side to the north and segregated the first filing of the Belmont subdivision from the second filing. Before construction of the Bypass, developers were free to survey and plat northern extensions to the East Side. Ultimately, the Bypass literally brought the segregation of the East Side neighborhood full circle. The neighborhood was now segregated from any other part of Pueblo in all directions.
Source: “Traffic halted by Eastwood residents in demand for signal and overpass,” Pueblo Star-Journal, August 23, 1974, 9B; Ron Martinez, “Liebert promises aid in improving intersection safety,” Pueblo Chieftain, August 24, 1974 9A; David Roscover, “A Safer Eastwood,” Pueblo Chieftain, September 19, 1974, 19A.
1962 - Eastwood Elementary opened this year serving its namesake portion of the East Side neighborhood. This is the only school to serve this portion of the neighborhood. Middle school and high school students were transferred to Risley and East High School in the Belmont neighborhood.
President John F. Kennedy drove through the East Side neighborhood this year on August 17. After landing at the Pueblo Airport, the president travelled on Fourth Street to Abriendo on his way to Dutch Clark Stadium in order to sign the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. Scores of neighborhood residents lined the streets in order to view the president, and numerous lucky individuals even shook the president’s hand while he was driving slowly by.
Source: Pueblo City Directory, (Kansas City, Missouri: R.L. Polk & Co., 1962), consulted; Carmen Arteaga. Interviewed by Charlene Garcia Simms and Jeffrey DeHerrera, 28 August 2013, Pueblo, Colorado.
1965 - On June 14, the Fountain River breached its channel due to extremely heavy rains miles upstream. The rains continued for several days, leading to a peak flow of 47,000 cubic feet per second at the Eighth Street gauge station; this flow dwarfed the peak flow of 34,000 c.f.s. during the 1921 flood. The water damaged a pier supporting the East Eighth Street Bridge leading to its closure. Metal buildings located north of the Sweeney Feed Mill crashed into the East Fourth Street Bridge though there were no reports of damage to the bridge; the water crested over the bridge’s eastern end. Water inundated approximately fifty-three city blocks from west of Chester Avenue to east of Hudson Avenue with water up to eight feet deep. The flood waters forced over 1,000 East Side residents to evacuate to Risley Junior High School until the waters subsided.
The United States also began to deploy combat units into Vietnam in 1965, an event on the world stage that hit home in the East Side neighborhood. There are fourteen identified casualties with roots in the East Side. The grounds of the new library branch to open in the East Side in 2014 will feature a tree planted in the name of each soldier who gave their life in service to their country and the library will be named in honor of one: Patrick A. Lucero. Mr. Lucero also has a library named after him in the Da Krong District of the Quang Tri Province in Central Vietnam. The additional soldiers memorialized by the Pueblo Library District are (in alphabetical order): David L. Blunn, Daniel J. Clevenger, Robert W. Ellsworth, Allen D. Ford, Timothy Ives, Ronald Katz, John P. Martinez, Michael P. Martinez, Leo Mascarenas, Miguel E. Naranjo Jr., Larry Taylor, Michael P. Tomsic, and Leslie W. Williams.
Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Flood Plain Information-Fountain Creek-Pueblo Colorado (Albuquerque: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, October 1968), 28; Terence Curran, “1,000 Ordered To Vacate Homes,” Pueblo Chieftain, June 18 1965, 1A; “Fountain Water Reaches Hudson,” Pueblo Chieftain, June 18, 1965, 15A; Nick Bonham, “’After so many years’: East alumni, friends, family gather to honor 14 who died in Vietnam,” Pueblo Chieftain, September 28, 2009.
1966 - The Pueblo Soap Box Derby moved to the East Side neighborhood. Organizers originally held the event on West Street in the North Side neighborhood in 1937 and 1938. The Pueblo Chieftain reported the true Depression-era aura of the event: “Visit the grocery store where your mother trades and get a soap box or two, if you do not have material at home. Gather up some wheels off an old wagon, or a pair of roller skates-any kind that will turn. A few nails, a little tin, some effort expended, and you may have a racer that will bring you a $2,000 four-year scholarship at some institution of higher-learning.”
The Derby went on hiatus until 1962, when organizers held it on Constitution Road in the Belmont neighborhood. For the years 1966 through 1969 organizers held the Derby in the East Side neighborhood on Joplin Avenue. The first year on Joplin, an East Side resident, Kelly Williams of 1919 Ogden Avenue, won in a car built and raced the previous year. A second, much longer hiatus began after the 1969 race and lasted until the event’s resurrection in 2006. The Derby continues to run each June on Joplin Avenue as of 2013.
Source: Mary Lindenmuth Scarcello, “Soap Box Derby In Pueblo,” undated, located in Sports – Soap Box Derby clipping folder, Robert Hoag Rawlings Special Collections Department.
1968 - In June of this year, Eastwood Heights’ residents began to meet with various government officials to discuss the need for a community center and park in the neighborhood. The plan developed from the meetings called for a “complete…recreation and community meeting facility” within a ten- to forty-acre park at the western edge of Eastwood. The community center and park never developed as planned. The city merely leased land from St. Anne’s Church to be used as a park for $1 per year as long as the city provided the maintenance; the arrangement continues presently.
Source: Mark Lieberman, “Eastwood Park Funds, Building Viewed at Length,” Pueblo Chieftain, June 13, 1968, 1A.
1973 - The local Chicano movement steadily gained traction by this year. Varying activist groups met throughout the East Side neighborhood-especially in the parks and the Casa Verde community center located at 519 South Joplin. Casa Verde served as an epicenter and geographical rallying point for the local Chicano movement by accommodating meetings, guiding Chicano youth, and even housing a small health center. The groups renamed the East Side parks: Mitchell Park becomes Alarcon Park, Bradford Park becomes Zapata Park, and St. Anne’s Park becomes Barrio Libre. The renaming may have been unofficial; however the Pueblo Chieftain used the names in articles and photograph captions.
Source: Carmen Arteaga. Interviewed by Charlene Garcia Simms and Jeffrey DeHerrera, August 28, 2013, Pueblo, Colorado.
1974 - On August 22, Eastwood residents publically demonstrated against the design of the Highway 50 Bypass. From the construction of the Bypass until this date, pedestrians perilously crossed the Bypass at Eighth Street, where only a flashing yellow light cautioned motorists about the possibility of people crossing the road. In the decade since the construction of the Bypass, fourteen area residents lost their lives crossing the highway. The outrage reached a crescendo on this date: approximately 100 neighbors entered the intersection and halted traffic for half an hour. The chief of police arrived at the intersection and arranged a meeting with the protesters for the next evening, allowing the demonstrators to peacefully disband. At the meeting, the director of the Pueblo Transportation Department stated that any improvements would have to be controlled by the State of Colorado. The City Engineer in attendance divulged that he would personally take the residents’ case to the State Highway Department. Less than one month after the demonstration in the roadway on September 18, 1974, construction began on the installation of traffic signals that would halt vehicular traffic when a pedestrian desired to cross the Bypass.
El Centro del Quinto Sol, the East Side neighborhood recreation center, opened in December of 1974 after months of planning. The center utilized the former Fountain Elementary School auxiliary gymnasium building. The recreation center accommodated Pueblo residents of all ages, and was also made available to those not living in the East Side. Program offerings ranged from music and dance classes for toddlers and preschoolers, to loom weaving and pottery for adults. Recreational activities included: air hockey, foosball, volleyball, Ping-Pong, and basketball. El Centro del Quinto Sol remains the heart of the East Side today.
Source: “Traffic halted by Eastwood residents in demand for signal and overpass,” Pueblo Star-Journal, August 23, 1974, 9B; Ron Martinez, “Liebert promises aid in improving intersection safety,” Pueblo Chieftain, August 24, 1974, 9A; David Roscover, “A Safer Eastwood,” Pueblo Chieftain, September 19, 1974, 19A; “Council, residents OK name for new center,” Pueblo Chieftain, September 4, 1974, 20B; “El Centro del Quinto Sol offers fun for all ages,” Pueblo Chieftain, March 15, 1975, 6; “El Centro del Quinto Sol offers recreation to all,” Pueblo Star-Journal, March 7, 1976, 16I.
1975 - This year the federal government tried to persuade City of Pueblo officials to designate the Lower East Side as a floodplain. The feds argued that the designation would allow residents to access federal floodplain insurance in the case of another disaster; residents countered with information from local real estate agents stating that their property values could decrease between twenty and sixty percent and that the designation would prevent the rebuilding of any commercial or residential buildings if damage totaled fifty percent or more of the building’s value. Prior to this overreach by the feds, residents were allowed to purchase identical insurance on a year-to-year basis without the floodplain designation. The feds threatened that if Pueblo City Council did not pass an ordinance to accept designation that it would not subsidize any of the flood insurance being sold to East Side residents. Council refused to be strong-armed into creating the floodplain. Residents applauded Council’s decision and the next year petitioned city officials to immediate flood control action that included clearing obstructions in the channel, widening the channel, and constructing a levee system. The Army Corps of Engineers agreed with the residents in 1976, but it would take until 1987 for the project to come to fruition.
Source: Don Donato, “East Siders seek meet with council over controversial floodplain plan,” Pueblo Chieftain, January 8, 1975, 9A; Len Gregory, “Floodplain proposal to be discussed at East Side meet today,” Pueblo Chieftain, June 28, 1975, 10B; Terence Curran, “Floodplain insurance: Owners in hazard area face deadline,” Pueblo Chieftain, March 10, 1976, 5A; Don Nicoson, “Duran asks Belmonters to support East Side,” Pueblo Chieftain, March 31, 1976, 12A; Don Prather, “Oh, those ‘ifs’: Corps of Engineers supporting idea of levees along the Fountain,” Pueblo Chieftain, August 19, 1976, 6A.
1976 - Most streets are paved and most residences receive city sewer services in Eastwood Heights by the mid-1970s. Prior to this, residents traversed gravel roads and many resorted to outhouses as the area lay under Pueblo County jurisdiction.
Source: Mark Lieberman, “Community On The Move-I: Eastwood Heights Has No Facilities For Recreation,” Pueblo Chieftain, August 20, 1968, 8A; Len Gregory, “East Side residents seek say in use of development funds,” Pueblo Chieftain, June 3, 1975, 1B.
1976 - La Gente Youth Sports, Inc. started in 1976 as a sports program in Lombard Village. The organization relocated to the famous “casita” behind the home of program director John Madrid in Eastwood Heights due to the previous building collapse from flooding. Under Madrid's leadership, La Gente Youth Sports began actively offering a bounty of sporting programs for children including: boxing, football, softball, baseball, basketball and wrestling. The organization continues to host numerous events such as the annual fishing derby which is free for all youth.
Source: Memorial brochure provided by Elaine Madrid, January 20, 2003, Pueblo Chieftain, March 18, 2001, PCCLD Special Collections
1976 - Mitchell Park finally received a public swimming pool, the last of the four large parks to get a pool in the city’s recreational system. The pool’s construction cost $213,000 and was paid for by the Parks and Recreation Department’s general budget. All three other pools were financed by voter-approved bond issues.
Source: “Mitchell Park swimming pool will be dedicated on Monday,” Pueblo Chieftain, June 20, 1976, 13A.
1979 - The Colorado State Highway Department constructed an overpass where East Fourth Street, the Highway 50 Bypass, and Colorado Highway 47 (University Boulevard) converged and separated Eastwood Heights from the rest of the East Side. At the same time, the Highway Department permanently closed the intersection at East Eighth Street and Highway 50 Bypass and removed the traffic signals. The closure of the intersection led residents on each side of the Bypass to travel one mile to congregate with former neighbors via the overpass in a vehicle. In anticipation of closing the intersection, the Highway Department constructed a pedestrian overpass at East Tenth Street.
Source: Ron Martinez, “Interchange to be built at east edge of Pueblo,” Pueblo Chieftain, April 26, 1979, 7A.
Residents of the East Side are still writing the neighborhood’s history. The decision to end the chronology in 1979 is almost arbitrary. Individuals associated with the project felt like that date permitted a generous buffer for historical objectivity.
The East Side Neighborhood is geographically distinct, though it remains a coherent enigma that defies any other characterization. Since the neighborhood’s inception in 1872, families of all sorts have called the East Side home. Even before that year traveling bands of indigenous peoples, wandering trappers, Gold Fever victims, and enterprising homesteaders inhabited this favored waterfront locale. The adjacent water source circumstanced areal flooding, sometimes disastrous, in the lower elevations of what would become the neighborhood. Once established as a neighborhood, the East Side bore the cyclical social, economic, and ethnic brunt of the city of Pueblo; swaying to and fro, a victim of each passing wind and never the seasonal breath itself. The predominantly working-class neighborhood’s humble beginnings can be likened to that of a seed sown by hard-working hands, as such East Side residents cultivated the seed gradually until the neighborhood blossomed into the hardiest of flora it is today. With the beginning of construction in 2013 of the large neighborhood’s first public library, the neighborhood has propagated a new branch beseeching area residents to partake in and enjoy the harvest.