The Steelworks Center of the West is cooperating with a number of other local museums to offer free admission on Saturday, April 29 from 10am-4pm. We will be serving drinks and light refreshments, and we will be showing the film Forging the West. We look forward to seeing you there!
Parallel to I-25, just north of the Steelworks Museum, the Steelworks Park is being created with historic CF&I artifacts including a Davenport Engine from the Allen Mine, ore carts, 10 and 130 ton ladles, rollers, a Karymor merry go round, and a larger than life bronze sculpture of a steelworker. These artifacts will be surrounded by trees, bushes, signs, and with your help, benches.
Adopting a bench will be an opportunity to honor a loved one that worked at the steel mill, St. Mary Corwin Hospital, the Colorado Supply Company store, a family of CF&I workers, a labor union, or even an entire department. Tell your story at the Steelworks Park!
A full bench with your name can be purchased for $1,800, and half a bench can be purchased for $900. Click here to adopt a bench today! All donations to the Steelworks Center are tax deductible, please contact us here on our website to find out more.
The Colorado Supply Company virtual exhibit is now live! You can view this exhibit online by clicking on this link.
The Colorado Supply Company opened its first store in September 1888 at the mining camp of Rouse, and the chain grew and evolved over the next several decades. By 1904, there were 31 stores in operation in nearly every one of CF&I’s mining communities. By 1908 that number grew to 46, and they recorded almost $3 million in gross sales.
The supply store here in Pueblo, Colorado was originally located on the corner of Northern and Abriendo Avenues. When the building opened March 10, 1902, an estimated 20,000 people attended. Some were attracted by the promise of commemorative souvenirs, and others were curious about what could be found in “Pueblo’s complete department store” as it was advertised in local newspapers weeks prior to opening. The store was a success, and heavy business in the spring of 1902 forced the store to move to a larger building on Baystate and Evans Avenues.
At its peak in the first decade of the 20th century, the Colorado Supply Company employed 135 people, and the Pueblo branch delivered goods all over town until it caught fire on January 15, 1953, and never reopened.
Learn more about the Colorado Supply Company here on our website, then come in to the museum and tour our physical exhibit that is going on now.
Lesson plans from for the film Forging the West, from HaveyPro Cinema and Historic Pueblo, Inc., can be found in the links below. If you have any questions about these plans or about the ways in which this film can be used as an educational tool, please contact us here on our website or give us a call at 719-564-9086 x108.
For more than 50 years, the Colorado Supply Company operated in Pueblo just a few blocks west of the CF&I steelworks and managed branch outlets in the company mining districts. Offering items for sale including clothing, pharmacy, hardware, groceries, baked goods, and a newsstand, the store served as a “one stop shop” for employees and their families. This exhibit highlights the history of the store using collections from private collectors, the Pueblo County Historical Society, and the Steelworks Center of the West, and features dozens of 3-dimensional 1920s and 1930s period pieces similar to those once sold in the store.
The exhibit is on display now, but you can join us on Saturday, December 17, 2016 from 11:00-2:00 as we formally open “Everything for Everybody: The Colorado Supply Company Store” exhibit. Light refreshments will be served.
DVDs of the new documentary from Havey Pro Cinema and Historic Pueblo, Inc., Forging the West, are now available for pre-order!
The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) began production in 1872 and grew to become the largest steel mill in the Western United States and a firm of enormous importance to the industrialization of the American West. The first steel mill west of the Mississippi River, CF&I also played a pivotal role in the tumultuous history of American labor relations. By the turn of the 20th Century the company was the largest private landowner and the largest employer in Colorado. CF&I mines and mining towns operated throughout the West, while subsidiary companies stretched from Massachusetts to California. Its mills in Pueblo, Colorado provided iron and steel products for agriculture, transportation, mining and other industries critical to western development. The company fueled immigration of ethnic groups to work in its mines and mills, playing an important cultural role in diversifying a burgeoning population.
Copies of the film are now on sale at the Steelworks Center of the West, 215 Canal St., Pueblo, CO 81004. The cost is $24.99+tax, and proceeds go to help us preserve the history of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Co., Pueblo, and the industrial west. They make a great holiday gift!
To our supporters:
During this holiday season I’m asking for your generous support for the Steelworks Center of the West. Your contributions go a long way toward making our work possible, and are tax deductible as a donation to a nonprofit organization.
I’m very excited about our programs and projects and even more optimistic for 2017. Here are some of the activities now underway or planned for the upcoming year.
If you’d like your donation to be designated to support educational programming, the Steelworks Museum, or the Steelworks Archives, please note that in your Colorado Gives donation. If not, your donation is appreciated to help keep the lights on, maintain and insure our buildings and grounds, and to pay a very dedicated and hardworking staff. Thanks in advance for your support!
The Steelworks Center of the West just MIGHT have one of Colorado’s most significant artifacts in its collections–with your help! We have been invited to be part of the Colorado Connections Collection annual event asking the public to vote for Colorado’s most significant artifact. The four week campaign honors and recognizes the work done by museums and archives to preserve Colorado’s historic and cultural heritage. Our artifact this year is a certificate signed by President Theodore Roosevelt praising and recognizing CF&I’s medical staff in the work they did to erradicate tuberculosis in Pueblo in 1908. Voting starts today and will run through late November. You can vote up to four times a day. For more information about the campaign and to vote, visit https://
The façade of an old Spanish mission-style Catholic church, which can still be seen today along Interstate 25 about twelve miles south of Trinidad, is all that remains of one of CF&I’s busiest mining towns. Previously known as the Swastika mine, the property was purchased by CF&I in 1906 and renamed Morley after a Locator for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad named William Raymond Morley. Within the first year of operation under CF&I the town of Morley sprang to life with over a dozen houses and a Colorado Supply Co. store, followed soon after by the Catholic church, a YMCA, and a grade school.
Early coal production from the Morley Mine was sold commercially as fuel for locomotives but, being a high-grade bituminous coal, it was later shipped almost exclusively to the steel mill in Pueblo to be processed into coke, a high-carbon fuel that burns hot enough to melt down the raw materials needed to produce steel.
After the coal seam on the eastern side of the canyon was depleted, the much larger seam on the western side was opened up to mining. This seam, however, was much more difficult to work than that on the eastern side. The Coal was gassier, which made it more dangerous and hindered the use of modern electric trams, mining machinery, and even explosives. Mules had to be used in place of electric trams, and most of the mining had to be done by Pick. The Coal pulled from the mine by cart required teams of up to seven mules at a time, and consisted of twenty carts each.
By 1927 Morley employed five hundred and forty workers and over one hundred and thirty mules. The company mules were well taken care of with plenty of oats, hay, and clean water, and were considered by some to be more valuable than the workers themselves because they were actually more difficult to replace. They even had the luxury of an eight hour work day years before the employees did. The miners worked side by side with the mules on a daily basis, sometimes for years on end, and formed a bond with them similar to that of a family pet. They would even feed the mules from their own lunch pails at meal times. Having so many animals on site required a stable boss and handlers to help manage the needs of the animals.
The Morley mine was officially closed on May 4th, 1956 after producing over eleven million tons of coal, making it one of the largest and most significant coal mines in Colorado history.
Beginning in the early part of the 20th century, each CF&I employee was assigned a number which was used for both payroll purposes and employee identification. These numbers were stamped on what were known as brass checks, or small squares of brass the employee carried with them at all times, often attaching it to his or her keyring or a key fob and hooked to a belt loop.
For CF&I miners, the brass checks served two purposes. Not only were they used for identification purposes when payday rolled around, but when entering the mine, each man’s check was taken off a board and then replaced on the board when he exited the mine. This let supervisors and other employees know which miners and how many were in the mine at any given time. This was particularly important when an accident such as cave-in or a scheduled blast of dynamite occurred. Miners also hung their check on the coal cars they filled to receive credit for that day’s work.
By the time CF&I started using computers in the late 1960s to track time and manage the payroll department, brass checks were replaced with computerized versions with the employees’ name, number and a small head shot photograph of the employee.