Recently I bought a group of real photo postcards that included an early image of the Denver & Interurban Streetcar Barn. I was showing Wayne Sundberg the postcards and we began to discuss the streetcar barn postcard. Wayne is one of the most knowledgeable people on Fort Collins history and he is an expert on our former trolley system. I asked Wayne to do a guest post on the image and he was nice enough to agree.
So, even though I wasn’t planning on doing a Thursday post, I couldn’t wait to post this image and the article from Wayne Sundberg.
The 1907 Denver & Interurban Streetcar Barn at the corner of Howes and Cherry streets.
The dawn of the twentieth century brought tremendous growth to Northern Colorado and Fort Collins. The introduction of sugar beets created an industry that would last for the first half of that century. Many farmers began growing sugar beets and a beet processing plant was built in 1903. Related to the sugar beet industry, the raising and feeding of lambs on sugar beet by-products, became economically important, with as many as 300,000 to 500,00 fattened lambs being shipped all over the country in those early days. As agriculture pushed city growth during the first decade of the 1900s, the first high school was built, a Carnegie library was constructed, as well as many new homes and business buildings. The need for a public transportation system became apparent.
The Denver & Interurban Railway Corporation was expanding to several cities outside of Denver. When they proposed building a street railway in Fort Collins, the city welcomed them with open arms. Beginning in the Spring of 1907, the company began laying tracks around the city and began constructing a streetcar barn at the SE corner of Howes and Cherry streets. Four Woeber Electric cars (one is pictured) were purchased from their Denver factory, along with two trailer cars, and began serving the city on December 29. 1907. Eventually the streetcar system had 9 miles of track serving the growing core city, with a line extending out past the sugar factory on Vine Drive and on to a new park at Lindenmeier Lake. There were a few double sets of tracks on some of the busier streets. This system operated successfully until 1918 when the D & I went into receivership. Fort Collins was without its streetcar service for less than a year. Citizens voted to buy the D & I’s Fort Collins line and junk the large, two-person operated Woeber cars. Four smaller Birney Safety Streetcars were purchased and went into service, under the name Fort Collins Municipal Railway, in May of 1919. This system would serve Fort Collins, on a shorter track lay-out, for the next 32 years. The municipal streetcar service left the city on June 30, 1951.
Note: the name, Trolley Barn, is a misnomer. It is a streetcar barn, that housed trolley streetcars, which operated from electricity in an overhead wire with the power passing through a wheel, called the trolley, at the top end of the of the trolley pole.
Wayne C. Sundberg
3 January, 2017