by Eric Swab ©2023
There is a remarkable man-made structure hidden in the forest about 6 miles south of the summit of Pikes Peak. Look at the Pikes Peak Atlas for “Clyde” on the Gold Camp Road. Then, trace the canyon running due north to the label “Old Timber Flume”. The cartographer got “Timber” right, but a flume it is not! It is a chute made of logs that drops 400 feet in 1,500 feet of travel. There is no way it would ever hold water!
Its purpose was to transport logs from the hillside where they were cut to a platform below where they could be loaded on a horse drawn wagon and hauled to a saw mill. Should you wonder if a log could slide down a wooden chute, let me describe the effort to which the builders of the chute went to keep the logs from descending too fast or even being launched out of the chute. There is a point on the descent where the grade steepens creating the potential to propel the logs into the air. One can only guess how many logs did just that before the builders figured out a solution. The solution is obvious today. Two or three logs were pivoted from a two-inch diameter metal bar suspended across and above the chute so that the lower end of the logs rested on top of the chute. As the log came hurtling down the chute it would hit the underside of these suspended logs and some energy and speed would be dissipated, and the log would slow and stay in the trough. These energy absorbers are placed at intervals along the chute.
It is not known for certain who built this structure nor when. The Colorado Pikes Peak Special Map, surveyed in 1906 and 1907, does show a road running up the canyon north of Clyde. It does not show a timber chute but it makes an abrupt turn to the west where the bottom of the timber chute ends. Today, the intrepid hiker will see portions of this deteriorated road. The route to the chute is best described as a bushwhack. The names of the people who established a nearby saw mill around 1905, is known.
The town of Clyde began as a stage stop on the old stage road around 1877. It was originally known as Seward. The Pikes Peak Atlas shows the stage road located south of the label for Clyde. Seward was little more that place to get food and drink until 1891, when the Cripple Creek Gold Rush got underway. Then the demand for timber for mine supports for the construction of head frames and for railroad ties and trestles proved an economic boon for the town.
The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway (The Short Line), constructed from 1899 to 1901, passed north of the stage stop. It was then, the dual town sites became “Upper Clyde” and “Lower Clyde”. Upper Clyde started as a station, telegraph office, and water tank for the train. Both Clydes grew into a single community to support the railroad, the lumber industry and a day resort with a dance hall, concession stands and a man-made lake for fishing and swimming. By 1899 a Post Office was established, a distinction enjoyed by Clyde for about ten years. The town even had a school.
An 1880 forest fire spread from near the town of Victor to the west bank of Middle Beaver Creek. Another fire started in the sawdust pile of the Pinson & Seigfried sawmill at Rosemont. Ranger McCartny put out a plea for men to help fight the fire, he would pay $6 a day (about $220 today). These fires were a boon to loggers. The Forest Service charged for the harvesting live trees, but dead trees could be cut without charge. There was speculation that lumbermen would set fire to the forests so they could harvest them for free. There were other ways to cut live trees with out paying the government. A miner could cut all the trees on his patented mining claim without charge. There were more than a few claims filled by men who had no intention of digging for gold. Also, the railroads were allowed to cut the trees within 100 feet on either side of their right of way. The contractors hired by the railroads to cut these trees were often not very accurate in their measurements!
Clyde Saw Mill ca 1910 – Collection of Ed Bathke
The Clyde Timber Company
Lucius C. Perkins (1863-1928) and Roy F. Morton (1863-1959) were partners in Real Estate, Loans, and Insurance business. They were also Members of the Colorado Springs Mining Stock Association, in Colorado Springs. Mr. Perkins stands out among his logging competitors for the amount of timber cut. In 1904 he obtained permission to harvest 250,000 board feet[i] of lumber from sections 6, 7, 8, 17, 18, 19, and portions of sections 4 and 5. This is land between Clyde and the Seven Lakes area where, at that time, the City of Colorado Springs was developing reservoirs to supply domestic water for its residents.
A year later Perkins was given permission to set up a steam powered saw mill in those same sections plus section 20. In the years 1904 to 1906 he actually harvested 750,000 board feet of timber, 17,000 cords of wood, and 167 utility poles.
In January of 1905 Perkins partnered with Richard Clough (1849-1937), Edwin W. Giddings (1848-1913), and Wesley S. Morris (1861-1930) to form the Clyde Timber Company. Richard Clough of the Clough and Anderson Company had the contract to build the reservoirs for the City in the Seven Lakes area, a project that was nearing completion. Mr. Giddings made his fortune in Cripple Creek mining, but is remembered for having established in 1874, the most successful department store in Colorado Springs. Giddings and Irving Howbert purchased most of the stock in the Short Line Railroad in 1899.
In May of 1905, Lucius Perkins, Roy F. Morton, and Ira Harris (1852-1927) incorporated The Clyde Timber Company, with Perkins serving as manager. In 1908, the officers of the company were Horace K. Devereux (1859-1937), President; Clarence Carpenter (1860-1928), Vice-President; and Eugene A. Sunderlin (1876-1928), Secretary and Treasurer. All three of these men were associates of Spencer Penrose. Devereux and Carpenter were members of Penrose’ Cooking Club. Devereux made a fortune mining in Aspen. He was a member of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, fighting in the Spanish-American War. He had played polo with Penrose at Princeton. Horace Devereux, and Harry Leonard (1873-1947) are the only other persons interred in the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun with Spencer and Julie Penrose. Clarence Carpenter (1860-1928), a mining broker and philanthropist, was married to Julie Penrose’ sister Josephine. Judge Ira Harris was mayor of Colorado Springs from 1903 to 1905.
We can assume these “high rollers” were not out in the forest cutting down trees. So how many people were actually lumbermen working in the forest? The 1910 United States Census shows us that 19 people living in the Clyde Precinct were working in the forest industry[ii]. Fourteen of these were identified as “Timbermen” or “Timber Helpers”. Of these five were “wage earners”, suggesting they were working for a company. The remainder appear to have been freelance timbermen. The census only lists one forest products company. That was The Clyde Timber Company which employed a Bookkeeper and a Teamster. One of the 19 men was a “Tie Maker”. From a Clyde Timber Company want ad we know the tie makers were paid 15 cents a tie, about $5 today.
1913 is the last year the Clyde Timber Company is listed in the Colorado Springs City Directory. No reference to the company has been found in the newspapers after that date. Two photographs of the Clyde Timber Company plus the remarkable timber chute are all we have left to remind us of the enterprise that attracted the attention of so many prominent business men from Colorado Springs.
[i] A board foot is 12” by 12” by 1”.
[ii] In the 1910, Census, Clyde Precinct 35 included: Clyde, Saderlind, Summit, Bald Mountain, Bunker Hill, Rosemont, and (Cudcelund?).