Railroad building and general development in the Denver and Colorado Springs area has made logging in this area at least a century-old tradition. Early mills in the Forest and at Husted, Perry Park, and on Cherry Creek, date back to days of Pikes Peak Gold Rush in the early 1860s.
General William Jackson Palmer's construction and planning of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad accelerated the process. Interestingly, if you look at early 1900-era photos, you will notice the level of logging operations along the Palmer Divide.
Palmer established the Colorado Pinery Trust in 1870. Logging in the Black Forest, or Pinery, reached its height in the summer of 1870 and eventually more than one billion feet of lumber was removed to provide ties for the Kansas Pacific, Denver and Rio Grande and New Orleans Railroads, and lumber for projects along the tracks.
The Black Forest Fire in June of this year, and related mitigation efforts, has re-focused attention on the nearby logging operations.
This past week, Bob Olson, who lives in the Black Forest area himself, has set up his modern answer on Jim Maguire's property on State Highway 105 in Monument, in the form of his WoodMizer portable sawmill. The mill looks something like a big bandsaw and automates some of the complicated setup with its high-tech operation. Logs from a house lot down on Old Ranch Road, areas in the burn area, and locations in Woodmoor, as well other areas, all contributed to this week's cut and mill process. The Maguire property milling operation was abuzz all week.
For his part, Jim Maguire plans to build a stage stop log cabin 18 feet by 16 feet, dedicated to recalling the losses suffered by some in the Black Forest Fire. Some salvageable, but slightly burned logs, originated in the burn area and 44 timbers, seven inches by 10 inches, were milled for the structure.
"This place is part of an old homestead," says Maguire. "And a stage at one time was the only way of getting here before the rails."