The Y.M.C.A Building

The Y. M. C. A. building held many happy social activities

The Y. M. C. A. served as a place for many social gatherings as well as a meeting place for various organizations

According to Joe Cresto (now living in California), “This picture (to right) was from the early or mid twenties. The picture was one of the dinners given by the CF&I [Colorado Fuel and Iron Corp.] for the retired miners of their Rockvale mine. The YMCA is the building, I believe the white background is the stage. I cannot name any of the individuals, although my dad could name nearly everyone of them.”

Back in the prosperous days of the coal camps when time came for entertainment, dancing had always been part of their lives, and the young married couples from Northern Italy longed for such gaiety. Dances were often at the Rockvale Town Hall. The Italians did not feel welcome among the Welsh and English. Fights often erupted when the “uptown” and “downtown” gangs met after work.

Finally, they decided to have their own place. On level prairie ground, which they considered as belonging to one, they planted tall poles cut from cottonwood trees found along the bank of Oak Creek. Around the circular frame, they wound strands of barbed wire, then cedar boughs among the barbed wire strands. Using water from Oak Creek, they slopped it over the earthen floor and with rollers packed a hard dancing surface. Therefore, they had their own private “Barbed Wire Club.”

The Santa Fe Railroad had coal trains and freight trains going to Rockvale every day. There was even a passenger car with the freight car, which came from Pueblo to Florence, to Rockvale, and then Canon City, with a stopover at the Brookside Junction for passengers. The roads to the Coal Camps (Rockvale and Coal Creek) were oiled in August of 1950. The hot oil was trucked from Denver. The railroad trestle, the mine and the tipple, the depot, the mine office, the bathhouse, the company store, all have vanished, leaving only the slag dump of an industry that once brought millions of dollars to the economy of Fremont County.

Mary Zolar Chiri was born (1916) and raised in this home which stands only a short distance from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and the Vezzetti grocery store. Mary’s father bought the home in 1910. Mary lived here until her marriage to Anton Chiri in 1936. Mary died in November 2006 at age 90. It was now owned and occupied by Dave Patterson