The view across Cokedale from the turn-off on State Highway 12
Cokedale is the most significant example of an intact coal camp in Colorado. Once a model coal mining, coke producing community, Cokedale is named after the nearby rows of coke ovens. The town was founded in 1906 by the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO). By 1909, there were 1,500 people living in town. It was a thriving community with two mines in Cokedale, a third mine 7 miles up Reilly Canyon in Boncarbo and 350 coke ovens in operation just south of town.
In 1909, the main coal mine in Cokedale blew up and many miners died in the blast. A second portal was opened shortly thereafter but that new section of mine blew up in 1911. At that point, it was determined the coal in the area was too gassy and most of the company attention turned to coking the coal that was brought to the Cokedale ovens from the Bon Carbo and Dick's mines up Reilly Canyon.
Cokedale was a bustling community for over 40 years, until World War II ended and the demand for coal and coke dwindled. The mines closed and the ovens ceased operating in 1946. In 1947 the company began tearing down buildings throughout the town. The miners and their families were offered the homes for $100 per room and $50 per lot. The residents organized and incorporated Cokedale in 1948. The population was down to a mere 125 in 2005 but the small town spirit and lifestyle carries on and attracts more young families as time goes on. Many of the old homes have been refurbed and added on to while several new homes have sprung up in town in the last couple years. As much as some folks have cursed the coal-bed methane project that has been going on in this area for several years now, Las Animas County has never seen such prosperity. And this project is quite a few years from being finished.
Cokedale was placed on the National Historic Register in 1984.
The remains of the Cokedale Coke Ovens
The coke ovens are just downstream of Cokedale
The Cokedale mine works and wash plant
The former Cokedale Mine Office
The Gottlieb Mercantile Building now houses the Cokedale Mining Museum, Post Office and Town Hall
The new Cokedale Fire Station and Ambulance
The Cokedale schoolhouse is now also a church on Sundays and Wednesday evenings
The Cokedale town park