The Town of Superior began as a coal mining community. The first mines were built in the late 1800’s and Superior was founded in 1896 and incorporated in 1904. The town’s name originated from the “superior” quality of coal found in the area although first settlers to the area moved from Superior, Wisconsin. Superior has preserved several historical sites and buildings including an original mining camp home at Asti Park, jail and barn structures at Grasso Park, and Superior Cemetery.
James H. Hood built the first shaft to tap the coal seam for owner Charles Hake in 1892. The seam had been exposed by a flooding of Coal Creek some thirty years before. Initially known as the Hood Mine, the mining site that lay south of Coal Creek just west of present day McCaslin Blvd., was renamed Industrial Mine. Hake sold the mine to Northern Colorado Coal and Coke Company in 1900, which in turn sold Industrial Mine to Rocky Mountain Fuel Company in 1911. The mine operated until 1945.
Afterwards, many people moved out of the area and the town evolved into a quiet ranching and farming community. The town’s population hovered around 250 until the turn the 1990’s when Rock Creek Ranch was built. Now, Original Town, Rock Creek Ranch, Sagamore, and the developing downtown communities are home to over 12,000 residents.
An original mining camp home was placed at Asti Park on Coal Creek Drive, and is now the site of the Historical Commission’s Historical Museum. In the 1920s and 1930s the home stood on the hillside just south of Original Town along with a few dozen others matching structures. The homes were provided for the families of miners working in Industrial Mine. When the mine closed in 1945, the houses were sold and the residents moved out of the community. With modern development creeping around the historical home, the owners, the Swink Family, bought and moved the house to Broomfield. Later, the Swink’s decided to donate the structure to the Town of Superior. Because the home was changed rather dramatically during its years after mine camp life – new windows and doors were installed and an addition was built onto the structure – town officials were tasked with removing the addition and returning it to its original state. The Historical Museum houses an exhibit depicting the Town of Superior’s history along with artifacts from the mining camp. It is open the first Saturday of each month from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.
Grasso Park, located on William St. behind Superior Town Hall, was founded on the original owner, Frank Grasso’s property. Like many original town settlers, Frank immigrated from Europe and built a farm near Coal Creek. An original metal town jail cell, as well as farm machinery and barn structures from the Grasso family farm, were placed at Grasso Park, to commemorate our town’s heritage.
If you’re interested in more history, you can check out Superior Cemetery located just west of US36 behind downtown Superior and opposite Avista Hospital. At this moment it can be assessed by crossing the pedestrian bridge from Avista Hospital over US36. Covering 1.5 acres near the old Enterprise Mine site, it was formerly known as Old Louisville Cemetery. The first burial on the site occurred in 1873 and last in 1949.
For a good review of Superior’s history, look at Lost Superior: Remembering the Architectural Heritage of a Colorado Coal Mining Town by the Superior Historical Commission. Copies of the book are available at Superior Town Hall.