Developed in 1872 by the Central Colorado Development Company (a forerunner to Colorado Fuel and Iron Company), Lake Minnequa, the artificial “Lake on the Mesa,” held water diverted from the St. Charles River and was used by the CF&I steel mill for quenching and cooling operations.
Boathouse and Dock, Lake Minnequa, ca. 1900s
The lake, about 160 acres in area, had a capacity to hold 6 million gallons of water. It was situated 42 feet above the highest elevation in the community, with steel pipes used to divert water directly into the steelworks. As demands on water usage increased, new reservoirs were constructed south of Pueblo and assured ample water for all furnaces and mills.
In addition to its use in steel production, Lake Minnequa became a gathering place for the public. At the turn of the 20th century, trees and flowers were planted around the reservoir and sports such as boating, fishing and swimming became popular pastimes. An early trolley system connected the park with other parts of Pueblo.
Sunbathers at Lake Minnequa ca. 1960s
In 1902 an amusement park opened near the lake, providing a variety of activities for area residents. It operated until 1940. In 2009, the City of Pueblo purchased Lake Minnequa from the steel mill and has been working on revitalizing the area into a public park and recreation area.