The Origin of Corwin Hospital, Pueblo

Honoring the People Who Created What We've Inherited

Centura St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, as it has been known since 1996, resulted from a series of evolutions and mergers that began in 1881. Here we'll take a look at the evolution of Corwin Hospital from 1881 until 1929.

1870-1873: Pueblo — with a population of about 700 people, most of whom lived in adobe homes — was incorporated as a town in 1870. The population quickly grew to 3,200. in 1872, General William J. Palmer's Denver & Rio Grande Railroad reached Pueblo, which was incorporated as a city the following year.

On March 1, 1876, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad completed its tracks from Topeka to Pueblo, from which it hauled coal back east.

Minnequa Hospital

In 1881, General William J. Palmer's Colorado Coal & Iron Company — later called the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company — began its Minnequa Steel Works blast furnace operations in Pueblo.

General Palmer hired Dr. Richard W. Corwin, 28, and two male nurses to work at Minnequa's six-bed hospital, which was a joint venture with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. By 1890, it had 30 to 45 beds, and by 1899, it had 80 beds.

In 1892, the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company was established in Pueblo by merging the Colorado Coal and Iron Company (1880) and the Colorado Fuel Company (1883).

1892: The Colorado Fuel & Iron Company was established in Pueblo by merging the Colorado Coal & Iron Company (1880) and the Colorado Fuel Company (1883).

CF&I operated mines to get the raw materials it needed, including limestone quarries, coal mines in southern Colorado, and iron mines in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. CF&I operated blast furnaces until 1982, and for a long time was Colorado's largest employer.

John Osgood and his partners ran CF&I from 1892 to 1903, when John D. Rockefeller and Jay Gould's financial heirs took control of the Minnequa steel mills in Pueblo. Jay Gould died in December 1892.
Pueblo came to be called "the Pittsburgh of the West" because it had the largest steel mill west of Chicago and gradually became a manufacturing center. Hispanics and African-Americans as well as immigrants from Asia, Croatia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Wales and other places came to Pueblo for the new jobs that were being created. CF&I's records show that 26 languages were spoken in its steel mill at one time or another.

In 1901, Dr. Richard Corwin was elected president of the Colorado State Medical Society.

The New Minnequa Hospital

In 1902, the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company opened its new 200-bed Minnequa Hospital, designed by the company's chief surgeon, Dr. Richard W. Corwin, to replace the facility that had opened in 1881.

The staff included nine additional physicians, and the campus had thirteen Spanish-mission-style buildings. Because it was a hospital primarily for steel workers, its orthopaedics staff was kept busy.

Corwin Hospital

Dr. Richard W. Corwin, founder (1881) of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company's Minnequa Hospital in Pueblo, died in June 1929. Dr. Corwin was a pioneer in industrial and social medicine who had received his MD from the University of Michigan in 1878.

After Dr. Corwin's death, the name of Minnequa Hospital was changed to Corwin Hospital, which continued to evolve and then merged with St. Mary's Hospital:

Minnequa Hospital (1881)

Corwin Hospital (1929)

Corwin Hospital transferred to the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati (1948)

St. Mary's Hospital + Corwin Hospital = St. Mary-Corwin Hospital (1957)

Centura St. Mary-Corwin Hospital (1996)


Camp and Plant was a weekly newsletter (1901-1904) published by the Sociological Department — directed by Richard W. Corwin, MD — of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company's Minnequa Hospital in Pueblo, with articles in English, Italian, German, and Spanish. The newsletters are available on the website of the Bessemer Historical Society and Steelworks Museum in Pueblo:

Richard W. Corwin, MD: "History of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company's Hospital." A paper read at the meeting of the Colorado State Medical Society in June 1901, published in the Denver Medical Times, November 1901, pp. 229-234.

H. Lee Scamehorn: Pioneer Steelmaker in the West: The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company 1872-1903. Boulder, Colorado:Pruett Publishing Company, 1976.

Tim Hawkins, archivist at the Bessemer Historical Society and CF&I Archives in Pueblo, Colorado, provided valuable information and insight about Corwin Hospital and CF&I.

Contact book [at] coloradohealthcarehistory [dot] com or @ColoradoHealth on Twitter with additions, corrections, suggestions, or for more information. Thank you!

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