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Historical Perspectives

Sinton Dairy – an area tradition

Shop for groceries in Falcon, and you’re bound to come across milk products from Sinton Dairy, a Colorado Springs fixture for 130 years.The company got its start when 17-year-old Melvin Sinton left his hometown of Ithaca, N.Y., in search of a cure for his asthma.Sinton arrived in Colorado Springs in 1880, and his health immediately improved, allowing him to take on several jobs. Soon, Melvin’s father, Joseph, arrived to check on his son.Joseph Sinton suggested that Melvin start a dairy business by purchasing a small herd of milk cows. Shortly after, the young Sinton had 12 cows (purchased from herders who brought the cows from Missouri) and a business partner, a cousin named Louis Bartlett, who added 10 cows to Melvin’s 12.Their barn and corral were located in the area of Emerson Street, between Willamette Avenue and St. Vrain Street – far enough from the city to allow the cows to graze the hillside – which became known as Sinton Hill – in the afternoon.Neither boy knew anything about the dairy business, but luck was on their side. Health-seeking tourists flocked to Colorado Springs in the summer, when the grass was green and plentiful and provided a strong demand for milk.When the grass died off in the winter months, so did milk production. However, the dairy partners’ luck continued when a farmer in Widefield contacted them about a new crop he had experimented with – alfalfa. The crop doubled winter milk production.Melvin and Louis also had a hand in revolutionizing Colorado Springs’ dairy industry.At the time, a horse-drawn wagon transported the milk in 5-gallon drums. The driver would stop at each customer’s house and ring the doorbell and then wait for someone to come out to the wagon with a container. The milk would then be ladled from the drum into the container.With an eye for efficiency, Joseph Sinton suggested they save time by carrying the milk to the door. The new delivery system worked and became so popular that the largest dairy in town went out of business. The owner complained there were too many invalids and young men selling milk.After seeing the business off to a good start, Joseph Sinton returned to New York; however, George Sinton, Melvin’s brother, decided to move to Colorado and join the business.The three partners expanded by purchasing the G. W. Knowlton Dairy, including 34 dairy cows, equipment and routes.By 1900, the extension of water mains and houses eastward brought people to the area who objected to the smell of the cows pastured nearby. They asked that the cows be moved “to the country.”Back then, “the country” was Lakeside Ranch, between Prospect Lake and Evergreen Cemetery; and Fairmount Ranch, which is now the location of the Union Printers Home, at the corner of Union Boulevard and Pikes Peak Avenue.In 1903, Melvin had married and had a daughter, Prudence, who eventually herded cows along a lane that is now Airport Road.The partners built a processing plant at 431 El Paso St., where teams of four horses delivered raw milk for pasteurization.In 1934, a drought caused feed costs to double, so Sinton Dairy raised its prices: Raw milk was 36 cents a gallon, cream was 24 cents a pint, whipping cream was 45 cents a pint, and buttermilk was 20 cents a quart.The processing plant continued to operate on El Paso Street until 1956, when it was relocated to its present site at 3801 Sinton Road.The move enabled the company to expand into milk-based products, such as cottage cheese, eggnog, sour cream, ice cream products, cheese and butter.When George Sinton died; his son, Herbert, took over the business. The dairy remained in the Sinton family until it was purchased by Associated Grocers of Colorado in 1980.A team of Sinton managers bought the dairy in 1987 and continue to run it today. Instead of managing its own herd, the company relies on Colorado dairy farmers for its supply of milk.Before Melvin Sinton died, he thanked his father for his support and guidance in creating a business that was health-oriented and honest.

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