In 1887, the Grand River Coal and Coke Company chose a location four miles south of Glenwood Springs to establish its coke oven operation. By December of that year, the town of Cardiff, named after Cardiff, Wales was well on its way to prosperity.
The ovens "coked" bituminous coal, removing impurities for use in smelters for silver milling, and also for steel making.
The company built homes for its married employees, and bunkhouses for the unmarried. The town claimed a school, a hotel, and several merchants. Eventually Cardiff was home to about 150 people.
In 1892 the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company took over the coke ovens and Cardiff produced more than sixty thousand tons of coke by 1865. Demand for coke began to diminish after 1900, and by 1915 the ovens shut down and the town was slowly deserted.
Today, the town is completely gone. The Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport now sits where employee homes and businesses used to exist. At the height of the operation, there were 249 ovens. Fifty of those now remain. In recent years they were donated to the Glenwood Springs Historical Society which has preserved them. What remains of Cardiff's coke ovens are now on the National Register of Historic Places and protected for future generations.