Independence Ghost Town, Another Piece of CO’s Past September 29, 2009Posted by Heather in Uncategorized.
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I’ve become fascinated by ghost towns. History of the west gets me thinking. This summer I’ve read about and seen more of CO’s relics than ever. I’ve been taking “Staycations” compared to 2008.
After driving over Mosquito Pass
I headed to Independence Pass, a paved route through Mt Massive Wilderness that tops out at 12,095 feet. Getting close to snow season, this pass closes early so I knew I had just a bit of time left to see the sights. Linking Leadville, CO to Aspen, CO, it’s a pathway between two VERY different towns.
Didn’t dally. Wet, misty clouds pressed down. I had a goal in mind.
INDEPENDENCE, CO – A Ghost Town
Short lived, as many gold boom towns were, I’ve learned, the lode was discovered here in 1879. By 1882 1500 residents lived among 40 businesses. Also called Mammouth City, Chipeta, Mt Hope, Farwell and Sparkhill, the city vacated by 1890. Only $190,000 of profits led to its quick demise. Life at 10,900′ must have been extreme.
Volunteers have restored a former grocery store and watch over the site. The WPA planted thousands of trees on slopes across the valley to curb avalanches. apparently, these had been detrimental to some of the towns remains. A quick trip down yielded a few pics. I got hailed on (AGAIN) so didn’t linger as long as I’d have liked. It’s getting close to winter, folks!
A grocery store, restored:
Amazing there’s any left after so many years in the elements.
Rest of the trip yielded a ride on the Rio Grand bike path from just shy of Aspen to Carbondale. Was a blast! Will return for sure.
On a funny note, had to fortify the underbelly of Trusty with chicken wire, while camping, that night. Chickenwire!
I’ve only heard of this being necessary in Canada! Innitially pshawing the idea, I wised up. Good thing. A fellow camper wandered over the next AM looking for electirical tape to repair the alternator wire a PORCUPINE knawed ate for a midnight snack.
This was a first!
Mosquito Pass Trail – Highest Pass Road in America September 29, 2009Posted by Heather in Quilting.
Tags: CO, Leadville, Mosquito PAss
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Had an adventure over Labor Day weekend. You may remember my sister, Karen visited. After she left, I took off for some clear-the-mind-time.
Mosquito Pass straddles the Mosquito Range, linking tiny little Alma, CO with Leadville, CO. Topping out at 13, 186′ it’s the highest pass road in America according to the book I found the description in. (Great series, the Colorado Trails Series by Peter Massey.)
Supposedly, a group of locals disagreed on what to name the new trail over the pass. When the meeting minutes were opened, they found a squashed mosquito on the list of proposed names. Mosquito it was! I love campy stories as such and want to BELIEVE this is true.
Used by Native Americans originally, gold-miners started camps in about 1861 up there.
Telegraph wires crossed the pass in 1878. Famed Horace Tabor and investors built a toll road over the pass. Freight and passenger wagons, est. at 150/day, crossed over. Legend says the pass became known as the “highway of frozen death” from those trying to avoid the toll and walking over instead.
Completion of local railroads ended the pass’s practical use. Falling into great disrepair it closed from 1910-49. Locals restored it.
Now, a yearly “Get Your Ass Over the Pass” burro race in July is held. I’d LOVE to see that!
Cty rd 12 passes numerous small mines and the former stagecoach stop of Park City. Just before turning up hill and switching to a 4WD road South London Mine appears. Est. in 1874, this mine, paired with North London Mine (more on that later) yielded millions of dollars worth of ore. Cabins and bunkhouse ruins still exist as does parts of a 3,000′ tram that replaced a traditional chute.
South London Mine in a BIG setting:
The road pushes up a hill. Looking down valley, a glimpse of South Park in the distance:
The landing, barren and ringed with peaks, all 13′ers. This doesn’t do the view justice. My little point and shoot knows no wide angle:
North London Mine appears. Seems to be barely stuck into the rocky hillside:
Mine shafts between North and South London Mines merge underneath the mtns, totaling more than 100 miles of tunnels. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about CO history from this summer’s adventures it that miners lived hard and short lives full of danger with little monetary reward. Investors and owners got the goods. Hard life.
Bits of debris:
Road moves past. Was the most technical I’ve driven in “Trusty” yet. (Still searching for the perfect name for my truck. Trusty and Girl seem to fit so far.
Look at this guy! Alien planted here to take over the world? Haven’t found it in my plant book. Anyone recognize this oddball plant?
Reached a little saddle. Gated road looks to head down South Mosquito Creek to the East. Rotten pic but it was pretty.
Narrow shelf road continues up. Was hard to tell where the true top was but what a ridgeline!
Viola! Made it. Look at all that graffiti. A sad testament to societies need to leave its mark:
Of note, a Methodist Preacher named Father Dyer carried mail, on snowshoe, at night (more stable snowpack) across the pass for $18/week. I sure hope that was good money back then. A memorial stands at the summit.
Looking west, Leadville sits below with the Mount Massive Wilderness (and Independence Pass Rd, my next foray) in the distance. Had a snack . Sat and enjoyed the solace/space/views. Was lucky for great weather. Got hailed on in Alma the afternoon before and didn’t want to linger and push my luck for too long. There were clouds building up a bit.
Road winds down. Real purdy. I think that’s Mt Sherman in the background, not positive:
Some low plants, only a handful of flowers seen:
Had these guys not moved, I wouldn’t have spotted them:
See em? Didn’t move much at my approach. Good thing ptarmigans (I think?) are so well camouflaged. Not too bright.
Made it down and parked in a broad valley with a view. Made breakfast and coffee (cup #2) and relaxed.
Diamond mine on the way out. There were many others to see as well:
Road dumps out in Leadville, becoming 7th street. Leadville’s an intriguing town. Once a hotbed of mining wealth, it boasted 19 hotels, 82 saloons, 38 restaurants, 21 gambling houses and 36 brothels. Easy money=lawlessness. It was considered one of the roughest towns in the west.
Pic of part of downtown, lifted from Wikipedia, squashed, sorry!
Break time in an underground Leadville Mine Tunnel. Pic from Wikipedia. An interesting study of people, I think:
Estimates place the population at 20-40,000 at Leadville’s peak, which blows my mind. Doc Holliday and the “unsinkable” Molly Brown (a titanic survivor) were residents. The Great Houdini and Oscar Wilde frequented the Tabor Opera House.
Mining crashed, including the local molybdenum mine, the Climax Mine, which at one point produced 75% of the world’s molybdenum. The town plummeted into poverty. People left, houses were torn down for firewood. During prohibition, booze was a mainstay income for some.
Today, a few thousand live there. I’ve noticed a revival of sorts in my 10 years of passing through. Younger folks are moving in, raising families, drawn to the clean, outdoor lifestyle. I don’t know what one would do for work, though. Main Street seems more cleaned up. It apeals to me in ways, but would be isolated and, probably, lonely for a single gal. Winter…brutal…at 10,00o+ feet.
Thoughts to ponder as passing through. On to stage two of the trip, Independence Pass.
(Almost) Instant Gratification – Silk Garden Set September 23, 2009Posted by Heather in Uncategorized.
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It’s damn cold here in CO. 40′s to 50′s. Where’s fall? My housemate biked through snow this AM up on top of Lookout Mtn (which sits on the western edge of Golden.) He’s hard-core. Conifer,CO got 10.5″ of the fluffy stuff two days ago.
I’ve resorted to morphing to a gerbil on the eliptical at the Rec Center these last couple days.
Dreams of crisp, cool, sunny fall weather (and I’m dreaming, folks) beg for beanies, light weight, maybe lacey, not too wintery beanies.
Needed some quick gratification as well. All this winter sweater planning is overwhelming.
Thus, these are born over four days:
Fits just right over my ears. Could go a needle size down next time I knit it. (And I will.) Would make a great guy hat!
Tackling the Heather hoodie (here: http://hfrank007.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/on-and-off-the-needles-right-now/ ) today. Converting it to knit flat instead of in pieces. Ugh…cold, gray and rainy out today. Good knitting weather!
To UT this weekend for a little desert sunshine. (forecast calls for high 80′s and 60′s for the low. Sounds great!)
Some Thoughts September 21, 2009Posted by Heather in Uncategorized.
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I’m feeling restless. I need a little fresh air, some dirt, miles of blue sky to reassure me some things still make sense in this world. Thinking a trip to UT this weekend will do the trick. Can I make it until then?
My Winter Project Wish List September 14, 2009Posted by Heather in Uncategorized.
What’s swimming around in my brain+++++++++++++++
Projects I really want to (will?) complete this winter. Anyone want to do a knit-along wiht me on any of them?
(Pics lifted from Ravelry.com)
Noro Fair-Isle Flower Hat
Toasty Twist Socks
I have some Socks That Rock in colors similar to the photo that is begging to become these. I love how the twists break up the pooling.
Felted Stained Glass Fan Bag
#28 Vihervaara -huppari / GreenGable -hoodie
#70 Lush and Lacy Cardigan
Look at that back!
#90 Chic Cables and Lace Cowl Neck
#02 Yellow Harvest Mittens
Elka / Design 19
There’s more but I’m trying to be realistic.
Idealistic? Unrealistic? Crazy? Obsessed? All of the above?
“Walking on a Snowfield and Panning for Gold” With Karen September 13, 2009Posted by Heather in Uncategorized.
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St Mary’s Glacier sits high up, about an hour from Denver. I’ve always wanted to visit it. Karen being here I thought if would be a fun experience.
Now, I was corrected by a friend that it is no longer called a “glacier” but a “snowfield.” Whatever…it was still fun!
You hike just under a mile up. Being a Sunday, there were MANY people with the same idea. Dogs, though, must have outnumbered people. It was really fun to watch those dogs gravitate to the lake and play in the water. One particular lab had a master not let it in because it was “too cold.” Poor pooch! Bah!
We walked up to the snow and watched storm clouds cover the sky, spurring a retreat earlier than planned.
“Snowfield” above. Stretched pretty far up I was told. Some had skis with, being the type that take turns each month of the year.
Signs of fall’s arrival:
Next Karen and I hit the ARGO Goldmine in Idaho Springs. Another I’ve-Always-Wanted-to-do-This activity. Took the tour. Starts with a cool talk and a cheesy film. Then, a self-guided tour (with a pamphlet and signs that were helpful) of a mine-shaft, the mill and the former mouth of the tunnel.
The former mill:
CO was a part of the gold rush. At first, gold was panned from streams with success. Running out, those looking for fortune switched to digging in the hills, an arduous, tedious, dangerous task. (We’re talking 6″ of depth per day for two people blasting and digging.) Very few succeeded in finding the “mother lode.” ARGO had a 4.2 mile tunnel, dug over years, that pushed through bedrock north to Central City, the epicenter of North-Central CO mining. Folks’ shafts pushed down, emptying into the ARGO tunnel, their ore being carted to the mill for processing. The tunnel also served to drain water off the mines, a growing problem due to their depths of a thousand feet or more. 100,000 million dollars worth of gold ore passed through it. Over 13,000 mining claims were recorded in the area from 1859-1861.
A water-filled shaft-system collapsed in 1937, filling the tunnel with water, killing several, and rendering it useless ever since. Infact, Nat’l Geographic attempted to enter to document and the pH was in the 2.something range making it a deadly environment. Sealed, the tunnel is a remnant of the boom and bust years.
Excellent history here, way more than I can summarize along with historic photos: http://www.historicargotours.com/history.html
Karen and I at the entrance of the Double Eagle Mine:
The coolest fossilized dinosaur poo!
Inside the mill, it’s rickety, descends the hillside. They were smart to use gravity for moving the ore downhill for processing. They used chemicals, water, and oils to separate the gold from the ore.
The “Widowmaker” drill. The dust from this early drill caused the goldminers’ version of “black lung.” Drills evolved to spray out water while operating, creating a slurry instead. What an unpleasant job. No wonder lifespans were so short.
Imagine needing a ”blast proof” phone at work? Ooof…
The best part? Panning for gold. My three flakes and Karen’s four weren’t the mother lode but it sure was fun learning how to do this. Some folks still pan for gold locally!
Acres of Corn! Hanging With Karen. September 12, 2009Posted by Heather in Uncategorized.
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My sister Karen surprised me with a visit last week. Her arrival was the best B-Day surprise!
Visited the Corn Maze the Denver Botanic Garden holds at their Chatfield location each year. I’d never been to a corn maze. Was different than running around in the fields of corn I grew up around. There, you just follow a row to the end. In a corn maze, you follow worn paths through with others, eating not-good-for-you food, while nervously giggling about feeling lost and somewhat out of control.
Karen was bummed she couldn’t chuck corn at others:
We ate yummy, not good for you food:
Looking down at the maze from a platform. See the depressions? Those are the paths. It’s in the shape of a T-Rex head this year. We got lost all over but especially near the head:
Went on a hay-ride. Amazing people crawled around at that pace, once. Might be good for us to slow down now and then?
There’s an old homestead (the Hildebrands) on the property. It’s a beautiful old home with outbuildings including a root cellar, outhouse, chicken coop, barns, etc.
See fall starting to appear?
I loved this little scrappers ‘do:
Fun, relaxing day. Took a pretty ride home afterwards. Apparently the corn maze is open at night, lit up but with people “haunting” it. A friend asked me if I’d like to go through at night. We shall see! I might…maybe…they do have a pumpkin patch there. I’m a sucker for carving Jack O’ Lanterns.
MN Visit in August! September 7, 2009Posted by Heather in Uncategorized.
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I made it back to MN a month or so ago to see family. My new nephew Lucca is adorable and a sweet little baby. Had some quality time with him and my sisters/mom and dad. The weather was great, not as humid as usual in August.
Ali and I took Lucca for a walk and bumped into my cousin Mike whom I haven’t seen in far too long:
We took a trip to the MN zoo, which is HUGE. I enjoyed watching Lucca sleep in the stroller (damn he is a CUTE sleeper!) Cousins Mike and Bill brought their boys, two apiece, and we all toured a smidge of the zoo.
Lucca wore his best party-zoo bib:
Awesome “Monkey Face” group shot:
Sam, Bill, Will, Mike, Theo, Charlie, Dad, Karen, Rachel
Sister Karen and her hubby Wes bought a speed boat this summer. It’s been, oh, more than 10 years since I swam in a warm MN lake. CO lakes are cold, making for quick dips, not slow, lazy floats and doggie paddles in warm water that are oh so gratifying.
Rachel, dad, Karen and Wes all in:
Karen and I did the team sister cannonball:
That boat went fast!
Next day my sister Rachel took me to her Community Garden Plot. Though none were ripe, she had tomatoe’s coming out her ears.
Some veggie shots:
There are other green thumbs in the family.
Tall “Yellow Flowers” (came from Grandma Quick’s yard which came from the farm grandma grew up on) in Karen’s yard:
A wash-tub planter in mom’s yard:
Sure was a great trip!
On (And Off) the Needles Right Now September 5, 2009Posted by Heather in Uncategorized.
Something about the holiday time, I’m convinced, made my parents pro-create. My three sisters and I all have fall b-days from Aug to November. I’ve gotten all b-day gifts done (one yet needs blocking.)
Sent my sister Ali this:
Grrrlfriend Market Bag, Peaches N Cream yarn, Ravelry link here: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/hfrank007/grrlfriend-market-bag-2
Karen recieved these Owl Mittens.
Patons Classic Merino, Ravelry link here: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/hfrank007/give-a-hoot
Little Nephew Lucca got this Pumpkin Hat. (It’s not his b-day but I sure am having fun making (and planning) baby stuff.
Ravelry link here: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/hfrank007/berry-baby-hat
Now that all that gift knitting is off the needles, I’m cruising along on my Heather Hoodie. It’s FAST! Started the second repeat for the back. Will fit with 1-2 inches positive ease, I think. Haven’t tried it on over a turtlneck or heavy tee, though, which is how I’ll likely wear it.
Ravelry Link Here:
Up and close of the cable panel. I love the Eco-Wool yarn. It’s soft, lofty, did I mention it’s soft? Cabling without a cable needle. Size 10 needle for the body, 9 for the ribbing.
My sister Karen surprised me and flew in last night making this an all-time best B-Day treat! Today there’s talk of the Farmers Market here in Golden and then the Corn Maze at the Denver Botanic Garden’s site near Chatfield. Seems she has a hankerin’ for a carmel apple. I’m stoked for the corn maze and hay ride! Yippee! Pic to follow, I’m sure.