Thursday, November 13, 2014

A changed condition: Rampart Range Road offers a hard look at the fire

Several weeks ago, when Rampart Range Road opened Oct. 10, 2014, more than two years after it was closed during the first day of the Waldo Canyon Fire, visitors were able to get a whole new understanding of the scope the devastating wildfire.
“I really wanted to see first-hand – sorry I did, and yet at the same time, glad I know for a fact that in some areas – 10 years, most likely will not be enough of an estimated time for healing from flooding. Great to see beaming, white and good-smelling Aspen trees, a few yellow leaves and five feet away on the side of the road, a ‘war zone~a look alike’ of total devastation.” Said local long-time resident Clara Meury who toured the area in the first few days the road was open.
“Whew! Glad I went and saw and came down off the Ramparts...with hope. Very thankful to see acres, miles, and hillsides of hundreds of dedicated footprints of CUSP (Coalition for the Upper South Platte) volunteers back-breaking work that has been done, and more yet to happen to protect our towns, and cities. Our communities. Our mountains. I love our Mountains,” Meury said.
Rampart Range Road offers an elevated vantage point to view the extent of the damage.
The fire, which was first reported June 23, 2012, had caused the evacuation of over 32,000 residents of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Cascade, Chipita Park, Green Mountain Falls, Crystola, Woodland Park and partial evacuation of the United States Air Force Academy. As many as 346 homes were destroyed by the fire. U.S. Highway 24, was closed in both directions for days. The Waldo Canyon Fire resulted in insurance claims totaling more than $453.7 million. Until the Black Forest Fire, it was the most destructive fire in Colorado state history, as measured by the number of homes destroyed, (Black Forest fire destroyed 486 homes and damaged 28 others).
“If you choose to go into the Waldo Canyon area, expect a changed condition. It is not the same forest that many remember prior to the 2012 wildfire. There are many dangers so be very cautious with a plan of escape when the winds increase or it starts to rain. Your safety is our priority,”said Pikes Peak District Ranger Oscar Martinez, upon the road’s opening.
Visitors should use extreme caution and expect to encounter falling dead trees and limbs, steep slopes, stump holes and the potential for flooding in this burned area.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Colorado history of thinking, writing about beer

I have a long history of thinking about beer when I write. 
My first official beat as a reporter on a daily newspaper was "breweries and beer." 
It was 1982, and I was a student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and Anheuser-Busch was considering building a facility north of the city. Not everyone thought it was a good idea at the time, but it was certainly fun to write about. Affording opportunities like 'up close and personal' with Clydesdales on their first visit, the "short tour" at Coors every Friday, the birth of micros- like New Belgian, and Odells, etc...
I am thinking about beer today, as Tivoli announces moves to re-establish a brew house and tap room in the Tivoli Student Union building at Auraria campus in Denver next year, and we approach Repeal Day next month. Tivoli Brewery and Taproom is expected to roll out the barrel in early 2015, and Metropolitan State University of Denver's Hospitality, Tourism and Events program says they will train students in its beverage-management program and "apply to a wide variety of potential employment opportunities, including brewing sciences, beer industry operations, sales and marketing, and brewpub operations to support the workforce needs of Colorado's growing craft-beer industry."
On Dec. 5, 1933, Utah became the final state in a three quarters majority needed to ratify the 21st Amendment. Legal booze was back! The 21st amendment repealed the18th, which of course, called for prohibition of alcohol in the United States.
Until 2008, here in Colorado, if the date fell on a Sunday, you would not have been able to celebrate by buying booze. In April 2008, Colorado lawmakers passed legislation that eliminated the Sunday ban on liquor sales. The law became effective July 1, 2008.
Colorado, like many states, went dry before the 18th Amendment was ratified in 1919 and went into effect in 1920.
According to, an amazing 2,520 breweries were operating in the U.S. in 1879. New York City at that time supported 75 breweries. The nation's largest brewery, George Ehret's Hell Gate Brewery, sold only180,152 barrels that year and made only 1.5 percent of the country's beer.
Colorado excels in making beer. Today, according to figures for “permitted breweries” licensed by the federal Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau at the end of 2013, there were 217 breweries (56 new permits in 2013). Some think we are on track this year to hit 300 breweries in the state, by year's end.
Colorado ranks second at 11.7 gallons per year, per 21-year-old adult, for consumption and third for production at 1,413,232 barrels of craft beer, per stats from the Brewers Association, a national association for craft brewers. 
The Beer Institute thinks the total economic impact of beer in this state is $14,787,474,200 and it supplies 58,360 industry-related jobs.
The first brewery in the state, Rocky Mountain in Denver, eventually became the Zang Brewing Company and was the largest brewery in the Rockies until prohibition. Only four survived the long dry spell between 1916 and 1934. Of those four, only Adolph Coors is around today in original form. Tivoli, from Denver, Walters from Pueblo, and Schneider, from Trinidad were all gone by the 1970s.
Tivoli was resurrected recently by a group of investors. "In 2012, a group of native Coloradans formed the Tivoli Distributing Company and Tivoli Beer was reborn. The first batch, a recreation of the historic Tivoli Beer recipe, entered the brew kettle on August 1, 2012. At this time, establishments in the Denver area began selling Tivoli Beer for the first time in over 43 years," says recent company literature.
Locally, here in Teller County, we were a bit of a brewing destination at the turn of the last century. At that time, about 1900, Cripple Creek was the fourth largest town in the state. 32,000 people lived in the district and beer business was booming.
The city directory of 1900 listed 52 stockbrokers, 3 banks, 3 stock exchanges, 10 insurance representatives, 9 jewelers, 49 grocers, 68 saloons and numerous gambling halls and sporting establishments. In this case, you’re talking about the days of Coors as a microbrewer.
In fact, Adolph Coors owned a building in Cripple Creek at the time.
“German born, Coors has been accustomed to the European tradition of breweries owning local pubs to help distribute their product. Coors carried on that tradition in Colorado. As his brewery prospered, he purchased buildings to lease back to prospective saloon owners who, in turn, would sell beer in their establishments,” wrote Brian Levine in Cripple Creek, City of Influence.
The Coors building was at 241-243 E Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek, and he leased the property back to Henry Bunte for his B. B. Saloon.
“Although Adolph Coors did not finance the original construction of this building, Coors purchased it from stock brokers William P. Bonbright and J. Arthur Connell a year after it was built (1896),” according to Levine.

But it seems the most popular brew at the time, among the rising young stockbrokers, mining speculators and bankers, was the stuff served at the Denver Stock Exchange Saloon which is where Bronco Billy’s is today.
E. A. Asmussen, who was also a town trustee, was bartender, owner and when occasion called for it, bouncer. Asmussen contracted with well-known Denver brewers, the Zang Brewing Company and Rocky Mountain Brewery (owned by Zang).
Son of the founder, Phil Zang was the brewery manager for years after the English company Denver United Breweries purchased the company from his father Adolph in 1888. It became one of the largest breweries in the West.
“Adolph became interested in two of the district’s noted gold producers – the Anaconda and the Vindicator – and thus, became financially and politically involved in the Cripple Creek District. After the Anaconda and the Vindicator were absorbed by (A.E.) Carlton interests. Adolph Zang became a shareholder in The Golden Cycle Corporation,” wrote Levine.
Other beers served in the district might have included Tivoli Brewing Company or Union Brewing Company products, which were also two well-known Denver brewers that merged in 1901 (producing where the Auraria Student Union is today, in downtown Denver). In many locations, five-cent (nickel) draws were the going rate, except in the bordellos, where it was markedly more expensive.
If you had a taste for something stronger, of course that was readily available, often labeled affectionately and colorfully, ‘nose paint,’ ‘tonsil varnish,’ ‘tongue oil’ or ‘liquid muscle,’ in the vernacular of the period.
But a fellow didn’t have to drink alcohol exclusively.
The "black cow" or "root beer float" was created on August 19, 1893. Frank J. Wisner, owner of Cripple Creek Brewing in Colorado, served the first root beer float. Inspired by the moonlit view of snow-capped Cow Mountain, Mr. Wisner added a scoop of ice cream to his Myers Avenue Red root beer and began serving it as the "Black Cow Mountain." The name was later shortened to "black cow."
All this writing can make a fellow thirsty. Given my history, how about a local beer?

Photo 1: If it is Friday,  keep 'em coming. Antique beer keg lift conveyor machinery at the old Tivoli (a.k.a. Union) Brewery in downtown Denver.

Photo 2: In the 1950s, the Tivoli brewery produced up to 150,000 barrels a year, sold from Wyoming to Texas, Missouri to California. It closed in 1969, after a downward spiral that began with the Platte River flooding in 1965, labor disputes, poor capitalization, etc... Now, of course, it is the Auroria Campus Student Union.

Photo 3: The Coors Building, as it was once known, was purchased by Adolf Coors to help distribute product in the Cripple Creek District.

Photo 4: Rooftops of the Adolph Coors Company, Coors residence and greenhouse echo the foothills in the distance, Golden, Colorado. sign in the foreground:"The Home of Coors Pure Malted Milk" is constructed of planted flowers. Coors was the world's largest producer of malted milk during the Prohibition era. Mount Zion with the Colorado School of Mines "M" is in the background. Photo taken by Rocky Mountain Photo Company in 1928.

Photo 5: Colorado City before the 18th Amendment. View of two-story businesses, shows a barber pole and lettering on signs: "Hoffman cafe, Baths, N.B. Hawes". Colorado City was annexed by Colorado Springs in 1917, but until then was a drinkers alternative to its dry neighbor. Hoffman's was an active bar from 1888 to 1913. Photo by H.W. Poley.

Photo 6:  Men, women, and popular movements all over the country forced repeal by Dec. 5, 1933.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chasin' alias: Now, was that Smith, or Jones?

"Alias Smith and Jones" was a western TV series that originally aired on ABC from January 1971 to January 1973, starring Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes and Ben Murphy as Jedediah "Kid" Curry, outlaw cousins who were trying to reform. Duel's character was supposedly the brains of the operation, and Murphy's part provided a fast draw and muscle.
The show was inspired, at least in part, by success of the 1969 blockbuster film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The names "Smith" and "Jones" actually originated from a comment in the 1969 movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when, prior to one of their final hold-ups, the characters are outside a bank in Bolivia and Sundance turns to Butch and says: "I'm Smith and you're Jones."
The real "Kid Curry," Harvey Logan, was actually a member of the real 'Wild Bunch' comprised the real Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, and other notable outlaws of the early 1900s.
Logan, contrary to his TV counterpart, was a cold-blooded killer, reportedly killing as many as nine law enforcement officers, and several others.
Unfortunately, actor Pete Duel died of a self-inflicted gun shot on New Years Eve in 1971. The series replaced him with another actor, and continued for another 17 episodes, but it never recovered. Fans, I guess, didn't buy the identity switch.
I've have been thinking about identity, and alias, and outlaws, as it relates to the old West and such, and the real Kid Curry, Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, and how hard it was to keep track of people before the internet and search engines.
A few weeks ago, when I visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison, of which Butch Cassidy was a short term guest, I noticed that amazingly enough, criminals such as Cassidy were not always completely honest in what they told prison officials.
From Wyoming Territorial Prison Records, Processing Card: George Cassidy, prisoner No. 187, Alias "Butch" Cassidy, Crime: Grand Larceny, Age: 27, Height: 5'9", Weight: 165 pounds., Build: Well-Built, Hair: Dark Flaxen, Eyes: Blue, Complexion: Light, Born: New York City, Occupation: Cowboy, Received from: Fremont County, Sentenced: July 15, 1894, Remarks: Has no wife or parents, features regular, small deep-set eyes, good conduct, Two cut scars on back of head, has a small red scar under left eye, red mark on left side of back, small brown mole on calf of left leg, a well-built young man.
Basically, on processing card, the convict lied.

Cassidy claims to have been born in New York and his parents are deceased. Cassidy was in fact, born to Anne and Max Parker in Utah and was the eldest of 13 children: and called Robert Leroy Parker. Brother Dan Parker, inmate #164, was held at the Territorial Prison in 1890 for robbing the United States Postal Service.
Nothing really new here, but I had encountered it before.  
Sutton's Law is related to legendary 1930s outlaw Willie Sutton's often quoted (and probably falsely attributed) response to a reporter who asked why he robbed banks.
"Because that's where the money is."
I have wondered out loud before why that law didn't seem to apply for the "Wild Bunch" and the Cripple Creek District.
As a kid growing up in southwestern Colorado, nearly every wide spot in the road down there claimed some connection to the heralded outlaws. With the gang holding up the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride, supposedly robbing the train at Stoner, holing up at Dunton Hot Springs, and several associated robberies in the Grand Junction, Delta and Vernal, Utah, areas, in addition to Harry "Sundance" Longabaugh's stint working on his uncle's ranch near Cortez as just some of the historically possible links - the stories were difficult to dispute.
Then there is the haunting photograph of the five dapperly dressed fellows at the turn of the century, three seated, two standing behind. From left to right: Harry A. Longabaugh, a.k.a. "The Sundance Kid," William Carver, Ben Kilpatrick, a.k.a. "The Tall Texan," Harvey Logan, a.k.a. "Kid Curry" and Robert Leroy Parker, a.k.a. "Butch Cassidy." The photo was taken Nov. 21, 1900, at John Swartz's studio in Fort Worth, Texas, near the Hell's Half Acre section of town the gang was known to frequent, and probably has appeared on more "wanted" posters than any photo in the last century.
But the outfit is given credit for robbing trains, mines, banks and other businesses all over the West - Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Oregon. And their height of operation corresponds perfectly with the Cripple Creek District's heyday. Why didn't the "Wild Bunch" knock over any easy targets in the wild district?
It was where the money was. Once I speculated that maybe the answer was Love.
According to the information submitted to the Colorado Archives by the Pikes Peak Genealogical Society and posted by USGenWeb, "Love was the last community to officially debut in the Cripple Creek District, acquiring a post office in 1894." Research by Jan MacKell indicated that village located at the far east end of the district was made up of ranchers, a few miners, sawmill workers and maybe dairy workers. But, notes the archive project, "Love was remote enough, however, that members of outlaw Butch Cassidy's notorious Wild Bunch also felt secure in procuring a hideout there shortly after the community was founded."
Not only is that possible, I would guess, with the amount of money flowing around these parts at that time, it would be silly for an outlaw not to locate nearby.
Jan MacKell, who served for years as the director of the Cripple Creek District Museum, set me straight.
“You referenced something I had written about it. Well alas, further research revealed that the Bob Lee I found in Love was not the Bob Lee of the Wild Bunch. (Bob was a cousin to Harvey Logan and was implicated in the 1899 robbery at Wilcox, Wyoming - the one where they blew the train car to smithereens). Still, the Wild Bunch did hang around in these parts, particularly after the robbery, and Bob Lee was arrested at the Antlers Saloon (formerly Uncle Sam's Casino) in March of 1900. Just thought you would want to know.”
Of course I would, and I asked about where her information originated.
“Some of it came from Pinkerton files and other came from books about the wild bunch, I had many sources when I researched this. The Pinkerton files are tricky - some have been lost, some are open to the public and some are closed files. I got some information from Wyoming since that is where the Wilcox robbery was. J. Maurice Finn was Bob Lee's lawyer and a newspaper account I read had him huffing and puffing all over the courtroom. Funny to picture.”
Indeed it is.
And while I was in the speculation mode, I have always wondered about whether Etta Place (Harry Longabaugh, a.k.a. Sundance kid's love interest) might really be Ann or Josie Bassett as some historians have postulated. The Bassetts, of the Brown's Hole area in Northern Colorado and Utah and famous for their interaction with Tom Horn, had numerous connections to the gang, but for whatever reason, have never been definitively linked and most discount the possibility. The first photo above is Ann Bassett and the second is image of Longabaugh and Place taken in New York.
Incidentally,  MacKell is the author of several books about rough and tumble times in the mining districts including “Brothels, Bordellos and Bad Girls,” and has a new title scheduled to appear in March called “Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains,” but I guess that is all together a different kind of “love.”
Additional speculation about who Etta Place was, is also intriguing. Others sources suggest that Etta Place may have in fact been Laura Bullion, who was a member of the gang. For several years in the 1890s, she was romantically involved with outlaw Ben Kilpatrick ("The Tall Texan"), a bank and train robber and an acquaintance of her father. In 1901, Bullion was convicted of robbery and sentenced to five years in prison for her participation in the Great Northern train robbery. She was released in 1905 after serving three years and six months of her punishment.
Most experts agree that Butch and Sundance probably met Etta at a bordello around 1900, probably run by Fannie Porter, according to Tony Hays.
"Near unanimous consensus among researchers is that Butch and Sundance met Etta at Fannie Porter’s brothel in San Antonio sometime in 1900," he said.
"The Pinkerton Agency, which had a strong interest in Etta, described her as attractive, speaking with an educated tone.  Estimates of her birth year range from 1878 to 1882 or 1883.  Rumors suggest that she was a cousin of Longabaugh’s since Longabaugh’s mother was a Place.  Speculation is that she and Sundance had met sometime around 1900," Hays says.
"The last recorded appearance by Etta was in summer of 1909 in San Francisco, the year after Butch and Sundance were reportedly killed in a gun battle with Argentinian soldiers.  Indeed, there are those researchers who say that Etta died in South America as well.  But a woman of Etta’s description attempted to secure documents declaring Sundance dead. She was unsuccessful, and  the woman known as Etta Place rode off into the sunset."
Hays searched the census information and found Fannie Porter, running a “boarding house.”
"Fannie, herself little more than a girl in 1900, claimed to be of British extraction. The birthdates did not help all that much. Of the five girls in Fannie’s “boarding house,” all were born in or around 1878-80.  One girl in the household intrigued me beyond the others.  Twenty-two year old Madaline Wilson appears in the census immediately beneath Madam Fannie. Like Fannie, she is listed as of English birth, immigrating to the United States in 1884 when she was six. Now here’s where the conjecture has to come in.  It is quite possible that she had changed her name, but does that dictate that she would have changed her date of birth, country of origin, and date of immigration?" Hays asked.
And a British accent, tempered by 16 years in America, might be described as “refined,” he speculated.  
And, Madaline Wilson disappears after the 1900 census, when Etta was in her period of historical significance as the historians would say.
Of course, there was a  bunch of second-guessing on whether Butch and Sundance had actually been killed in Bolivia. Misidentification had happened before, as early as 1898, when the Salt Lake Herald on May 17, 1898, reported "Butch Cassidy is still alive," after first reporting he had been killed in Price, Utah.
 "Sheriff J. H. Ward of Evanston, Wyoming, who was probably the best posted man in the inter mountain states upon criminal matters, reached Price the morning of May 16, 1898, in response to a telegram calling him there to identify the men in jail, and the corpse supposed to be that of Cassidy. Sheriff Ward for 13 years past had been a sheriff in Wyoming, and during that time had Cassidy in his jail for three months and was with him daily," reported the paper.
"On inspecting the body, Sheriff Ward positively asserted that it was not Cassidy, and that while the complain and build of the men were very similar, the body in no other particular resembled Cassidy, and bore none of the battle scars of the famous robber. Sheriff Ward was of the opinion that the body was that of Bob Culp, Alias Red Bob, a notorious cattle thief, from Wyoming. Cassidy was in jail awaiting trial for horse tearing, and a close description was made by Sheriff Ward of all his peculiar marks, and he was absolutely positive that this was not the man," the paper said. But Parker, Longabaugh, Logan and the others, for whom history has had a devil of a time keeping track of anyway, likely were among the neighbors next door.
But we may never know because Butch might have been going by George Cassidy, Tom Gillis, James Ryan, Santiago Ryan, Santiago Maxwell, J.P. Maxwell, James Lowe, Santiago Lowe, George Ingerfield. And Sundance maybe he took up the name Harry Alonzo, Harry Place, Enrique Brown, H.A. Brown, Frank Smith, J.E. Ebaugh, J.E. Thibadoe, Frank Jones, Frank Bozeman, Harry Brown or Frank Boyd.
 Kid Curry also had a reputation of loving and leaving. Reports said he would often return from a train or bank robbery, get drunk and lay up with prostitutes until his share of the take was gone. Numerous prostitutes would name him as the father of various "love childs" that sometimes were referred to as "Curry Kids." Some sources credit Kid Curry with as many as eighty-five children, though the real number was probably closer to five or six.
To complicate things on the Kid Curry front, in addition to the Wild Bunch, the Kid, Harvey Logan, also rode with Sam Ketchum, who was the brother of Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum and Ezra Lay.
Also muddying the water, was the fact that Curry (Logan) liked to hide out in San Antonio, Texas.
While there he met prostitute Della  Moore (also known as Annie Rogers or Maude Williams), with whom he became romantically involved. At the time of their meeting, she was working in Madame Fannie Porter's brothel, which of course, was a regular hideout for the Wild Bunch gang. In October 1901, Della Moore was arrested in Tennessee for passing money tied to an earlier robbery involving Curry. The gunman is credited shortly afterwards with killing two policemen in Knoxville in a shootout and escape on Dec. 13, 1901.
On June 7, 1904, Kid Curry was tracked down by a posse outside of what is now Parachute, Colorado. Curry and two others had robbed a train  and they stole fresh horses owned by Roll Gardner and a neighbor. Gardner and the neighbor set out after them and  joined up with a posse and continued tracking, caught up the outlaws, who then shot Gardner's and his neighbor's horses from under them. Gardner found cover while his neighbor started running. Kid Curry took aim at the neighbor and Gardner shot Curry. The wounded Curry then fatally shot himself in the head to avoid capture. The other two robbers escaped.
But even in death, nothing is for sure. Rumors persist that Curry was not killed in the fire fight, and was misidentified, having actually departed for South America with Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Noted Pinkerton agent Charlie Siringo, who had pursued Logan for years, resigned Pinkerton's shortly thereafter, believing they got the wrong man.
Robert Parker's sister (and others in the family as well) swears her brother visited the family in 1925 for a family reunion. Some say he lived in Pacific Northwest for years, after going straight.
Actor Ben Murphy, went on to play many different characters since his stint as "Kid Curry" in the TV show "Alias Smith and Jones."

Photos from top, to bottom:
No. 1:
The Wild Bunch, From left to right: Harry A. Longabaugh, a.k.a. "The Sundance Kid," William Carver, Ben Kilpatrick, a.k.a. "The Tall Texan," Harvey Logan, a.k.a. "Kid Curry" and Robert Leroy Parker, a.k.a. "Butch Cassidy." The photo was taken Nov. 21, 1900, at John Swartz's studio in Fort Worth, Texas.

No. 2:
Comparison of Ann Basset to Etta Place.

No. 3:
Sundance Kid and Etta Place in New York before they headed to South America .

No. 4:
Ben Murphy as Jedediah "Kid" Curry, and Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes in "Alias Smith and Jones."

No. 5
George "Butch" Cassidy, Wyoming Territorial Prison.

No. 6:
Anne and Max Parker, Robert Leroy Parker's (Butch's) parents.

No. 7:
Laura Bullion's Pinkerton mug shot.

No. 8:
Kid Curry (Harvey Logan) and Della Moore.

No. 9:
Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Forerunner to the “Geese” being rebuilt in Woodland Park

Despite difficult terrain, extreme weather conditions, and a trainload of financial difficulties, the Rio Grande Southern (RGS) Railroad operated 162 miles of track between Ridgway and Durango from legendary Otto Mear’s construction efforts, beginning in 1890, until they went into receivership again and started pulling up track in 1953.
RGS built seven motors and one additional short-lived vehicle for the San Christobal Railroad on the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) Lake City branch. The term “Motor” was officially used by the RGS, although by 1944, the term “Galloping Goose” was used locally.
A forerunner to the “Geese,” an open inspection car, built from a 1911 Model T Ford is being recreated locally.
Local model builder, blacksmith, and architect Lowell Ross is restoring a precisely detailed, comprehensive duplicate of the original RGS Inspection #1, in his shop locally in Woodland Park. The car is being rebuilt from a converted Model T Ford, and the original served as an inspection vehicle for Superintendent W.D. Lee on the Rio Grande Southern.
“I am just about ready. Finally locating the wheels for the car, in the desert of Nevada,” Ross said.
Although not technically a Goose, the RGS Inspection Car #1, led to development of the storied line.
In early use, an out-of-control RGS Inspection Car #1 rolled into the Dolores River, and according to the lore in 1913, Lee and his wife jumped before it hit the water. Road Master J. C. Gilland didn’t, and was seriously hurt. Mrs. Lee reportedly refused to ride in it after that mishap, saying it bounced too much. In 1925, it was wrecked again, this time, beyond repair, and was scrapped.
Something larger and more powerful, anyway, was needed to provide passenger, mail, and LCL (less than carload) freight services to these remote mountain communities.
RGS hired auto mechanic Jack Odenbaugh for the Ridgway shop crew, and he built Motor No. 1 from a 1925 Buick Model 45 touring car in early 1931. It uses an extended frame, the front of the car body, and a stake bed.
Odenbough and his crew built two more motors in 1931. Motor No. 2 was built from a Buick four-door sedan with an enclosed freight body behind and Motor No. 3 from a Pierce-Arrow limousine. Motors 4, 5, and 7 were built similarly to No. 3, and Motor No. 6 was a work motor built similar to No. 1.
The RGS motors economically operated during World War II, repairing the “Geese” with war surplus bus bodies from the Wayne Company of Richmond, Indiana. The bodies allowed more passengers and had doors on both sides for entry, as some of the buses were built for use in right-hand-drive England.
Larger passenger trains were used to attract additional tourists to the scenic route, and the RGS finally began using the term “Galloping Goose” in advertising for scenic tours in 1950-1951. Books and articles about them as early as 1947 had referred to these vehicles as “Galloping Geese.” The Rocky Mountain Railroad Club began scheduling fan trips on the Galloping Geese in 1946, and a number of fan trips were run with the “geese.”
Unfortunately, too late to save the RGS, which again went into receivership under J. Pierpont Fuller. In late 1951, he decided the RGS was in too rough shape to continue operation. Abandonment was approved by the ICC in April 1952. The route was sold for scrap, and the line was ripped up by June 1953, with Motor No. 6 pulling the last rails up at Hesperus.
The ‘Galloping Geese,’ as well as some other locomotives and rolling stock, survived the death of the RGS. The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden acquired and restored No. 2, 6, and 7. Knott’s Berry Farm of Buena Park, California, bought Motor No. 3 and operates it in the amusement park, along with D&RGW 2-8-0 #340 and RGS 2-8-0 #41. Motor No. 4 is on display in Telluride. Motor No. 5, restored to operational condition in 1998, is showcased at the depot-museum in Dolores.

Stories growing in stature: Culturally modified trees (CMTs) are a living, breathing historical record

It makes some sense, that if you wanted to tell a story to your children, and your grand-children, and perhaps their children, and their children’s children — you might tell that story to a Ponderosa pine tree.
Culturally modified trees (CMTs) might be the form such stories take locally, and former El Paso County Sheriff John Anderson tells the story of the story tellers in a new book due soon.
He also has conducted tours and hikes centered mostly on reasons that the Utes, Native Americans inhabiting this area, might have modified area trees.
He says the Utes had different reasons for modification including navigational, medicinal, nutritional, educational, burial or spiritual purposes. He cautions, however, that other things, like heavy snow fall, lightning, and natural forces can also alter the way a tree might grow.
With recent local fires, in Waldo Canyon, the Black Forest area, Hayman and around the state, it is important to preserve such cultural resources as they are continually damaged or destroyed by man and the ravages of nature.
“It’s becoming critical that we find out now what we have in terms of living resources and document them,” said Rick Wilson, then chief ranger at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument nearly a decade ago.
With beetles kill; drought and fires as a constant threat; and even foresters, carrying out fuel-reduction programs, the cultural record of American Indian activities and lifestyles could be lost forever.
The Ponderosa Pine is the major species used for dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, to study historic climate patterns by reading the width of tree rings. In wet years, trees grow wide rings. In dry years, the rings are narrow. Reading tree ring widths from the roof beams of cliff dwellings and other Indian ruins has allowed archaeologists to precisely date their construction.
Native Americans ate the seeds of this tree either raw or made into a bread and used the pitch as adhesive and waterproofing agent for canoes, baskets and tents. Ponderosa Pine lumber is highly valued for constructing cabinets, Southwestern-style furniture and house trim.
Locally Ponderosa Pines have been scorched or killed by recent forest fires. Though ironically, without the forest fires, Ponderosas would not be able to survive.
Fires are essential for Ponderosas because they help keep the more shade-tolerant tree species from invading Ponderosa Pine’s preferred habitat. While small Ponderosas may succumb to a hot fire, only the most horrendous crown-fires or firestorms will kill the bigger trees. Even if all the needles are burned off the tree, it will still survive. Its thick bark acts like an armor, protecting the life force of the tree known as the phloem layer. As long as this inner bark that transports sugars isn’t burned, the tree will survive.
Ponderosa Pine trees will live as long as 800 years, which is a considerable shelf life for most stories.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blacksmith, architect, model builder, preservationist, Ross pounds it out with precision

There is a Finish proverb that holds 'No one is a blacksmith when they are born.' But sometimes, a deep interest in history, a gift for precision, strong focus on detail, and an opportunity to learn — point folks in that direction.  Lowell Ross, of Woodland Park, was practicing the craft Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, near Northgate Road and I-25. 
"It hasn't been working much since the 1990s," Ross said of the WMMI smith works, as he pounded out several curved knives at demonstrations during the weekend harvest festival. He thinks he might have been the last one operating it, in about 2001.
"Our Blacksmith shop is now up and running and we had blacksmithing demonstrations this weekend at our Reynolds Ranch Harvest Festival," said WMMI director Jeff Tapparo about Friday's and Saturday's (Oct. 10 and 11) events. 
Ross said there are eventual plans to restore completely, the complex line shaft machine shop that incorporates trip wheels, clutch mechanisms, and flat belts to power grinders, drills and other equipment.
He picked up the trade watching a few old timers that knew a thing or two about black smithing and the skills go hand-in-hand with his day job.  He is an architect with Fine Line Design Studio, LLC,  of Woodland Park. 
"I’ve been a practicing architect for years, designing commercial and residential structures throughout the world.  I have also been building professional commercial models for clients all over the county."  He also professes a love of history that has helped in the creation of Anvil Mountain Models, a sideline that develops historically accurate scale models.  
"I started scratch building scale models in my early childhood, winning my first model contest at age 14.  Since then many of my models have won national awards  – best of show and several first place awards at National Narrow Gauge Conventions.  Being an architect, I offer well thought out kits with innovative and time saving techniques and clear comprehensive instructions.""At a very early age my family spent our free time exploring old ghost towns and mine sites, fostering a love for historic structures.  Since childhood I’ve continued to explore old mine sites and ghost towns throughout the United States, and have spent countless hours hiking to hundreds of remote mills/mines/ghost towns," he said.
"My personal sketch books are full of detail drawings documenting these sites and great old structures.  Living in Colorado allows me the opportunity to continue exploring many historic sites.   In the 1990’s I lived in Telluride and Ouray Colorado during which I fell in love with the history and beauty of the San Juan Mountains.  Since then I have spent a considerable amount of time researching and documenting many of the structures throughout the San Juan's – many of which are from Silverton." 
"The kits I offer come from these years of research and documentation. I personally model Otto Mears' three railroads with a special emphasis on the Silverton Northern.  Many of the kits offered and future offerings will reflect my personal interests."
To top that off, he is also restoring, in his shop locally, RGS Inspection Car #1, rebuilt from a converted Model T Ford, as an inspection vehicle for Superintendent W.D. Lee on the Rio Grande Southern. Although not a Goose, the forerunner perhaps led to development. It rolled into the Dolores River according to the lore in 1913, and Lee and his wife jumped before it hit the water. Road Master J. C. Gilland didn't, and was seriously hurt. Mrs. Lee reportedly refused to ride it after that mishap, saying it bounced too much. In 1925, it was wrecked again, this time, beyond repair, and was scrapped.
Locally, his accurate scale models appear in the Cripple Creek Heritage Center, a complex replica of the Will Rodgers Shrine of the Sun for  El Pomar, and new project that will replicate the tram line at the Buffalo Boy Mine for the Silverton Northern Interpretive Center. 
Ross said he started smithing in the 1990s when he wanted to create historically accurate brackets for one of his buildings and hired a blacksmith to build them. "They asked me if I wanted to give them a hand, and that was the start of it. "
 He says that typically, blacksmithing was a trade learned as master/apprentice but there are not those same opportunities available today. He estimates he spends about 1,200 to 1,500 hours a year at the craft — usually at three or four hours at a time, because it takes long time to get the forge hot. 
He would eventually like to develop it, as a business, perhaps with architectural hardware development as the focus. 
He has a lean-to type shop at home and plans for whole new building, where he might incorporate the use of two vintage air hammers (a 100-pound and 50-pound, the largest weighs nearly 4,000 pounds and takes up significant space. Plans also include line (modeled after the ones used from about 1918 to 1930) that enables him to run his other vintage equipment via flat belts and other related technology of the period... "my own mechanical mini-museum." 
Ross says a person can get into to smithing for near nothing, by using makeshift equipment in the form of an anvil made of railroad rail for $50 to $80, and brake drum modified  to become a bellows for the forge. But vintage anvils now go for about $5 per pound (which adds up with the weight of an anvil) and other equipment that was often scrapped in '70s and '80s as blacksmithing was seen somewhat of a 'dying art.'
Today, there has been a major resurgence. 
"Historically, it was fixing tools and making tools, wheelwrights, ferriers, and such. But recently there is a new-found appreciation for the art aspects based on raw skill and craftmanship. It goes along well with my work as an architect with the expression of joinery of materials, it is an easy transition..."
As an architect, the overlap for him is manifested in the economy of architectural preservation, joinery of timbers, and old-fashioned arts, used to build structures that place emphasis on beauty of material, structure and details. "Instead of taking any two pieces of material and unceremoniously slapping them together," Ross said.
Structures that locally that demonstrate some of that forethought include work that he has collaborated on including Keller Williams building in Woodland Park, structures at Sturman Industries, Focus on the Family, and many Church buildings all along the Front Range.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

We dropped valuable tools, somewhere along line

It didn't have anything to do with Second Amendment rights, self-protection, violence, or even the possibility of violence — but when I was little, just about everyone in my Colorado hometown carried a knife around in their pocket, or purse, or hanging from a chain around their neck. I miss those days, not only for their utility, but for their innocence.
We all carried pocket knives, or pen knives, key chain knives, or buck knives on our belts in leather scabbards. At noon, at the high school I went to, you would often see half-a-dozen, to 20, playing games with said knives. No expulsions, no zero-tolerance, no labels, no fear, and relatively no concern about how we would turn out, as knife-game-playing adults.
I know the world is different, but you know, I am nostalgic.
We picked up the habit at early age. With our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncle or aunts providing our first one. Sometimes, very early. I think I remember Mike Edwards sporting a two-blade Case used for digging in ant hills in some of my earliest memories. He was a year older than me but moved from the house across the alley when I was six or seven.
Some of us would experiment with different types, or styles during our lives, never being pinned down by convention, or conviction, or commitment. Others would settle on one style distinctly, and early, and carry it for life.
My dad had single-blade, locking, bone-handled Case with burn chips in blade from accidentally hitting still "hot" wires under the dash in automotive wiring puzzles that he carried (as far I am able to figure out) his entire life.
Edena Akin flirted for a time dangerously, with a wicked, pearl-handled, switch blade, that she regaled seventh- and eighth-grade boys with, in the prime of pubescence.
Years later, when in high school, and working at the hardware store that sold any manner of pocket knife, (with Bucks, and Old Timers, Case, Imperials and Schrades, just to name a few,)  I came to associate personalities with the knife they carried. Many bought them there at Taylor's, but even if they didn't, they often spent a fair amount of time back at the oil stone on top of the bolt counter sharpening them.
In the back room, far enough away from the red dogs laying on worn Astro-turf, right at armpit level for many folks, the oil stone sat in a foot-long metal case, with a can of 3-in-1 nearby. Usually the stone was smooth side up, but you could flip it to rough, if your piece was really in bad shape. The oil-soaked spongy material would help on the flip.  I don't know for sure how many hours were 'wasted' badgering Merton over at the check-in stand (or at the Micro Fiche) in the name of "knife sharpening," but it was substantial. Today, the Labor Department would probably require reporting it in the "under-employed" number.
You could tell a lot about a person, by the kind of knife he, or she, carried. Merton himself, always had, and was willing to loan briefly, a very small two-blade Old Timer. It was a common type, carried by many in the area (we probably sold 10 two-blade Old Timers, for every KA-Bar or lock blade Buck, but we moved a significant number of those around Christmas time,) and was lost or damaged on occasion, requiring replacement.
I learned about the possibility of "little man syndrome" as slight fellows, driving huge pickup trucks, regularly sharpened seven-inch spear point Gerber survival knives that would have made Napoleon Bonaparte proud. I learned of utilitarians that had trouble dropping an edge on beat up, disjointed Imperials from the dime store, and all personalities in between.
Today, in a time when I don't often carry the small, brass-clad, walnut inlaid, single-lock blade I've had for more than 30 years, it is because I might need to go to the Court House and don't want to mess with security, or I'm traveling and would lose it (or create an international incident) at the air port. I still long for the innocence, and utility of those long-gone days gone by.
It's not the knife I care about, but the utility, and especially— the innocence.