Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Top bucking bulls baddest in the business; carrying on a family tradition

The bulls are treated like family around there. It is all part of the family business. And a quite successful one, at that.
"With names such as Perfect Storm, Venom, Bad Grandma, and Macho Man — TZ Ranch provides some of the baddest buckers in the business," says Ty Rinaldo, of TZ Ranch.
Ty, his wife Nancy, and his sons Tucker and Tanner, manage and care for 15 bulls at their 10-acre ranch east of Greenland in Douglas County.
The Rinaldo Family and TZ Ranch had two bulls this year, W26 Page Break and S19 Perfect Storm, qualify for the Professional Bull Riders World Finals in Las Vegas, this fall. The Pro Bull Riding Finals consists of the world’s top 35 professional bull riders and the top 106 bulls, in America and Canada competing for world titles. The finals was October 21-25.
"While at the finals we were excited to hear of the selection of W26 Page Break to The National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December. The NFR is the Superbowl of Professional Rodeo.
We are a small local ranch,  which trains and maintains a small herd of bucking bulls on my days off from Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department."
Each one of his 15 bulls has a personality of its own.
"I love to educate the public about our four-legged family members," he said. "But we are a little dog running with big dogs, when it comes to providing quality bulls for major rodeos and bull riding events."
He says he really doesn't get mean bulls, but searches for "athletes" that can be shaped into top performers, alongside the athlete riders that compete with them. The bull's score, of course,  contributes to an individual ride on equal basis with the rider’s.
Ty Rinaldo was professional rodeo athlete himself for nine years, and he and his wife (a barrel racer), and the rest of the family, have been around rodeo and bull riding all of their lives. He grew up in the Grand Junction area, on the Western Slope. But his last ride was in 1993.
"I rode my last bull and took my first Flight for Life the same day," said Ty Rinaldo, 48, of a head injury that forced his retirement in Delta one day, years ago.
Taking care of the bulls is one way of staying connected.
"The thing about rodeo is, that most of guys participating are for other buddies riding the same night. They want them, and the bulls to perform their best. You are really competing with yourself and your own best performance."
The best performance also goes for the bulls, as well. He talks of even "building their confidence" and optimizing their performance by exercise and making sure they have opportunities to buck.
Bucking chutes at TZ Ranch are often busy on weekends, and February 20, bull riding at the Douglas County Fairgrounds is on the slate.
"We treat them like the professional athlete they are, and part of the family. If we didn't, they would quit. You want them to do their best."
Maintenance of 15 such family pets is an arduous task, with them eating 40 pounds of hay a day, plus oats, gallons of water, vet bills, transportation, welding, daily exercise, and on and on. It keeps all of the family busy.
Meanwhile, there is the trip to Las Vegas with Page Break from Dec. 3 to Dec. 12.  TZ Ranch bulls have been national competitors in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and now 2015. Quite a string of successes for this family and their unique bull business. 

__ Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan@yourpeaknews.com


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Actions, reactions for better firefighting through chemistry

Throw sand, and pour water.  For thousands of years, if fire broke out that needed snuffed, those aforementioned materials were just about the only alternative used for fighting it. But as Newton noted in one of his three laws, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
One of the odd, but interesting, elements of the fire fighting process as it has developed over time is "better firefighting through chemistry."
Perhaps an even more interesting offshoot of those theories, sometimes taken to extreme locally, is the use of dynamite.

Cripple Creek and Dynamite
 "The fire started in the Portland hotel, where it broke out in half a dozen places at the same time, giving color to the report that the first fire of last week was designed by incendiaries that they might make a raid on the First National Bank which carried over $100,000 cash in its vaults to meet the payrolls of the district that mature tomorrow. The fire spread with a rapidity that can be compared only to the progress of the fire on Saturday. It could not be checked, and from the first alarm preparations were made to repel the destroyer," reported papers all over the country in headlines of Cripple Creek, including The Daily Northwestern of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on April 30, 1896.
"Special trains were run from Victor and Gillette to bring in miners with sticks of dynamite ready to use wherever there was any call for it. It was more common than water at a city fire, and the lavish use was productive of many fatalities. The Palace hotel, containing 300 rooms was one of the first places attacked with dynamite, and from the results it would appear that no warning was given of the impending explosion. As the walls tottered in response to the tremendous charges of giant powder the air was filled with shrieks of dying men, who had been caught in their rooms and dragged down in the wreck. Before the wreckers could offer any aid they were driven back by the flames that were rolling over the site of the hotel."
The Northwestern continued. "Thousands of homeless people shivered about camp fires or wandered among the ruins of this once prosperous city throughout the night. The cold was severe and toward morning snow began to fall. During the night, for a distance of a mile to the right and left, the burning embers presented a sight almost incomparable. Standing on the hill beyond the burned district and to the west, the picture was one of a huge bowl, with the steam rising above. Everywhere along the thoroughfares can be seen the work of dynamite, a great mass of kindling wood."
Much of blasting occurred in areas with little or no access to the more traditional materials. 
"A company of the Colorado National Guard is on duty in the unburned district. Numerous arrests have been made in the outside district, resort to which has been made by the vagrant element, which lately has infested Cripple Creek. All night fires were starting up occasionally on the placer. Where possible the residents pulled the houses down and if that failed, blew them up. They had no water in that portion of the city," reported papers in the district.
"A rumor is in circulation that a man was seen in the act of setting fire to a dwelling on Capitol Hill and was shot by a resident, just as the fire bug was shot and killed by  Lloyd Thompson yesterday. Mayor Doyle of Victor has employed two fire wardens for every block in the city, as it has been rumored that fire bugs are after that town as well as Cripple Creek. A man was caught late in the afternoon in the very act of firing the rear of the  Newell company's store. He is in jail. The total loss by yesterday's fire is now estimated at $1,500,000. The insurance will probably foot up between $400,000 and $500,000," other stories noted.
"Many other individual losses run as high as $20,000. All the local newspapers, banks and express offices, the telegraph and telephone offices and nearly all stores, restaurants and lodging houses are wiped out. Two men were caught building a fire under a saloon in Poverty Gulch. An officer fired four shots at them and they were captured. On their person was a bunch of skeleton keys"

Chemical Firefighting
Twenty-five years later and roughly about the same number of miles distant, it was different chemicals that were relied on when Palmer Lake bought their first fire truck.
Though residents never seemed to worry much about it before, after the Rocklands Hotel burned in Palmer Lake in September of 1920, it became increasingly evident that some sort of fire equipment was needed to combat possible future conflagrations.
"The destruction of this grand, four-story hotel, which opened in 1889, was not only a grand financial loss for Palmer Lake's summer tourist industry, but a psychological blow to the town's identity, " writes Dan Edwards in his 2012 book "The beginnings of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD)."
By spring, 1921, the town purchased a fire engine from Julius Pearse Fire Department Company.
"The truck, with a 40 gallon chemical tank and hose wagon mounted on 1921 Dodge chassis, arrived in April," wrote Edwards. "The tank was filled with mixture of water and baking soda. Sulphuric acid was stored at the firehouse in carboy, a large 15+ gallon thick glass bottle. Inside the chemical  tank was a covered holder. A glass jar. filled from the carboy, would rest in the holder cage. At the fire, a fireman would rotate the tank to spill the acid, and the resulting chemical reaction would produce a foamy liquid that was sprayed on the fire."

Newspaper war's unique chemistry
Not always was Chemistry the fireman's friend, as experienced by the tragic effects of the chemical fire that broke out in the engraving room of the Denver Post at Sixteenth and Curtis Street in Denver in 1904.
"A four-way newspaper war was ignited by the arrival in Denver of Frederick G. Bonfils and Harry H. Tammen," explains Dick Kreck in his 2000 book "Denver in Flames"
"Papers trade charges and counter charges on everything from politics to coal prices. When a nitric acid spill in the engraving room of the Denver Post kills four firemen, and leaves 14 others incapacitated, the Post's rivals have a field day. A coroner's jury is convened to investigate the Post's culpability in the accident , but suspends its deliberations to await a key witness," summarized Kreck.
"... Shortly before 3:30 on that Tuesday afternoon, engraver Charles Prazak was working on the Post's second-floor etching room at 1623 Curtis Street. As he was opening a sixteen-gallon glass carboy of pure nitric acid (used in making engravings of photographs and drawings), the bottle suddenly split, spilling the acid onto the room's wood floor and creating a haze of noxious brown gas."
Multiple fire companies were dispatched as the acid spread on the floor and under furniture contacting zinc plates on the floor, and employees tried to counteract the acid by throwing sawdust and copious amounts of soda on it.
According to the rival Rocky Mountain News, all three responding fire companies believed they were fighting a fire,"only to stagger out a few brief moments later, their duty done, their lungs filled with a poison no human hand may stay."
When it comes to chemicals, and firefighting, maybe throwing sand and pouring water are not bad alternatives. Use them, if you have them, I guess. But as far as actions and reactions, Newton was an expert in physics, not chemistry.

___ Rob Carrigan

Photo Information:

Photo 1:
In the chaos of the 1896 Cripple Creek fire.

Photo 2:
The Rocklands Hotel in Palmer Lake about 1894.

Photo 3:
A group of children, likely delivery boys and girls, pose outside of The Denver Post newspaper office on 16th (Sixteenth) Street in Denver, Colorado. A sign reads: “The Denver Post, Every Day In The Year.”

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bear hind sight is near perfect as we approach 2020

One Cherokee clan who called themselves the Ani Tsa'gu hi.  It is told that a young boy of the clan kept disappearing into the forest only to return to the village a little hairier each time. The elders of the tribe ask the boy what was going on, the youngster acknowledge that he had been spending time with the bears of the forest sharing their foods and ways, He told the elders the bears had plenty of food and that the rest of the tribe could join him rather than go hungry but first they would have to fast in order to prepare for the transformation.
Informing the other tribal clans, this Ani Tsa'gu hi clan chose to follow the boy and leave the human world of struggle and hunger behind and live forever with the Black Bears in their abundant forest.
Upon their departure from the known world of Cherokee towns and villages, the Ani Tsa'gu hi, informed all the other Cherokee clans of their departure, "We are going where there is much food. Do not fear to kill us, for we will be ever alive. "
It's not hard to imagine that there are some Cherokee living in the mountains today, who think descendants of the Ani Tsa'gu hi clan that might still be living in the mountain forest as Black Bears. There are also tales of how humans might be the descendants of Black Bears losing their fur and changing their ways.
__ from Blue Ridge Highlander

Hind sight for bear like me is always better as time goes on. It is near perfect, as we get closer to 2020. Almost every thing I know, I learned mostly in the little town of Dolores, Colo.
Today, the local police reported that fellow with my same name, and just about my age, had been killed down in the 400 block of St. Vrain Street. 

"Some grandfathers told the story of the great grizzly bear, who captured the Great Spirit Manitou's daughter and force her to marry him. They had many children, who became the Ute Nation after the Great Spirit took his grandchildren back. To punish the grizzly, Manitou forced it to walk on four feet instead of two.
It is true that the Ute's venerated the grizzly bear above all others and celebrate the arrival of spring by having a great feast, and performing the Bear Dance, which shows the great bear coming out of hibernation and this announcing the arrival of spring, a time of rebirth."
__ from The Boy Who Slept With Bears, A Southern Ute Story, by George R. Douthit, III

Just so you know, this is NOT me.
A different Robert Carrigan.

Thursday, November 5, 2015, 2:00PM {Release at Will}
The El Paso County Coroner’s Office has completed the autopsy on the deceased male. He has been identified as Robert Joseph Carrigan, a 54 year old male from Colorado Springs. The cause of Mr. Carrigan’s death was determined to be a gunshot wound. His manner of death is a homicide.
This CSPD Violent Crimes – Homicide Unit is continuing this investigation while maintaining close contact with the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. As such, the name of the homeowner will not be released at this time.
NOTE TO MEDIA: All updates will ONLY come from the Public Affairs Unit when available.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 2:00AM {Release at Will}
On Tuesday, November 3, 2015, at 9:59PM officers from the Gold Hill Division received an initial call for service of a burglary in progress in the 400 block of West St. Vrain Street. During the response the call was upgraded to a shots fired call for service.
Officers arrived and located an adult male who was deceased from an apparent gunshot wound.
There are no additional safety concerns for the community at this time. Detectives from the Violent Crimes Unit are conducting the investigation. They have contacted all of the individuals known to be associated with this investigation.
NOTE TO MEDIA: All updates will ONLY come from the Public Affairs Unit when available.

 "A recorder of what has been done is equal to the greatest hunter, the bravest warrior, or even the holy man," he said. "To be such a historian, such a recorder, you must learn to see all things, know how they look, and how they are done. You must see that the young colt swims on the downstream side of the mother, behind the wall of her body, and that the wind does not always push arrows of the just. As the hills of one's youth are mountains, and the hunts all seem fat after the meat is long eaten, so memory makes every man the bravest in his long-ago encounters, and the enemies faced in battle become very many as the warrior days retreat. The picture is the rope that ties memory solidly to the stake of the truth."
__ Picture Maker, member of the Lakota Nation from The Story Catcher, by Mary Sandoz.

It has been difficult at times. Just this week,  I lost a friend, and fellow story teller. They don't always give us enough yarn to stretch out into a long, comfortable tale with a happy ending.
The bear lives in a mean environment. Over time, he is witness to things that aren't fair. The truth is painful. Winter is coming.  You can't effectively train bears to dance, without taking some risks.
In general, the story of some of my bear friends has brought to me, great sadness.
But hind sight gets better as time goes on. Especially as we approach 2020.
The bear puts on weight for the expected long winter. Cranky and prone to growls, yes.  Hairy, smelly and awkward, yes. But easier to live with than a snake or coyote. And more entertaining, if you don't try to make him dance.

There is a little hill called tqnts'i'se ko just across the Mancos Canyon, which used to be a house. It was the home of 12 brothers. The brothers were great hunters and hunted all over the mesas. They had one sister. The girl grew to be a beautiful maiden, and the holy men came from far and wide to ask her to marry them. The maiden's name was Ataed' diy ini. When her brothers were away hunting she stayed at home alone. Now the Coyote came to the brothers and called out "Brother-in-law." He wanted this maiden to become his wife. Ataed' diy ini told him "No," for only the one who killed the giant would become her husband. The Coyote sat there with his head down for a moment, then he said "Very well." He left her and went to the home of the giant. - Coyote tricks the giant into a sweathouse where he tricks him into sawing off his leg in order to gain swiftness and strength. - He tried to make them grow together. But the Coyote grabbed the giant's severed leg and ran away with it, saying "I never heard of a bone growing together in a day." The Coyote took the giants's leg to the maiden and told her that he had killed the giant. But the maiden said that before she would marry him she would have to kill him; and if he could return to life, then he could be her husband.
The Coyote hung his head and covered his eyes with his hand for a moment. "Very well," he said, and he went away. - Coyote hides his vitals in mountains and wind, thereafter the maiden kills him four times altogether. - but after a little while the Coyote came in and said "Now are you my wife?" The maiden asked him how he could do these things. He told her that after she became his wife he would show her his magic. He became her husband and she became his wife. Then he took her to the east and showed her the mountain and the tunnel that he had made. And he took her to the south, and west, and north. She learned to do what the Coyote had done. He taught her his ways. - After this her brothers return and notice that she "is not the same," whereupon they deal with their new brother-in-law by moving out. They go out hunting and Coyote joins them despite the rejection of his new in-laws. He invites himself into trouble which causes him his death at the hands of the Swallow people. The maiden upon the brothers return without her husband, accuses them of killing him, despite their denials. She tracks him and finds his remains. - After the woman left her brothers to go look for the Coyote the eldest brother said "Listen now to my words our sister is about to do something still more evil." When the woman returned to the house she told her brothers that the people in the canyon had killed her husband. She would not sit down in the home. She prepared herself to go against the cliff people. First, she took her sewing awls and sharpened them; then she hid her heart and lungs as the Coyote had taught her, and turned herself into a great bear with sharp teeth and claws, and she went forth against the people of the canyon. - Her war with the Swallow of cliff people cost them many lives but did not harm her. - Always when she returned to her brothers she was in her woman form. But her name was now Esdza' shash nadle, the Woman who Became a Bear. - Her violence turned from hatred to a bloody rage as she now killed during the daytime, whereas she had only killed at night. Her brothers fearing reprisals too, hid the youngest brother in their dwelling.
After returning home the Bear Woman divined their location, and catching up with her brothers killed them all save the last. She saw the youngest was missing so she divined again to locate him beneath the ashes of her brother's dwelling. She tries to kill him while grooming him but the wind warns him in to be wary and helps thwart her deception. - Now the boy watched her shadow, and each time that he caught her changing into the bear form he turned and looked at her and she became a woman. After the fourth time he had his muscles set, and jumped away from her. Sure enough she grabbed his belt; but the tie was loosened and he escaped. She was near him when he reached the cactus. He jumped over it; she ran around it. The second time she was near him he jumped over the yucca; the third time he jumped over the fallen log; and the fourth time, over the great boulder. Then her heart became nervous, and the chipmunk who was guarding it screamed. The heart and the lungs were beating up and down just ahead of the boy. They were covered with oak leaves. The Bear Woman cried out "Oh, brother, brother, stop! There are my heart and lungs. There is my life." Now when the boy saw the leaves beating up and down in fright he jumped over them, and he shot his arrow into them. The Bear Woman fell, and the blood gushed out of her mouth and nostrils. The boy returned near her, and the little breeze told him to stop the blood. It must not flow, for if it met the blood from her heart she would become whole again. So the boy pulled the Bear Woman's carcass away.
He was angry. He spread her legs and cut out her sex organs. He said "You have the sex organs of a woman, and great trouble has come of it." He tossed it to the top a tree and said "The people of the earth shall use you henceforth." It became pitch that is found on cedar and pinion trees. Then he cut off her breasts and said "You have a woman's breasts and still you have caused great trouble." He tossed them to the top of a tree and said "The people of the earth shall use you." And they became pinion nuts. After these things happened many people planned to leave the mesas. They were afraid of the Woman who become a bear. They buried the Calendar Stone; they wrapped their dead; and leaving their belongings, they went away. But before they left they drew pictures on the rocks of all the things that trouble came from.
 ___ The Dine' Origin Myths of the Navajo Indians; 1956, Aileen O'Bryan.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Telling it with truth, meaning and compassion

In addition to all her other fine qualities, two remarkable things jumped out to you in an encounter with reporter Lisa Collacott, 48, who died Oct. 30 after a long illness.

First, was her unwavering determination. Determined to find the facts, present them without error, tell it with truth and meaning.  

Also, there was the compassionate voice in her storytelling.

Those truths held also in her everyday life as a mother, wife, neighbor and friend.

“Last night, I lost my sweet beautiful love,” wrote John Collacott, her husband of more than 20 years, on Saturday morning.

“She fought for the past year to defeat the disease that ravaged her body.  She fought for her children Daniel and Dominique. She wanted to live for them.  I could not have asked for a better wife than her. She was perfect in every way and only wanted honor God, our marriage and be everything that a woman can be. She never complained about the disease, but it took everything from her. She is now at peace and dancing with the Lord in her new body in Heaven. She passed last night, 10-30-15 at 5:25 p.m., surrounded by her family and peacefully.  I will have bitter sorrow as I grieve her loss and learn to live without her.  I love you Lisa, and miss you greatly.”

Lisa’s struggle, and her own story, was epic. In September  of 2013, after struggling for years with physical difficulties, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic  informed Lisa and her family she had Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Since 1939 the disease has more commonly been known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Of her physical difficulties, Collacott wrote several columns where she shared with her readers about a brain surgery she had in 1996 to remove an arteriovenous malformation, which was congenital.

As her condition worsened in recent years, she began to see neurologists. She was first told by doctors at University of Colorado Hospital in Denver that her neurological problems were a result of scar tissue built up in her brain, prior to the ALS diagnosis.

For the Tribune (and on occasion, the Courier), Lisa jumped at the chance to tell stories of impact and importance.

Whether is was reporting the issuance of an arrest warrant for “Dog, the Bounty Hunter,” or tackling the difficult stories in the aftermath of the Black Forest Fire, she wanted to have impact.

She earned numerous awards and accolades for her coverage over the years, including helping the Tribune to win general excellence two years in row, (the top combined award in Colorado Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest).

Even when she told her editor with tears in her eyes that she was going to have to resign to work on getting healthy, she provided the qualifier, “But if something breaks in the Dylan Redwine case, that story is mine.”

The same steadfast determination was reflected in the pride of her children at graduations, school events, and sporting competitions, and in the general, everyday accomplishments of her family.

In one of the last stories Lisa wrote for the Tribune about the Palmer Lake Star she said: “Even during the country’s times of tribulation, the Palmer Lake Star has continued to shine brightly. Through wars, economic hardships and terrorist attacks, the star has been a symbol of hope and perseverance to the Tri-Lakes community.”

Like the local star on the hillside, Lisa Collacott’s unwavering determination, compassionate storytelling voice, and pride of family —  in the presence of great difficulty, will be greatly missed.

Lisa is survived by her husband, John, a son, Marine Corps Pvt. Daniel Collacott, a daughter, Dominuque Collacott, her mother, Viola Torres, a brother, Felix Torres Jr., and a sister, Elaine Torres Workman.

Funeral Services are tentatively scheduled 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 9, at the Shrine of Remembrance "America the Beautiful" Chapel, 1730 E Fountain Blvd., in Colorado Springs.

__ Rob Carrigan

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Conversations on the Cripple Creek Strike

You know you have started a good conversation when they are still talking about it, and arguing about the details, more than 110  years later.  

Several years ago, historian Richard Myers of Denver called my attention to the following information.

“It appears to be smoking gun material,” said Myers about two members of the Colorado militia efforts to shed further light on the “Black Time” of striking Cripple Creek miners, one of them a commissioned officer, Major Francis J. Ellison.

“The Colorado National Guard not only covertly took the side of the companies against the unions (as even Sherman Bell once asserted), they also engaged in routine beatings, systematic illegal expulsions of strikers, probable voter fraud committed in favor of the Republican ticket, and they coordinated their activities with mobs directed by local Republican leadership,” Myers postulated.

“But the Colorado National Guard had a problem. Major Ellison was a principled officer who continuously tried to do the right thing, even when it must have been obvious that all other officers were routinely committing criminal acts, and that their intent was to prevent him from hindering their plans. They assigned him to Denver during the general election. But he worked against the National Guard's general officers' schemes during the election. For example, when other National Guard elements were reporting that there was a partisan mob evicting Republican poll watchers and attacking the National Guard elements protecting the Berkeley precinct (in downtown Denver) to which Ellison had been ordered to proceed, Ellison reported that no such mob existed,” he suggested.

“The other officers and troopers, equipped with riot guns but in civilian clothing, excluded him from a subsequent action, having filled an automobile so that there was no room for him. They shipped him back to the Cripple Creek District, where depravations continued, and where he continued to be at odds with other officers.”
The officer, Major Francis J. Ellison, has sworn to the following affidavit: State of Colorado, City and County of Denver—Francis J. Ellison, being first duly sworn, upon his oath deposes and says:

“That on the 12th day of December, 1903, at the request of  Adjutant General Sherman M. Bell, I went to the Cripple Creek district on special military duty, and from that time have been continuously in the service of the State, both in the Cripple Creek district and in the Trinidad district. When General Bell first sent me to Victor I offered him certain evidence in regard to the perpetrators of the Vindicator explosion, which he has failed to follow up, but which would have led to the arrest and conviction of the men who are responsible for the placing of that infernal machine. At about the 20th of January, 1904, by order of the adjutant of Teller County military district, and under special direction of Major T. E. McClelland and General F. M. Reardon, who was the Governor's confidential adviser regarding the conditions in that district, a series of street fights were commenced between men of Victor and soldiers of the National Guard on duty there. Each fight was planned by General Reardon or Major McClelland and carried out under their actual direction.”

Ellison’s testimony at this point becomes violently graphic of what were the Guard’s orders.

“Major McClelland's instructions were literally to knock them down, knock their teeth down their throats, bend in their faces, kick in their ribs and do everything except kill them. These fights continued more or less frequently up to the 22nd of March. About the middle of February General Reardon called me into Major McClelland's office and asked me if I had a man in whom I could place absolute confidence. I called in Sergeant J. A. Chase, Troop C, First Cavalry, N. G. C., and, in the presence of Sergeant Chase, he stated to me that, owing to the refusal of the Mine Owners' Association to furnish the necessary money to meet the payroll of the troops, it had become necessary to take some steps to force them to put up the cash, and he desired me to take Sergeant Chase and hold up or shoot the men coming off shift at the Vindicator mine at 2 o'clock in the morning.”

The violence was to escalate, according to Ellison’s testimony.

“I told General Reardon that I was under the impression that most of these men caught the electric car that stopped at the shaft house so that such a plan would be impracticable. He then said to me that the same end could be reached if I would take the sergeant and fire fifty or sixty shots into the Vindicator shaft house at some time during the night. Owing to circumstances making it impossible for Sergeant Chase to accompany me, I took Sergeant Gordon Walter of the same troop and organization, and that same night did at about 12:30 o'clock fire repeatedly into the Vindicator and Lillie shaft house. Something like sixty shots were fired from our revolvers at this time. Afterwards we mounted our horses and rode into Victor and into the Military Club, reporting in person to General Reardon and Major McClelland. The next day General Reardon directed me to take Sergeant Walter and look over the ground in the rear of the Findlay mine with a view of repeating the performance there, but before the plan could be carried out, General Reardon countermanded the order, stating his reason to be that the mine owners had promised to put up the necessary money the next day, which, as a matter of fact, they did. General Reardon, in giving me directions regarding the shooting up of the Vindicator shaft house, stated that Governor Peabody, General Bell, he himself, and I were the only ones who knew anything about the plan.”

Meyers holds that the above testimony shows how bad things were.

“The National Guard intentionally looked the other way when union men were being harassed and beaten. They stood down in their barracks in order for such attacks to go unmolested by soldiers on duty. They purposely avoided collection of any information that could have led to the arrest of mobs committing crimes … and carrying out terror attacks from robberies to expulsions to beatings to theft to trashing union cooperative stores. His testimony is substantiated by others,” Richard Meyers said.


Photo information: Colorado National Guard is posted with shielded Gatling Gun in front of the Mining Exchange Building on Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek during Western Federation of Miners strike in 1903. Western History/Genealogy Collection, Denver Public Library.

___ Rob Carrigan

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lessons of the Blizzard of 1997

Seems like yesterday — and a long time ago. When the warnings first appeared in late October, 18 years ago, some forecasters expected eight to 10 inches. When is stopped snowing here in Monument, about 48 hours later, at least four feet had fallen. Wind, cold, drifts and other enhancements made it one for the record books.
The Colorado Blizzard of Oct. 24 -25, 1997 was especially giving to folks here on the Palmer Divide.
Snow began falling heavily on a Friday afternoon, raged through Saturday, and folks were still digging out a week later when we delivered Tribunes Friday, a week later. I personally wrote a check for $700 to a local guy to plow out parking lot (and do something with the snow) on the corner of Washington Street and Third.
District 38 schools were closed Monday, Tuesday and still Wednesday, with outside hope that they could open Thursday, when we put the paper to bed in the ensuing aftermath.
The paper had just been sold earlier that month (announced in the Oct. 9 edition) and I was named by Westward Communications, LLC, to replace longtime owner and editor Bill Kezziah as the publisher at the little house office where Maria Tillberry's Expectation Salon is now. Kezziah had owned, edited and managed the paper for 19 years prior.
Writer (mailroom, photographer, designer, etc..) Jeremy Bangs and I had just finished addressing the papers, and I was running the racks and dealer route when the first calls to rescuers appeared shortly after 4 p.m. that Friday, following a three-car collision on I-25. Four other calls had surfaced in the next 90 minutes. That was just the start of a long weekend for rescue workers.
"Sustained winds to 40 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph produced zero visability and extremely cold wind chill temperatures from 25 below to 40 below zero. Winds whipped the snow into drifts 4 to 10 feet deep," reported the National Weather Service in Pueblo.
"Several major and interstate highways were closed as travel became impossible. Red Cross shelters were set up for hundreds of travelers who became stranded when they had to abandon their vehicles. Four people died in northeastern Colorado as a result of the blizzard."
Evacuation of stranded motorists began at 9:41 a.m. on I-25 Saturday morning with help from three snow mobiles provided by Steve Johnson, Steve Marks and Mitch Schumacher and a privately-owned Humvee belonging to Monument's Steve Wilcox Jr., being the only moterized vehicles for the 14 Tri-Lakes Fire Volunteers and five Woodmoor-Monument firefighters.
Tri-Lakes fire station (now No. 1), evolved into the command center, as motorists were shuttled from I-25 to local gas stations, Stranded motorists found North of  Highway 105 were taken to Conoco, those found south of 105 were taken to the Total station at Baptist Road.
About nine hours later, I-25 and Highway 105 had been cleared of more than 100 motorists stranded in the storm. Then they had to find them more comfortable shelter from the storm.
Public works employees from the town of Monument used a grader fitted with a large V-plow to clear paths to the Falcon Inn and the Monument Town Hall (currently the Chamber building) which housed temporarily more than 300 through Saturday night.
Snowmobiles, cross-country skiers and Humvees, were about all that was able to navigate for the local roadways for a few days.
Monument Police Officer Kristen Rich was transported in from home in Palmer Lake via snowmobile to manage the town hall shelter. Food donated by Safeway, Burger King, and La Casa Fiesta, and distributed by volunteers and firefighters.
"Once settled in, the atmosphere was upbeat," wrote Jeremy Bangs at the time. "Monument Town Hall was host to a mariachi band, members of the Denver Symphony, and a FBI agent, on his way to Denver."
Food and blankets from residents living near the town hall, including Monument Mayor at the time, Si Sibell and his wife Dorothy, who also opened up their home and pool table, for those looking for a place to sleep. Dorothy Sibell cooked breakfast in the Town Hall that morning for 40 plus visitors who remained overnight. Cheryl Schumacher of the Falcon Inn said most visitors there were friendly and happy, even the ones that had to sleep in the banquet room.
"At 2:38 a.m. on Sunday, a woman with a heart attack was reported in Wakonda Hills," according to Bangs' story. "A medical crew set out on snowmobile to the residence while a Humvee following the Monument grader came behind. Though CPR efforts were tried for some time, paramedics could not revive the woman who was pronounced dead at the scene."
That was the only fatality reported initially  in the immediate Palmer Divide area.
Many roads were still closed the following Wednesday after the storm and drifts as deep as 15 feet were reported at Kilmer Elementary, near Highway 83 in District 38. Similar stories came from District 20. Five stranded travelers in four-wheel drive vehicles on Furrow road were forced to break into St. Matthias Church to seek sanctuary from the cold early Saturday morning.
Palmer Lake Mayor at the time Chuck Jones said most roads were open in his town by Monday afternoon and estimated 35 to 38 inches dropped during the storm. The local volunteers were also assisted by eight soldiers in four Humvees from Fort Carson's 759th Military Police unit. Six people were rescued by helicopter on Rampart Range Road on the backside of Mount Herman. 
Of course, storms are nothing new around here.  Blizzards have come and gone, before and since.
I recall how the mayor of Denver discounted the threat just two days before this one. 
"As much publicity as there has been about El Nino, it would be kind of silly not to be sensitive, given the interest of Colorado people in snow," Denver Mayor Wellington Webb had said that Thursday before under sunny skies as quoted in the Los Angeles Times. "It's expected to be handled, and we want people to know we're prepared to handle it."
Seems like yesterday — yet, a long time ago. 


Photo information: 

1. Another Blizzard on Second and Front Streets in downtown Monument, 1913. Vaile Museum
2. Locals shoveling out deep snow in the downtown streets of Monument in front of Lone Star Meat Market in 1913. Vaile Museum
3. Easy roof access on Second Street in Monument, with Rampart Range in the background. Vaile Museum.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fear of wrecks haunts us in our tracks

'Cos he was going down a grade making 90 miles an hour,
The whistle broke into a scream.
He was found in the wreck with his hand on the throttle,
Scalded to death by the steam.
_ Norman George Blake, Robert Johnson, Johnny Cash, from Wreck Of The Old '97

 In this area, our particular nightmares and disasters, arrive in the scale and form of train wrecks. The ghost that haunts us, is the fear that it ever could happen again.

The following are just some of the local train wrecks that I know of.

“A frightful collision occurred on the Denver and Rio Grande one and one-half miles below Palmer Lake yesterday afternoon about two o’clock, between two extra engines, in which Engineer Hart and Fireman C.F. Fogle lost their lives. The accident was said to have been caused by the carelessness of the two men named and their lives paid the penalty,” according to the Thursday, Aug. 21, 1890, Rocky Mountain News.

“Engine 581, with a pile driver and a caboose attached, left Husted, nine miles below Palmer Lake, about 1:30 o’clock with orders to run through Palmer Lake. At the same time, Engine 258, in charge of Engineer Hart and Fireman Fogle, was given orders to run extra from Palmer Lake to Husted and protect against Engine 581. By the word protect it was meant that they should watch out for the northbound engine and in case where could not see ahead, the fireman was to go ahead with a flag until a clear stretch of track was reached. The track between Palmer Lake and Monument is very tortuous and winding with frequent cuts and great caution has always been observed, especially work engines and trains running as those were yesterday. Engineer Hart, and his fireman, it is presumed, believed that they could reach Monument in time to meet Engine 581, or that they would meet it on the clear track just north of that point. In this supposition they were mistaken and as a result the collision occurred.”
According to reports, the engineer and fireman from the northbound train were able to leap to safety but Hart and Fogle, headed south, were caught in the cab and crushed to death, as well as being badly scalded.

“Poor Fogle was standing between the cab and the tender, just ready to jump for his life, but was caught and horribly crushed, his leg and arm being broken.”

He died before his wife could be summoned from Husted by telegraph.

The report noted “Hart, the dead engineer, has been on the road for some time and was a very efficient man. His first and last mistake occurred yesterday.”

But unfortunately, that was not the last mistake made in that area.

Just five years later, in July of 1895, a Santa Fe freight train went through the bridge at Monument and killed four.

“An appalling wreck occurred on the Santa Fe road near Monument at 11 o’clock this morning,” according to the New York Times. “A freight train consisting twenty cars plunged through a bridge near that place, burying beneath the debris the train crew, a number of tramps and several bridge carpenters who were repairing the bridge. Wrecking crews were quickly dispatched from Denver and Pueblo a special train from Colorado Springs with physicians. These with the citizens of Monument, worked heroically rescuing the dead and injured. One hundred and fifty feet of trestle went down with the train. The scene under the bridge was described as most shocking, freight cars, bridge timbers, and railroad iron being a horrible wreck. The plunge was 50 feet to the rocks below,” according to the Aspen Times then.

Just south of 2nd Street on the Old Denver Highway the catastrophic train wreck occurred. The Santa Fe Bridge Foreman was repairing the three-hundred foot-long trestle. He removed too many cross-braces and when the train attempted to cross the trestle gave way.

In 1902 the Santa Fe began replacing wood trestles with the earth structure that you see today, according to Palmer Lake Historical Society.

“The killed are Jim Childers, foreman of the bridge gang; Mrs. Cooper, wife of the station agent, and an unknown tramp. The fatally injured are Mark Winchers, engineer of the freight train; D. N. Irby, Charles Hailey, Frank Shaw, Wallace Cooper, Charles Van Merter, Tom Smith, and Joe Williams, tramps who were beating their way over the road;  J. W. Cole, C. C. Carpenter and Thomas Stenhouse, bridge carpenters and Charles Sargent, reported the Aspen Weekly Times Colorado, of July 18,  1895.”

The New York Times called it this way.

“A Santa Fe freight train, bound from Denver to Colorado Springs, fell through a bridge just south of here at 11 o'clock this morning, killing three persons, fatally injuring three, and seriously injuring fifteen others.

“There were twenty-four cars in the train loaded with stone, lumber, and timber. The bridge gang, consisting of twenty men, were working under the north end of the bridge. The train passed over them, and was nearing the other side when the timbers gave way, and the train went through into the gulch, fifty feet below. Nearly all the men working on the north end were thrown off, and fell below. Mrs. Cooper, wife of Albert Cooper, the engineer of the bridge work, was sitting on a ledge of rock watching the men work, when the timbers began to crack, and J. C. Childers, who was on the structure, jumped to save her. The leap was to death as he had scarcely reached her side when the great mass of wreckage fell upon them. Both were mangled and buried. Childers was foreman of the bridge gang. There was a moment of silence, and then came the hissing of steam and cries of the scalded men pierced the air.”

Fireman Frye was caught in his cab, but was pulled out. Two brakemen on the engine were scalded.

As soon as possible a wrecking train was brought from Denver, with physicians and surgeons. All that was possible was done for the suffering.

They were taken to the hospital at La Junta for treatment.

The bridge was of wood, 50 feet high and 300 feet long. Twenty minutes before the accident occurred the Midland passenger train crossed the structure. The cause of the accident is unknown. The wreckage is piled up thirty feet, and it is thought that there are bodies still under it. It will take two days at least to clear it away. About half of the bridge was taken away by the train in its descent,” reported The New York Times New York, July 18, 1895.

A decade and half later, down at nearby Husted (near the North Gate of the Air Force Academy), The Colorado Springs Gazette of Aug. 14, 1909, related the story of an equally horrific rail accident there.

“Nine persons are dead, and others are expected to die; between forty and fifty are injured; three engines are in the ditch; two baggage cars, including the contents, are smashed to kindling wood, and several passenger coaches are badly damaged as the result of a head-on collision between east bound passenger train No. 8, and westbound passenger No. 1, on the Denver & Rio Grande, near Husted, thirteen miles north of this city, at 10:25 a.m. today. The wreck was due to a misunderstanding of orders, it is said.”

Report from papers all over the nation carried the dispatches.

As No. 8 drew into Husted about 40 mph, the crew of the engine saw a light engine standing on the switch north of the station.

“Mistaking the engine for the second section of No. 1, the crew did not stop, and went through the station as fast as the two engines could draw the thirteen heavily laden coaches. As soon as the train got out of the station, the engineer of the first engine of No. 8 saw another train coming slowly down the incline. He slammed on the air brakes, and the emergency brakes, and then shouted to the other members of the two crews to jump. Before they had time to jump, No. 8 had rammed No. 1 so hard that all three engines lay in the ditch,” according to the Nebraska State Journal at the time.

“Fireman J.A. Gossage, of train No. 8, was killed as he was firing his engine, and never knew what struck him. The members of the other crew escaped serious injury by jumping.”

The smoker, attached to train No. 8, was the car in which the people were killed. All those badly injured were in the same car.

Other reports said that J.A. or Jack Gossage, the fireman on the helper engine who lived at Husted and had just waved to his wife as the train passed his home, was trapped between the engine and the tender when the collision occurred.

Jack Gossage's wife continued to work for the railroad for many years afterward as a cook for crews in Husted, and the Gossage name eventually became quite famous for other reasons in Colorado Springs. Jack Gossage is grandfather to Colorado Springs standout and major league baseball Hall of Famer Rick “Goose” Gossage.

“The wreck occurred just east of the east switch at Husted. The impact of the trains was terrific and the locomotives and the baggage and smoking cars of both trains were badly damaged,” reported papers at the time.

“The shrieks of the wounded were pitiful and those who were not injured among the passengers immediately started the work of rescue. It was impossible to accurately determine the number of dead, but first reports indicated that eight had been killed.”

On May 27, 1983 in Palmer Lake, the Burlington Northern coal train headed south and the Rio Grande Western freight headed north collided near the County Line Road crossing.

Fire ensued and the Burlington Northern engine exploded. Palmer Lake Police Officer John Cameron, Bob Romack and others rushed to the scene which was described as “a tangled mass of twisted, burning metal where Keith Watts of Pueblo was trapped inside one of the engines… pinned to the cab floor.”

The men found the strength to lift a heavy plate from Watts and get him to safety in spite of the threat of explosions from burning diesel fuel.

Witnesses at the scene said it appeared the trains didn’t stop at all. According to a Highway Patrol report, the southbound Burlington went through a red signal suggesting human error. It is reported that in 1981 the Burlington Northern suffered another mishap in Palmer Lake when a freight train jumped the tracks derailing 13 cars.

Today, modern technology such as the use of computers for scheduling and routing, better engineering of the rolling stock, the roadbeds and intersections, have all helped prevent disastrous accidents of this type at least for now.

___ Rob Carrigan

Photo Info:  Train wreck in Monument near Second Street in 1895.