Sunday, September 11, 2016

Town within a town not limited by imagination

"It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination."

__ Script opener from "The Twilight Zone."

Maguireville abuzz with yesteryear's imagination

 By Rob Carrigan,

In Monument, it is an area known as Maguireville, and in an instant, the town within a town can transport you to the storied West, or to a high-tech sawmill with a philanthropic mission.
Thursday, last week, Jim Maguire and his cronies had the sawmill running, the oxen teams pulling, the stories flying —all in the shadow of the windmill and in the reflection of the lake.
This time, he plans to build a jail house in the mythical burg near the intersection of State Highway 105 and Knollwood Blvd., with the slab lumber cut from salvaged trees of the Black Forest fire.
In October of 2013, Bob Olson, who lived in the Black Forest area himself, first set up his modern answer on Jim Maguire's property on State Highway 105 in Monument, in the form of his WoodMizer portable sawmill.
The mill looks something like a big bandsaw and automates some of the complicated setup with its high-tech operation. Logs from a house lot down on Old Ranch Road, areas in the burn area, and locations in Woodmoor, as well other areas, all contributed to this week's cut and mill process.
The Maguire property milling operation was abuzz all week.
For his part, Jim Maguire with help from his many friends, built a stage stop log cabin 18 feet by 16 feet, dedicated to recalling the losses suffered by some in the Black Forest Fire. Some salvageable, but slightly burned logs, originated in the burn area and 44 timbers, seven inches by 10 inches, were milled for the structure.
"This place is part of an old homestead," said Maguire at the time. "And a stage at one time was the only way of getting here before the rails."
Since that time, the little town has added, at least, a covered bridge, a mine (complete with shaft, ore cart and tailings dump), a teepee, and multiple antique items of interest in the vast barns, equipment, horse-drawn hearse, rail cars and outbuildings.
Of course, the Oxen were involved as well.
Jim Maguire offers up one of his trademark introductions:
"We are twins," Maguire says, arm around Rollie Johnson. "I'm the old, ugly one. He's the rich handsome one."
Rollie and Paula Johnson, with the help of their hired hand of at least a decade, Dulces Granados, have been doing just that, since 2006 at Three Eagles Ranch, just over the Douglas County line near Monument. The ranch is one of the few western ranches that raise American Milking Devon Oxen.
Rollie Johnson, CEO for a group of more than 50 radio stations all over the country, showed his prowess at hooking log chokers Thursday in Monument, as Davy and Dandy, and Grant and Garfield, skidded logs across the field. The teams weigh in at about 2,000 pounds each.
Next month, the Johnsons are taking two teams to Bernalillo, New Mexico, for three days filming in Netflix-produced 1800s western.
Written, directed and executive produced by Scott Frank, Godless is a Western set in an 1800s New Mexico mining town. The project, which is currently casting, is set to film in Santa Fe and other locations nearby New Mexico.
The Johnson's oxen will provide historic context.
The breed is now extinct in England and were down to just a handful in the United States until about 30 years ago. Efforts by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy and others have been able to increase the American herd to about 600 animals, mostly in New England states.
"Three Eagles Ranch began its herd in 2006 when it purchased a cow from Missouri. A bull, nicknamed Jesse James, was purchased from Washington's Birthplace Farm near Williamsburg. The first trained oxen team — Clark and Coolidge — was sold to Bent's Old Fort at La Junta along the Santa Fe Trail and can be viewed at historical presentations at that site. Today's second trained team from Three Eagles — Calvin and Chester — were born in 2008 and are still growing and live the Plains Conservation Center in Aurora, Colo. A third pair, Ike and Earl, went to Arizona to be used in an experiment to prepare equipment that can be easily replicated in rural Africa.
In the meantime, the sawmill at Maguireville hums and screeches. Oxen drag logs, the old-fashioned way down the road. Buildings from at least a century past spring up from the ashes like a phoenix. The town within a town draws from its owner and friends — an unlimited imagination.


Photo Information:

Hooking chokers on an "old-fashioned" log skidder, Rollie Johnson and Dulces Granados, drag timbers to the upstart sawmill in Maguireville, today. American Milking Devon Oxen teams, David and Dandridge, and Grant and Garfield, make the process look easy ... Well, as easy as keeping four 2,000-pound draft animals headed in the right direction can be.

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