Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cemetery brings veterans closer to home


“I believe it is the nature of people to be heroes, given the chance.”
James A. Autry

I thought about that recently, taking some measure of solace in the dignity of my father's burial at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver.
The willingness of American veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude. That simple message, and an update briefing on the Pikes Peak National Cemetery progress and challenges was delivered by Victor Fernandez one recent Saturday to Monument Hill Kiwanis.
"This Committee has been the focal point of the Veterans of Southern Colorado for establishment of a National Cemetery to serve our Veterans since May 1999. We have worked with the local, state, and federal elected officials over these past 16 years to seek Veteran's Administration approval and construction of this National Cemetery. As such, we are proud to submit our recommendation to name our cemetery. We submit: Pikes Peak National Cemetery," wrote Fernandez, a retired Army colonel and committee chair to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The name immediately identifies the location of the cemetery site, says Fernandez, and really the only logical choice.
"Pikes Peak is visible Upon entering the state from Kansas, and from most cities and towns in southeastern Colorado.  Pikes Peak is known as 'America's Mountain,' and as the location upon which the words to 'America the Beautiful' were written by Kathleen Lee Bates in 1913 when she first saw the 'purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain' from the top of the 14,100 foot high Pikes Peak."
In June 2013, the Veterans Administration selected a 374 acre site on the south side of Drennan Road, a mile east of Mark Scheffle Road and purchased the site in early 2014. A Parker firm Architect and Engineering Firm released preliminary master design plans in December and Fernandez says "after much pushing from the cemetery committee, the VA erected on the site to I.D.  as the future location of the cemetery."
Today, with the blessing of the Colorado United Veterans Committee in Denver, Fernandez is asking for further blessing of the chosen name by service groups and veterans, and says they (the committee) can still use financial support.
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial.



Photo 1: Monument Hill Kiwanis President Richard Storm, Pikes Peak Cemetery Committee Chairman Victor Fernandez, Gold Star Wife Linda Witt and El Paso County Veteran Service Officer Carl McDaniel at a recent Kiwanis briefing on the progress of Pikes Peak National Cemetery efforts.

Photo 2: Pikes Peak Cemetery Committee Chairman Victor Fernandez has been working on the project for 16 years.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hoping discovery won’t slip through our fingers



 

“Organic life beneath the shoreless waves
Was born and nurs'd in ocean's pearly caves;
First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass,
Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass;
These, as successive generations bloom,
New powers acquire and larger limbs assume;
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring,
And breathing realms of fin and feet and wing.”

 __ Erasmus Darwin

 

 At least 10 year's ago, and maybe as many as 20, I first heard of the Ice Caves of Cow Mountain. I have tried to track down more information ever since.  I am afraid that additional understanding may have slipped from my gloved hands and perhaps melted into the ground, as time plods on.
The old newspaper labeled the startling discovery "a natural refrigerator.”
It went on to describe ice caves 200 feet underground, and about two miles from the town of Gillett in a headline. The discovery was made by a miner and reported in the August 17, 1897 edition the Cripple Creek Morning Times. Kathy Klein, a local history buff, brought it to my attention with a note a few years ago.
“This fall my friend Chris Clausen, who is the Cripple Creek Elks historian … told me about some old Colorado newspapers that he had won on Ebay,” said Klein in the note. “He was particularly taken with an article about ice caves outside Gillett and told me about this article as he knew that I had been researching the Gillette area off and on for another friend.”
The edition of the Morning Times itself describes the caves this way:
“Further explorations have been made in the wonderful ice cave discovered on Cow Mountain, two miles from Gillett. Three chambers have so far been discovered. The first, about 14 x 16 feet, heavily hung with icicles in every conceivable form resemble stalactites. From the first chamber a small passage led to still another, more wonderful and beautiful, in which the ice blended in various colors under the light of the candle, reflecting rays as from a thousand mirrors. From this cave, a passage scarcely large enough to admit the body of a man was discovered leading down at about an angle of 40 degrees, to a large cavern, perhaps 200 by 300 feet. Climbing to the ceiling were great masses of ice, like billows, and banked along the sides of the walls many feet in thickness were tons of ice, taking on the most grotesque forms imaginable and casting awesome shadows.”
The article describes more of the cavern.
“In the center of the room there is lake about 40 x 65 feet, clear as crystal and quite deep. There must be some outlet to it, for water drips constantly from the ceiling, yet the level of the body never rises, or overflows. The water is wet and pure, and as cold as the ice-coated walls of the room in which it is located, at a point 200 feet underneath the surface of the ground. There are undoubtedly other caves which have not yet been opened.”
Kathy Klein and her friend Chris Clausen continued to search, but if they found anything, I didn't hear about it.
“We have both done some more looking both backward and forward in the newspapers and other places and can find no more mention of the ice caves. I was wondering if you have ever run across anything on them or think the article may have been a hoax? I do hope that someday we will be able to find more about them, it’s so fascinating.” Klein wrote later.
My friend attorney Ken Geddes, graciously answered my inquiry at the time, about ice caves near Gillette, and as things like that go, we digressed into other topics of mutual interest. Namely what it was like growing up in Victor during the ‘30s and ‘40s. Geddes parents owned and published the Times Record (previously named the Morning Times and more recently called the Gold Rush) from 1941 to 1951.
Geddes died in September of 2011, so that line of discovery has been challenged.
“I have heard of them off and on for several years and have explored Cow Mountain several times for any evidence of them,” said Geddes of the caves then. “Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful but that doesn’t mean they are not there! I have an old book or publication regarding them but just like the caves themselves, I have trouble finding the article — I’ll keep looking,” he promised.
Maybe he is still looking, but we have failed to make contact.
Still, I rather not let the thought slip, and melt into the high ground near Cow Mountain.

###

Trying to influence content by threat crosses a line






No need to give a history lesson, or maybe there is, but one of the first things adjusted with the Constitution of the United States — The Bill of Rights, was originally proposed as a measure to assuage Anti-Federalist opposition to Constitutional ratification.

The First Amendment of the United States was ratified, along with nine other amendments to the Constitution of the United States making up the Bill of Rights, on Dec. 15, 1791.
The text of the First Amendment reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It is quite a simple little makegood, that has far-reaching ramifications.
Some of you have probably guessed that I am focused on the part about making no law "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." 
Not only that,  I am very outspoken on the protections afforded to the industry I have been involved in since childhood, and of course have my own ideas on what is right.
That particular right is protected because it is important. And as with all rights, goes responsibility.
But it has been my experience that anytime advertisers, or public relations practitioners, try to unduly influence content, perhaps with threats of pulling revenue from journalistic endeavors, a line has been crossed.
Not saying that First Amendment has been breached — but the spirit of Free Press has been attacked.
I bring this up, because, that exact circumstance has come to my attention.
"I am pulling our ads due to the extensive negative articles," read a recent email, in part, from government-related entity.
Certainly, it is every advertisers' particular right to vote with their feet and choose not to advertise. It can be, however, bad public relations. 
I would also hold that, being a government entity (and as such, spending public money) perhaps the writer of that email, and similar efforts to influence local coverage,  was not looking out for those who fund the operation in first place — the taxpaying public. 
Our negative articles (though we might argue whether or not they were truly negative) were aimed at informing public, rather than currying favor of local officials.
Such a suggestion not only raises the ire of journalists by suggesting that their favor can be bought our sold, it also short-changes the public in the process, with a form of prior restraint.
It is basically saying "write to please us," rather than inform readers. It also makes one wonder if there is perhaps something to hide.
Regardless, such activity is dangerous not only to a Free Press, and its practitioners, it is dangerous to an informed public.

###












Sunday, February 14, 2016

Making the grade: Many railroads criss-cross state



Two Colorado pioneers were liquored up, and were walking the upgrade between the railroad tracks. One of them said, "this is is longest stairway I have ever been on."

To this, the other replied, "It's not the stairs that bother me, it's the low banister."

About 175 different railroads laid track in Colorado, and many had ties to mining industry here. Right from the start, it was the grade that challenged most of them.

And railroad builders challenged it back by changing the gauge. At the time most railroads in the state were being built, about 60 percent of the world's rail track was spaced “standard gauge” of 4 foot 8 1⁄2 inches in allowing inter-connectivity and inter-operability.

One common legend places that as the rut distance between chariots dating back to the heydays of the Roman Empire.

"The Denver and Rio Grande (D &RG), biggest and best known of all Colorado railroads, was incorporated in 1870 by William J. Palmer and some associated. Palmer introduced narrow gauge track 3 feet wide that could be installed for about two-thirds the cost of standard 4 feet and 8-1/2 inch gauge. It could also tackle higher curves and steeper grades," says the Historical Atlas of Colorado put together by historians Thomas J. Noel, Paul F. Mahoney, and Richard E. Stevens.

"Palmer's baby road initially heads south, creating the towns of Castle Rock, Palmer Lake, Colorado Springs and El Moro along the Front Range."

Later, it became the largest rail network and was reorganized later as the Denver and Rio Grande Western in 1921.

"The D & RGW remained an independent Denver-based outfit even after owner Philip Anshutz purchased the Southern Pacific in the 1980s. In the 1990s, to the dismay of Colorado rail fans, Anschutz began replacing the D & RGW with Southern Pacific livery. While 'Colorado's Pet' is a favorite with rail fans, critics claimed that D & RGW meant 'Dangerous and Rapidly Growing Worse,'" according to Historical Atlas of Colorado.

Sam Speas' and Margaret Coel's wonderful book about two generations of Colorado railroad engineers, called "Goin' Railroading," talks about the race to the mountains in this state.

"Those swaying, lurching trains insured Denver's future and made it possible for Colorado's mines to expand and prosper. From the discovery of gold in Colorado in 1858, until the first railroad arrived in 1870, the mines produced $32 million in gold, silver, copper, and lead. In the next twelve years, with railroads crisscrossing Colorado, mining production leaped to $163 million," according to Speas and Coel.

Interestingly enough Speas father arrived at offices of the Union Pacific, which gained control of railroads in Northern Colorado in 1881, the master mechanic took a look at his letter that said he was "honest, sober and attended strictly to business," and cheerfully recommended him for employment. He was hired right away, and nothing was said of the upgrades, long stairways to mountain mining towns, or the low banisters.




###

Photo Information:

Photo 1: William J. Palmer's "Baby Road" headed south out of Denver creating the towns of Castle Rock, Palmer Lake, Colorado Springs and El Moro along the Front Range. This is the Palmer Lake Depot and Judd's Eating House in Palmer Lake in 1908.

Photo 2: Monument Santa Fe Depot with creamery in the distance.

Photo 3: Denver and Rio Grande depot in Monument.

photos courtesy of Lucretia Vaile Museum

Monday, February 8, 2016

Baseball diamond more circular than we think




I really don't understand this, but maybe, the baseball diamond is more circular than we think — or it is truly a game of a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.
I thought about that a while back, when I  ran into Rick "Goose" Gossage while walking my dogs one day.  He was out jogging, but said "Hello."
I thought about legacy, coincidence, high-powered names and old-time baseball. I didn't have my Yankee hat on, and the dogs didn't recognize him, or if they did, they didn't realize he was in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And nobody really remembers who was in the 1916 World Series, almost a hundred years ago.
A hundred years ago, the 1916 Monument Baseball team had a wonderful season. They won the El Paso County Championship that year, which was quite a feat, as they played mostly teams from larger areas in the Colorado Springs area.
"In those days, the team had to make their own expenses, and there was no charge for the games. The team gave dances, and Hagedorn family orchestra furnished the music. This money was used to buy the team's uniforms. Dr. McConnell always bought balls for them," wrote historian Lucille Lavellett.
Her brother, George Hagedorn first organized the town's baseball team in 1914. Along with George, the players of that early team were Dan Davidson, Bill Connell, Bud Connell, Tom Connell, Roy Gaunt, Jack Roser, Bryan Hagedorn, Marion Hagedorn, Wilbur Fulker and Iven Fulker was manager.
So much for dropping names, and talking baseball, and 100-year-old history.
Long before the Yankees were strong, Carrigan was a household name in Boston, Maine, and all over New England. 
Bill "Rough"Carrigan was "deadball era" catcher and played 10 seasons for the Boston Red Sox. In the middle of the season in 1913, he replaced defending World Series manager Jake Stahl as a player manager. Later, he returned as Boston's manager in 1927 and stayed until 1929. Carrigan was fairly small for major league baseball, only about 5 foot, 9 inches, and weighed about 175 pounds.
"In the spring of 1906 Carrigan was signed to a Red Sox contract by Charles Taylor, the father of Red Sox owner John I. Taylor. Carrigan joined the struggling Red Sox directly in the middle of the season, immediately catching the likes of Bill Dinneen and Cy Young," according to Mark Amour, for the SABR Baseball Biography Project.
The next few seasons established him as a reliable contributor on the field and in the box. 
"In July 1913 the Red Sox were grappling with a series of injuries, fighting among themselves, and limping along in fifth place. Team president Jimmy McAleer fired manager Jake Stahl just months after his World Series triumph, and replaced him with his 29-year-old catcher. Carrigan liked Stahl, as did most of the team, and was reluctant to take charge of a team filled with veterans, many of whom were just as qualified for the job as he. McAleer persuaded Carrigan to take it. The Red Sox were a team fractured along religious lines, as Protestants like Tris Speaker, Joe Wood, and Harry Hooper often crossed swords with the Catholics on the team, including Carrigan," says Amour.
"Smoking Joe" Wood began his baseball career on town teams in the Colorado San Juans, playing for Ouray teams in Telluride, Rico and Silverton, before his outstanding major league run.
"The well-mannered Carrigan earned the nickname 'Rough' for the way he played. He was a well-respected handler of pitchers, and had a fair throwing arm, but it was his plate blocking that caused Chicago White Sox manager Nixey Callahan to say, “You might as well try to move a stone wall.” On May 17, 1909 he engaged in a famous brawl with the Tigers’ George Moriarty after a collision at home plate, while their teammates stood and watched. He had a fight with Sam Crawford a couple of years later, and maintained a reputation as someone who would not back down from a confrontation," according to Amour.
After he replaced Stahl as manager, he led Boston to a second-place finish in 1914 and then, two world championships in 1915 and 1916, stacking up an 8–2 record as a manager in World Series play. Until Terry Francona duplicated the feat in 2007, he was the only manager to have won two World Series titles with Boston. Babe Ruth called Carrigan the best manager he ever played for.
"The most important event of the 1914 season was the purchase, at Carrigan’s urging, of pitchers Ernie Shore and Babe Ruth from Baltimore of the International League. Although Ruth gave his skipper a lot of credit for his development as a player, Carrigan was humble in his own assessment: “Nobody could have made Ruth the great pitcher and great hitter he was but himself. He made himself with the aid of his God-given talents.” Old Rough did allow that his protégé needed quite a bit of discipline, and Carrigan was there to provide it, even rooming with Ruth for a time. Carrigan caught Ruth in his pitching debut, on July 11," wrote Amour.
"In early September 1916, Carrigan announced that he would be leaving baseball at the end of the season. He had actually wanted to quit after the 1915 Series, and had so told owner Joe Lannin, but his owner talked him into the one additional campaign. Carrigan later wrote, “I had become fed up on being away from home from February to October. I was in my thirties, was married and had an infant daughter. I wanted to spend more time with my family than baseball would allow.” He retired to his hometown of Lewiston and embarked on careers in real estate (as co-owner of several movie theaters in New England) and banking. A few years later he sold his theaters for a substantial profit and became a wealthy man."
He returned home to his banking career, eventually becoming president of People's Savings Bank in Maine. In 1946 he was named to the Honor Roll in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1968 was named to Holy Cross College's Hall of Fame, and in 2004 named to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. "Rough Bill" Carrigan passed away in a Lewiston, Maine, hospital in 1969 at the age of 85. 
Not too many folks probably remember Carrigan's Red Sox defeated the Brooklyn Robins in 5 games to win the World Series in 1916.
Just a few years before, on Aug. 14, 1909, in the area known at the time as the town of Husted, (which was near my house and the North Gate if the Air Force Academy) unfortunately was the site of a terrible rail accident.
“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 forty miles an hour, 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. 3 had rammed No. 1 so hard that all three engines lay in the ditch,’ according to the Nebraska State Journal at the time.
Wilbur F. Fulker and his brother Iven were passengers on the southbound train out of Monument involved in the collision. Wilbur took a series of photographs with a new camera using that famously chronicled the accident. Wilbur’s son, also Wilbur, is the tuba-playing inspiration for the Colorado Spring’s landmark “Uncle Wilber’s Fountain” at Acacia Park and longtime teacher and administrator at the Colorado Deaf and Blind.
“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.
Today, it occurs to me, that legends and names are relative. So much for dropping names.
Our name is written in the dirt alongside the plate. 
But the umpire can sweep it away — the next time there is a close call at home.



Photo 1: 
Cy Young, Jake Stahl, Bill Carrigan and Michael T. McGreevey, Boston Red Sox Spring Training, 1912.
Photo 2: 
Babe Ruth, Jack Barry, Bill Carrigan, and Del Gainer of the Boston Red Sox.
Photo 3:
1916 Monument Championship baseball team: Left to right, Roy Guant, Jack Roser, Wilber Fulker, unknown, unknown, George Hagedorn, the three Connell brothers, and Iven Fulker, Manager.