Wednesday, May 24, 2017

WMMI welcomes back Machinery Days

After 17 year hiatus, tractors and machines spin again

Photos and Story by Rob Carrigan,

The Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) hosted the return of the annual Pikes Peak Antique Machinery Days on their historic 27-acre Reynolds Ranch, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 12 to May 14, with displays by WMMI, the Arkansas Valley Flywheelers, Front Range Antique Power Association, antique automobile clubs, tractor pulls, and more. A line of tractors, not seen since 2000, ran around perimeter of the grounds.

“Not a bad showing for being gone for 17 years,” said Harold Hopkins of the Front Range Antique Power Association and Arkansas Valley Flywheelers. “Pretty good, in fact, for our first year back.”

The event, which featured antique tractor pulls, unique items at the silent auction, antique engines and tractors on display, as well as the museum’s operating steam engines, was held for 14 years from 1986 to 2000, but left for complicated reasons, said Hopkins. At the height of the show in past years, he said they were able to draw 400 engines and 200 tractors.

Antique cars shared the row with tractors and machines

Gene Wesback, of Franktown, has owned his orange, modified Model A for 68 years now. Since he was just 13, and could only drive around his parent’s yard. Wesback has tinkered with it.

But it was kept in pretty much the configuration as when bought it all those years ago, until he got into high school, he said.

Then, he dropped a flathead Ford engine in it, changed the wheels, modified the firewall with a chrome version, painted it. But his first car is still with him, and he likes to show off at events like the recent Antique Machinery Days at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry.

The former Air Force officer and fighter pilot, is member of Rocky Mountain Model A Club, and attended the recent event along with other antique car owners.

Photo information:

1. Gene Wesback, of Franktown, takes a shade break on the bumper of his modified Model A he has owned for 68 years now.
2. Sandy Boese, and her family gather around 1931 Auburn Phaeton, that has been a member of the family since 1966.
3. An Edsel maneuvers into place.
4. Model A peeks around the corner.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Engineer shot bandit

Leadville Herald Democrat, Sept 2, 1910

Daring attempt to hold up Midland 3, Near Divide, 

early this morning, One train robber dead

As the result of an attempted train robbery on the Colorado Midland between Divide and Florissant, one robber is dead, Engineer Stewart is shot in the leg, and unknown hobo dangerously injured.
The other two robbers have made their escape, but a posse organized by Sheriff Phul of Cripple Creek has taken their trail.
When the Midland westbound No. 3 in charge of Conductor Wesley Steel reached Divide, shortly after midnight, one of the robbers climbed onto the tender and when the train reached milepost 32, a short distance beyond, covered Engineer Stewart with a revolver. The train has stopped at this point to meet No. 4 eastbound. Stewart, however, drew his revolver when the robber opened fire, the bullet hitting Stewart in the leg. Stewart opened fire and shot the man dead.
Just at this moment the other bandits sent a fusillade of bullets into the express car but the messengers refused to open the door.
The train crew by this time had on their fighting clothes and a hail of bullets was sent in the direction in which the robbers appeared to be located. It is believed that there were three men engaged in the holdup, one of them crawling on the tender and the other two at the rendezvous at the point where the No. 3 and 4 usually meet. The other two disappeared in the darkness.
It was discovered after the excitement that an unknown hobo riding the rods on the No. 3 had been accidentally shot by the train porter.
Engineer Stewart and the unknown hobo were taken to Colorado City on the No. 4.
As soon as possible Sheriff Von Phul, of Cripple Creek, was notified and he directed his deputies at Florissant and Divide to take the trail.
The coroner has also started for the scene to take charge of the remains of the dead robber which lie beside the track where he was placed after Engineer Stewart had killed him. Engineer Stewart's home is in Colorado City.
Colorado Springs, Sept. 2 --
Dr. O. G. Place of Denver, happened to be on the train when the shooting and the attempted holdup occurred, and at once took charge of Stewart. A tourniquet was at once applied and without much further loss of blood, the injured man was brought to this city and taken to St. Francis Hospital.
At Colorado City, Dr. G.S. Vinyard boarded the train and accompanied the wounded man to the hospital. Both doctors connected with the case agree that Stewart is in no danger.
The weapons used by the daring robbers are of a cheap make of Smith & Wesson pattern. They were worn in a broad leather belt around the waist and had evidently been unused for some time.
According to the injured engineer and the train crew, the man was of good size, speaking with an accent of a Scandinavian, and was rather shabbily dressed. When he climbed over the tender of the engine, he had a cloth mask over the front of his face, and a sort of gunny sack across his chest.
From the details which can be gathered, it appears that the robber evidently had designs on the passengers, for there was no unusual shipment in the Wells Fargo consignment in the express car at the time and the robber told the fireman while he was on his way back to the express car that he was "After the passengers too."
Several of the passengers who were on the train stopped in the city. Among them was Mrs. M.C. Roach, who said that she know nothing of the whole affair until after the train was on its way and she though that the engineer had had his head blown off.

Photo Information: Midland Railroad Terminal, Divide, 1896.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Guess we have a story to tell


 Remarkable coincidence in the search for connections

“What connection can there be, between the place in Lincolnshire, the house in town, the Mercury in powder, and the whereabout of Jo the outlaw with the broom, who had that distant ray of light upon him when he swept the churchyard-step? What connection can there have been between many people in the innumerable histories of this world, who, from opposite sides of great gulfs, have, nevertheless, been very curiously brought together!”

― Charles Dickens, Bleak House

Coincidence is often defined as a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection. I continue to marvel at how it plays a role in my own life.

Years ago, I befriended an old guy in Fairbanks, Alaska, that lived next door to my wife's family. Frank Stewart. As things progress, he found out I was newspaper guy, working at the time with the Courier and Gold Rush in Cripple Creek.

He said his father, Frank Stewart also, was a railroad engineer on the Colorado Midland, based in Colorado City, but after that, he went north to work on the Alaska Railroad.

He told me a story, and showed me a pistol that was taken from would be robber, between Divide and Florissant during a train robbery.

For perhaps 20 years I looked to authenticate that story, in the records of the Cripple Creek Times, Victor Record and other papers that became folded into ones that I became associated with. For years after the first meeting, I provided a subscription of the Cripple Creek Gold Rush, and later the Courier, that Frank (Jr.) said he would be interested in, hoping it might lead something, even another story or anecdote, that folks like us storytellers can hang our hat on.

I have not been able to track it down. Frank, being very young when he heard the stories (it happened before he was born), didn't really have an idea about date. Time marched on. I left the papers in 2007, and did other things for years, though I remained curious about the whole affair over those years.

Then, in 2011, I returned, though I must confess, did not think much of it until visiting Frank in Fairbanks again about three or four years ago. With time and health issues, Frank didn't really remember much about the whole affair. But his wife asked me then to discontinue the sub, that had somehow survived through different papers and ownerships, and asked for possible repositories for the pistol and perhaps other items related. I suggested some. Don't know if they acted on my suggestions.

Time marched on, years passed, and another old story, about trains in West Creek area, caught the interest of Ken Springer, a local guy with common interest in history and trains etc ...

"I'm really into the Cripple Creek and CO railroad history in this area. Lots of info stashed on my HD, and I know where to get more but just can't seem to have the time or finances to get it done," he said. "Maybe we should get together sometime." We met at the Courier a few months ago and among about million other things, the train robbery on the Midland came up.

A few weeks ago, I received the following email from him.

"Hot Damn!!! Here's your train robbery!" And sure enough, in the pages of Leadville paper, The Herald Democrat, Sept. 2, 1910, was the telltale headline.

"ENGINEER SHOT BANDIT, Daring Attempt to Hold Up Midland 3, Near Divide This Morning. One Train Robber Dead," it said.

"As result of an attempted train robbery on the Colorado Midland between Divide and Florissant, one robber is dead, Engineer Stewart is shot in the leg, and unknown hobo dangerously injured," read the lead.

"That's the one," I emailed Springer. " I appreciate you finding it." Looked for that for years, I thought to myself. Then I thought, what did Dickens mean by "Mercury in the powder?"

It's not surprising readers don't understand this, as it requires obscure knowledge of Roman mythology and the way servants were dressed at the time his book was set. Mercury was the messenger God, and footmen and doormen wore powdered wigs. So, "Mercury in powder" just means a servant who is announcing a visitor.

Time still marches on. Coincidence. Connections. Curiosity. Guess we have a story to tell. Certainly it is remarkable.

Photo Information: The Colorado Midland's Maiden Voyage to Cripple Creek in 1900.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

More than a memory

History lesson that we are doomed to repeat

“One is always at home in one's past...”

― Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

Everyone that knows anything about me, sees my love of history, and breathes in the nostalgia in my airspace.
It is my wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. As many have said, Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia, according to Milan Kundera, is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return. It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.
But to counter, Marcel Proust noted, “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”
Today, as I write this and reflect, May 4, on the 47th anniversary of the Kent State killings, I follow my memories where they take me.
Last classroom on the south, upriver side; warm enough that windows all had to be opened, like flapping upside-down bird wings in the spring, strategically positioned to allow sight recognition of anybody in the parking lot, coming or going.
Brian Tobin, with hair matted on one side and askew on the other, rants about screaming Arab regulars, voting early, often, and some story about fishing with hand-grenades as a Marine in Vietnam.
Post WWII History, with William E. Leuchtenburg's first, or second edition of "A Troubled Feast: American Society Since 1945," and your choice of other supporting readings. I chose Hunter Thompson's "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, 1972." Classic. More than a writer, Gonzo loaned his press pass to one of his derelict friends, who in turn, made "Big Ed" Muskie cry publicly on the back of the "Sunshine Express."
But in the regular text, the photo on page 5 is the iconic shot for Life Magazine of the sailor in full uniform kissing a bowled-over nurse, also in dress whites, on the streets of New York. Consumer Culture and the Cold War, first chapter.
The Man from Missouri, "Truman brought to the task a mixed assortment of talents, sentiments, and personal qualities. None doubted his grit. He made bold decisions quickly and executed them briskly. However, he was generally unreflective, sometimes cocky and brash," wrote Leuchtenburg.
By the end of the semester we could quote the lyrics from the Eagles' Hotel California and noted that, if Rip Van Winkle had fallen asleep in the Eisenhower years and awakened with Carter in the White House, he might think that nothing has changed.
Russel Baker said it this way:
"The growing public absorption in the hedonism of public pleasure and private consumption -- the hunt for the ideal restaurant, the perfect head of lettuce, the totally satisfying human relationship" were "the current equivalents of the Eisenhower age's passion for big tail fins, drier martinis, darker steak houses and cozier evenings with the family."
Everyday, we would drift down the hallowed hall of Dolores High School, past the class pictures of earlier classes that would stare down at us, disapprovingly, from above the grey lockers, and filter into that last classroom. We would serve our time, burn our hour, as history and the odd Jedi master tried to interest us in the lives that we were likely to live, the government we were destined to deserve, the place in the cosmos we were to choose and accept.
My good friend Rusty Hector graduated the year before I did, and tells the following story:"Brian Tobin -- I think my senior class with him was American Government. If I recall correctly, it was the final day of class and school year. His parting lesson went something like this...'If you remember nothing else from this class, remember this. As Seniors you feel you are invincible. When you start getting all puffed up and full of yourself I would ask you to fill a 5-gallon bucket with water. Stick your arm in the water, all the way down so your elbow is submerged! Remove your arm from the bucket. And that voided space in the water is how much they will miss you when you are gone.'"
According to Hector, "From time to time I still share the story, (recently with a coworker actually). I think it is a great reminder of humility."
Did I learn a lesson? Are my eyes open? Am I doomed to repeat? Can we make America great again? Or was it really that great in the first place?
"My history had been composed to be an everlasting possession," according to Thucydides. "Not the show piece of an hour."
History is mine to make, I learned in the hour. As I sat there there, next to young men and women that would fight their own wars, park nose-to-street in anticipation, and for easy access to the battle, select their own public pleasures.
It was more than a memory for me then. Still is.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Recipe for bankruptcy?


Time to pay attention to school funding 

and the ‘negative factor’

By Rob Carrigan,

I have been hearing a lot about “the Negative Factor” in certain circles regarding school funding in Colorado. No surprise. It has been talked about a lot for nearly a decade now. At a Kiwanis meeting last week, one fellow gave it another name, and called it “a recipe for bankruptcy for the state.” Time now to pay attention.

“The “negative factor” is a provision in state law that reduces the amount of total program funding and state aid provided to K-12 school districts,” said Josh Abram of the Colorado Legislative Council Staff in an issue brief in December 2015.

The economic downturn beginning 2007 reduced state operating revenue from income taxes and the state sales tax and, as result, the General Assembly faced shortfalls across all functions of government.

This, despite a constitutional amendment passed by Colorado voters in 2000, that required the base per-pupil funding amount to increase yearly by at least the rate of inflation.

The financing of K-12 public education in Colorado over the past three decades has been affected by three constitutional amendments, in fact. The Gallagher Amendment, adopted by voters in 1982, designed to reduce residential property taxes, it required that the residential assessment rate, which used to determine the taxable value of residential property, be adjusted every two years to maintain a fixed, proportional relationship between the assessed values of residential and non-residential property. The Gallagher Amendment mandated adjusting assessment rates for residential rates to maintain prescribed proportions.

The second constitutional change came with Douglas Bruce’s TABOR Amendment, approved by voters in the state in 1992. TABOR limits the amount of revenue that can be collected and retained by school districts in a given year. The limit is equal to the prior year’s revenue increased by inflation plus student enrollment growth. TABOR also requires voter approval for an increase in the the district’s mill levy or an increase in assessment rate for any class of property, including residential property.

Finally, Amendment 23, approved by voters in 2000, was designed to increase public education funding in Colorado and requires statewide base per pupil funding and total funding for categorical programs increase by inflation at least. It also created the the State Education Fund and transfers to the fund an amount equal to one-third of one percent of federal taxable income from the General Fund, exempt from TABOR limits.

But that is not all, folks.

As result of the 2008 recession, the General Assembly struggled with less revenue and the constitutional requirement for increasing the per pupil base for K-12 public education. In the 2010 legislative session. In House Bill 10-1369, the legislature introduced the “negative factor” which reduced the state’s share of public education funding.

“Imposition of the negative factor functionally changes the role that state aid plays in the context of school finance,” says Marc Carrey, Economist for the State in a March 1, 2017, Colorado Legislative Council Staff brief. “Instead of letting total program be formula-driven with state aid covering whatever gap exists between total program and the local share, the negative factor allows the General Assembly to determine the funding level it can afford and budget the state’s overall contribution to school finance.”

Since the creation of the “negative factor,” many school district have used Mill Levy overrides to fill in and replace funding lost to the “negative factor.”

“The ability to replace negative factor funding reductions with local override revenue varies widely across school districts,” says Carrey. “60 districts had not authorized any mill levy overrides. This may be because the district never asked its voters to approve an override, or because the voters declined to authorize an override. Districts with relatively low property wealth are limited, as the mill levy required to generate significant revenue can be prohibitively high.”

I anticipate the discussion will come up a lot in the next few years. Some suggest a constitutional rewrite, that no longer allows the easy change of the document., hopefully sparing us from Amendments that conflict, such as Gallagher, TABOR and Amendment 23. Others suggest different drastic measures aimed at a fix. Something is probably going to have to be done. As noted earlier, it is time to pay attention.

Cinderella's Fairy Godmother Project a hit

Local boutique collects dresses to empower young women

By Rob Carrigan,

Lillians of Monument, a women’s boutique owned by Elma Gonzales, recently gathered more than 70 locally donated dresses to a try on at Harrison High School. Gonzales and her employees Kindra and Brittany Roberts created a special event called Cinderella's Fairy Godmother Project and were able to collect numerous beautiful dresses that were then given to Harrison students for free for prom.

Gonzales and her employees, said it all started one Saturday when she and her employees started talking about prom, and how there were probably slightly-used prom dresses in many local closets.

“It snowballed from there,” she said. “And by the end of five weeks, we had collected more than 90 dresses.” The boutique is still collecting and will continue to have students coming into the shop from places as far away as Trinidad in Southern Colorado. Harrison High School students benefited by Gonzales and Kindra taking many of the dresses down to the school.

“While we rolled it out only the week before prom, we were able to get dresses for more than 20 girls who were absolutely pumped! We had our prom last Saturday and we had higher attendance than we have had in five years because some of our students that wouldn't have been able to afford an outfit were able to go,” said Anna Conrad, a teacher at Harrison High School.

“Elma reached out to Harrison High School and her, and I, were able to organize a dress expo during which students tried on the more than 70 gently used dresses that Elma had brought down to us. Since the event took place the week of our prom, many of our students had already gotten their dresses, but for those who had not yet had the time or resources, this event was incredible opportunity to be able to attend our prom in style! We were able to give away more than 25 dresses over the course of the week, which were then now only worn to prom, but I am sure will be utilized for formal events over the next couple of years including the JROTC’s military ball this later spring, our Homecoming next fall, as well as next year’s prom,” said Conrad.

“We are so deeply appreciative of Lillians of Monument, and particularly the owner Elma’s, thoughtfulness and generosity. Additionally, we would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the individuals and families in Monument who were willing to give their dresses to our students, ensuring that students every socioeconomic background have an opportunity to feel beautiful at their proms and thoroughly enjoy this high school tradition,” she said.

“We are hoping to work with Lillian’s again next year and increase the size and organization around the event, and I will be sure to better document it then. The expo occurred in my classroom and many students were very rushed due to sports practices, etc. so many of the dresses were tried on over clothes. Additionally, I taught in one of the dresses on Friday to advertise for last-minute tickets sales, so of course one of my students was dared to try one on with me.”

“The students, and their parents were very appreciative,” says Gonzales. “It was really great to see the looks on their faces when they were able to find the right dress.”

She says the shop itself is all about empowering women of all ages, and prom is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She noted that other fundraisers for groups such as Wounded Warriors, TESSA, and Pink Street Week for Breast Cancer Awareness have been very successful as well, at Lillian’s.

“We are not done yet,” Gonzales said. “The Cinderella Fairy Godmother Project will be even bigger next year.”

Photo with two black dresses: Lindsey Caro (left) and Trinity Jacobs (right)
Photo with male student in grey and woman in blue: Jarek Carter (left) and Anna Conrad (right)
Group photo from left to right: Kendra (one of Elma's employees), Esperanza Trujillo, Mary Roach, Cynthia Nshimirimana, Malaysia Fields, Vanessa Trujillo, Ivana Acaron, Najah Tandoh, Elma 
Photo with two girls in pink and blue: Brittany and Courtney Kibin

Lifeguard saves friend and fellow lifeguard at Woodmoor Aquatic

Sievert commended for helping pull diver from water, managing accident scene

By Rob Carrigan,

Amanda Sievert, 18, and her friend, Arik Althouse, 17, have worked as guards at Woodmoor Aquatic Center for nearly three years. Sievert is a senior at Palmer Ridge and swims (100-yard breaststroke) for the combined Lewis-Palmer team. Althouse is a junior competing as a diver.

If you were to ask either of them, they would tell you, lifeguarding is about training, and generally fairly routine. One recent Tuesday, during spring break, at the end of March, it took a different twist.

That afternoon, Sievert found herself in the very real position of rescuing her much-larger friend from the water, after a dive went went astray. Though he doesn’t remember much of it, Althouse said he is thankful that his friend was there for him.

“I was attempting a reverse twist, and apparently hit my head on the right side of the board on the way down,” he said. Then, in the water, he clenched into a ball, in seizure. Sievert, guard on duty at the time, took charge of managing the water rescue with help from others, got him out of water, and onto backboard as protocol called for. “It was challenging, and complicated,” she said.

From all accounts, Sievert rose to occasion and performed admirably. In fact, so much so, the professional emergency service staff wanted to recognize her for her deft conduct as a guard.

“She did exceptional work,” says Adam Wakefield, paramedic responding from Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District.

“By the time we got here, he was perfectly packaged, on the back board, with an SC Collar, neck stabilized. I would call it text book. By the book.”

Sievert was quick to point out help she received that day, including the following:

Strydr Silverberg- LP swimmer who helped me with pulling Aric from the water

Breck Donahue- LP swimmer who called 911

Jack Nagle- LP diver who was in the water at the time of the accident, grabbed Aric immediately until I got there

Natalie Wright- LP diver that grabbed the backboard for me & assisted with clearing others from the building

“We are very proud of our daughter, and the great training she has had here at Woodmoor, and she was able to help her good friend,” says Amanda’s mother, Jan Sievert, and she says that Amanda will continue to use that training to lifeguard at University of Oklahoma after graduation in few weeks.

Amanda was talking with dive and swim coach Alan Arata at the time of the accident, and both said they knew when beginning the dive was thrown, something had gone wrong.

“It was frightening, but she did everything correctly.” Althouse was transported to the hospital that day, and underwent concussion protocol for week, but is back diving again.


Paramedics Adam Wakefield, Tony Tafoya and Kris Mola responded when Sievert needed to pull her friend, Arik Althouse, from the water after a dive went astray. The paramedics returned last week to commend her for coolness and effectiveness under pressure.

Arik Althouse and Amanda Sievert flank the backboard on which Althouse was transported on.

Keith Barker, Morgan Cudney and Greg Lovato transported Althouse to the hospital.

The diving board at Woodmoor Aquatic Center.

Monday, April 24, 2017

World's largest aircraft manufacturer operated locally

Alexander Film and Aircraft impacted Pikes Peak area

At one time, from 1928 and on into 1929, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world operated right here locally.
Even today, as you wander through Denver International Airport (DIA) you can still see a reminder of the once successful Colorado plane company hanging at the west end of Concourse B. An Alexander Aircraft Company 1930 Model A-14 Eaglerock that the Antique Airplane Association of Colorado took 25 years to restore, resides there in the upper reaches of the airport to greet air travelers from all over the world.
“The Eaglerock biplane, made famous by barnstormers during the 1920s, was manufactured in what is now downtown Englewood, Colorado, and later in Colorado Springs, by the Alexander Aircraft Company. Barnstormers landed the Eaglerock in farm fields across rural America in the 1920s and '30s, giving rides in these ‘new flying machines’ to the brave souls willing to take the risk of flight. Ten-minute rides sold for 50 cents to a dollar,” wrote Ronald E. Newberg, exhibits manager at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in SWAviator in 2000.
An older Model 24 Alexander Eaglerock aircraft also can be found at the Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum, (also rebuilt by the Antique Airplane Association).
The Alexander brothers, J. Don Alexander and S. Don Alexander first business venture was in selling street advertising, and after a brief detour in the chicken business, they established the Alexander Film Company which focused on big screen advertising. As the business grew, they relocated to Englewood, Colo., from their home state of Washington in order to be more centrally located.
“It was J. Don Alexander who came up with the idea of equipping his growing sales force with airplanes. This would serve two purposes: first, it would attract attention, and second, it would expedite distribution of the advertising films. The first plane, purchased by older brother, S. Don Alexander, was a 1920 Laird "Swallow," powered by an OX5. When the Swallow arrived in Denver it landed at Lowry Field, located at 38th and Daliah Streets in Denver. The next additions to the Alexander aircraft fleet were Longren biplanes,” according to Newberg.
“J. Don Alexander wanted to purchase some forty to fifty planes for his salesmen. However, no one, not even the government, was buying that many aircraft in the 1920s, so the existing aircraft manufacturers would not take Mr. Alexander’s proposal seriously. This prompted him start his own aircraft manufacturing company,” Newberg said.
The company built more than 900 planes in 1920s and 1930s and by 1928, it needed to expand again.
“Forced out of the Denver area by a landowner’s refusal to sell the land needed for expansion, Alexander Aircraft relocated to Colorado Springs,” Newberg said.
Steve Antonuccio, in his presentation last week at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, noted that is was for a darker reason that added to the Alexander decision to leave Denver.
Though the decision to move to Colorado Springs had been announced in 1927, a fire that killed 11 workers in their Engelwood plant in April of 1928, shortly after a site visit by flying great Charles Lindbergh, did great damage to the company.
Alexander brothers faced manslaughter charges in relation to the 1928 fire in Englewood. Charges were dropped and Alexander Industries were fined $1,000.
Antonuccio is a Pikes Peak area writer, producer, and videographer. He was a 1991 Heartland Region Emmy nominee for "Everybody Welcome: The Story of Fannie Mae Duncan and the Cotton Club" and 2000 nominee for "The Treasure of the Cripple Creek Mining District."
Antonuccio also observed that local historian and publisher Leland Feitz who passed away February 10, 2013, worked for 18 years for the Alexander Film Company, a Colorado Springs firm prominent in the field of movie advertising. Feitz as a young man held top jobs in the agencies of New York City and Chicago. Feitz’s real interest was history and in 1967 at the advice of a friend began to write and publish concise history booklets about Colorado people and places. His Little London Press was established in 1973 and published over forty Colorado history booklets by various authors.
Twenty of the titles were written by Feitz himself, several about the Cripple Creek Mining District. In the early 1950s, he fell in love with the area around Cripple Creek and meeting many of the older residents began to write about the history of the mining towns. “Cripple Creek” “Cripple Creek Railroads” and “Myers Avenue” were early favorites of tourists to the area, which was in decline at the time. Other Colorado titles included books on Victor, Creede, Platoro and the Conejos County.
Over time Feitz owned several homes in Cripple Creek, the first one purchased for $500 dollars. He was a member of the board of trustees for the Cripple Creek District Museum, and in the 1980s he proudly served as its director for eight years.
“The Alexander Aircraft Company went on to build the unsuccessful "Alexander Transport," a high wing, seven-passenger monoplane. However, other more successful models followed. In the 1928 - 1929 time frame the Alexander Aircraft Company was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, with the capacity of manufacturing eight airplanes a day,” according to Newberg.
In 1927, J. Don Alexander wrote “Some fifteen months ago we of Alexander Industries began construction of a new light commercial airplane. The new ship’s performance was exceptional and price quoted in Denver was less than manufacturer’s costs on the first fifty produced. Therefore, as Emerson once said, ‘the world should have made a beaten path to’ the manufacturer’s door. But careful and expectant watching showed no signs of such a movement. We soon saw that we would have to carefully survey the path, pave it, and put signposts up along its course before the public would even look in this very right direction.”
That same year J.Don noted that only a year earlier, the company could only produce one ship per month but now were producing one per day and were still behind. “At this writing, we are forty-one ships behind sales.”
But not all reports were positive.
"One area manufacturer of planes about that time was the Alexander Company in Colorado Springs, which produced the Eaglerock plane. These aircraft...had more than their share of crashes. It got so bad that people made crude jokes about them such as: They call the planes Eaglerocks because they fly like an eagle and fall like a rock. Their track record finally became so bad that, as I understand, the authorities in charge of flying regulations banned further manufacturing of the Eaglerock," wrote Robert Esterday in his 1993 book “A Kid’s-Eye View of Early Greeley.”
Unfortunately, because of the depression, the company was forced to liquidate in the early 1930s, though remnants of the company lived on as Air Mechanics Inc., and even designed a five-seat low-wing monoplane in 1934.

Photo information:
1. Alexander Film and Aircraft campus on Nevada Ave. in Colorado Springs.
2. Alexander Film in 1931.
3. J. Don Alexander.
4. Alexander campus in Colorado Spings.
5. Leland Feitz.

Land Speed Record

Crew will seek new levels at Bonneville Salt Flats this summer

Everyone knows Dr. Frank Puckett of the Monument Vision Clinic, as mild-mannered optometrist and mainstay of the Tri-Lakes area since 1978. But as motor-bike-riding, landspeed-record-holder on the salt flats of Bonneville?
“I started phasing myself out, and stop seeing patients Dec. 31,” Puckett said. But that doesn’t mean he has slowed down. In fact, he and his team is still looking  to set some land-speed records on his motorcycle at Speed Week at Bonneville the last week in August.
They are hoping to set records in as many as four specific classes with four different riders.
“We change the bike slightly, and compete in differents classes,” he said.
Puckett first began riding bikes as a youngster on the family cattle ranch in Montana. Now, he and his team meet every Tuesday, or Wednesday, and sometimes both, in preparation for Speed Week in Bonneville Aug. 26 to 31. “We camp out there all week,” he said.

  1. Team picture with Dr. Frank Puckett, Dan Roberts, Jim LeFebvre, and Lenny Spall in order.  

2. Dr. Frank Puckett, on 100cc salt flats racer.  “The one we are building this year is a 1971 Triumph 250cc that will be in the modified, partially streamlined, pushrod, supercharged class,” says Puckett.

3. Jim LeFebvre at the start line ready to run our Honda 100cc bike down the course, with Dan watching and helping.

4. Jim LeFebvre, Maria Gerber, Dr. Frank Puckett, and Dan Roberts last Tuesday in the shop working on late summer entry for Bonneville. Lenny Spall, who has 40 years experience in  aircraft mechanics, could not attend that day.

5. Newest member of the crew, Maria Gerber, has only joined the team this year but has been interested since she was a young girl watching her grandfather work on European bikes in his shop in Hungary. Living for years in Alaska, she has built her own modified Jeep and says learning about bikes and speed records were on her “bucket list.”

6. Jim LeFebvre, a crew member for three trips to Bonneville already, worked in the defense industry for 40 years with computer code, and first started riding bikes in Panama when he could license there sooner than one to drive an auto. 

7. Dan Roberts, a retired electrical engineer, remembers his first bike was a Honda 90 cc when he was 16, and when the dogs chasing were able to catch him, he progressively moved to larger and faster models.

8. Puckett already is already has acquired a land speed record at Bonneville at 2016 speed week. “That’s an expensive trophy,” he says. 

9. The salt flats of Bonneville have been home to speed development for more than 102 years.

10.  A Norton engine looks almost like a trophy itself but like many British engines were known for vibrating and leaking.

11. A new Triumph, is the ride of choice for Jim LeFebvre, and the team maintains membership in the British Motorcycle Association of Colorado.

Local Photos by Rob Carrigan.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Old Mose, with missing toes.

Nothing is more dangerous than a holdover from times past. Refusing to change, such a relic is bound and determined to do things the way they always have, according to his or her own rules and will not go peacefully into the here and now. Which brings our story to the noble life and violent times of Old Mose, ‘King of the Colorado Grizzly Bears.’
In the area surrounding Black Mountain, west of Guffey in Park County, the 1,130-pound ‘Mose,’ the last known grizzly bear recorded in the South Park area, preyed on so many cattle that ranchers set and left standing a $500 reward for his hide for over 35 years. The bear, with its signature missing toes on its back paws, was credited with killing at least three men and over 800 cattle.
In 1884, Jake Radcliff and two other hunters by the surnames of Seymour and Cory went hunting for deadly bruin, but Radcliff finished the hunt on the wrong end a bear claw. His companions were able to get him back to a ranch house and call for a doctor. But when the Doc tried to transport Radcliff’s mauled body to Fairplay, he expired enroute. Two other cowboys and ‘would be hunters’ trying to collect the reward also became the ‘hunted’ according to legends of the day.
“In 1904 a bear hunter from Idaho came after the famous Mose,” notes Virginia McConnell Simmons in the 1966 book “Bayou Salado: The Story of South Park.”
“Together with a local rancher and their hunting dogs, they finally brought Old Mose to bay after two months. It took six shots then to kill him. When the carcass was cut up, it was discovered that nearly one hundred bullets had found their mark in the old rogue’s body,” wrote Simmons.
Jack Bell, recounted the story of the great bear’s death in a famous piece for “Outdoor Life” in 1904.
“He died befitting his rank and lay down in his last sleep with imposing grandeur. Just think, after being shot through and through times without number, baited with every device and cunning known to trapper; chased by demon posses of cowboys an ranchers bent on his extermination, and in all this he has met them with superior generalship, cunning unexcelled, knowledge supreme.”
The four dogs used by professional bear hunter J.W. Anthony (who had killed at least 40 bears prior to tackling the Old Mose case) were apparently an oddity and object of curiosity to the bear that had eluded hunters and trappers for nearly four decades.
“His taking away is due solely to the years of training of a pack of incomparable bear dogs, who know their quarry, his habits, mode of attack, retreat, as well as this animal itself. He was handicapped by this band of intelligent trainers and knew not their circling, pinching, running away tactics. All this was new to the old monarch — the talk of the dogs brought him to a standstill with wonder and amazement. He did not even strike at them, but sat and seemed to ponder and try to unravel and untried quality that he never before been called upon to meet. So he sat and looked and looked, without a growl or even a passing of the murderous paws,” according to Bell’s magazine account.
As the dogs preoccupied the bear, Anthony shot him with a .30-40 carbine — at least six times, in the jowl, the left shoulder, the face, through the shoulder, and the shoulder again, and perhaps again.
Anthony was then forced to reload.
“Looking steadfastly at the man refilling the magazine of his rifle for a few seconds, he at last made up his mind that it would be policy to first kill him and then pursue his uninterrupted analysis of these strange dogs that had the courage to snap at him and tear bunches of fur from his incomparable coat. Slowly he started toward the hunter, never leaving the awkward slow walk of his species. His eyes burned as with fire, and his coming was terrorizing to any but the seasoned bear killer. When at about sixty-two feet away he lowered his head with an unsounded challenge, and as his head was bending low, the hunter drew a bead at the point between the ears, and taking a long breath, gently began pressing the trigger. Slowly as the mountain pine begins to fall under the woodman’s axe, Old Mose, the terror of all, man and beast alike, began to settle down. Slowly, slowly and with neither sound nor quiver, the massive king gave up his life as he had lived it, in blood and violence. He met his death with honor, willing to the last to measure his great strength and cunning in mortal combat with that of the hunter, who dared to stand before him and dispute his reign,” Jack Bell wrote.
According to a 2012 story by of The Denver Post, the hide may have survived and is hibernating in California.
And so ends our story. Ten years ago, in 2007, after several years of fundraising by the Adams State College Alumni Association and ASC Grizzly Club, the Grizzly Courtyard project was completed in Alamosa. The crowning glory of the project is a 12-foot bronze statue of Old Mose, the most dreaded grizzly bear in the entire United States.

Photo info:
1. Wharton Pigg and James Anthony are pictured with the carcass of Old Mose.  
2. 'Old Mose' at Adam State College.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Personality in search of remnants of another personality

Clay Jenkinson visits Victor in search of traces of Teddy

Famous in his own right, American scholar, author, educator and radio personality Clay S. Jenkinson followed in some famous footsteps recently, traipsing into Victor, April 8, in search of remnants and memories of Theodore Roosevelt 116 plus years earlier.

“The Theodore Roosevelt ‘footprint’ in America is almost overwhelmingly dense. He was everywhere. My goal is to visit every bonafide TR site, and to gather photos, news clippings, video, etc. If you want to help determine the TR footprint in your state, let me know: I was in Colorado Springs on other business, rented a car, and ventured to Victor, where TR was heckled and a little roughed up on September 26, 1900. But he did not back down. He would not have been TR had he done so....” wrote Jenkinson on his Facebook page. While here, he absorbed some of the local color.

“My new friend Sam Morrison in Victor, Colorado. You have to go see his store. He makes brooms, prints art on this small treadle press, makes and sells excellent beeswax candles, and knows a great deal about the history of the Victor/Cripple Creek sector of Colorado. But it is his store that I found most enchanting. I bought so much that I had to purchase luggage in Colorado Springs!” Jenkinson said. He is looking for help with his project all over the country.

“You can help us find individuals who want to fund aspects of our amazing $50 million+ presidential library. You can donate artifacts, documents. You can spread the good news via your social media. You can help me identify TR locations in your area: speeches, conservation properties, incidents, friendships, etc. My goal is to visit every TR site in America and to share my findings with everyone who is interested. We need media attention perhaps more than anything else. If you have contacts in the media, local, regional, or national, and are willing to point them our way, we'd be immensely grateful. I'm just barely getting started.... You can contact me at”

Jenkinson first achieved fame for his portrayal (first-person historical interpretation) of Thomas Jefferson and he was the first public humanities scholar to present a program at a White House-sponsored event when he presented Thomas Jefferson for a gathering hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton. As co-founder of the modern Chautauqua movement, Jenkinson has also portrayed Sir Francis Bacon, Jonathan Swift, J. Robert Oppenheimer, John Wesley Powell, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Theodore Roosevelt, and Meriwether Lewis.

Jenkinson was born in Dickinson, in southwestern North Dakota; his father was a banker and his mother a schoolteacher. Jenkinson grew up mostly in Dickinson. He graduated from Dickinson High School in 1973 and then attended the University of Minnesota. He graduated in 1977 with a degree in English, and was then a Rhodes scholar at Oxford.

Jenkinson returned to North Dakota as a permanent resident in 2005; he resides in Bismarck. He is currently the Director of The Dakota Institute through The Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, Chief Consultant to The Theodore Roosevelt Center through Dickinson State University, Distinguished Humanities Scholar at Bismarck State College, and a columnist for the Bismarck Tribune. He is James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont.

Jenkinson's portrayals take the form of lengthy monologues followed by Q & A sessions as the character (in costume) featured for that performance. At the end of his performances, he steps out of character and answers questions as himself. Another performance variation is represented by his nationally syndicated radio show, The Thomas Jefferson Hour.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Richard Nixon as a 'green giant'

Rare convergence looks for common ground on Earth Day

In the current political and social environment, it is pretty hard to say anything without setting someone off. As Bob Dylan lamented, “Well, they'll stone you when you're trying to be so good. They'll stone you just like they said they would.They'll stone you when you're trying to go home. And they'll stone you when you're there all alone.”

Stacks of stones may break my bones, and I do recognize I have a right to remain silent, but not necessarily, the ability.

Every year since 1970, people around the globe have marked Earth Day, April 22, in various ways. Locally, registration has been open for the Great American Cleanup on April 22 in the Pikes Peak Region.

In Woodland Park, Aspen Valley Ranch, Friends of Woodland Park, and many other groups and individuals participate in activities to mark the day.

“We'll have three locations in Monument to choose from, Madeline VanDenHoek of town Monument said. “Please help us spread the word to youth groups, scouts, schools, clubs and neighborhoods who would like to participate in the community cleanup event!”

For more information, please contact Madeline 719-884-8013

“There will be a community lunch at Monument Community Presbyterian Church from 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m.for everyone who volunteers at the cleanup event.”

At the county level in El Paso County:

“The Pikes Peak Great American Cleanup is Saturday, April 22, starting at 9 a.m. at 22 locations across El Paso County from Falcon to Fountain, from Manitou Springs to Monument and from Calhan to downtown Colorado Springs,” says a release from the county.

“In conjunction with Earth Day, The Great American Cleanup is designed to aesthetically improve our environment, creating cleaner parks, streetscapes and public spaces. Every year, more than 60 million pounds of litter and debris are collected by millions volunteers throughout the country. Last year in El Paso County, more than 700 volunteers collected 1,130 bags of trash.

Interestingly Climate Central wrote an engaging defense of an unlikely hero for the environmental movement years ago, that has taken on legs of its own.

The odd ‘green giant’ in this case — Richard Nixon. The organization sites their mission as: “Communicate the science and effects of climate change to the public and decision-makers.”

Odd praise indeed. In support of Nixon’s green efforts, they mentioned the following:

The National Environmental Policy Act(1969), which among other things required that all federal agencies produce environmental impact statements on the possible negative effects of any and all regulations. It also created the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.

— The Environmental Protection Agency(1970). Self-explanatory. Amazing.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, 1970). Proposed by Nixon “...for better protection of life and property from natural hazards...for a better understanding of the total environment...[and] for exploration and development leading to the intelligent use of our marine resources...” That's what he wanted, and that's what the agency does.

The Clean Air Act (1970). Before the act, America’s skies were filthy. Afterward, they weren’t exactly pristine, but they were dramatically better, and later amendments cleaned the air up even more.

Earth Week (1971). OK, something of a gimmick, but still, Nixon endorsed it to commemorate the first anniversary of Earth Day. He may not have sported Birkenstocks, but in some ways the man was practically a tree-hugger.

The Clean Water Act (1972). If this is beginning to sound like the green legislation hall of fame, it’s not just you.

— The Endangered Species Act (1973): Even if this was all Nixon had achieved, he would rank among one of our greenest presidents.

In truth, maybe it was the congressional staffs and perhaps as unlikely as Nixon, Members of Congress, who wrote all the bills.

“Men like Mo Udall, John Dingell, Pete McCloskey, Gaylord Nelson to name a few.

Nixon simply signed the bills into law, argues Helen McCloskey.

According the Earth Day Network, “The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a ‘national teach-in on the environment’ to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date.”

Earth Day On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. “Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values,” notes various historic accounts, including a history by the network.

The stars lined up back then on Earth Day 1970.

The event had proved to be rare convergence, supported from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban and rural, educated elite and blue collar folks that had become concerned that river could catch fire.

The legacy of that cooperation is difficult to argue with. If it sets someone off, (in a good way), here we go.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

High country signs of change

Made it through March

Spring has sprung in the Tri-Lakes area

In the 1972 Sydney Pollack film “Jeremiah Johnson” about how a war veteran, weary of society, enters the Rocky Mountains around the middle of the 19th century to become a lone mountain man. Civilization eventually catches up with him and he finds himself between all fronts.
The movie features one of the alltime best lines about spring in the area.
After a long time and near the end of the story, Bear Claw (played by Will Geer) and Jeremiah Johnson (played by Robert Redford) meet again in early spring after not seeing each other for a long time.
“March is a green muddy month down below, some folks like it. Farmers mostly,” notes the grizzled old mountain man Bear Claw.
Having recently made it through March, and on into April, folks here in the Tri-Lakes area have earned the right to celebrate the season. Farmers, or not.


  1. Snow on the Peak reveals why the Ute tribe called it Tava, or “shining mountain.”

  2. Traditional daffodils spring forth in Tri-Lakes, only to be covered by snow several times.

  3. The decreased risk of bad weather in the late spring allows livestock producers to let cows roam to find comfortable surroundings for parturition.

  4. April snow on the Scottish Broom is always a risk, however.

  5. Monument Lake sometimes opens up enough by April to try a hand fishing, without having to cut a hole.

  6. Lacrosse may have been developed as early as 1100 AD among indigenous peoples on the North American continent, but early spring practice in Dirty Woman, might mean snow banks locally.

  7. The pass through on the Santa Fe Grade along Old Denver Highway shows open water, but plenty of ‘spring dust’ for April fools.