Saturday, September 16, 2017

Embrace the automatic compassion response

Connecting with all the people that are alive

By Rob Carrigan,

I have always lived locally, but at times, think globally. Every now and then, in this world that can isolate us from other forms of human kindness, we need to embrace the automatic compassion response that usually kicks in for a country beset by tragedy, disaster and discord.

“There’s been so much ugliness, division and fear on our screens and in our hearts over the past two years that it was getting hard to imagine how we’d ever stich the country together again.,” notes Time magazine columnist Susanna Schrobsdorff. “Then a once-in-a-thousand year storm hit.” Referring to Harvey. And the acts of kindness followed.

“They are a reminder of something we feared extinct: that aspect of America that brims with compassion -- the kind that doesn’t discriminate.”

Locally, we have seen folks come together in trying times. Think only of the firestorms of Waldo Canyon, Black Forest, and even Hayman, the flooding and destruction of Fountain Creek in the Ute Pass, Manitou Springs, and along Colorado Highway 67, and out in the burn areas in the forest.

But remember as well, the response, the compassion and the humanity shown as local folks and others rose to the occasion. And are still rising, because there are still things to do.

The fire in Cripple Creek last week that left folks without. Anything. Earlier disasters, large and small, here close to home and abroad, we have suffered through.

Born of floods, following fires, one local organization philosophically and metaphorically, has held up like a three-legged table, the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (or CUSP), now serves as a model, and has for years ... statewide, nationally and internationally.

Through the three legs: economic sustainability, community values, and cooperative efforts of the stakeholders; CUSP seeks to protect the water quality and ecological health of the Upper South Platte Watershed, that began after the Buffalo Creek Fire and Flood (which did more than $35 million in damage resulted in two deaths) in Jefferson County 1996.

Black Forest Together (BFT), an organization formed about four years ago, also has a three-pronged strategy of compassion: recover, rebuild, restore.

It is soon sponsoring its First Annual Fundraising Event on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Black Forest Community Club (NW corner of Shoup Rd & Black Forest Rd), from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. The event will include a BBQ dinner, activities for the kids and music.

The purpose of the fundraiser is to raise operating capital to pay the expenses related to BFT’s community projects of recovery, mitigation, preservation, preparedness, and education. In order to hold a successful fundraiser, they need a number of volunteers to assist with the event, serving food, setting up and cleaning up and other tasks. If you have any questions, about that effort, please call the office at 495-2445.

In the meantime, if you need help, Do you have trees blown over from our recent storms? Burned property still requiring cleanup? Out of control slash you need help with? If so, Black Forest Together (BFT) is taking applications for this season’s projects. Project focus will be continued post-fire cleanup/restoration and mitigation to reduce the risk of another wildfire. Although they don’t have the capability to cut down trees, we can help with chipping, slash piling, cleanup of debris, seedling planting and other restoration work and offer neighborhood chipping projects.

Certainly other local organizations (too numerous to name) share in that uplifting effort.

The fires in Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Utah, Wyoming, and even northern and western Colorado are everyday reminders of the need for vigilance, and the truth that we may one day need help again. The recent national tragedies in Texas, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands drive that message home.

Empathy is an important and motivating response for us. Perhaps pain and heartbreak are all part of the human condition, and such suffering might seem unprecedented, but at the same time, as James Baldwin suggests, it connects us with all the people who are alive -- all the people who have ever been alive.

Photo information:
1. Fighting the Black Forest Fire in the first few days of July, 2013.
2. Coalition for the Upper South Platte with a winter-time controlled burn in 2015.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Diamond Jack: Local gangster and cowboy


Gangster alternates between 

ranching, rum-running, and gang gunning

Though it would be tough to go through prohibition once again, modern newspapers, perhaps unfortunately, don’t deal justice out in the type galleys, quite like they once did.

Take us back to the days of Diamond Jack Alterie, who ran Moonridge Round Up Ranch out on Highway 67, not far from Rampart Range Road, just north of here, in southern Douglas County, as reported in the new book by Castle Rock Writers, Images of America, Douglas County, published by Arcadia Press.

Alterie, a.k.a. Two Gun Louie, Leland Varain, Kid Hayes, and several other aliases, spent his adult life alternating between Chicago gunman and Colorado rancher and cowboy.

As evidence, the Chicago Daily News story of Alterie’s death, written by editor Robert J. Casey, began: "'Two-Gun Louie'" Alterie came out of the shadows of the alky racket long enough to die. He was shot down — in the technique he himself had done so much to perfect."

A sidebar by Clem Lane, a legendary city editor for the same paper, began: "This it the story of 'Two-Gun Louie' Alterie, one-time pugilist, one-time policeman, one-time robber, one-time lieutenant of Johnny Torrio and Dion O'Banion, erstwhile rancher and union business agent, and today the subject of a coroner's inquest as to who shot him and why not sooner."

Alterie was born Leland A. Varain in Northern California, in Lodi.

The Oakland Tribune on July 20, 1935, reported it like this:

“Louie (Two Gun) Alterie, Chicago gangster was slain by gunmen there, Wednesday night, as he left his apartment, was a former Lodi youth. Alterie, then known under the correct name of Leland Varain, attended Lodi Schools. He left Lodi about 1918, and since that time has been connected with Chicago gangs.”

The son of French ranchers, Alterie moved to Chicago as a young man. He eventually joined the predominantly Irish North Side Gang, headed by Dion O'Banion. Other prominent North Siders included Earl "Hymie" Weiss, Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci, and George "Bugs" Moran. Alterie was a Western enthusiast who wore a ten-gallon hat and two holstered Colt .45 revolvers and owned the ranch near Sedalia, as well as another near Gypsum, Colorado. In addition, he was a top gunman for the North Side Gang, and he also formed the Theatrical Janitors' Union and used his position as union president to extort money from theater owners across the country.

“He wore diamond jewelry and gave diamonds as gifts. In 1922, Varain was arrested for stealing $50,000 in jewelry . Thus, the nickname “Diamond Jack.” As a member of the O’Banion’s gang, he battled rival Al Capone’s Chicago thugs, before being gunned down on the sidewalk outside his Chicago apartment, while waiting for his wife in the car.

Before that, in 1924, Alterie bought the Round Up Ranch property near Highway 67, and invited his gang leader and friend Dion O’banion for deer hunting and rodeo. O’Banion was gunned down in his flower shop in Chicago in 1924.

Incensed by O'Banion's murder, Alterie publicly challenged his killers to a shootout on State Street. North Side Gang members, including “Bugs” Moran convinced him to spend a cooling off period in Colorado, to avoid unwanted attention from both rival gangs and Chicago officials.

However, he had real trouble, staying out of trouble in the wild, wild west of Colorado.

In November 1932, after a long night of drinking moonshine, Alterie became involved in a shooting in the Hotel Denver in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and in February 1933, as part of a sentencing agreement, Alterie agreed to leave Colorado and not come back for a period of five years.

“Diamond Jack,” as he was known here, got into a fight with prize fighter Whitey Hutton, and before the evening ended, beat up the hotel porter, and accidentally shot two traveling salesmen for International Harvester. One of salesmen later died, after sentencing for “Diamond Jack,” that required he leave the state.
Photo information:
1. Louie Alterie, president of the Theatrical Janitors' Union, from the Al Capone Museum, Chicago.
2. At the Round Up Ranch, about 1924, "Diamond Jack" cools off in Colorado, with deer hunting and rodeo. Gang leader and friend Dion O'Banion is third from left in the front row, cap in hand. O'Banion was murdered in his flower shop in Chicago shortly afterward. Alterie (a.k.a. Leland Varain) is three down, taller fellow in center with his arms crossed.
3.  Following Dion O'Banion's murder, Alterie publicly challenged his killers (including Al Capone) to a shootout on State Street. North Side Gang members, including “Bugs” Moran convinced him to spend a cooling off period in Colorado, to avoid unwanted attention from both rival gangs and Chicago officials.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The technology of living with machines

Basic tools to disrupt the disrupters

By Rob Carrigan,

The simplest form of technology is the development and basic use of tools.
We have a whole lot more, and different tools in the toolchest, since I was a kid.
Old guys like me lounge around and tell stories about the early 1990s, when there was no world wide web, and very limited internet, drones were still bees, libraries still used card files, and phones hung on the wall. They were not that smart.
That is why I marvel at how fast disrupters are changing things on us. I have been through alot.
Also, that is why I am not that surprised to hear some of those same disrupters have hacked baseball.
Investigators for Major League Baseball have determined that the Red Sox, who are in first place in the American League East and very likely headed to the playoffs, executed a scheme to illicitly steal hand signals from opponents’ catchers in games against the second-place Yankees and other teams, according to the New York Times.
“The baseball inquiry began about two weeks ago, after the Yankees’ general manager, Brian Cashman, filed a detailed complaint with the commissioner’s office that included video the Yankees shot of the Red Sox dugout during a three-game series between the two teams in Boston last month,” the Times said.
The Yankees, who had long been suspicious of the Red Sox’ stealing catchers’ signs in Fenway Park, contended the video showed a member of the Red Sox training staff looking at his Apple Watch in the dugout. The trainer then relayed a message to other players in the dugout, who, in turn, would signal teammates on the field about the type of pitch that was about to be thrown. Investigators agreed.
As you can see, us old guys are starting to try to disrupt the disrupters.
Another example, also having to do with Apple, I am afraid, has farmers and the company fighting over the toolbox.
Farmers say that part of the problem is that equipment manufacturers like Deere & Co, maker of John Deere tractors, make it difficult for consumers and independent repair shops to get the tools needed to fix today’s high tech tractors and other machinery, which run on copyright-protected software, according to Time Magazine. “Instead, customers must work with company-approved technicians, who can be far flung and charge expensive rates.”
My dad worked as line mechanic for International Harvester, and then Chevy, and Ford dealerships all his life, and he started complaining about the required thousands-of dollar tools required to work various models and makes of cars and trucks, back in the 1990s. It was no longer easy to work on those vehicles. In fact, it got really aggravating for the old guy.
But interestingly, the technology migrates.
Personal computers were once reserved for institutions like the military, and academia, then filtered down and became affordable for wealthy clients, and finally, to almost everyone. That cycle happened even faster with the use of smart phones. Not so much yet on the rights to repair, however. Apparently, forces out there think we can’t be trusted to fix those same phones or modify them. But being able to pop the hood, so to speak, and change the spark plugs, adjust the fuel delivery system like the old-fashioned carburetor, is a basic human need in some cases. Open it up, take a look, and take care of it. Without having to have a million bucks worth of tools in the tool chest. Sure, we need rules that keep us from trying to steal signals from the catcher unfairly. But if everyone has access to those tools and rules, then, what is unfair? The simplest form of technology is the development and basic use of tools.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A good newspaper is a nation talking to itself

“Every time a newspaper dies, even a bad one, the country moves a little closer to authoritarianism…”
__ Richard Kluger

  A small voice but a strong one

Ralph L, Carr cut his teeth in the news game in the rough and tumble streets of turn-of-the-century Cripple Creek. At the same time, he matched wits with friendly competition and rivalry of the caliber of Lowell Thomas. You would think that the publishing business would have been his legacy.
Carr became more famous for his politics.
But it didn’t affect his friendship with world-renowned newsman Lowell Thomas. The two were steadfast buds up until Carr’s Death in 1950. They became pals in their days as rival newspaper editors, covering much of the same news.
Carr edited a rival paper in Cripple Creek, The Times, at the same time Thomas was at the Victor Record and News.
But, between 1939-1943 Colorado had one of the most courageous and independent governors ever to be elected, by many accounts. Ralph Lawrence Carr was born in Rosita, Colorado and educated in the Cripple Creek school system. After receiving his LLB from the University of Colorado, Carr moved to Victor, Trinidad, and then Antonito where he practiced law and became a publisher. Carr served as a county attorney of Conejos County, and then as Colorado Assistant Attorney General. The apex of his legal career occurred when he became a United States District Attorney. As a Republican, Carr lost this influential post when the Democratic "New Dealers" began to dominate national politics. Despite this loss he was able to stay in the public eye by becoming a powerful and prominent water/irrigation lawyer.
In 1939 a struggling Republican Party supported Carr as their gubernatorial candidate, and won. Within the first half-hour of his term, Carr proposed a plan for a balanced budget by transferring state income taxes from public schools to the state's general fund. These immediate fiscal measures helped to save our state from imminent bankruptcy. Also due to Carr's leadership, the Legislature passed the State Reorganization Act, which greatly increased the efficiency of state government. As a result, Carr is one of the few governors known for making the Colorado bureaucracy more operative.
While Carr's policies were aimed at dismantling the expensive bureaucracy of the New Deal, Carr still supported Roosevelt's foreign policy and favored American entrance into World War II after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The war with Japan initiated a chain of events that bred discrimination and intolerance toward Japanese-Americans. In 1942 an estimated 120,000 Japanese-Americans were stripped of their property and possessions. These displaced citizens were resettled in land-locked states by the War Relocation Authority so that the supposed "yellow peril" could be contained. The question on many Coloradoans' minds was not whether American citizens of Japanese decent should be stripped of their rights and put in internment camps, but where the camps should be. The overwhelming opinion of the populace was typified by a series of highway billboards proclaiming, "Japs keep going."
In other states, the Governors took aggressive stances against allowing relocation camps in their States.
The Governor of Wyoming went as far as saying:
“There will be Japs hanging from every pine tree.” If the Federal Government tried to relocate West Coast Japanese Americans there.
One of the few voices of reason during wartime was Governor Carr, who continued to treat the Japanese-Americans with respect and sought to help them keep their American citizenship. He sacrificed his political career to bravely confront the often-dark side of human nature. 
At one time, the New York Times consider him as being on the path to become president of the United States.
"If you harm them, you must harm me. I was brought up in a small town where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it because it threatened the happiness of you and you and you." Carr's selfless devotion to all Americans, while destroying his hopes for a senate seat, did in the end become extolled as, "a small voice but a strong voice."
A recent book: The principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story by 9News reporter Adam Schrager, has brought new attention to the forgotten hero and as recently as 2008, they renamed U.S Hwy 285 from Denver to the New Mexico state line the “Ralph Carr Memorial Highway.”

That reminds me of a story

 “All I know is what I read in the papers.”
__ Will Rogers
“Good evening everybody.!”
That is how a favorite Colorado Newspaper character opened his trademark reports for decades.
Lowell Thomas, former editor of the Victor Daily Record and Victor News, died of a heart attack in 1981, two weeks after last visiting his boyhood hometown in the small Colorado mining hamlet of Victor.
Both of those Victor newspapers eventually merged into the Cripple Creek Gold Rush, a 1,000-circulation, paid weekly that I once published.
After viewing one of Thomas lectures, or Television or radio reports, listeners often experienced a sense, or distinct feeling, that they were listening to a very eloquent friend, telling stories that actually happened to the storyteller personally.
He would often break into a yarn in some fascinating exotic location as if was telling about something that happened to him that morning, and maybe it did.
“That reminds me of a story,” he would say.
Thomas was the Forest Gump of the 20th Century. The man was everywhere.
In 1900, when Teddy Roosevelt was campaigning in Victor for William McKinley, who was not very popular in a state that supported the free coinage of silver and William Jennings Bryan.
When Roosevelt appeared in Victor, the crowd was polite for a while, but the future president was forced to cut his speech short as catcalls and taunts from “democratic hoodlums” escalated into almost a full-scale riot at Midland Terminal.
Roosevelt, his pince-nez knocked from his face, was blinded to the onslaught.
One of the “democratic hoodlums” picked up a wooden two by four and swung at Roosevelt’s head.
“That is where I first advise a president,” said Thomas on several occasions. “I pulled on his coattail and told him to duck.”
Actually, a guy by the name of Danny Sullivan, blocked the two by four’s arc from cracking the future president’s head. He reportedly received a red sapphire ring as a token of Roosevelt’s appreciation on the train ride out of the mining district.
Back to Thomas, however.
Born in Woodington, Ohio, in 1892, Thomas moved to Victor at the age of eight and as a boy of 10, joined the newsboy union. He first folded and delivered the Victor Daily Record but later began hawking The Denver Post in the gambling halls, red light districts and saloons of Victor and Cripple Creek.
He also worked as a gold miner, range-rider, waiter, short-order cook, milker and pitched hay on the Ute Mountain Indian reservation to help finance his education.
In 1911, at age 19, he became the editor of the Record. In 1912, he moved over to the Victor News, but left shortly afterward to become a reporter at the Chicago Journal, where he worked until 1914. During his stint at the Journal, Thomas attended law school, where he also taught oratory.
“The ability to speak is a short-cut to distinction. In puts a man in the limelight, raises him head and shoulders above the crowd,” Thomas is frequently quoted as saying.

According to the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans (HAADA), Thomas earned four college degrees, one each at Valparaiso University, University of Denver, Kent College of Law and Princeton University.
He also received 25 honorary degrees from other institutions. In addition to HAADA, Thomas’ achievements landed him in such varied institutions as the Radio Hall of Fame, Colorado Ski Hall of Fame and the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
President Ford awarded him the Medal of Freedom in 1976.
As pioneer of radio journalism, newsreel services and then television news, Thomas established himself as the voice of world travel and adventure in his long and prolific career. He wrote 52 books, many of them best sellers, was the first reporter to enter Germany following World War I, broadcast news during World War II from a mobile truck behind the front lines and flew over Berlin in a P-51 Mustang during the final battle between Russians and Germans.
President Woodrow Wilson commissioned Thomas to create a historical record of World War I battles.
His experiences in Arabia with T.E. Lawrence during that commission were the basis of a series of films, lectures and his book, “With Lawrence in Arabia.”
He wasn’t a fan of the film, however. “They only got two things right, the camels and the sand,” Thomas said.
Other journalistic firsts for Thomas include the narration, in 1925, of the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe; and his 17-year career at Fox Movietone News, heard weekly by nearly 100 million people.
Want more? He also helped pioneer the development of Cinerama, a film technology, participated in the first flight across Antarctica and hosted the PBS television series, “Lowell Thomas Remembers.”
He crammed a lot of things to remember during his 89 years on Earth. “After the age of 80, everything reminds you of something else,” Thomas said.
His son, Lowell Thomas Jr., who once served as the lieutenant governor of Alaska, produced the television series “High Adventure,” a weekly series in which Thomas appeared. The two also co-authored “Famous First Flights That Changed History.”
Of his travels and adventures, Thomas said his personal quest was “to know more about this globe than anyone else ever has.”
To learn more about Thomas’ life and achievements, I recommend you travel to Victor and visit the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum at the corner of Third Street and Victor Avenue.
The museum is currently raising funds to save the Reynolds Block, where the Museum has been housed since 1960. The Victor Improvement Association which owns the museum collection and the building, recently was awarded a $208,177 grant from the State Historical Fund.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Search for the truth depends on the storyteller

Preparing for a lynching, photo taken 1904.

Colorado National Guard soldiers prepare to lynch a man during the labor strike in Cripple Creek, Colo., throughout the room many hold rifles with bayonets. One National Guardsman holds the end of a rope that is slung over a light fixture and knotted around a man's neck. The victim may be Sheriff Henry Robertson. He stands on a chair with his hands behind back. Chairs are scattered throughout the room. Hand-written on envelope. "C-Military,Strikes, Cripple Creek, 1903-04."Colorado Historical Society, Original Photographs Collection.

Take a step back, look at passion involved

This week, after marking the Labor Day holiday, it strikes me as important to step back and take a look at the passion involved in previous labor fights here in Teller County. The district was watched by the rest of world when violence broke out and martial law was declared early in the last century. Western Federation of Miners and labor strife at the turn of the century in Cripple Creek and Telluride became emblematic for labor unrest around the country, and the world watched.

But it is also true that you can’t take that look without the constraints and filters of considering who is telling the tale. As always, there is at least two sides to every story. That point was brought home to me by the attached photo.

Historian Marshall Sprague and others called it "the Black Time." Sprague referenced the events depicted above this way in Money Mountain:The Story of Cripple Creek Gold, after the dynamiting of the Independence rail platform killed 13 non-union miners and injured scores more.

"Clarence Hamlin, of the Mine Owners' Association, called a mass meeting at 3 p.m., Monday (June 6, 1904). As early as noon, gold camp resident began converging on Victor. Hamlin and others persuaded Sheriff Robertson, a W.F.M. sympathizer, to resign. Their persuasion was the threat to hang him. Ed Bell became sheriff."

Emma Langdon, of the Victor Record and author of The Cripple Creek Strike, noted that on Sunday, June 5, the day before, Sheriff Robertson had issued a statement outlining his objections to Governor James Peabody declaring martial law in the district.

From Teller County Sheriff H.M. Robertson statement, (before the threat of hanging by the National Guard soldiers):

"TO THE PUBLIC - The commission sent by the governor of the state of Colorado to investigate the strike situation in Teller county, called me at midnight Thursday, the 3rd inst. I went to the National hotel at Cripple Creek, and reached there about 12:30 a.m. Friday morning Sept. 4. I was with the commission about two hours and fully explained the situation. I stated to the commission I had the authority to employ all the deputies I needed; that I had the situation in hand; that I had made arrests and was going to make more; that there was no trouble. Within three hours after I left the commission, the members thereof departed for Denver. There is no occasion for militia here. I can handle the situation. There is no trouble in the district and there has been none. No unusual assembly of men. Saloons closed at midnight. The sending of troops here is a usurpation on the part of the governor. I believe the action of the governor will have much to do toward injuring the district to such an extent it will be a long time before recovery will be had. As sheriff of Teller county, I do solemnly protest against the militia being sent here at this time."

Robertson, not surprisingly, decided against continued service. Ed Bell became sheriff.

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 1903-1904. Western History/Genealogy Collection, Denver Public Library.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Trouble pegging local weather for hundreds of years

Winter forecast from an informed, rank amateur

By Rob Carrigan,

It is time for my winter weather forecast. You are going to say, “Too early,” or something like “Killjoy,” but I like to still be in my shorts while making prognostications about open automobile ski season here on the Divide. I have been caught before. Ski Monument Hill.

After all, I was still in my shorts in October, almost 20 years ago, the day before one of the worst storms in this area in human memory. In Palmer Lake, the storm that began Friday afternoon, Oct. 24, and snowed almost non-stop until Sunday morning Oct. 26, dropped a recorded 52 inches in Palmer Lake, with drifts of 15 feet. Monument was not far behind with 48 inches recorded, and Woodland Park’s and Colorado Spring’s two feet, each, made it difficult to get around.

“The scope and length of blizzard conditions proved fatal for several eastern Coloradans. Three people in El Paso county perished from carbon monoxide poisoning after waiting for help to come in their snowbound vehicles for over 24 hours. Another person froze to death in a vehicle on post at Fort Carson in the Colorado Springs area. An elderly women in Otero County tried to walk home after her vehicle became stuck in open country. She froze to death. A man in Bent county froze to death in open country while hunting, or looking for other hunters. Another man died in a vehicle accident in Pueblo during the blizzard Friday night,” reported the National Weather Service (NOAA) in Pueblo.

“Many people were injured during the blizzard. Two people were injured in Colorado Springs when a canopy at a gas station collapsed under the weight of deep snow on top. Another canopy at a gas station in Lamar collapsed, but no one was injured. A vehicle was destroyed, though,” NOAA said.

“Thousands of people were stranded in eastern Colorado, and hundreds had to be rescued from their snowbound vehicles. By Saturday, the Governor declared a State of Emergency. Emergency traffic only was allowed on eastern Colorado roadways. Rescues were made by the U.S. Army in Humvees and by helicopter, the National Guard, law enforcement, other public resources, and private citizens. The combination of high wind and heavy snow caused power lines to come down,” they reported.

For hundreds of years, folks have had trouble pegging the weather here on the Divide.

Partly because of the way the Orographic lift works for regions along the Palmer Divide, much as it does in all the mountains on the Continental Divide, just on a smaller (but surprising scale.)

“One of the things that makes Colorado weather so interesting is the effect our terrain has on the weather. You often hear TV Meteorologists say the mountains are getting hammered with snow while we have a warm, dry, windy day down in Denver and along the front range. This all stems from Orographic Lift… the less nerdy/technical term for this is ‘upslope’ or ‘upslope flow.’ As moisture laden air streams in from the West and is forced to rise over the mountains, it eventually cools and becomes saturated, causing rain or snow to fall. As the air moves over the mountains and down the leeward side it warms and drys out. This is a common pattern we see with Colorado storms moving in from the West all the time, but the same effect happens for cities along the Palmer Divide,” says Castle Rock stormchaser and meteorologist John R. Braddock, at Mountain Wave Weather.

The Palmer Divide, or Palmer Ridge, of course is the elevated section of land composed of bluffs and ridges and the rising terrain sloping up from Castle Rock south toward Larkspur, with continuing elevation rise, finally peaking at Monument Hill.

“It separates the Arkansas and Missouri River Basins in Eastern Colorado and roughly runs from its Western point in Palmer Lake, East roughly 80 miles to near Limon. The uplifting of the terrain in these areas causes the weather to behave differently, in fact storms can behave considerably differently from Denver to Castle Rock or Denver to Colorado Springs,” says Braddock.

But what about this year, you ask?

I am no expert, but I suggest you watch for slow-moving storms out of New Mexico. Winds moving backwards on the clock, or southeasterly, have trapped some mean storms against the Palmer Divide in my experience, sometimes for days. Albuquerque Low, I think they call it.

I also pay attention to the long range forecasts from the Old Farmer’s Almanac. After all, you can’t survive since 1792, and be wrong consistently. Here is what they say for our upcoming weather.

“Winter will be warmer than normal, with slightly above-normal precipitation. The coldest periods will be from late November into early December and from late December into early January. Snowfall will be below normal in the north and above in the south, with the snowiest periods in mid- and late November, mid- to late December, and early to mid-March. April and May will be cooler than normal, with precipitation a bit above normal.”

Probably though, I can stay in my shorts for a few more days, at least until October.

Photo Information: The winter of 191
3 also had a brutal blizzard in the Monument area.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Odd combination in different times

Colorado’s Confederate guerrilla attack

By Rob Carrigan,

Confederate guerrillas and the state of Colorado is not a combination that instantly comes to mind. But in light of recent national concerns, I was reminded of the following.

The Adolph Guirand ranch between Hartsel and Fairplay played prominently in the only known Colorado Confederate guerrilla “attack.”

Guirand, unaware that Jim Reynolds and seven other men were in fact raiders planning to rob Colorado mining interests in an effort to help finance the Confederacy, offered the travelers a place to stay and warm meal at dinner and breakfast. The next day, however, the raiders robbed him of his horses and cash, and raped his wife, according to Ken Jessen in his 1986 book, “Colorado Gunsmoke.”

A bit later they also robbed the McLaughlin stage station after taking a local mining manager hostage and continued on a thieving and violent rampage on toward what is present-day Conifer. Word of their plunderous deeds eventually reached Denver. A cavalry unit, commanded by a Captain Maynard, set out to chase the rebels after some delay. Additionally a posse from the Breckenridge area was raised and pursued the raiders, as well.

Gunfire was exchanged between the Breckenridge posse and guerrillas on the north fork of the South Platte River near what was then known as Kenosha House.

One of the rebel band, Owen Singleterry, was killed in the exchange and the rest were dispersed without most of their equipment.

“Dr. Cooper, a member of the posse, cut off Singleterry’s head and took it into Fairplay. This grizzly reminder of the Reynold’s gang was preserved in alcohol and remained in Fairplay for a number of years,” wrote Jessen.

Reynolds and two other raiders escaped into New Mexico. Five others of the party were captured, tried in Denver and then, enroute to Fort Lyons in the company of Company A, 3rd Regiment of the Colorado Cavalry, were killed under mysterious circumstances near Russeville on Upper Cherry Creek.

But that is not the end to the story. After being shot trying to steal a horse in Taos, N.M., according to Legends of, Jim Reynolds gave a deathbed account of burying treasure from his bands looting spree in South Park to another outlaw, Albert Brown, and drew a map identifying the location of that treasure.

“When they arrived at the site, they were disappointed to find that a forest fire had destroyed many landmarks.

While they found an old white hat that supposedly belonged to the decapitated Singleterry, a headless skeleton, and horse bones in a swamp, they were unable to find the rocked-in prospect hole. Brown and his partners made three more attempts to find the treasure, but finally gave up and returned home. Albert Brown later died in a drunken brawl in Laramie City, Wyoming Territory,” says Legends of America.

Brown passed on the map before he died to a Detective David J. Cook, In his 1897 book, Cook, quotes Reynold’s conversation with Alfred Brown thusly:

“Jim and me buried the treasure the morning before the posse attack on Geneva Gulch. You go up above there a little ways and find where one of our horses mired down in a swamp. On up at the head of the gulch we turned to the right and followed the mountain around a little farther, and just above the head of Deer Creek, we found an old prospect hole at about timberline. There, we placed $40,000 in greenbacks, wrapped in silk oil cloth, and three cans of gold dust. We filled the mouth of the hole up with stones, and ten steps below, struck a butcher knife into a tree about four feet from the ground and broke the handle off, and left it pointing toward the mouth of the hole.”

I know of no reports of that treasure ever being found.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Nothing hit harder

Rare insight into local, state and national news narrative

By Rob Carrigan,

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, and what you think of local, state and national politics, we’ve had some interesting times here in Colorado in the last few years.

Having just finished Governor John Hickenlooper’s recent book, “The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics,” I was reminded of our area’s impact on that narrative, and its role in the overall Colorado picture of late.

Nothing hit me harder than the Governor’s description of local events in March 2013.

From the book about the night of March 20, 2013:

“Over the course of the next twelve hours or so we learned that sometime around 8:30 p.m. the doorbell rang at the Clements’ home in the town of Monument. Tom answered it, and a guy in a pizza delivery uniform fatally shot him in the chest. Within minutes, Lisa called the police. Deputies arrived and found Tom and Lisa inside the home on set of stairs. Medical crews performed CPR on Tom. He died on the seen, in his home, in front of Lisa. Tom was fifty-eight years old, and left behind his “three girls:” Lisa, and their daughters Rachel and Sara.”

The Governor describes learning more in a police briefing later.

“I learned that sheriff’s deputy in Montague County, Texas, pulled over the suspect on a routine stop, unaware of the search in Colorado. The suspect shot Deputy James Boyd and then fled. Boyd. who was wearing a protective vest, radioed to report the direction the car was heading. After a chase during which speeds reached up to 100 miles an hour, and eighteen wheeler smashed into the suspect’s car, which caught fire, the suspect jumped out and shot at officers. They returned fire and killed him,” wrote Hickenlooper.

“I was told the casing from the suspect’s 9mm Smith & Wesson were the same brand and caliber as those used by the gunman who’d killed Tom. Law enforcement was confident that the suspect had killed Nathan Leon, whose side job was delivering pizzas for Domino’s, then taken his uniform and his black 1991 Cadillac, dumped Leon’s body, driven to Tom’s home, killed him, and then made his way to Texas.”

The Governor said he received the briefing in his office with the officer moving through a lot of slides of the crash, shootout in Texas, a mug shot of the suspect, Domino’s uniform …

“Wait,” he said. “I interrupted because I thought I saw the word ‘Ebel’ at the bottom of the previous screen of the mug shot, and there he was. It was the son of my longtime friend Jack Ebel. I had a wave of nausea.”

Hickenlooper said the tragedy was made worse, by finding out that the Colorado Department of Corrections mistakenly released Evan Ebel before he had completed his full sentence. While he had been serving an eight-year prison term, he pleaded guilty to punching a guard in November of 2006, and was to serve a consecutive prison term of an additional four years. The reason for the release, according to DOC, was judicial “clerical error.” The way the forms in the file were written, it was not clear that his sentences were to be consecutive.

I had quite a bit of media interaction with the Governor when I worked at Colorado Press Association in Denver, and would sometimes see him before that, in his role prior as mayor of Denver, and when he first ran for governor. Having covered Tom Clements murder personally, added a new dimension. Hickenlooper’s book offered additional insight into other local events from the perspective of the top job in the state, such as Waldo Canyon Fire, Black Forest Fire, and even recent events marking ultimate sacrifice of state troopers Cody Donahue and Jaimie Jursevics. That perspective, took on new meaning, and offered rare insight of our local area’s impact.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Turn out the lights, the party's all over

Locals prepare for total eclipse of the sun

By Rob Carrigan,

On Monday, Aug. 21, everyone across America has a chance to see a total eclipse of the sun for the first time in our lifetime unless you are nearly 100. It has been that long since the last total solar eclipse darkened the United States from coast to coast, and it is not predicted to occur again for another 18 years.

Locally, you may have received quite a few invites.

“We are doing a campus wide eclipse event on Monday, if you were interested ... The maximum coverage occurs around 11:45 so that is when we will all be outside,” says Terry Bramschreiber, Ph.D., 9-12 Assistant Principal, Discovery Canyon Campus.

“We are giving glasses to all students and staff campus wide. PTO will be selling “moon pies” and other topic related treats. We will also be sending out some lessons for those teachers that want to learn and teach more about it. Additionally, all staff has eclipse T shirts,” he said.

“Victor Lowell Thomas Museum Offers Eclipse Safe Sun Glasses. Are you ready to watch the Solar Eclipse on August 21?” asks Ruth Zalewski, for the Victor Improvement Association/Victor Lowell Thomas Museum. Special sunglasses are required to safely view the eclipse, she advised.

“Colorado's Touchstone Energy Cooperative's 2017 Golf Classic is the perfect opportunity to mix business with pleasure. And it also is the day of the eclipse,” said Terri Hayes, executive director for the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce. “This shotgun start, best ball tournament with an all-inclusive golfer package includes a luncheon, auction and awards ceremony following the tournament. The morning is well-spent networking, enjoying the beautiful Colorado scenery and playing on one of the area's finest exclusive golf courses,” she said. The tournament is at Perry Park Country Club near Larkspur, and the Chamber is also selling glasses.

To celebrate this astronomical event, the Space Foundation Discovery Center, which is typically closed on Mondays, will open to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 21 for a Solar Eclipse Party. Special solar viewing telescopes, viewing tubes and boxes will be available for guests to experience the eclipse with friends, family, neighbors and informative Space Foundation staff at the Discovery Center.

Space Foundation Vice President - Education Bryan DeBates said, “This is an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime event for many people. This type of eclipse is extremely rare and can interest and inspire those who don’t typically get interested in astronomy.

The Space Foundation Discovery Center is excited to host this 2017 Solar Eclipse Party for anyone who would like to join in this extraordinary experience.”

Colorado Department of Transportation is asking anyone who is planning to drive to Wyoming or Nebraska (both in the “totality” path of the eclipse) to be prepared for a lot of traffic, delays and headaches for this unique event.

Larimer County has set up a great way to stay in touch with traffic, emergency and weather alerts for the event. Just text the word “ECLIPSE” to 888777 and you will get all you need to know. In Colorado, you can also go to and in Wyoming, you can go to for real-time traffic updates.

Currently, predictions for attendance in Wyoming and Nebraska are very high. Some experts are predicting up to 600,000 more people cramming into Wyoming to witness this. That’s basically doubling the population of the state. And we know a lot of those folks are going to be coming from the south so all Colorado highways heading there (I-25, US 287, US 85, CO 52, etc.) are expected to be busy.

Since the eclipse is on a Monday, traffic is expected to be heavy through the whole weekend before but will probably be even worse coming back after the sun shines again.

CDOT is partnering with our local first responders and the Colorado State Patrol – as well as our partners at the Wyoming Department of Transportation – to provide some tips on making your eclipse trip something great to remember:

Pay attention, and don’t drive distracted. Drive defensively because there will be more motorists on the road, and some of them may be slowing down or may not be paying attention when the eclipse is occurring.

Ensure vehicles have plenty of fuel.

Don’t stop and pull off onto the side of the roads.
Don’t use the center median crossings on the interstates for turning around or parking. Those crossings are for authorized vehicles. Emergency vehicles need to keep these areas clear for response to emergency situations.

Don’t park on any highway shoulder or in any ditch area. That can not only be dangerous for you and other drivers, but a person’s car exhaust could start a grass fire.

Plan ahead and move to a safe and legal area prior to the eclipse so you can enjoy the experience.

Use eclipse glasses to safely view the eclipse. These glasses provide eye protection from the eclipse.Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks. It is unknown how busy traffic will be, but with hotels and campsites sold out, we are expecting large amounts of traffic surrounding this momentous event.

This is also the first day for Colorado State University students and freshman orientation for Colorado University.

It been a long time but it seems so familar

You’re so vain, I bet you think this about you

By Rob Carrigan,

As many local skywatchers make plans to view the solar eclipse next Monday, I can’t help but think of, and identify with, the Carly Simon hit written ages ago, in 1972, and featuring Mick Jagger in its most popular version.

“Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won. Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia, To see the total eclipse of the sun,” wrote Simon and songwriting partner Chun Keung Lam.

Many years ago, I ran the newspaper in the little town of Saratoga, Wyoming. Interestingly, the paper was the Saratoga Sun. It is where I came to realize that even the big national and international stories can have a profound impact here at home.

Because of a more complete eclipse in Wyoming, many folks from here and points south, plan to make sojourns up into Wind River reservation country where my old high school football coach resides in Shoshoni, Wyo., north of Saratoga. The resident Shoshoni tribe has close ties to Utes, (of Ute Pass) and Piute.

Native Americans however, are sort of divided about the eclipse. Take reports from Indian Country Today on the Navajos’ take.

“Generally in traditional Navajo in the culture you don’t watch eclipses. It’s something out of the ordinary, something that’s not in the regular order of things, and so people were taught to be very respectful. And that included staying inside, not eating, not drinking, not having sex, things like that,” said Nancy Maryboy, Cherokee-Navajo, president and executive director of the Indigenous Education Institute and a liaison with NASA. “And that has been pretty well followed on the Navajo Nation even up to today. And in some cases, up to a few years ago, they would let school out during an eclipse and the kids would go home, stay at home.”

For a 2012 event however, she noted some surprises among the buzz generated on the Internet, especially social media, about the solar eclipse then.

“Interestingly enough, a lot of younger people who are very hip, younger people were sending out messages on their Facebook not to – you know, that it was more traditional to stay in and not look at the eclipse. A lot of people were doing that. I found that very interesting,” Maryboy told Indian Country Today Media Network in an interview. “And then some of the traditional people, several of them that I knew decided it might be okay if you looked at it through dark glasses that NASA gave out. So basically everybody did it in the way that made the most sense to them.”

However, she added, “I would say that because of that traditional viewpoint probably a lot less people watched it on the Navajo nation than other tribal areas.”

The Cherokee, for instance, do not have such a taboo. Maryboy, of both heritages, said she was torn about whether to watch but that cloudy skies in Washington State, where she was at the time, made the decision for her.

At the Navajo National Monument, Melba Martin, an archeo-astronomer and Navajo who works with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was scheduled to give an inside presentation for those who wanted to learn while observing the taboo. However, she said, only five people came. The most traditional Navajo observed the taboo in a separate room, sequestered, while the rangers allowed visitors into the park, where they set up shop with telescopes.

Martin went the nontraditional route, opting to watch through a filtered telescope.

“We managed to pass out the eclipse glasses to make sure everyone was safe, and check on the people who were viewing through the telescopes. We talked with them for a short time about the traditions, in a respectful way, and told them that was why they weren’t seeing many Navajos out,” she said of the outside observers. “They were very accepting, very interested in the culture. And so for about 2 hours we were out there before, during and after the eclipse.”

She called it a unique experience and said the balance was so well struck that she is now planning a similar event to observe the transit of Venus on June 5.

“So it was quite interesting what I experienced at Navajo National Monument. And I really think the park rangers at Navajo National Monument did a great job at observing their traditional way and allowing people into the park who were not Navajos to see the eclipse.”

The Wind River Indian Reservation is an enticing viewing location for the Aug. 21 Wind RiverEclipse. To make this dream a reality, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have identified locations in which they prefer people to park and camp, and they have created a special eclipse permitting process.

A PDF document of the map and permitting details has been published by the WindRiver Reservation and the Tribal Game and Fish Department. If a traveler asks you, “How or where can I watch the eclipse on the Wind River Reservation,” show it to them, says information from the tribe.

“The Wind River Eclipse is almost upon us. After years of preparation across Wind River Country, WY, we are all ready for the sky to go dark on Aug. 21, and to welcome the travelers who will be coming from all over the world!,” says information from the county and the tribe.

“As a result of the hard work, hospitality, and important planning on the part of many people across the county, the week of Aug. 17—22 is rife with events. The Wind River Visitors Council has compiled all these events going on during the eclipse week across the county into a flyer handout for travelers to pick up at convenient locations. We have attached that black and white handout for you to use and share!” say Wyoming hospitality organizations.

Carly Simon over years has been reluctant to identify who her song is actually about. Speculation has included Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, David Geffen, David Bowie, David Cassidy and Cat Stevens, and even James Taylor, who Simon was married to shortly before writing the song. She said it is definitely not about Taylor.

Two solar eclipses ("Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun") were visible from Nova Scotia in the early 1970s, on March 7, 1970, and July 10, 1972. Simon said she wrote the song in 1971, so she likely referenced the one from 1970.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Scenic reservoir trails used year round

Hidden Gems: Reservoirs above Palmer Lake

By Rob Carrigan,

One of the hidden local gems in the trail world of this area, the Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail begins at a trailhead down in the Glen, accessed by Old Carriage Road, and traverses steep terrain for about four miles, out and back, and features two reservoirs. It is often visited summer and winter by hikers, trail runners, snowshoers, mountain bikers, wildflower photographers and fishermen.

Fishing restrictions are in place and allowed only at the upper reservoir. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. It is actually patrolled somewhat by Palmer Lake Police (I saw an officer up there on an ATV a few weeks ago). And the trail offers access to many other trails that branch out into the forest and connect to other trails that reach into other counties.

Originally built by the railroads, the two reservoirs augmented the water used from Palmer Lake to fill steam engines making the grade over Palmer Divide.

The town of Palmer Lake’s water comes from two reservoirs in the mountains behind the town and from wells. Both reservoirs and Monument Creek, which flows out of them, are considered part of the town's watershed.

The lower reservoir is fenced off from the public, for the most part, but the upper reservoir has an open shoreline. The mountains behind the town have a matrix of trails connecting visitors and residents to canyons and ridges. Most trails are accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Visitors are advised to bring a map or a local guide when exploring the trails, and should be aware of wildlife alerts and National Forest rules.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Convergence destination: Beetles seek the summit

Lady bugs love Herman

By Rob Carrigan,

Mount Herman’s summit is a convergence destination, it seems.
“On Saturday my son saw these Lady Bugs on a hike up Mount Herman. Any idea what is going on?” Asked reader Karen Green.
“The convergent lady beetle, Hippodamia convergens Guérin-Méneville, is among the most common lady beetle species throughout North America and is an important natural enemy of aphids, scales, thrips, and other soft-bodied insects. It will also feed on pollen and nectar from flowers when prey is scarce. This species can be found in habitats ranging from grasslands, forests, agricultural fields, gardens, and natural parks. It is one of the few natural enemies that are currently wild-collected from mass aggregations for distribution to the pest control industry, according to “Featured Creatures,” a University of Florida entomology publication.
Mountain-bound convergent ladybugs are not typically in swarms during these in-flight migrations. Occasionally, they will land on ground to consume pollens and nectars as a means to fatten up their bodies for survival during hibernation. However, once they find their desired high elevation summits they tend to swarm en masse and form colonies. Most of these mountain summit goals range between 6000’-8000’ elevation, but some might be as high as 10000’ elevation (or possibly higher) depending on current conditions.
It is during these periods of summit swarms that mountaineers most frequently notice the ladybugs. Where there is one ladybug there is usually hundreds if not thousands congregating nearby. Many ladybug dealers/collectors claim that some of these mountain colonies can contain as many as 500 gallons of ladybugs, with each gallon containing up to 72,000-80,000 ladybugs. The beetles remain on their high elevation homes throughout the Summer months. This timeframe represents the beginning of diapause, which is the nine-month period of hibernation process for convergent ladybugs. Many within the species will begin mating during this first stage of diapause, and larger colonies have greater chances for successful mating.

Surprising and rewarding: Local trail named for founder's uncle

Herman would have looked down, and been proud

One of the most surprising and rewarding local trails eventually overlooks the town of Monument, and is short, steep, and culminates with amazing views of both Pike's Peak to the southwest, and reportedly cities in Kansas, on a crystal-clear day. The summit is right at 9,100 feet altitude.

Mount Herman Trail is a 2.2 mile trail located near Monument and features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate (though it climbs nearly 900 feet quickly.) The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. It is accessed by traveling past Monument Rock, reaching the trailhead parking lot less than five miles up on Mount Herman Road.

It is kind of hard to keep track of who Herman was, of Mount Herman fame, considering it was named after the uncle of the founder of Monument. That founder changed his name, and probably never lived here.

When the town of Monument showed up originally on the drawing board, it was Charles Adams listed as the primary owner. In January of 1874, Charles Adams and Henry Limbach filed a plat statement of the town encompassing about 60 acres in the North half of the South east quarter. 108 lots were platted with Limbach owning 36 and Adams 72. Adams and Limbach, with others, would later file two more additions by 1879, and be involved with more in the 1880s.

Mount Herman, West of Monument, was named after one Herman Schwanbeck, who homesteaded right about where Village Inn in Monument is now. Herman appears to have been Charles Adams' uncle, (his father's brother) and Charles was both instrumental in the development of the town, and much of early Colorado. Charles Adams was born Karl Adams Schwanbeck in Germany in 1845.

Karl Schwanbeck, turned Charles Adams, was married to an English girl who did not like the German name of Schwanbeck, so had it changed to Charles Adams," according to Lucille Lavelett's history "Through the Years at Monument." Though founder Adams never lived in Monument, according to most reports, staying in the Manitou Springs area much of his life, in area that is still known today as Adam's Crossing.