Sunday, December 27, 2015

Family farms, legacy and traveling Lakota land

Only one map in life's journey, 

and it is within your heart

"A traveler has a right to relate and embellish his adventures as he pleases, and it is very impolite to refuse that deference and applause they deserve."
__ Rudolf Erich Raspe, Travels of Baron Munchausen

By Rob Carrigan,

Lingle, Wyoming, 1985: The Treaty of Fort Laramie, an agreement between the U.S. government and the Ogalala, Miniconjou and Brule bands of the Lakota, Yanktonai Dakota and Arapaho, signed in April of 1868, said the Lakota owned the Black Hills of South Dakota and outlined hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The Powder River area was supposed to be closed to western expansion by white settlers.
That is all history, of course, but I'm a dedicated traveler of such paths.
There was about 10 and half miles, distance by car from Fort Laramie to the Stage Coach Restaurant in Lingle, Wyoming.
I lived in apartments next door to the Stage Coach, and worked across the street. I ate there almost every day, and knew the owners Sam and Wilma Bingham pretty well, I guess, for a traveler, and a newspaper hack. Wilma's sister, Meriam Bremmer, worked at paper years before, and years after I traveled on.
Back then, it was the height of the farm crisis. We ran auction ads, selling off equipment that families had worked years to accumulate, at pennies on the dollar. Times were more than tough.
In the summer, bikers headed for Sturgis rumbled through in groups and individually, often stopping and parking their Harleys diagonally in front of the Stage Coach, or Rose Bros. Tractor, or the Corner Bar that had once been a bank. I think now it is called "Bitch's Corner Bar," since about 2000, but there was trouble about that name, five or six years later.
There was also a little grocery store. A fabulously popular barber shop was run by a local woman then, and the Lingle City Hall and Post Office was nearby. Lingle-Fort Laramie High School educated the masses, and of course, the red-white-and-blue band shell with the American Flag flying out front, sometimes kept them entertained.
I remember the divorced woman who lived behind me in the apartments seem to have her eye on me, and worked for Sam and Wilma at Stage Coach. Meriam protected me, however, and besides that, I was always working, trying the get the latest Lingle Guide or Guernsey Gazette out, at all hours of the night and day. Plenty of time for lunch, though.
Merriam's cowboy rancher husband Dale would meet us over there, and we usually ate at one big table with Wilma and sometimes Sam (unless he was still cooking) and other stragglers we picked up along the way. Beef and Barley Soup. And maybe a sandwich, or something. Almost every day. Wonderful stuff, for sure.
On Friday nights, I would take photos at the first half of the Lingle football game, then jump in the car and drive to Guernsey thirty-some miles away and shoot part of the second half of that game — then run home and soup film in the tiny darkroom at our office in Lingle. Other nights and days were not remarkably different, with Lingle Council, Fort Laramie happenings, Guernsey School Board, and some kind of feature for both.  That was, when you could get the equipment to work.
We set copy on an old Compugraphic VDT, transferred the five-inch floppy to a silver monster in the back running three-inch light sensitive paper out in galleys, and under the cover of night (in the dark room) process a hundred yards at a time (or, at least it seemed like it was that long).
But the meanest piece of equipment in the place was an old address machine that still used metal address plates to mail the paper.  Meriam was really the only one that could make that work.
Though the stuff was old, the equipment was pretty hearty however. I recall more than once, when the Pat Davarn had to bring Torrington copy over from our sister paper in the middle of the night because their newer stuff was not working and he knew our old silver beast typesetter would slowly grind through it.
My history was made up of bear stories mostly at that time. My travels were colored by them. Much of my first two decades had been spent among the Dolores Bears in an idyllic river valley in southwestern Colorado. I don't think the life I had lived to date, was quite as rough as the wind-blown sugar beet farmers and cattle ranchers in Goshen Hole, by comparison. Family owned farms were in deep trouble.
Even Willie Nelson felt like he had to do something, despite his own troubles.
Farm Aid, a benefit concert first held Sept. 22, 1985 in Champaign, Illinois, was organized by Willie, John Mellencamp and Neil Young. Reportedly nudged forward by comments made by Bob Dylan at Live Aid earlier, the three hoped to raise money to help farmers in danger of losing their farms under the crush of mortgage debt.
80,000 people, and performers including Dylan, Billy Joel, B.B. King, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and others showed up in Champaign,  and raised over $9 million for America's family farmers that September. I was familiar, at least with the name and idea of Champaign, Ill., because I'd heard of it most of my life from the neighbor kids I grew up next-door to. Their parents had moved to Colorado from there, and gone to school at University of Illinois.
The organization is still going strong, but with the money from that first concert, Farm Aid established emergency hotlines for farmers and farm associations. I remember thinking how good an idea that was at the time.  Reason being, I had attended those farmers meetings and seen the anguish on generational agricultural  families about to lose the farm.
Strike that. They were about to lose their whole identity.
While covering a standoff between local police and a long-time farmer who holed himself up in the barn across the road, because he couldn't take the auction process and evaporation of generations of family legacy — I had heard the shot of his own gun that ended it.
Later, in California, I saw a man that lost everything, he said because banks had convinced him to borrow money recklessly prior to the farm crisis. The fellow worked himself to death in his 50s trying to recover ground, and died on the toilet during one of his few breaks in his 18-hour days.
Even their neighbors were sometimes unsympathetic, and of the opinion that they did it to themselves.
The hotlines were a good idea, though. And probably provided gentleness of words — words, like the shot, that can never be taken back.
But as I said, I was just a traveler in that space and time.  According to the treaty of Fort Laramie, the Lakota owned the ground and hunting rights anyway. It was supposed to be closed to white settlers since 1868.
As Willie said, "There is only one map to the journey of life, and it is within your heart."


Friday, December 25, 2015

Plans for the Forest, now and more than 50 years ago

Over the decades, Forest plans morph to include greater threat of wildfire

By Rob Carrigan,

The wheels turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.
I thought about that when considering plans for Pike National Forest — recent plans, and those from 50 years ago.
In 2014 in a meeting at Ute Pass Cultural Center in Woodland Park, I asked Pikes Peak District Ranger Oscar Martinez about any specific areas of concern as it pertains to the threat of wildfire.
He  tabbed the Upper Monument Creek landscape.
"We are just beginning a modelling project to take that landscape and look at how to fragment the way that fire moves there. Our intention is to manage the landscape so that we might be able to design treatments to put speed bumps in place should a major wildfire occur."
Carin Vadala, NEPA Planner for the Forest Service is the lead for the Upper Monument Creek Project, and said things were just beginning.
"The Front Range Roundtable identified this area as a high priority treatment area to reduce the risk of large severe fires and to increase the function of the watersheds. They have worked to garner funding through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project which will help fund the work done on the forest. The estimated costs are approximately $10 million over a ten-year period or about $1 million a year to implement. The main objective is to create a forest structure that is varied across the landscape and is also resilient to disturbances. The timeline is not completely set because the district is currently working on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will be released to the public for review later this year. Once the EIS is finalized it is anticipated that projects will continue for about 10 years," Vadala says.
According to a description in Forest Service reports, "The landscape is highly urbanized with the Colorado Springs metropolitan area dominating on the southeast border and the community of Woodland Park on the southwest. Two smaller communities, Monument and Palmer Lake, border the landscape to the northeast. The U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) is a significant presence on the landscape’s eastern boundary. The USAFA also maintains the private 655-acre Farish Recreation Area as an inholding within the landscape itself. The northern portion of the UMC landscape includes approximately one-quarter (4,407 acres) of the U.S. Forest Service’s Manitou Experimental Forest and 3,409 acres of designated Colorado Roadless Area. The 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire burned across approximately 11,000 acres at the landscape’s southern tip.
Based on these analyses, it recommended over the next 7-10 years, the USFS use a combination of mechanical, manual and prescribed fire treatments to manage conditions on approximately 18,000 acres within the UMC landscape.Back in July of 1966, the USFS released grand plans of another project, perhaps much larger in scale, but having effects in the same area.
"Rampart Range Road could become one of the top scenic attractions in the country if plans now being developed by Pike National Forest planners become a reality," wrote Dave Richter of the Colorado Springs Free Press at the time.
Thomas Evans, Pike National Forest supervisor then, said the project, called the Rampart Range Recreational Way, is recognized nationally as a priority project. He said then that an impact survey of the affected area was being carried out and would be forwarded to the Denver regional office by Nov. 1 (1966) an after study, sent to the Forest Service chief in Washington and eventually to the Bureau of Budget for Congressional appropriation.
The Rampart Range Recreation Way was tied into development of the Monument Rock Recreation Area on the the site of the abandoned Monument Nursery, and the enlargement and proposed opening to the public of Northfield Reservoir No. 5, (part of the Homestake Project)  and construction of Two Forks Reservoir on the South Platte River north of Deckers. At the time, it was noted that not any of the projects had been appropriated.
The Monument Rock area was to have provided all types of recreation facilities, including game areas, an amphitheater, visitor information center, camp and picnic grounds, group picnic concessions, and parking for 560 cars.  It was to be built on the old nursery beds, which are divided from one another by rows of mature trees.
Supervisor Evans said that the idea of a highly developed recreation area was new to the Forest Service then, noting that historically it concerned itself with more rustic facilities as part of multiple use of the forest. "The idea of such recreational facilities, with their concentration of people and activities, is more in line with the National Park Service philosophy," he said.
Also in the works, at the time, was plans for a connecting road between Monument and Rampart Range Road, although no grade had been picked.
"The road could use the old Mount Herman Road or follow a road being built by American Telephone and Telegraph for access to a relay station," it was reported.
"The idea is to provide access to the recreational way for visitors to the Monument Rock area without a long trip via Colorado Springs or Sedalia,"
Plans for further development along the Pikes Peak Toll Road were also included in the proposed recreational study, and it was suggested that Rampart Range Road would be paved and a strip of land on both sides would of the road would be left in a natural state. Private land along the road would be bypassed by new construction, so that no commercial development, which would ruin the road as a scenic way, could occur.
The route was to provide a scenic alternative to Interstate 25 for travelers between Denver and Colorado Springs, Evans said back then, and it would be easily accessible to residents between Fort Collins and Pueblo on the fast-growing Front Range.
About 80 percent of the state's population resided on the Front Range at the time.
"The effect of the recreation way on the economy of the region would be large. Some small cities, such as Woodland Park, which is at the end of the upper portion Rampart Range Road, may receive a substantial economic shot in the arm from the project," it was reported in 1966.
"It is possible the recreation way, which will be similar to a larger one already in existence along the crests of the Great Smokey Mountains, may become important to the tourist industry as the Air Force Academy and Pikes Peak are now."


Photo 1: Along Rampart Range Road, mid-December, 2015.

Photo 2: Pikes Peak District Ranger Oscar Martinez.

Rob Carrigan,

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Low-down, dirty, newspaper at Christmas blues

Guy called, "Hold everything." Knows it's late, but wants to get a letter in.
Copy editor started drinking last year's Christmas party, won't stop this millennium.
Story is late, and corresponding wire content doesn't correspond with correspondent.
Advertising promised position, miners knows its not sexy, but wants to market selenium.
Features ran off with printers, and automotive despairs, crestfallen, disconsolate, despondent.
Widows and orphans require more lead, loose paste up, Exacto knife and "Air" again.
Publisher back from Rotary and wants to know what edition donation printed in.
Setting heads, old 7200 Compugraphic and counts don't fit the space for them.
Reporter's dog ate his story. Assignment says, "Follow it around 'til it is in the bin."
"Can't be any more convoluted than last week's, and the same old spin of him."
Old dogs and children. Guess what leads off the on front ten, and then refers in?
Photographer still trying to light just right, uses timer, two pods, models a friend.
The old red suit, white beard, drops his letter, "Yes, Virginia O'Hanlon."


Monday, December 7, 2015

Bull-riding blues, it is not for the money, and still in search of the real cowboys

To most competitors, rodeo is simply a way of life

 By Rob Carrigan,

A rosin-covered roped tied my right hand to the 1600-pound bull. I straddled the animal and squeezed my knees hard into the indentions in muscle structure of its massive shoulders. Two men, John Tillotson and Grant Schultz, wearing dusty cowboy hats and the regular gear, explained to me what I must do to survive. Though I had met neither of them prior to that night, I sort of trusted them. Had to: they had been in the same position minutes before and I sure didn’t know what I was doing.
Lord knows it wasn’t for the money involved.
I paid $10 for ticket to ride and might have cleared $70 or $80 after gas and food was considered, even if I did win something. That was not likely.
More than thirty years ago I rode a bull for the first time at legendary bareback rider Bruce Ford’s arena in Kersey Colorado. I was reminded of that last week looking at TZ Ranch’s bucking bulls last week. Owner Ty Rinaldo suggested I come out sometime and climb aboard again.
Easily dismissed. But I thought also about what had changed in thirty years.
When the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy in Colorado Springs closed in January of 2005, just as National Western Stock Show was gearing up for its annual run, Bruce Ford was quoted in a Denver Post story by Kevin Simpson. It reopened again on April 9, 2005.
The PRCA headquarters, established in 1979 in Colorado Springs, also houses the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy.
Since 2003, the PRCA has sanctioned events that feature bull riding alone called the Xtreme Bulls tour.
These events are held in conjunction with less than a handful of the PRCA's several hundreds of annual rodeos. Forty PRCA bull riders compete in a select rodeo arena in a one day competition, and the top 12 riders based on scores come back to the championship round. The rider with the most points on two bulls wins the event. The PRCA crowns an Xtreme Bulls tour champion every year.
“Rodeo is making money now, and it’s kind of detracting from what rodeo is all about, ... an American pie kind of deal,” said Ford ten years ago.
According to most reports, the attraction has more than 50,000 visitors a year.
“To some, rodeo is a sport. To others, it’s a business. But to most competitors, rodeo is simply a way of life,” notes the PRCA web site at
Way of life or not, it is changing. There is more rodeo on TV, more fans, more rodeos, more prize money, more, more. More than a half million people a year attend the National Western. The PRCA staff consists of about 70 full-time employees, but grows to nearly 100 during the peak rodeo season, according to recent information from the group.
The Professional Bull Riders, Inc., headquartered in Pueblo, was created in 1992 when a group of 20 bull riders broke away from the traditional rodeo scene seeking mainstream attention for the sport of professional bull riding.
“They felt that, as the most popular event at a rodeo, bull riding deserved to be in the limelight and could easily stand alone. Each rider invested a hard-earned $1,000, a few of them borrowing from family and friends, to start the PBR,” according to PBR information.
“Owned today by 44 cowboys, management and Spire Capital, the PBR continues to establish milestones in organizational revenue, bull rider earnings, record breaking performances, and media attention. It still relishes the title of being the fastest growing sport in the country,” according to their information.
But is more, better?
I don’t know. But I think you need to ask some cowboys. Not me, but some real ones.
The bull I was to ride was one of the last ones in the chutes. Someone else who hadn’t ridden very much wanted the one they picked out for me — but one of Ford’s employees told them it was mine.
They got the big red animal in one of the four chutes with a little help from an electronic cattle prod. I could see steam coming up off the back of the bull. Tillotson told me to put my foot between its shoulders and move it around a little, then slowly ease down on to its back. He and Schultz helped put more rosin on a rope and glove they loaned me and explained how to wrap the rope around my hand. So there I was, strapped like a backpack on a beast 10 times my size.
Tillotson asked, “Are you ready?”
“I guess,” I answered nervously and gave them the signal to open the gate.
The bull went the opposite way they told me it would. I handled that fine but then it tried to throw me backwards twice and forwards once. I was off before I knew what was going on. I saw Tillotson coming out to get me after going over the bull’s head. He told me later, only half jokingly, if the bull came after him he was going to hold me in front.
A couple of cowboys chased the animal through the gates and it was over. I had ridden my bull, maybe only for a few seconds, but nevertheless, a ride. It’s something I can still talk about thirty years later. And the money had no bearing on it all.


Photo Information: TZ Ranch’s bucking bulls are some of the baddest buckers in the business says Owner Ty Rinaldo and suggested I come out sometime and climb aboard again. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

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

Baddest buckers in the business

 I wrote this story several years ago after a wonderful visit to TZ Ranch with Ty Rinaldo in southern Douglas County.

By Rob Carrigan,

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

__ Rob Carrigan,


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Actions, reactions for better firefighting through chemistry

Cripple Creek, Palmer Lake, Denver battle blaze and chemicals

By Rob Carrigan,

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

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

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

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

Photo Information:

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

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

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

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bear hind sight near perfect as we approach 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 2, 2015

Telling it with truth, meaning and compassion

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

First, was her unwavering determination. Determined to find the facts, present them without error, tell it with truth and meaning.  
Also, there was the compassionate voice in her storytelling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

__ Rob Carrigan

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Conversations on the Cripple Creek Strike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

___ Rob Carrigan