Sunday, November 20, 2016

In 1938, the tree farms history was just starting to break ground

Photo 1:
Early plantings, about 1940, by Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) crews in Monument.

Photo 2
The tree nursery near Monument Rock was well-established by 1945.

Tree farming idea sprouted in the shadow of Monument Rock

By Rob Carrigan,

If you wander the hills out near Monument Rock, you are just about guaranteed to to run into evidence of this area’s involvement of treeing the West. Either odd rows of trees, or small stone structures and walls, and maybe a foundation or a still-existing structure.
When looking for information about the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) Camp in Monument a few years ago, I ran into Mike Smith’s extremely valuable work about the CCC titled “Forest Army.”
Not only did Smith know about the Monument camp, but his grandfather had spent time there.
“In a 1970s newspaper interview, my grandfather William Rutherford stated he went into USFS service with the third CCC camp in Colorado and left the service while at the last CCC camp in Colorado - the last of his USFS letters are from the Monument camp, so I presume that was the last camp. It may have been the last USFS CCC camp in Colorado. Smith wrote to me in an email.
“My Monument file is rather thin, but it does include excerpts from a 1938 district annual. The excerpt covers the Woodland Park, Colorado Springs and Monument Camps.”
Some of the information in the district annual is as follows.
In May 1938, 1st Lieut. Alvin C. Jenkins, then commanding Company 3810, CCC, Monument, Colorado, was advised that his Company was to be disbanded, and that the camp was to be reoccupied by a new company from the First Corps Area. Meanwhile, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, many CCC enrollees were gathering. On July 18, 1938, Company 2124 was organized.
“The trip west was begun on July 20, 1938. Of course, all the members were eager to start for the new location because it meant travel, new sights, and perhaps a little adventure. Their enthusiasm dimmed somewhat, however, as the train rolled forward, and the monotonous scenery failed to fulfill expectations. Once their destination was reached, a different feeling took place – a feeling hard to describe. The lasting beauty of the mountains, the magnificence of the vari-colored rocks, and gorgeous panorama of far-reaching plains studded with tableland made an impression that was to last a lifetime. Yes, their new home at the foot of rugged Mt. Herman was indeed a welcome sight,” according to the CCC annual.
“The New Englanders found a well-maintained camp – one that had been built from the ground floor by Company 3810. This Company was formed in July 1935 and established in Dublin, Texas, as a soil conservation project. When the work in that vicinity was fulfilled, the company moved to Monument, Colorado.”
“The site for the now well developed camp was overgrown with brush and covered with rocks. As the only permanent building completed at this time was the mess hall, tents were set up until more permanent buildings could be established. Within three months, the portable barracks had arrived, and their erection gave the camp an appearance of permanency. The buildings were arranged circularly so as to allow convenience in passing from one barrack to another,” said the CCC annual.
“They were told that the primary function of the Camp’s work program was to furnish the necessary labor for raising and shipping of seedlings from the Monument Nursery to the various United State Forests throughout this region. It was pointed out that this process of raising trees consisted of a series of operations that varied with the seasons. Cone collecting, seed extracting, seeding, weeding, cultivating, watering, shading, protecting, transplanting, and stock distributing were given the major divisions for each year’s work. In addition to these regular Nursery operations incidental to the raising of trees, considerable construction work was completed by Company 3810. The blacksmith shop, seed extractory, implement shed, seed storage building, tree packing shed, garage, barn and two pump houses will long remain as a tribute to the superior workmanship of these enrollees. Interest in the project ran high for the members realized that they had an excellent opportunity to learn the nursery business as a career.
Sports were extremely popular with the Texans, and their teams were consistently among the best in the District. The baseball team proved its worth by winning by winning all but one of its games in a difficult schedule. An enthusiastic basketball team, not to be outdone, ran up a score of victories with only two defeats. Swimming, boxing, and tumbling teams also created records of which the Company was justly proud.
Classes of study were organized, and the educational program was functioning smoothly. Mr. Vern C. Howard was sent to take his place as teacher with the disbandment of Camp SP-12-C which was located in Colorado Springs. He brought with him radio equipment, woodworking tools, and wide assortment of books to strengthen the educational set-up. Recognizing the fact that more adequate teaching space was necessary, Mr. Howard constructed a schoolhouse entirely built from scrap lumber.
Assistant Educational Adviser James Leasure, who had learned radio while a member of the Civilian Conservation Corp, established his own station using the call letters W9ZCX. He sent and received messages to and from every part of the world.
“At the present time well-balanced educational program is being maintained. Planned courses in academic, vocational and job training subjects are conducted regularly, with determining factors being the needs and desires of members. Unusual interest has been taken in the informal groups of photography, woodwork, dancing, and the various arts and crafts. Week-end trips to the Royal Gorge, the State Penitentiary, the coal mines, the Garden of the Gods, and Pikes Peak have already been taken with other scenic spots remaining on the “must see list.”
Dr. Samuel Lilienthol, one of the first Camp Surgeons to go on duty in the district, was assigned to Company 2124 in August,1938. Since his arrival, many significant improvements have been made in the Mess Hall and the Infirmary,” the annual said.
“The work of the 2124th Company is far from complete. Its actual history still lies in the future. Mr. Donald J. Hodges, present Project Superintendent, has intensive plans for the present and the future. Several new buildings will be erected, a large amount of fence will be installed, roads will be built, and new areas will be developed to further expand the Nursery. Two side camps are in operation this summer. One to locate at Devil’s Head is developing a new camp ground, and the other situated at Indian Creek is constructing a road which will make it possible to thin a large area of the forest land to market Christmas trees,” said the forward-thinking crew, about their upcoming work.

Koi is known for its strength, individuality, character, and perseverance

An ancient tale tells of a huge school of golden koi swimming upstream in the Yellow River in China. Gaining strength by fighting against the current, the school glimmered as they swam together through the river. When they reached a waterfall at the end of the river, many of the koi turned back, letting the flow of the river carry them away. The remaining koi refused to give up. Leaping from the depths of the river, they attempted to reach the top of the waterfall to no avail. Their efforts caught the attention of local demons, who mocked their efforts and heightened the waterfall out of malice. After a hundred years of jumping, one koi finally reached the top of the waterfall. The gods recognized the koi for its perseverance and determination and turned it into a golden dragon, the image of power and strength.  Koi fish are associated with positive imagery. Because of the dragon legend, they are known as symbols of strength and perseverance, as seen in their determinative struggle upstream. And because of the lone koi that made it to the top of the waterfall, they are also known as symbols of a destiny fulfilled. Resulting from its bravery in swimming upstream.  The koi is known for its strength, individuality, character, and perseverance. 

Koi Fish symbolizes resilient nature of campus coming together

 By Rob Carrigan,

The size and scope of the Discovery Canyon Campus Koi Fish Art installation is the amazing thing.  It meanders upstream in the blue paper, from the elementary school, up stairs and through hallways of the middle school, always swimming, ever upward, over the doorways, around and through the halls and common areas of the 84-acre campus, finally reaching the highest points in high school.
“We are about 290 employees strong here and there will be an installation up throughout our entire campus running through Nov. 26. The artwork is being made by all staff members and our students. The artwork is Koi fish swimming up 31 degrees in elevation from the bottom of our campus to the top. The fish swim together and collaboratively. The fish are symbolic of working together, being together and swimming together. The Fish swim upstream against the flow of water. The fish swim up and forward always moving together as one school of fish,” says middle school art teacher Shell Acker, who began working the project in July.
"The students all have different papers and colors and textures for their fish to represent all of us are different. We all want to share our gifts like the book 'Rainbow Fish,'” she said.
By the numbers, more than 4,500 fish swim the stream. At least $160 worth of blue paper makes up that continuous stream. As many as 2,400 students and 290 staff members have worked on it.  Then there is the parents and volunteers.
"We have had parent and community groups in here 12 at time," says Acker.
At its longest point, it is probably close to 800 meters long.
In fact it is going for a world record, with Guinness World Records. Two seventh-grade DCC boys made that suggestion and then followed up. Ryan Swint and Kirby Gillman began the research on that in September and Guinness is expected reviewed at end of the month."The Koi was chosen because of its strength and resiliency. We are strong and koi are stronger and more beautiful each day. The environment we create as teachers help our students/fish become all that they can be and more valuable as well. The legend of the koi fish is read to each student so they can see why we chose this fish to create as a staff/school/student body. Students and Staff will create a moving fish.”
 “We are doing a campus-wide art installation of koi fish. The installation is a reminder that we are all a community – we swim together, and everyone is an important member of the DCC community. We all bring different colors and styles – our own uniqueness and gifts to the campus, and that makes DCC strong and whole. In addition to representing the unity of the campus, we want the Koi to serve as a visual reminder of some really important character traits.”
The middle level created fish together in Bridges time frame…parents invited to come and make a fish with your student... And the high schoolers created fish with their Thunder time classes/teachers. Elementary students were creating in the art classroom and elementary art teacher Pam Quarles is having a contest for the teachers. "If teachers create the most creative/ the best fish… they win a Starbucks gift card," Quarles said.
"I think it is really creative," said third-grader Issaac Housley. "Everyone knows where their fish is at."
Teachers and staff are all involved with the project. Even security guards have made fish. At High School level, art teachers Aubry Daman, Marilee Mason, Diane Anderson are key. From Middle School, Shell Acker and Jen Filbert, and elementary, Pam Quarles.
 "A story… a positive one about how our staff is working together each and every day with the kids our parents entrust to us each day. I am not na├»ve to know that this simple metaphorical art installation will save all our kids contemplating taking their own lives… but if it saves just one… it is worth it," said Acker.
"Our kids (students) don’t have enough tricks in their handbags to know that tomorrow will be a better day. The installation will show them to keep swimming and that we are swimming right along with them. The arts do help us heal and the arts are scientifically good for our body, mind and soul," she said.
"Visual Arts is one more way to let the kids know we are swimming behind them and in front of them… but we are swimming with them."
And create a campus wide art installation that visually represents the resilient nature of our campus and to create a community feeling of togetherness and comradery.

'Longest chain (length)' records for Guinness Book of Records

Please make sure you follow ALL these rules:

•    The record may be attempted by an individual or a team of unlimited size.
•    The record is measured in metres and centimetres, with the equivalent imperial measurement also given in feet and inches.
•    The event must take place in a public place or in a venue open to public inspection.
•    There must be no gaps in the chain and each item must be connected with the next.
•    No other instrument or technique to connect them may be used.
•    Although the record is based on the length of the chain must, the total number of items making up the chain must also be counted.
•    The chain must be continuous but does not have to be straight.
•    The event must be overseen by two independent witnesses.
•    The length of the chain must be measured by a qualified surveyor using an accurate measuring tool in the presence of two independent witnesses.


In order to approve this record Guinness World Records requires that the following documentation is submitted as evidence. Please read the Guide to Your Evidence for specific information on specific pieces of evidence.

•    One cover letter explaining the context of the record attempt. Please indicate date, time and location of the record attempt. Also please provide full details of the person(s)/organisation attempting the record including details on the preparation for the attempt. You can use the template in the Guide to Your Evidence or prepare a different Cover Letter.
•    One surveyor’s report must be provided confirming the exact length of the chain and details of the tool used to make the measurement. Proof of the surveyor’s qualification must also be provided.
•    Two independent witness statements must be provided confirming that the rules above have been adhered to and must explicitly state the total number of items used to create the chain as well as the length of the chain and any other relevant information. You can use the templates in the Guide to Your Evidence or prepare different Witness Statements as long as they follow GWR directives.
•    Photographic evidence is compulsory evidence for all record attempts. Please provide photographs showing evidence of the preparation and compilation of the chain as well as the measurement. High quality pictures will be considered for publication online and in the Guinness World Records book or related products.
•    Video evidence The attempt must be captured on video, in particular the measuring process.
•    Media articles is not a compulsory evidence requirement. If you have media coverage (newspaper, online, TV or radio) GWR please submit them as part of the evidence requirements.
•    Schedule 2 should be signed by you when you are sending in evidence which you either own or have permission to allow Guinness World Records to use.
•    If you include any photographs or video in your evidence which you do not own or have permission to allow Guinness World Records to use, then you must include Schedule 3.
•    Media articles (newspaper, online, TV or radio) should be submitted as part of the evidence requirements. This is not compulsory evidence.

Please read the Guide to Your Evidence document, where you will find further information about the evidence requirements and evidence templates. It is paramount this document is read before you submit your evidence.

Photo information:

koi 1
Pam Quarles and Issaac Housley point out his primary fish.

koi 2
Shell Acker, and Aubry Daman,  along the upstream flow.

koi 3
Volunteer Bill Beeson is responsible for much of blue stream.

koi 4
Even pregnant fish swim along, helping koi and swimming together.

koi 5
Science teacher Cindy Beggs all to "Keep swimming."

koi 6
Even Braille material might be used to make one of the more than 4,500 plus fish.

koi 10
Each fish reflects individual character.

koi 11
A librarian fish accompanies the swimming koi.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Gambling proceeds built much of Woodland Park

Woodland Park was the place to go for a good time

By Rob Carrigan,

To hear many folks tell it, illegal gambling built much of Woodland Park.
The Ouray Casino building was constructed in 1948 by Robert Rex Beach and Homer Cooley and was used as a casino that was part of the Brazenhead located to the east on U.S Highway 24 on a different piece of property. The two buildings were called "Ouray Inn and Casino, " according to research done by True West Properties.
Legend has it that an underground tunnel connects the two buildings, and a bordello was also part of the mix. The building was owned by LeRoy and Mickey McManaman, from Texas, and licensed by the state of Colorado, as a private club.
The building, a rustic structure, originally had plush wall-to-wall carpets on the first floor and five bedrooms on the second floor.
Gambling became popular in Woodland Park in the 1940 and many locals were members of the club., according to True West Properties research.
"It was known at the time, that Woodland Park was the place to go for a good time and many visited to gamble, but many citizens of Woodland Park did not approve of gambling and it was against the law," according to an oral interview of Mert Cummins, conducted in 1990.
"As early as 1948, raids of these casinos began. Most times, the casinos were forewarned, and the gambling equipment had been removed. It wasn't until the early 1950s that the gambling issue came to a head with the citizens of Woodland Park taking sides and open fighting began," according the interview of Mert Cummins.
On Christmas Day, 1951, the Ouray Casino was raided and police found gambling paraphernalia. According to a later article by Jan Pettit, in the Ute Pass Courier, dice found during that raid would only produce even numbers, and cards that could be read from the obverse side were encountered. Also, it was determined that employees would pose as customers, to make the place seem busy.
The owner, Leroy McManaman, was also out on $40,000 bond in Wichita, Kan., in connection with three robbery charges.
By 1953, Leo A. Hoegh, who would later become the Governor of Iowa, purchased the building at federal sale to clear back taxes, paying $1,150 for the property and $55,000 in liens and mortgages against it. It sold again in the summer of 1957, this time for only $7,000.
It went through several owners, eventually becoming the one-time home of the Woodland Park branch library of the Rampart Library District in 1982. Upon good authority, there was still remnants of Casino days evident, until the library district's renovation was completed. The library occupied the building until the late 1990s, when the new Rampart Range Library was built.
Gabe Brock also verified gambling in Woodland Park in the late 1940s and the early 1950s.
Brock, longtime owner of the Crystola Inn, was quoted at the time of "Big Bert" Bergstrom's death on March 12, 1986, in the Ute Pass Courier,  as reported by Liza Marron.
Berstrom had owned and operated the Thunderhead Inn and Ute Inn, among other places.
"He had 75 slot machines and I had 75 slot machines. We pooled them and put them out all over the county. We had sanction from Teller County Sheriff. We went along there for about four years without any trouble. We would rake a little off each week, and with that we built the Woodland Park Community Church. The VFW was in trouble,  and Bert bought them a building behind the Ute Inn," remembered Brock.
The Eldorado Club, which later became Preschool in the Pines, was also one of Bert's gambling clubs, Brock told the paper.
"The proceeds from gambling built a lot of Woodland Park," he said, but it all ended in 1952 when a new mayor closed things down, according to Brock.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bankrupt more than the English language

Despite its scenic excellence, the ‘Short Line’ had a very limited life span

By Rob Carrigan,

Fame is a magnifying glass that can, over time, wither something away to nothing. Or depending on a tender substance’s stability, ignite and eliminate it in a puff of smoke.
Almost literally at the turn of the century, Jan. 4, 1900, Irving Howbert turned the first shovelful of dirt on Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway Company. By April 8, 1901, the railroad commonly known as ‘The Short Line’ began operations on the brief but ‘storied’ line.
Some of the stories are true; but many are as spurious as some hard-luck miner’s explanation of what happened to his fortune and the related could-have-beens.
A rail jaunt along the these tracks became known as “The Trip which bankrupts the English Language.,” a phrase that is often attributed to Teddy Roosevelt who visited Victor and the Cripple Creek District on at least two different occasions via this rail route.
Despite its scenic excellence, the ‘Short Line’ had a very limited life span. By 1922, declining gold ore shipments forced abandonment of the rails.
W.D. Corely, Sr., of Colorado Springs, bought the railroad in 1922 and junked the rails and equipment to convert the roadbed into a scenic highway. Corely operated it as a toll road under permit with the U.S. Forest Service until 1939, when it reverted to the public as a free road, by terms of his permit.
A 1946 article in Highway Magazine by Ray Colwell, noted the difficulties involved in building the original road.
“There were few places where locating engineers could not avoid the necessity of tunneling through the Pikes Peak granite. Tunnels were decided upon only as a last resort, for the Short Line was built entirely with hand labor, churn drills, black powder and horse drawn dump carts. Tunnel construction was slow and costly, but nine of them, ranging up to 550 feet in length, were finally completed,” wrote Colwell.
All of the high trestles, which carried the railroad, have since been filled or bypassed and the road has been rerouted around the various tunnels over the decades.
“Designed for the standard gauge railway, they (the tunnels) were large bores and required a great many 12 x 12-inch timbers of coast fir to hold the badly cracked rock, especially close to the portals. Although the good circulation of dry air 8,700 feet above sea level minimized rot, the crushing weight eventually had its effect. Some of the 12-inch timbers were compressed to 6 inches or less in thickness and three of the tunnels gradually became unsafe for public use. Two of them were bypassed by rerouting the traffic over existing roads but “Tunnel Six” could not be replaced so easily,” recalled Colwell in the 1946 article.
This meant whittling several hundred feet of shelf road out of almost vertical cliff.
“Three men and a foreman, using modern equipment and high explosives, built 1,000 feet of new road under very difficult conditions in 200-man-days. They moved 4,700 yards of solid rock and 500 yards of loose rock and dirt with the aid of 3,100 pounds of C-3 plastic explosive,” he said of the tunnel rerouting in the late 1940s.
Tunnel Three partially collapsed in 1988 and an eight-mile section of the original road was closed as a result. The Old stage Road began being used as an alternate way of getting around this section.
In 1997, a group wanting to raise money to fix the tunnel and the U.S. Forest Service responded with a multi-use plan in 1999 that supported this effort.
In 1998, a group called the Short Line to Cripple Creek, Inc. successfully nominated the entire road as a National Historic Place.
Because of failure to secure enough funding for the repairs to the tunnel and controversy over what should be done, a new “scoping report” was ordered in late 2000 to look at the social and recreational impacts of repairing the road.
On February 13, 2006, a fire destroyed much of the timber supports in Tunnel Three and though arson was assumed to have caused the fire, the tunnel was then too dangerous to conduct a proper investigation.
Among the fables surrounding the road and the tunnels is a tale of a mythical school bus filled with elementary students on a field trip from a Cripple Creek elementary school that was buried in a tunnel collapse on Tunnel Three. Hauntings, characterized by bleeding walls, fingerprints on cars, giggling and laughing of school children in the first two tunnels and screams from Tunnel Three. No such accident ever occurred.
Additionally, the area has gained a reputation as a ‘body dump’ for homicide victims according to the lore. Recently, in February of last year, hikers found a human jaw bone and later Police investigators, using cadaver dogs, located additional human remains including ribs and long bones in the general area according to reports at the time.
Please see the following related posts:
• Monopoly or the Short Line
• Teddy visits Victor

Crying fire in a crowded mining camp

Nothing scared the residents more than the dreaded cry of fire.

By Rob Carrigan,

Colorado is not alone in fearing fire. But with the ramshackle, haphazard, tent-city way many of the mining districts sprang into being, coupled with high altitude, windy, dry weather in the state — entire cities could disappear in a puff of smoke.
“Nothing scared the residents more than the dreaded cry of fire.” according to Duane A. Smith in his recent book, San Juan Legacy: Life in the Mining Camps. “Camps and towns all heard it eventually. It was hoped that the fire laddies were up to the challenge.”
The fire could come from anywhere.
“A forest fire which was started from a camp fire last evening had been burning all day north of the mining camp of Gold Hill, a town of 500 inhabitants, fifteen miles from here. The timber was dry as powder, and a fierce wind carried it over five miles of dense timber in a short time,” read the Nov. 16, 1894, dispatch of the New York Times from Boulder.
“Fifty people came into Boulder this afternoon in wagons from Gold Hill. They report that the business men and miners were carrying what goods and property the could into the mining tunnels, and had abandoned hope of saving their stores and their dwellings.”
Early property loss estimates for the first day of that fire was over $1.5 million.
“The residents of Gold Hill, who have not come to Boulder, have assembled at the top of Horsefel Mountain, and are watching the progress of the flames as they consume their former homes. The wind is blowing furiously, and drives the fire before it in larges sheets of flame,” said the Times.
With the threat of fire came the development of various innovative warning systems.
Cripple Creek, for example, after suffering through two devastating fires early in its existence, was particularly jumpy.
“The town itself was visible from almost all of the railroads and mines …” wrote turn-of-the-century-era resident Raymond Colwell in 1962. “Occasionally, we would be awakened by a chorus of short, sharp toots from trains and mines in the dead of night, and we’d roll out to see where the fire was. A fire, even though just starting and very small, almost sure to be seen by some train crew or mine engineer who would start his whistle going, with the chorus taken up by others as they heard the alarm,” according to Colwell.
“Another commonly used fire alarm was five or six pistol shots as fast as the gun could be discharged. The townspeople were naturally fire conscious. Some of them remembered the big fires of 1896, and everyone realized that like all mining camps, another such conflagration could occur at any time.”
But, in addition to whistles and pistol shots, other ‘modern’ alarm methods were beginning to be used as well.
“I have a card listing the locations of the 26 fire alarm boxes in Cripple Creek, about 1903 or 1904,” Colwell said. “It would probably be difficult now to even locate some of the street intersections themselves, and I’m sure most of the buildings near them have been town down. The boxes were numbered from 5 to 45, and when a box was pulled, the number rang in all the stations, and also on a big bell on the Central station which could be heard all over town. Box Number 12, for instance would be one stroke, a pause, two strokes then a longer interval, and repeat. That was great for us kids, because if we were not otherwise engaged we knew just exactly where to head to see the excitement.”
Getting to the fire was also dangerous in the mining camps at times.
“Driving a spirited, excited team to a fire wagon could become quite a trick on some of the streets in Cripple Creek, especially when there was snow on the ground. Going uphill, the men used to hop off and push when the going got rough, but the hardest thing was to hold the outfit back when going downhill. I well remember one bad crackup when No. 2, The Old Town Company, came down Fourth Street and tried to turn on Eaton. The horses, a beautiful team, slid around and into the fire plug there and turned over. I believe the driver was fatally hurt and two other firemen put in the hospital. The wagon was completely wrecked, and I think one of the horses had to be shot,” recalled Colwell.

Bad luck in the mine, or is she just no good?

As early as the second century B.C., women commonly worked in the Egyptian gold mines.

By Rob Carrigan,

Almost universally, superstitions about women in the mines bringing bad luck appear in various cultures.
This, despite evidence suggesting women entered the mines as workers in various locales, both above and below ground, very early in the history of mining.
As early as the second century B.C., women commonly worked in the Egyptian gold mines. Until it was made illegal in 1842, female miners were also fairly common in Scotland, Yorkshire, Cumbria and throughout the United Kingdom.
Still, they weren't always welcome. Cornish miners, who have been unafraid to venture underground for more than 1,000 years, have passed on a tale from father to son, of a race of beautiful women living long ago in the forest, that tempted men by luring them away from home and family.
“To punish them the gods blasted their forest homes, changing the stately trees into black rocks which were covered by earth,” writes Mara Lou Hawse.
“Into these carbonized rocks the spirits of the sirens were driven for an imprisonment that would last for centuries. After serving their long period of penance, these sirens came out to wreak vengeance on mankind. Thus whenever an explosion occurred in the mines, it was a sign that more of these mythological sirens were escaping from the wall of coal, accompanied by the poisonous gases which carried death to every miner in their path.”
In Russia, Italy, and in the American West, similar stories of bad luck and taboo rose to the surface. And the superstition has persisted almost right up to modern days.
When First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited Willow Grove Mine in St. Clairsville, Ohio in March of 1940, miners warned that there would be trouble. To lend credence to their stories, on March 16, a few days after her visit, an explosion ripped through the mine killing 72 miners.
Here in Colorado on Nov. 9, 1972, sixty miners walked off the job at the Straight Creek Tunnel when Janet Bonnema, an engineering tech for the Division of Highways challenged the idea that a mine or tunnel was ‘no place for a woman.’
Bonnema took the Colorado Civil Service exam for an engineering position Division of Highways in 1970.
“She was notified via letter (addressed to Mr. Jamet [sic] Bonnema) that “he” had qualified for a job at the Straight Creek Tunnel. When she called to discuss the salary, the state employment officer the offer had been for a male (he thought Jamet was James), and that she didn’t want the job because women were not allowed in the tunnel,” according to recent story in Colorado Heritage by Dianna Litvak.
“Bennema said that indeed she did want the job, and accepted a position created for her in the tunnel office. But she never received a hard hat, protective clothing or ID badge, like the male technicians, and was barred from the tunnel,” wrote Litvak.
Her lawsuit, with the backing of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Colorado Civil Right Commission, eventually remedied that.
When the hard-rock miners warned she would cause a fatal accident and walked out, she was quoted, “When those guys buy the tunnel then I’ll say ‘Ok, it’s your tunnel’ and I’ll leave.”
Another relatively well-known character of the early mineral rush of Colorado was Ellen Elliott Jack, or “Captain Jack’ as she was commonly known.
Ms. Jack headed west from New York looking treasure foretold by a gypsy and first established a boarding house in Gunnison and began poking around the nooks and crannies of the hills there.
“During her trips to the mountains, Ellen discovered the very profitable Black Queen silver mine. The mine provided her with happiness as well as heartache,” according to the Dickson Research Center at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
It, and her rough and tumble lifestyle in the Colorado mining towns, also provided ample opportunity to use her shooting irons – with which, she became quite adept.
Late in her life, she always carried a pickaxe and a pistol where ever she traveled.
"I do not fear man or devil; it is not in my blood, and if they can shoot any straighter or quicker than I, let them try it, for a .44 equalizes frail women and brute men, and all women ought to be able to protect themselves against such ruffians," Jack was quoted.
If you messed with her mine, I guess she believed in creating her own brand of bad luck.

Swinging lanterns, headless baggage, other wrecks

On the Rio Grand Southern between Rico and Dolores,  several similar yarns appear

By Rob Carrigan,

The Maco Light is a relatively famous story about an 1867 Wilmington-Manchester train wreck in North Carolina and of one Charles “Joe” Baldwin, whose Ghost, it is said, haunted that stretch of track until it was pulled up in 1977.
According to the story, Joe, on shift as conductor for the railroad in the caboose, noticed a slowing of his car, only to discover that the caboose had become uncoupled with the rest of the train. Realizing that the slow moving car posed a grave danger to the fast-moving train following directly behind, Joe grabbed his signal light, headed to the back rail of the platform and frantically tried to warn the engineer in the following locomotive.
Witnesses to the accident reported that Joe stayed where he was, waving the lantern, to the bitter end. According to some versions of the story, just before the engine collided with the car, Joe’s lantern was hurled away and rolled over and over again, finally coming to rest in a perfectly upright position.
Some versions of the tale say the coach was completely demolished and Joe was killed, his head severed from his body, however, newspaper accounts have him dying days later in the hospital.
Shortly after this horrible accident, the Maco light began to appear along the train tracks and continued to appear for hundreds of viewers over the years until the tracks were pulled up in 1977 (although accounts say the light can still be seen on the abandoned rail bed with the most recently recorded sightings in 2009).
Here in Colorado, on the Rio Grand Southern between Rico and Dolores, I have encountered several similar yarns.
Mary Joy Martin, in her book “Something in the Wind: Spirits, Spooks & Sprites of the San Juan,” offers the following account.
“The freighter, hauling a heavy load of timber and ore was flying down the track below Rico, heading to Durango. A brief stop was scheduled for Rio Lado, where a few section men were to disembark for their bunks at the section house. The train had just passed Milepost 70 and the Montelores passing track. Staring into the engulfing gloom of night, made all the blacker by the deep narrow valleys and canyons of the Dolores River, engineer Tom Quine concentrated on the track where the headlight beam reached. The sky was moonless, and the black-robed seemed to close in tighter, their summits higher.”
It was then, according to Martin’s account, that Quine first saw the light.
“Far ahead a signal light appeared, like a pinpoint hovering from side to side above the track. Quine strained to see it. It was gone. He shrugged, gave it over to ‘tricks of the night.’ The sound of the train throbbed against the silent forests, the only sound beneath the moonless sky, a rhythmic, soothing tune to the engineer. He took a long draw on his pipe and relaxed, although keeping a vigilant eye on the track ahead.”
The light appeared again and Quine, to assure himself that he wasn’t seeing things, asked fireman Ed Slick to take a look. The fireman saw nothing, Martin wrote.
The signal light appeared and Quine whistled to get the brakeman to slow the train.
“… And suddenly the swinging lantern seemed to be only a short distance away. Yelling for Slick to come and see for himself, Quine and the crew brought the train to a steaming, squealing stop within yards of the signaler. The crew jumped out, running ahead of the engine to see who was signaling and why.”
Nobody, with signal or otherwise, was discovered anywhere near, but a dangerous mound of rock, gravel and earth that had washed down from the steep canyons, covered the tracks just in front of them. The phantom signaler, it is said, probably saved the crew’s lives.
“At the original, higher speed of the train, Tom Quine would have been unable see the muck in time, causing a wreck,” says Martin.
Another RGS railroad story bearing some of the marks of the Maco Light incident was related by Dan Asfar in “Ghost Stories of Colorado.”
Asfar describes a mysterious, heavily tattooed man who put his neck on the tracks in the Telluride Depot.
“Nothing is known about the man’s motivation, but he had long been considered one of the town’s more idiosyncratic citizens. After the incident, his apparition was encountered several times by clerks watching over baggage cars out of Telluride. Low miserable moans coming from one of the baggage compartments alerted these clerks that something was amiss. It was just a matter of swinging open a single door, and a baggage clerk would be traumatized for life. For there, standing on the other side of the door, was the headless man, his arms and torso bedecked in tattoos of women and religious icons from myriad faiths, holding his own bleeding head aloft with an outstretched arm.”
And one fairly recent account of a documented accident sounds eerily similar to the Maco Light yarn, without of course, the disastrous effects and resultant hauntings.
In the Dolores Star dated September 29, 1950, Hartley Lee writes about it in his Hart’s Stuff from Rico column.
“Friday sure was a bad day for old Puffen Jennie when 445 and caboose was rocking along a half mile this side of the high bridge, when the tender jumped the track and went over the hill, was a darn good thing that the coupling unhooked from the outfit or the caboose would have gone with it. Talk about a mess, they really had one, but the most disastrous part of the whole event was when conductor Phillips who was cooking his supper lost his spuds, says they were scattered all over the floor and under the bunks, while the coffee pot went rolling out the door. Due to the fact that the tender was so far over the hill, it was decided to push it on over and let it land on the highway below. Then they had Roy with the county cat to pull it back to the crossing where it was put on the rails again. Now if that wasn’t honey of a deal seeing that tender down on the road behind a cat. You know if a guy was smart, he could write a book about the old RGS and it would be the best seller in the country.”
Maybe so, I reckon. And it might be as famous, well known, and imitated as the Maco Light yarn.

More than thrown on the wall to see what sticks

Disappointment tears at the very fabric of life. And hope is about the only thing disappointment respects. Imagine, if you will, the disappointment Col. Nathaniel P. Turner felt when he realized that his crowning engineering achievement, the hanging flume above the Dolores River, was an exercise in futility. Imagine the despair when he found there was no hope for the project, and years of his life’s work were for nothing.
“In 1886, several companies were formed to work the placers at Mesa and Cottonwood Creeks, wrote Ben H. Parker, Jr., of Golden, in an unpublished doctoral dissertation in 1960, at Colorado School of Mines. “The following year the Mesa Creek placer properties came into the possession of the Montrose Place Mining Co. capitalized at $5,000,000.”
According to the Engineering and Mining Journal (1887, v 44, p 263,) this company claimed to have 600 acres of placer ground underlain by gravels 12 to 115 feet deep worth from 50 cents to $7 per cubic yard. In a feature article on the company’s operations, the Engineering and Mining Journal (1890, v 49, p 563-565) reported the following.
“… In the spring of 1888, the ground was prospected by the aid of streams of melting snow and trifling amounts of water afforded by the Mesa Creek, quite a small stream. The result, however, was so satisfactory that the company decided to build a ditch and flume to a point 10 miles above (on the) San Miguel River.
There was about half and half ditching and fluming … the total cost will be about $75,000 when finished, and it is expected to be completed within a few months … This work was commenced at the lower end where the greater part of the flume is (because) the forest from which the lumber obtained is located nearest that point. Now work is going on at the upper end…”
“The flume traverses the whole length of the Dolores Canyon, which is about four miles. It is fastened to the walls of the cliff … and for a long distance elevation above the river of 300 to 400 feet. It is very firmly built and has been fully tested to carry the volume of water, which will pass through it when finished… In getting the levels, the work was very dangerous, the man being lowered down over the cliff… marking in read paint the line to be followed by the construction gang. As the supporting timbers were put into place, the floor of the flume was laid and the derrick pushed out ahead, from which other supporting timbers were raised and secured to their places. Under favorable conditions, with a gang of 12 men, 250 feet per day have been erected. At one point on the line, nearly 200 feet long, the rock projects out, forming a sort of canopy, and is so shaped that it was impossible to support the flume on brackets, and is hung from bolts, driven in overhead, on which the flume swings … , “ reported the Mining Journal.
The flume was six feet wide and four feet deep; it was set on sills fastened to the cliff with iron pins and supported on the hanging end by posts or inclined timbers pinned to the cliff beneath. More than 1,800,000 feet of lumber was used to complete its construction.
According to Frank Hall in History of the State of Colorado (1895, v4, p235):
… The operative plant of the Montrose Pacer Mining Company, formed of St. Louis capitalists, and managed by Col. N.P. Turner, an experienced California miner, is one of the remarkable mining triumphs of engineering in our state…
The company owns six and half miles of mining ground on the Dolores River. To successfully work them by hydraulic process, it was found necessary to tap the stream thirteen miles above, and carry the water by ditch and flume the entire distance. For more than six miles this flume is supported on brackets from and overhanging cliff, ranging from 100 to 150 above the river and from 250 to 500 feet below the summit of the gorge. In places the cliff hangs over an angle of fifteen degrees and such water as escapes strikes the opposite side of the river 100 yards from its base. A wagon road was constructed along the cliff at the apex, from which workmen were let down by ropes for the purpose of drilling into the face of the cliff, inserting the iron brackets (pins) and setting the flume thereon,” wrote Hall.
“Col. Turner was engaged more than two years in perfecting this wonderful enterprise. It carries 80,000,000 gallons of water each 24 hours. Its grade is 6 feet, 10 inches to the mile and its cost is something over $100,000. At the placers the latest improved hydraulic machinery is employed, and the work of cutting and sluicing began in the early summer of 1891. Col. Turner’s lowest estimate of the gold contents of the ground is 25 to 30 cents per cubic yard and he washes down the great main sluice from 4,000 to 5,000 cubic yards daily. The gold is extremely fine, and can only be saved by the liberal use of quicksilver. At the time of my interview with him at Ouray, and afterward and Montrose in September, 1891, he had made no general cleanup of the sluices, but had taken from the head four our five balls of amalgam about the size of hen’s eggs, and a partial indication of the precious metal being saved. It was, of course, wholly impossible to determine the results of the season until the final investigation to occur at th close of the operations for the year, but he was very confident that large profits would accrue to the company for many years to come.”
August 8, 1891, the Engineering and Mining Journal (1891, v.52, p170) quoted local newspapers as reporting the company had just made a cleanup of $80,000 after a run of 6 weeks with one giant. (This conflicts with Halls report, however.)
Parker said he found no subsequent reports of operations or production by the Montrose Company except for a short news item in the Engineering and Mining Journal (1897, v. 64 p 345) which reported the operations were suspended in 1893. The gravel deposits below the mouth of the flume are much less extensive than the company’s reports indicated and their value probably proved only a fraction of the company’s estimates, he said.
According to author Kenneth Jessen, in his book Bizarre Colorado, “the placer miners who discovered the fine gold on Mesa Creek Flats had little difficulty recovering gold with their pans; however the gold was such a fine powder that it washed right through the sluice and remained suspended in the water. It became clear the entire investment in the flume was lost. Col. Turner became so disheartened over the complete failure of the project that he went to Chicago, rented a room. And shot himself though the head.”
Various efforts continued to try to make the project pay for several years after it completion. But according to information by Hanging Flume on the Uniweep-Tabaguache Scenic and Historic Byway, “The end of the venture was sealed with ‘The Panic of ‘93’ when Wall Street futures came tumbling down in 1893. Just like today, the effects of Wall Street encompassed the entire nation including Colorado’s western frontier. In the end, the Hanging Flume was considered a failure. It was left hanging on the sandstone canyon walls, and all that remains is what you see today.”

Reading backwards, pouring lead, hanging on a Star

Comparing notes with other ink-stained wretches 

By Rob Carrigan,

My first paying job in the newspaper business was folding the Dolores Star as it came off the press when I was six years old. It didn’t pay much – unless you can count the experience and education.
A penny per paper comes to mind, but if may have been less. Even at that rate, with two or three others (usually bigger, faster, stronger, smarter) working the same 700-paper circulation, you were lucky to come away with a buck from the afternoon. I wasn’t in it for the money.
Longtime southwest Colorado resident Ellis Miller recently related to me similar experience, recalling the tools of the trade at the time.
“My uncle Tom Johnson was the owner/editor of the Dolores Star prior to the Pleasants. It was located in the brick building you mentioned and Shorty Lobato was the "printer's devil." I used to be fascinated by the Linotype machine. Uncle Tom typed with two fingers, very quickly and efficiently, I might add. I had the job of going to the newspaper office after school and folding papers. My tools were glycerin to put on my fingers to make handling the paper easier and a "bone" which was just that, a flat piece of bone, maybe 5" x 2" that was used to crease the papers. It was an exciting environment, indeed.”
But other jobs reared their ugly head from time-to-time in the busy paper environment. My long-time favorite was the scratch pad business. You literally could (with limits) decide how much you wanted to make, in a very short period of time.
Making scratch pads, I determined was an art. In the days before 3M came up with the “Post It,” we would salvage whatever paper came off trim-to-fit jobs and clamp it down in a nice, even-edged stack, trim an even tighter edge, then slather one-side with the bright green or red plastic padding compound. Then let it cure a day or so, and usually trim the stack again in the paper cutter and separate. The paper cutter, which was back near the rope-driven elevator platform, was a much-feared piece of equipment with a long lever, a tightening wheel-driven clamp, fence and a razor-sharp knife-edge. Given the right circumstances, you could of whacked off pretty much any body part if you weren’t careful. Being cautious and not trying to cut something too thin produced the desired product usually, resulting in … Viola! “New & Improved” scratch pads.
But the manufacturing process was only part of the fun for me. I liked the sales process. Remember these were the days before electronic calculators; so just about every business scribbled out calculations for sales tax, or used them to determine how many rolls of roofing to sell to cover seven squares of roof, or to draw pictures of the part they were trying to order.
When you had gathered the right amount of various sized pads, in various colors, thicknesses, paper weights, etc… it was time throw them in a box and hit the street.
I sold stacks of white 5 ¼ “ x 8 ½” pads to the hardware store, bundles of smaller pads at the garage where my Dad worked, heaps of scratch pads to the grocery stores, loads at the Forest Service building, and I was just getting started.
Another job at the shop that I eventually learned, was labeling the papers for the mail. Much more difficult and mechanized than it is today, the label machine usually required an ability to hold your face right to get the labeler to work properly. It had a series of hot type labels set in ‘stick’ of type that rode in a carriage above, and a gummed roll of two-inch-wide paper that would feed through, cut, and place the semi-wet label on the papers. You had to “air the papers out” a bit so the labels wouldn’t get knocked off until they were dry. It was a major pain in the butt.
Near the top of the food chain, at least in the Dolores Star office, was actually running the linotype, something that I never did more than casually. I remember that Dan Pleasant was considered the ace at the board there, perhaps ostensibly for his skill and ability to avoid “Widows and Orphans.”
Linotype keyboards were originally arranged by how frequent a particular letter would come up. There was a key for each letter in the alphabet: for upper case, and lower case, and a bunch of extra keys for numbers and symbols.
The first two vertical columns on the left side of the board read “ETAOIN SHRDLU.” When the person running the beast screwed up, it wasn’t easy to go back to delete it. You had to finish the line before tossing the slug and re-keying a new one. Because the bad line was going to be tossed back in the pot, the industry habit developed to do what was called a "run down", creating this nonsense phrase to signify the error. It was supposed to be easy to see a “run down” by those putting the pages together — but not always.
Thus, the practice sometimes resulted in the phrase accidentally getting in to print, instead of being tossed when the stick of type went to the compositors and eventually to lock-up. The error happened frequently enough in hot type days that “ETAOIN SHRDLU” eventually appeared in most dictionaries.
Several years ago I enjoyed discussions with another "ink-stained wretch" while comparing notes about the "old days" of hot type. The weathered newspaper veteran seemed to enjoy it as well.
"It was refreshing to hear words like "Elrod, Ludlow, type lice and one of my favorites, pouring pigs," noted Rich Leinbach, Director of Publishing Systems for the Goshen News in Goshen, Indiana. For the uninitiated, a "pig" was a lead casting used in Linotype typesetting machines. And, on hearing of our common reference points, he told the following story.
"This brings me to a fond memory of pig pouring, back in the late 70s. I was fresh out of high school and although our newspaper had already converted to offset, we still used a decent amount of hot type in our commercial printing department.
"It was late one day and I had the job of firing up the lead furnace to pour a fresh batch of pigs. I had the pot filled with molten lead, had skimmed off the dross and was just beginning to pour the pigs when the valve broke, in the open position.
"Needless to say, gravity took over and the entire pot of lead became one giant pig on the floor, in a matter of a few minutes.
"To make matters even worse, just after my masterpiece had cooled into a solid mass, the entire staff of "Big Wigs" came parading through, after a late meeting. There I stood, pry bar in hand, trying to get rid of the evidence before anyone could find out. Ah . . . those WERE the good old days."

Photo information:

1. A smaller job press, with circular platen, used to print cards.

2. Engraving art to drop in layouts. Assemble pieces of metal type, were gathered into words and lines using a Linotype, or even hand-picked and collected on a composing stick, which are then transferred to a galley,  before being locked into a forme and printed.

3.  The label machine usually required an ability to hold your face right to get the labeler to work properly.