Saturday, December 30, 2017

Mysterious county park inspires imagination


Tucked away in the northeast corner

By Rob Carrigan,

The Paint Mines, just a short distance (about a mile) from Calhan, in the northeast part of El Paso County, seems like the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery.
The landscape is surreal, windblown, a little desperate, and above all else — mysterious.
I can just imagine one of C.J. Box's characters uttering something like: "Nothing spells trouble like two drunk cowboys with a rocket launcher.”
Or perhaps, something from Tony Hillerman:
"You notice anything about the skeletons?” Leaphorn was squatting now in the shallow trench, examining bones. “Somebody seemed to be interested in the jawbones,” Chee said.
It is the kind of country that inspires. Natural, beautiful, and able to hold its own in a fight — with more than a little bit of its own crazed sort of meanness.
 "The landscape has fascinated people for thousands of years, and continues so to this day. Located on the Colorado eastern plain, the area transitions from wetland, to short-grass prairie, to badland topographies," says History Colorado (the state historical association.)
"Wildlife seem to enjoy the surroundings as much as humans do – mule deer, coyote, falcons, hawks and an adventuresome mountain lion or two have been spotted there. Archaeological investigation, funded through a State Historical Fund grant, has substantiated prehistoric and historic American Indian occupation as evidenced by the finding of stone dart tips, arrow heads, and petrified wood used in tool manufacturing.  The local clay was mined for use in ceremonial paint as well as pottery making.  A homestead site within the boundary confirms the use of the property by Euro-American settlers in the 1800’s.  The significance of the site has led to the designation of the Calhan Paint Mines Archaeological District by the National Park Service.  Used by hikers, birdwatchers and as an outdoor laboratory by geology students, the site has come under the protection of the El Paso County Parks Department.  A recent State Historical Fund grant has gone toward funding a master plan to balance the legitimate public uses and to address threats such as “pot hunting” and vandalism," History Colorado says.
 Over time, the State Historical Fund has awarded $82,000 to the El Paso County Parks Department for archaeological survey and master planning at the Calhan Paint Mines.
"Located in the northeast section of the County near Calhan with approximately 750 acres. The paint mines have evidence of human life as far back as 9,000 years ago. The colorful clays were used by Native Americans. The park features fantastic geological formations including spires and hoodoos that were formed through erosive action that created incised gullies and exposed layers of seienite clay and jasper. The park includes a restroom facility, four miles of trails, interpretive signage, and many natural wonders," says El Paso County. Though, in a cruel nod to the mystery of the place, the restrooms are not always open.  Parking can fill up as well.
"The unique geological formations and colorful clays have been attracting visitors for thousands of years. Early archaeological evidence of Native American use at the site dates back over 9,000 years. Because of these valuable archeological resources within the park,  the area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, said Justin Henderson, in the a Parks Management Plan for El Paso County in 2010, when the county first acquired the responsibility for managing the park.
"In addition to these cultural resources, the park also features many natural and recreational resources. The Badland geology of the site has led to erosive forces that have cut deep gullies in the surrounding hills, exposing clay while at the same time creating amazing geological formations called hoodoos and spires. The grasslands and prairie provide a natural setting for the Park on the Front Range, which is experiencing tremendous growth and sprawl. Through a partnership with the Palmer Land Trust, sections of the Park are protected under a conservation easement. These natural geological features and open prairie landscapes attract visitors to the Park, and are a valuable scenic as well as recreational resource for the community. Only a thirty-five minute drive from downtown Colorado Springs, Paint Mines provides a uniquely different park experience for residents of El Paso County," noted Henderson, at the time.
To me, it is still a mystery that more people don't know about this place.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Difficulties at the saloon locally

'I'm hanging John Barley Corn'

By Rob Carrigan,

Ernest Hemingway often said he drank to make other people more interesting. A little more than 100 years ago, it became increasing difficult to get a drink here in Colorado.  And here in Monument ...
Well, off and on, between the Whiskey men and temperance — it was interesting.

“In 1912, an amendment to prevent the manufacture and sale of liquor was submitted to the electorate,” wrote Carl Ubbelohde, Maxine Benson and Duane A. Smith in A Colorado History.

“The voters defeated the proposal. But that defeat stirred the various groups to common action. Submerging their differences, they sponsored another amendment two years later. This time the voters answered the question of ratification affirmatively, approving an experiment in social engineering, despite a two-to-one rejection of the amendment in Denver. The ‘wet’ forces in the capital city threatened to use the new ‘home rule’ prerogatives of the city to escape the effect of the law, but on Jan 1, 1916, prohibition became the rules in Denver and all of Colorado.”

Colorado was joined by six other states, (Iowa, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Arkansas, and South Carolina) at that stroke of midnight as 1500 saloons across the state, 500 hotels, restaurant and drugstores stopped selling, and 12 beer breweries closed.

Locally, here in Monument, liquor and bad characters seemed to go hand in hand.

Lucillle Lavelett documented it this way in "Through the Years at Monument" and "Monument's Faded Neighbor Communities and Its Folk Lore."

"Monument always had its saloons and whiskey men. Two murders were committed in Limbach saloon. A feud between Daniel Davidson and Francis Brown developed over a cattle transaction, each accused the other of stealing cattle, On Oct. 21, 1876, they met in the saloon and exchanged words. Davidson drew his pistol and shot Brown twice. Brown died almost instantly.

"He is buried in the Monument Cemetery, and his stone reads: 'He was killed.' A trial was held in February, 1877. The jury found Davidson guilty. His lawyers obtained a writ of supersedeos and he was released on bond of $5,000. Almost three years of litigation followed. The second trial began on Feb. 13, 1880 and on Feb, 21, Davidson was found not guilty. He was elected to the Town Board in 1881 and Davidson was the promoter of the ordinance passed prohibiting the shooting of firearms in town, and increasing liquor licenses $300 per year," Lavelett wrote.

"The second murder committed in a saloon was a feud between Rube Pribble and a Mr. Neff.  Mr. Pribble accused Neff of stealing a plow from him. Mr. Pribble shot and killed Neff. On Sunday morning when he was shown Neff's body, his only words were, "I have killed my best friend."

Pribble was found guilty and sentenced to life in the penitentiary. On the second trial it was brought out Neff had not stolen the plow but a third party had, and hid it in the barn. Pribble, this time was sentenced to 25 years, but died of pneumonia in a short time," reported Lavelett.

With prohibition, many saloons became lunch counters and soft drink fountains and for the first time, women (other than those working the saloons) were welcomed.

In Monument, however, Limbach's Saloon became a pool hall operated by Bob Burell for a few years, starting in 1916, on the east side of Front Street. Saloons already had periodically faced challenges here in town.

"The license fee to sell liquor in 1897 was $500. The town had a very active Women's Christian Temperance Union (W.C. T.U.) There was always battles going on between Temperance folks and Whiskey men," Lavelett wrote.

"The Whiskey men usually won every town election, except in April 1896. That year Ordinance No. 33 was passed prohibiting selling liquor in town. The W.C.T.U. folks sent a thank you resolution to Board Members to be written in the minutes. Evidently the Whiskey men gave the Temperance a bad time for it. One by one, Temperance resigned, until Whiskey got power again and Ordinance No. 36 repealed Ordinance No. 33, and the saloons were open again. One W.C.T.U. lady would gather up the whiskey bottles and hang them by the neck on her fence and put up a sign saying 'I am hanging John Barley Corn.'"

It had been an ongoing battle, according to Lavelett.

As early as  1881, the Monument Saloon was fined for keeping the window shades down on Sunday.

"Monument did not have a "peeping Tom" but there was a woman that lived in town who was very much opposed to saloons, and she was named 'peeping Sal.' She wanted to know who the men were who spent their evenings at the saloon, so she could give their wives a bad time. Most every night, she would go peek in the windows of the saloon, and several times the men had seen her."

Peeping Sal was known for disappearing down a narrow, one-way passage between the saloon and another nearby building, when spotted and she then remained in hiding. Reportedly, she was cured of the habit by saloon patrons pretending to be oblivious, urinating out of second story window into the hiding place.

"That was the cure for the peeping and the end of the sarcastic remarks to the ladies who husbands went to the saloon," Lavelett reported.

Photo Information:
1. Bob Burrel's Pool Hall, about 1917, man with the hat unknown, man with cap John Pribble.

2. Limbach Saloon, circa 1885.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Originally Woodland Park CCC Camp builds roads, fights fire, manages floods and more

Work leads to improved physical condition, 

heightened morale, and increased employability

 By Rob Carrigan,

Saylor Park, described as a beautiful spot fourteen miles north and east of Woodland Park, and approximately eight miles west of Palmer Lake — on what was then the largest national forest in the country, the Pike — was the location of formation. Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) Company 1819, later to become Camp F-14-C, was organized here starting June 26, 1933.
"Instead of finding neatly constructed barracks already prepared for them, the men were given tents to erect, and until these were erected the men slept in the open at an altitude of 9,000 feet," reported a 1938 history of the CCC. "The first few weeks, meals were served in the open under an Aspen tree, with no shelter to protect the men from rain or wind, during meal time."
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried, men. Originally for young men ages 18–25, it was eventually expanded to young men ages 17–28. The CCC was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.
The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men, and to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States. At the same time, it implemented a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000. Over the course of its nine years in operation, 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month, ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).
"A number of projects were started shortly after the camp had been constructed and organized to some extent. Timber stand improvement was perhaps the major project undertaken the first summer. A side camp was established at the Monument Nursery doing nursery work and a road was constructed from Woodland Park to the camp," according to CCC records.
"Early in November of 1933, due to the high altitude and existing weather conditions, the company moved to Manitou Springs, for the winter months."
During that winter, road work began on an important project.
"A purposed road project from Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs up over Bald Mountain by way of Williams Canyon to connect with Mount Herman Road a few miles North of Woodland Park," was described. "This project has been named and designated as the 'Rampart Range Road.'"
Also, at about the same time, work began on a series of flood control dams on Fountain Creek in Ute Pass above Manitou Springs. In the process, a number o model relief maps were made in the camp, that were used for years later, and even today, in the Pikes Peak region.
"On June 1, 1934, the main camp was moved back to Saylor Park for the summer and construction was started on a road north from Saylor Park to Devils Head. Several other projects as rodent control, timber stand improvement, and fence and trail construction, were carried on during the summer.  A side camp composed of from sixty to eighty men had been left in Manitou Springs to continue to work on Dams "One" and "Four." A side camp was also maintained at the Monument Nursery doing nursery work," records indicate.
But just as Norman Maclean, the great writer of forests and men sent into them, noted, “time was just a hangover from the past with no present meaning.”
"Due to the severe drought during the summer of 1934, a great fire hazard was created. The later part of June the entire company was ordered out on a fire known as the "Tarryall Fire," on the Tarryall range of mountains. At altitudes of ten and and eleven thousand feet, in the most rugged part of the mountains, fire fighting was extremely dangerous. During the fire, men worked from eighteen to twenty hours per shift, with occasionally no meals, and the best bed one could secure consisted of one or two blankets with the nearest tree for shelter," according the CCC history written in 1938.
"On Memorial Day of 1935, one of the worst floods known in the Pikes Peak region took place in Colorado Springs. Immediately the entire company was taken to Colorado Springs to aid the flood victims to safety, and later help guard property and regulate traffic. A good many of the victims were housed and fed in the camp until they could be cared for otherwise."
In the summer of 1935, Camp 1819 headquartered at Manitou Springs, and a new side camp of nearly fifty men at Watson Park worked on Devils Head fire lookout. Another side camp continued work at the Monument Nursery through the summer, and a crew of about 100 men worked from the main camp tasked with flood control in the Ute Pass area.
"In early fall of 1935, the Jackson Creek side camp moved to Manitou Springs, and had by this time broken through with the Devils Head road to the Denver Highway," said CCC records.
"The Monument side camp remained at the Monument Nursery all winter. Work at the nursery consisted of mulching the tree beds and clearing another plot of ground which made the nursery twice as large and necessitated an increase in men at that side camp to take care of additional work. During the winter months another side camp was maintained at Woodland Park doing timber survey work in that area. As the first month of 1936 had slipped by, the series of flood control dams in the Ute Pass has been completed. Dam 'Eight' at Crystola being the last. After the completion of the dams, all men went to work on the 'Rampart Range Road.'"
In the summer of 1936, and on through the year, the camp continued to grow its presence at the Monument Nursery, and another side camp was working at Glen Cove, and others doing timber survey work in the Woodland Park area. During the winter of '36 and '37, men from main camp concentrated on finishing the lower portion of Rampart Range Road.
The side camp work continued during next years, with the establishment of sewer system at Glen Cove, additional participation in work at the Monument Nursery, with the eventual re-establishment of Company 3810 from Texas at Monument. The main camp moved out of Manitou Springs eventually back to its former home of Company F-64-C in Saylor Park and three side camps continued to operate, by 1938.
"Since its inception in June 1933, nearly eleven hundred-fifty men have been enrolled or transferred into the company. Of that number, more than nine hundred men have returned to civilian life in thirteen state. During the more than five years of its life, the company has been station within fifty miles of its birthplace at Saylor Park, Colorado. A great deal of valuable work has been completed which will long stand as a monument to the unstinted efforts of all members of the enrolled and supervisory personnel."
The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the New Deal programs. An individual's enrollment in the CCC was said to lead to improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability. The CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation's natural resources, and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.

Photo information:
1. Workers of CCC Company F-64-C canting timber.
2. Building roads was a big part of the local efforts.
3. Replanting trees without modern equipment was labor intensive.
4. August 8, 1934 call to muster, at CCC camp near Monument Rock.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Family had an early start near White River

We didn't come to Meeker very often, but it was the only town around

By Rob Carrigan,

W.S. Taylor, my great grandfather, brought out his wife and infant daughter out from Minnesota to the White River area (Axial Basin between Craig and Meeker) in the spring of 1882. That
infant daughter, was my great Aunt Ruth, and later their other children, Verda, Cecil (my grandmother), Milton and Marian, were born at their home in Axial Basin. These children were some of the earliest pioneers in this section of the country.

W.S. Taylor, came here because his brother Gene Taylor, had been here as an Indian scout, for several years. Gene Taylor and Joe Collom (another distant relative) are both mentioned in Marshal Sprague's book, "Massacre on the White River."

"I was born on February 9, 1882. My mother and I came to Rawlins on the train, in July 1882. My father met us at Rawlins and with a team and wagon, and brought us to Axial. He had come to Axial earlier, but I don't know what month. He came with his sister, and a cousin, Charlie Wilson, because one of his brothers had come earlier. His brother was interested in the Indian Agency, he worked with Indians quite a bit," my Aunt Ruth Taylor Jordan said in "This is what I remember: History of Rio Blanco County," in 1972.

"He was named Willie when he was born but when he got grown up, he didn't like that name, so he always wrote it William," she said.

"My dad ranched some at Axial, and he did carpenter work and some blacksmithing — he did a little of everything. He did quite a bit of surveying, and while he never took a course in engineering, he understood enough about it. He had a transit and he used to run ditch levels and road grades and things like that," Aunt Ruth said.

When the Ferdinand Hayden surveys of the Front Range and up through Yellowstone, went through that part of the country, my great granddad employed that transit with Hayden and others, such as renowned photographer William Henry Jackson. During his twelve years of labor and annual survey journeys, Hayden's work resulted in the most valuable series of volumes in all branches of natural history and economic science; and he issued in 1877 his "Geological and Geographical Atlas of Colorado." The last of the annual survey journeys was in 1878, but upon the reorganization and establishment of the United States Geological Survey in 1879, Hayden acted for seven years as one of the geologists. Hayden died in Philadelphia on December 22, 1887.

"I went to school in Axial; it was just one room then. There has been more built on since. There was anywhere from nine to twenty students, most of them came on horseback. The first year, we had two months of school, and the second year we had four months of school. After that, we had an eight-month school. We had four months in the spring, and then we skipped two months in the summer, then four months in the fall," Ruth Taylor Jordan related in the 1972 history.

Events of were not too removed either physically, or in time sequence, from trouble between white settlers and the Utes in that area.

Meeker Massacre was a conflict that occurred when the Utes attacked an Indian agency on September 29, 1879. They killed the Indian agent, Nathan Meeker and his 10 male employees. They took some women and children—including Meeker's wife and daughter—as hostages to secure their own safety as they fled and held them for 23 days. Troops from Fort Steele in Wyoming were called in.

The government sent approximately 150-200 soldiers, led by Major Thomas T. Thornburgh, commander of Fort Steele in Wyoming. When the troops were about 50 miles from the Indian Agency, a group of Ute rode out to meet them. The Ute said they wanted a peace conference with Meeker, and would allow Thornburgh and five soldiers to come. Remembering the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, the Ute wanted the main body of soldiers to stay 50 miles away on a hill which they designated. Thornburgh ignored their demand and continued into the restricted Ute land.

At Milk Creek on the northern edge of the reservation, about 18 miles from the Agency, Ute warriors attacked Thornburgh's forces. In the first few minutes' exchange of fire, Major Thornburgh and 13 men were killed, including all his officers above the rank of captain. Another 28 men were wounded and three-quarters of the horses and mules were killed, but troops dug in behind the wagon trains and animals' bodies for defense. One man rode hard to get out a request for reinforcements. The US forces held out for several days. They were reinforced by 35 black cavalrymen (known as Buffalo Soldiers) from Fort Lewis in southern Colorado, who got through the enemy lines.

Interestingly enough, my father's birth certificate (Wayne Carrigan) who was born in 1928 on the ranch homesteaded later by Grandfather on Morapas Creek, lists Thornburgh as place of birth.

"I was afraid of the Indians," remembered my Great Aunt Ruth, of her early childhood. "One time we all went to Meeker. My family wanted to have some pictures taken, and they wanted me to stand by them, but I wouldn't. I was bound and determined I was going to sit on dad's lap, and that's the way the picture was finally taken. There were so many pictures of Indians in the studio that I knew Indians were around someplace. Sometimes, Indians would come to our house to see my uncle. One time there was an Indian there, I'd gone to the bedroom and got up on the bed, clear back next to the wall. The Indian came to the door and he had some beads; he wanted me to come get the beads, but I wouldn't do it and didn't get the beads," recalled Ruth Taylor Jordan, in 1972.

From the Utes' perspective, Colorow was one of several leaders of a small, unsophisticated splinter group of Utes in Northwestern Colorado, called the White River Band. In the spring of 1879, Colorow's followers were pressured by local Indian agent, Nathan Cook Meeker, to plant a field of garden crops in a field they had traditionally used to graze their horses.”

Meeker’s miscalculation made members of the band mad.

“In anger, one of the Utes confronted Meeker and ultimately threw him to the ground. Meeker overreacted and sent telegrams to Gov. Pitkin, 200 miles away in Denver, requesting troops be sent for his protection. The army, lulled by general peace on the frontier, and anxious to give its men some "field experience," sent two companies of cavalry and one mounted infantry, (about 200 men) from Wyoming's Fort Steele near Rawlins with specific instructions that the Utes not be molested,” says material from Aspen History Society.

“The Utes, however, clearly remembering the massacre at Sand Creek 15 years earlier, panicked. Many moved to new camps or fled the area. But, in the ensuing confusion, a shot was fired beginning events, which would end in the grizzly death of Meeker and all other agency employees. In addition, two women, including Meeker's wife, and two children were abducted by the Utes.

Colorow explained at the investigation into these events that the stake driven through Meeker's mouth had been necessary "to stop his infernal lying on his way to the spirit world.”

After what became known as the Meeker Massacre in 1879, the White River Utes were sent to the Uintah Indian Reservation on the Colorado-Utah border.

“Colorow was one of the last to leave and promised, ‘I go now. In winter I come back - hunt deer and elk.’ Every winter for seven years he returned to his Shining Mountains for the traditional winter hunt. Eventually the white men grew too numerous. Colorow and his men retired to the red rocks and made almost daily rounds of the settlers demand­ing food, clothing and anything else to which they took a fancy. One particularly notable fancy was biscuits, thick with syrup, which Colorow would eat as fast and as long as a ranch wife could bake them,” according a Ken-Caryl Ranch history, on the other side of the divide.

But the Taylor family didn't make it out of Axial Basin much, in those days.

"We didn't come to Meeker very often, but it was the only town around, There was just a log cabin in what is Craig now. It took several hours to make the trip. I don't remember just how long, but when we did come, we always spent the night," said Ruth Taylor Jordan.

Photo Info:

1. An etching that appeared in the December 6, 1879 edition of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper depicts the aftermath of the "Meeker Massacre." Meeker grave at lower left; W.H. Post grave at lower right.

2. Nathan Meeker.

3. Colorow.

4. Buffalo Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Regiment in 1890, Montana.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Dolores CCC Camp alleviates unemployment distress

Library, sports, education all part of program

By Rob Carrigan,

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), was the first of the national recovery organizations set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, following his inauguration on March 4, 1933. Locally, the Dolores Camp, under two different company occupations, did important work in the river valley.
"Launched on April 5, 1933, as a move to alleviate distress caused by unemployment through the establishment of a great chain of camps where young men would work on forest and park conservation projects, the CCC won instant approval from the public and the press. By July 4, 1933, the conservation corps was enrolled to its full authorized strength of 100,000 men,"  wrote Robert Fechner, Director of the CCC, five years later.
"Since that time, an average of more than 340,000 young men and war veterans have been constantly at work on park, forest and soil erosion projects," he said.
In rural Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, it is hard to find a small town that did not have a camp at one time or another. Amazing work, like the construction of structures in Red Rocks Amphitheater, and rock walls and buildings in Mesa Verde National Park, and railroad bridgework that is still in place today around the state, bear evidence of the organization's lasting impact.
In Southwestern Colorado, Camp 53-C, was the builder of rock bridges in the area in around Dolores, Colorado.
"On the project, company 898 has many monuments to its industry," notes a history of the Dolores Camp 53-C. "There are nine rock bridges that will endure longer than the men who built them. There is the McPhee Truck Trail and the Lone Dome Truck Trail, which through the company's industry, have made a large part of Montezuma Forest accessible for lumbering and recreational purposes. Some work on the improvement camp grounds, begun by 898, will be finished by Company 2118. The Cottonwood Truck Trail, built by a side camp of Company 898 in the summer of 1936, offers a short cut between the West Dolores and the Norwood roads. The entire Montezuma Forest was covered by this company in insect control work. Many stock trails and drift fences were built."
The place even had a woodworking shop and a dark room for photography.
"In the Library of Congress and in the foot lockers of many members of the old Company are copies of the Company paper, 'The Score.'" For two years this paper was published by Company 898.
And there were athletes in every barracks at the camp.
"Company 898, in athletics, will be remembered by many of their opponents for their formidable oppositions. In 1935, they were district baseball champions. In 1936 they were sub-district champions. In 1937, they were not defeated in the entire season, but did not enter a district tournament," said a late '30s history. Company 898 was disbanded in July of 1938 and men from the camp were sent to Meredith, Colorado and to Company 861 at Mesa Verde, Colorado. A new company with recruits from Hartford, Connecticut, and Fort Devins, Massachusetts, along with several other eastern cities, reformed as Company 2118, which was transported by "a Pullman train of exceptional length" across the country, "passing through the Great Lakes Region, the Corn Belt, the Wheat Belt, the Cattle Country, the train finally arrived at Alamosa.
"The companies changed from Pullmans to two narrow gauge railroad trains. Having never traveled on a narrow gauge train, the remainder of the trip was a novelty to this Eastern Company."
Company 2118 was working throughout Montezuma National Forest (even the signs called it that) under the supervision of G.W. Bauer, Project Superintendent.
"In the town of Dolores, which is seven miles from camp, it is landscaping the dwelling of the ranger. At Lone Dome, Transfer, Priest Gulch, Forks, and Mavareese, the company is building campgrounds. In the line of fire pre-suppression, the company mans the McPhee Lookout Tower. In order to have a means of conveying fire fighting equipment and men to forest fires, the company maintains the Glade, McPhee, West Dolores, West Mancos, and Lone Dome Truck Trails," said documents at the time.
"The construction of bridges at Cottonwood and Fish Creeks on the West Dolores Truck Trails is a noteworthy project," said the late 1930s history. "Not only will these bridges prevent washouts, but they will aid tourist in enjoying the beauty of the West Dolores River and Canyon."
Many of the men in camp desired improvement, and attainment of new skills,  in hard times of the 1930s, and the Dolores camp was no exception.
"The education program at the camp is under the supervision of David S. Sutherland. Classes in woodworking, blacksmithing, powder work, forestry, mathematics, algebra, photography, typing, first aid, truck operation, psychology, economics, current events, and upper grade school work are offered to the men. The old schoolhouse of Company 898 was remodeled to house a woodworking shop and a dark room. Many pleasant and instructive hours are  passed in developing and printing pictures in the dark room. The woodworking class, under the guidance of Mr. Dougherty, is making interesting souvenirs out of red cedar," it was reported.
"The library, consisting of some 800 books, is in constant use. A small library is established at the Dunton Side Camp. Once a week, books are taken to the Mancos Side Camp, to be distributed to the men there."
Members of Company 2118 were from Eastern states and new to the area.
"They soon became acquainted with the country and resident of the nearby town. They have learned to like and respect the people as they have become acquainted. Many of the men spend their leisure time taking pictures and developing them. Others go horse-back riding, swimming, hiking, and searching for Indian relics," said camp documents.
The basic cash allowance for all CCC men enrolled in the 1930s was $30 per month, of which $25 had to be allotted to dependents. Leaders and assistant leaders made a little more.
"Since July 1, 1933, an average of more than 300,000 families has been receiving allotment checks each month allotted by members of the corps," wrote Director Fechner in the late 1930s.
"At the time the CCC was initiated, the sponsors of this new venture in social relief stated that its major objectives were to give jobs to hundreds of thousands of discouraged and undernourished young men, idle through no fault of their own, to build up these young men physically and spiritually and to start the nation on a sound, conservative program which would conserve and expand timbered resources, increase recreational opportunities and reduce the annual toll taken by forest fire, disease, pests, soil erosion and floods."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Galloping Goose in and out the tight spots

The difficulty of the squeeze of time, money and technology

By Rob Carrigan,

A narrow gap, just wide enough between the black, hard-formed, rubber stripping above the chain and padlock that secured the bus doors on the old Goose in Flanders Park in Dolores, allowed a small (but fairly agile) youngster to squeeze through time and history, into the cab of the old Buick busbody. How many times — through that time and space, for a chance to pilot the wondrous, silver-painted, black-trimmed footnote in Western rail lore, I couldn't guess. But the alligator levers and ratty bell rope, and the over-sized steering wheel, and brown naugahyde-covered drivers seat, were all old friends until even a wee mite, such as myself, had difficulty in the squeeze.
Difficulty in the squeeze ... it was the story of the railroad, it seems.
Despite difficult terrain, extreme weather conditions, and a trainload of financial difficulties, the Rio Grande Southern (RGS) Railroad operated 162 miles of track between Ridgway and Durango from legendary Otto Mear’s construction efforts, beginning in 1890, until they went into receivership again and started pulling up track in 1953.
RGS built seven motors and one additional short-lived vehicle for the San Christobal Railroad on the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) Lake City branch. The term “Motor” was officially used by the RGS, although by 1944, the term “Galloping Goose” was used locally.
The Galloping Geese were car-train hybrids that ran on the Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) between 1931 to 1952. They traveled the narrow gauge rails carrying freight, mail and passengers from Durango to Ridgway, Colorado with a spur to Telluride. Built to lower the operating costs of the railroad, they kept the RGS going for an additional 20 years.
The Rio Grande Southern Railroad built by Mears in 1890-91 to haul ore from the mines in the San Juan. The silver crash of 1893 hurt the railroad and Mears lost control when it was forced into court-ordered receivership.
The railroad remained in business, but went into receivership again when the stock market crashed in 1929. To save money, Victor A. Miller, the new receiver; Forest White, RGS superintendent; and Jack Odenbaugh, the master mechanic, designed the Galloping Goose. A prototype was on the rails by 1931 and the first Goose went into service in 1933.
There were a total of seven Geese built for the RGS. The gasoline powered rail busses were made from a combination of antique autos and railcars in varying designs. Their light weight and small size required only one motorman and were less expensive to operate and maintain than a steam engine. "There are several theories on how the Galloping Geese got their name. One theory is that they looked like waddling geese as they swayed down the track. Another is that their hood covers resembled wings when they were propped open to prevent overheating. And yet another theory is that their horns honked instead of whistled," according to recent Blogs written by the Denver Post.
"There, of course, were incidents. At least once an unknowing motorman transported moonshine to the mines. Another time a runaway Goose forced passengers and crew to bail out. And memorably, a circus entertainer sent a load of snakes that escaped from the cargo into the motorman’s compartment," says the Denver Post.
Model builder, blacksmith, and architect Lowell Ross recently was restoring a precisely detailed, comprehensive duplicate of the original RGS Inspection #1, in his shop locally in Woodland Park. The car is being rebuilt from a converted Model T Ford, and the original served as an inspection vehicle for Superintendent W.D. Lee on the Rio Grande Southern.
“I am just about ready. Finally locating the wheels for the car, in the desert of Nevada,” Ross said.
Although not technically a Goose, the RGS Inspection Car #1, led to development of the storied line.
In early use, an out-of-control RGS Inspection Car #1 rolled into the Dolores River, and according to the lore in 1913, Lee and his wife jumped before it hit the water. Road Master J. C. Gilland didn’t, and was seriously hurt. Mrs. Lee reportedly refused to ride in it after that mishap, saying it bounced too much. In 1925, it was wrecked again, this time, beyond repair, and was scrapped.
Something larger and more powerful, anyway, was needed to provide passenger, mail, and LCL (less than carload) freight services to these remote mountain communities.
RGS hired auto mechanic Jack Odenbaugh for the Ridgway shop crew, and he built Motor No. 1 from a 1925 Buick Model 45 touring car in early 1931. It uses an extended frame, the front of the car body, and a stake bed.
Odenbough and his crew built two more motors in 1931. Motor No. 2 was built from a Buick four-door sedan with an enclosed freight body behind and Motor No. 3 from a Pierce-Arrow limousine. Motors 4, 5, and 7 were built similarly to No. 3, and Motor No. 6 was a work motor built similar to No. 1.
The RGS motors economically operated during World War II, repairing the “Geese” with war surplus bus bodies from the Wayne Company of Richmond, Indiana. The bodies allowed more passengers and had doors on both sides for entry, as some of the buses were built for use in right-hand-drive England.
Larger passenger trains were used to attract additional tourists to the scenic route, and the RGS finally began using the term “Galloping Goose” in advertising for scenic tours in 1950-1951. Books and articles about them as early as 1947 had referred to these vehicles as “Galloping Geese.” The Rocky Mountain Railroad Club began scheduling fan trips on the Galloping Geese in 1946, and a number of fan trips were run with the “geese.”
Unfortunately, too late to save the RGS, which again went into receivership under J. Pierpont Fuller. In late 1951, he decided the RGS was in too rough shape to continue operation. Abandonment was approved by the ICC in April 1952. The route was sold for scrap, and the line was ripped up by June 1953, with Motor No. 6 pulling the last rails up at Hesperus. The ‘Galloping Geese,’ as well as some other locomotives and rolling stock, survived the death of the RGS. The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden acquired and restored No. 2, 6, and 7. Knott’s Berry Farm of Buena Park, California, bought Motor No. 3 and operates it in the amusement park, along with D&RGW 2-8-0 #340 and RGS 2-8-0 #41. Motor No. 4 is on display in Telluride. Motor No. 5, restored to operational condition in 1998, is showcased at the depot-museum in Dolores.
A railroad and engine type squeezed out of profitability, and practicality as it grew older and world changed, but still a fond memory.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Zeroing in on the Beacon


Hope this sheds some light on mystery of the Monument Hill tower

By Rob Carrigan,

Aviation has, and continues to make contrails across the local sky ways. The first known records show Fred Lewis, hat in hand, as a passenger, and the fellow above in the white sweater (unidentified) as his pilot first dropping into Monument in 1922.

"That was a thrilling experience for everyone," wrote Monument historian Lucille Lavelett, back in the 1970s about that first flight.

About 10 years ago, I wrote a piece about the beacon light that stood on top of Monument Hill, that later guided substantial air traffic in afterwards. 

Over the years, I continued to receive considerable email and other feedback regarding columns I wrote about the light.

Cole Harris who resided in the Gleneagle area, had this to add nearly a decade ago.

“I am 99% sure that was one of the system of nationwide beacons installed by the predecessor of the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Harris said then as he had been a pilot since 1948, has 21 years as an Air Force pilot, and was still flying part-time as a flight instructor when he contacted me.

“In the 1930s when commercial aviation was just getting started, the U.S airways system did not have the electronic navigation aids that we have today (VOR beacons, GPS, nationwide radar flight following, etc).

Airways navigation was very simplistic and very difficult at night if you were not flying on instruments. To aid pilots flying at night in visual conditions, a series of rotating light beacons was installed on airways throughout the country with a rotating white light and with a green light on the backside of the white rotating light. This green light would flash a letter of the alphabet in Morse code to uniquely identify that particular beacon. The rotating beacon towers were spaced approximately 10 mile apart and each beacon green light would flash its own identifying letter. The sequence of letters was as follows: W-U-V-H-R-K-D-B-G-M. Pilots would remember this sequence by the following sentence:

When Undertaking Very Hard Routes Keep Directions By Good Methods.

“At the end of this series of letters, the sequence would repeat itself for the next ten beacon lights this system would allow a pilot flying at night to know his position with a reasonable degree of accuracy. I am quite sure the beacon tower on top of Monument Hill was one of these lights on the airway between Denver, Albuquerque, and El Paso. I hope this sheds some light (no pun intended) on the mystery of the Monument Hill Tower.”

It is becoming a battle in other states. A January 2017 story in “General Aviation News,” by Linde Hoff, calls attention to Montana’s recent efforts to keep the beacon bulbs burning.

“By 1945 Montana had 39 beacons illuminated across the state, and the system flourished nationwide until the 1960s. By 1965, eight federally-operated beacons in Montana remained, all of which were located in mountain passes. Another 13 were transferred to state control and operated and maintained by the Montana Aeronautics Division of the State Department of Transportation,” Hoff wrote.

“Today, the beacon atop MacDonald Pass is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is easily visible from U.S. Highway 12. More importantly it still guides pilots safely through and over the peaks during the darkened hours while the light shines and sends its important signal of warning.But today the beacons are becoming dark as the state is not fixing them as they break down,”

The Montana Pilots Association (MPA) has stymied attacks on the beacons in the past, noting they are a safety net pilots have enjoyed for many years. MPA officials say the cost to maintain the system is roughly $1,000 per beacon per year.

“So what is a pilot’s life worth in the state of Montana, not to mention those passengers who might be in the plane with him or her?” MPA officials ask.

“Technology is wonderful but not perfect, and it will oftentimes break down, so I just hope when I step onto my next flight — whether it be commercial or private — all systems are “go,” because there might not be a beacon to bring us home safely over the mountains.”

Photo Information:

Photo 1.
First Plane in Monument, 1922. (photo courtesy of Palmer Lake Historical Society).

Photo 2.
1930 Field and Light Beacon. (photo courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration.)

Photo 3.
Solitary visual beacon and arrow system was used to guide planes across the nation.  (FAA photo)

Graphic 4.
Air Mail schedule along the beacon route in 1924. (FAA)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Saved from the torch, but just barely

 "You only have two weeks, then we burn it."

By Rob Carrigan,

Having read a column that I wrote years ago about moving the railroad depot in Palmer Lake, Marianne Zagorski later wrote me and provided a interesting postscript to the story.
“In ’66 my family and I moved from the USAFA out to Palmer Lake and eventually attended a town meeting, date of which I do not recall. It is a coincidence you should say “fire was not the culprit” because it almost was. Toward the end of the meeting a reminder was given of past business. ‘Don’t forget – our volunteer fire department will brush up on their skills on (date) when the depot will be set fire. Everyone come.’
“Never shy, I jumped to my feet and had my say. In the interest of brevity, I will condense what ensued into: hostility, sharp words, disbelief and a final acquiescence in accepting my plan of putting it up for sale. ‘But remember, you only have two weeks, then we burn it. And you are limited to $100 – tops.’
Zagorski countered.
‘But why tie my hands? You already made it clear your funds are at a low ebb. I guarantee I can get you much more.’
“Yes sir.”
Zagorski said that they did have a good point about the dangerous condition of the building and how it would be expensive to rectify.
“But I knew my market and lost no time calling The Denver Post Sunday Empire section which also lost no time sending a reporter and photographer to meet me. I was aware of everything dealing with trains was high on their list of priorities. So on the earliest Sunday, there was a good photo and article on a full page.”
The article had the desired effect.
“Early in the morning the phone started ringing and continued for days. Of course, I had to accept the first caller for which I was truly sorry when the second caller was the moving force behind the opening of Woodmoor. He was offering really big money (as many did) if only I would let him have it. He wanted it for the narrow gauge tracks and train he was planning to run around his lake. Even though he never realized that idea, The Depot would have remained here.”
Thus, the depot was saved from the torch.
“I do not recall anything at all said to me by the Palmer Lake commission members when I handed over the check. Not then or later. But I had accomplished my goal,” Zagorski said then.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Bell tolls, signifying loss of historic structure

Palmer Lake Depot moves on down the road

By Rob Carrigan,
According to area historian Lucille Lavelett, the Monument Presbyterian Church bell was used to sound the alarm in early days when fire broke out in this area and as result, that bell’s toll signified the loss of a number of historic structures over the years.

 The bell tolled the night the Monument Post Office burned in 1904 and then again in 1920 as it burned again. It rang out in 1921 when the original dressmaking shop of City founder's wife Caroline Linder Limbach was lost, and again when the old Iron Side Hotel fell. On March 24, in 1922, Roy and Nellie Petrie heard the bell the evening the Monument Hotel was consumed by flames.
By contrast, in Palmer Lake no bell rang out in 1968 when that village lost one of its most historic structures. But fire was not culprit and the long lonesome whistle of a train may have been more fitting.
“After welcoming travelers for more than 60 years, the Palmer Lake depot is doing a little traveling itself these days,” wrote William Marvel of the Rocky Mountain News late in 1968.
“The ancient wooden structure, decorated with carved fancywork in the Victorian manner, has taken to flatbed truck and is being towed towards a final resting place in South Park.”
In its last years in Palmer Lake, the station was used as an office for the Santa Fe Railroad’s agent that relayed orders to passing train that never stopped. The railroad donated it to a Palmer Lake youth group and as soon as the group realized that its members had no way of getting it off the property, they advertised it ‘for sale.’
Denver advertising executive Shelton Fisher saw the ad and talked to the group’s leader who told him he was selling the building to the first buyer that showed up with $100.
Marvel’s story in the Rocky Mountain News quotes Fisher regarding his immediate interest.
“Thirty-nine minutes later, we were down there. I saw it from the highway and told my wife to write out the check,” he said.
His plans called for having a house mover relocate the structure with a trip of 120 miles that required special dispensation from Charles Shumate, who was then head of the Colorado Highway Department. Part of its route included traveling down uncompleted lanes of I-70 that was known then as the Hampden Avenue Extension, to avoid traffic.
“Once there, it will be set up along with another rail road relic – a wooden caboose given to Fisher by the Colorado and Southern Railway (Burlington),” noted Marvel’s story in the Rocky Mountain News.
Fisher planned to create a bunk house that would sleep ten and connect the two structures with a passageway between them for use as guest ranch of sorts for orphans.
Still, bells and whistles aside, the loss is real, even if most can’t remember any of those buildings. 
It is nice to know where they were.

 Photo info: 
1. Harry S. Maddox, Station Agent, about 1899.
2. Station and Judd's Eating House, 1894.
3. Monument Presbyterian Church 1880, bell used to sound the alarm in early days for outbreaks of fire.