Showing posts with label Canon City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canon City. Show all posts

December 12, 2018

An Unexpected Slot Canyon, Trail Art, and a Threat


It's better in the winter — this is early December
I was over in Fremont County, south of Cañon City, in an area where I used to wander some twenty years ago. Back then, a hike meant following deer trails, arroyos, or an occasional two-track road.

Now there is a trail network. That's a good thing, mostly.

Stumps + rusty iron = trail art
Winter is the time to be out in this country. The sun is bright, there is only a little ice in the shady spots, and the "piñon gnats" of summer — those little bugs that fly into your eyes, nose, and ears — are absent. So are rattlesnakes.

Layers of shale.
 I found this little slot canyon that I had not known about.
Tint the photo pink and say that you were in Utah.
Other people knew about it though, as their old graffiti attested.
1901 ??
I learned that some people believe there are dinosaur tracks in the canyon. I have seen tracks in places like the famous trackway out in the Purgatory Canyon. To me, the various dimples in the rocks looked more the result of erosion.
I don't think these are tracks from a prehistoric beach.
But there is always something. These trails are on BLM land, and a Canadian mining firm, Zephyr Minerals Ltd., wants to core drill part of the area and maybe mine it — or sell it to some outfit that would. So instead of year-around recreational area, there would be a big hole in the ground, maybe a cyanide-leaching pad or some crap like that.

There is a potential for polluting Grape Creek, which brings down the DeWeese-Dye Ditch & Reservoir Company's water from the Wet Mountain Valley to serve hundred of shareholders large and small on the south edge of Cañon City.

So another battle to be fought.

January 26, 2017

Trout 1, High Art 0: The Arkansas River Will Remain Undraped

Christo and his late wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, in 2009
with a sketch of how "Over the River" would look (Keystone/Dominic Favre).
Zee artiste Christo has canceled his plan to drape miles of the Arkansas River in plastic sheets. 

He blamed Donald Trump of course, but locals who have fought the project since 1992 want some of the credit for his decision.
The controversial project that was first conceived in 1992 by Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, has been mired in legal battles as opponents feared the environmental impacts of the 14-day installation above the river between Salida and Cañon City that would take 2½ years to build.
Opponents' bumper sticks are often seen.
The Arkansas River is heavily used for whitewater kayaking and rafting, and many boaters (but not all) were not happy about the project.

The Denver Post quotes one opponent:
Colorado river activist Gary Wockner was equally excited, although more snarky. “This may be the first good thing Trump has done for Colorado’s environment,” he wrote in an e-mail.
The New York Times called the Colorado opposition the world's largest art protest, quoting Christo as blaming President Trump for his decision. In other words, from their point of view, it is not about Coloradans protesting Christo's decision to hang plastic over the river, it is about his protest of Trump's election.

Maybe that is just an excuse, and local opponents ran out the clock. In a Wednesday announcement, it was reported elsewhere, Christo did not mention President Trump but said, "After pursuing Over The River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado, for 20 years and going through 5 years of legal arguments, I no longer wish to wait on the outcome."

March 11, 2016

Don't Panic!, Mountain Biking Mecca, and Other Shorts


Outdoor Survival - Chapter 4 - Controlling Panic from Colorado Parks & Wildlife on Vimeo.

•  People outside of Fremont County, Colo., are learning that there is great mountain biking, almost year-around, on the Bureau of Land Management land north of town. Rock climbers already knew that.

• Talks are underway about extending the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument from New Mexico into southern Colorado. (Article may be partly paywalled.) 

Site of the Rough Riders reunion
• The Southwest is dotted with former Harvey House hotels and restaurants. Fred Harvey's enterprizes crosscut much late 19th and early 20th-century history:
From the manhunt for the escaped “Billy the Kid” in 1881 (a local celebrity in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where Fred had two restaurants and two hotels, which Billy sometimes patronized), to the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1889 (which left from the Arkansas City, Kansas Harvey House and Santa Fe depot), to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 (for which Fred helped cater the biggest lunch in American history for the opening ceremonies and parade).
There’s also the Rough Riders reunion in 1899 (held at the new Fred Harvey resort hotel, La Castañeda, in Las Vegas), and the development of the Grand Canyon as an international tourist attraction (Fred’s son Ford ran all the hotels at the canyon, and was a major player in the development of the national park system).

May 20, 2014

Sheriff's Deputy Warns Cat Not to Shit in Neighbor's Yard

From the sheriff's blotter in the Cañon City Daily Record.

¶ Colo. 115, Brookside, report of over 30 goats in the road. Goats fled the scene before deputy arrived. 

¶ Colo. 115/Mackenzie, Cañon City, reporting party called to advise that a subject wearing a mask and dressed in black ran across the highway and into a building. Deputies checked the area with negative contact.  

(Always black in these reports. At least if "subject" wore orange, he might be a prison escapee. The only building there is the ruined Fawn Hollow Tavern, which was a "bucket of blood" roadhouse in the 1940s–1950s.)

¶ U.S. 50, Cañon City, reporting party requested assistance in retrieving her husband from his girlfriend's residence. Deputy advised the parties to work it out, as the husband wouldn't come out until the wife left the area.  

¶ 1500 block Chestnut, Cañon City, reporting party complained that the neighbor's cat had been leaving presents in her yard. Deputy said he would contact the neighbor and warn the cat.  

There was also an actual bank robbery where some 19-year-old robbed a bank in the town where he lived without even bothering to put on a mask. He was quickly caught.

March 14, 2014

Restoring the Royal Gorge Burn

Tracy Harmon at the Pueblo Chieftain has a story with photos today on restoration following last June's Royal Gorge Fire, which was they are now saying was human-caused, as I suspected. (Arson or accident—they are not saying which).

One big issue is trying to keep sediment out of Cañon City's municipal water intake, which is just downstream of where the fire jumped the Arkansas River.

The scenic bridge and surrounding park are open weekends—get updates at their site.

March 08, 2014

Blog Stew on the Scenic Railroad

After the June 2013 fire, the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is reopening for limited hours. Meanwhile, the scenic train that goes from Cañon City up the gorge and back is upgrading and hoping to get its tourist riders back.
[Owner Mark] Greksa believes his yearly passenger counts will increase as he continues to add amenities. Last year, he let passengers pay to ride in the locomotive next to the engineer. He also eliminated the train's "concession car," which offered only vended foods to coach customers, and created a dining car where they can order hot food, and a "bar car" with bistro-styled tables. Food offerings include beef and buffalo items, organic chicken and a crafted pale ale, Royal Gorge Route Rogue, Greksa said. In the summer, the train will offer dishes made from rattlesnake, antelope and ostrich.
Managers at the national wildlife refuges in the San Luis Valley are wondering if groundwater pumping rules will affect the areas flooded for sandhill crane habitat.GQ

GQ magazine runs another art-of-manliness story on being introduced to deer and elk hunting in Montana. Actually, it's not bad; it has a Chesapeake Bay retriever in it. (Hat tip: Suburban Bushwacker)

Most water from the Fraser River in Middle Park gets sent under the Continental Divide and into Denver's water system. Trout Unlimited, however, has worked out a new deal to protect flows for fisheries by regulating when the water is removed and how much.
The deal announced Tuesday could make the Fraser the most-watched river in Colorado – and maybe in the West. It sets out an innovative, science-based plan that seeks to balance increasing urban needs for water with an imperative to restore crucial habitat for river trout.
Me, I see the Fraser only when looking out the window of Amtrak's California Zephyr and thinking, "That looks really fishable in there." Maybe I should do something about that.

February 06, 2014

They Walk Among Us

Over in Frémont County, a/k/a "Prison Valley" (photo essay), people must be extra-worried about other people walking down the road. Reading the sheriff's blotter in the Cañon City Daily Record, I keep seeing entries like these, from late January:
CR 123/Brush Hollow/Penrose, reporting party reported a male party going down the road waving his arms and talking to himself. Subject was contacted, and he was walking home from Walmart and was OK.

Colo. 115/Telck/Florence, report of a party dressed in black walking on the edge of the road. Deputy checked the area with no contact.
Maybe it is because every year there are a few actual escaped inmates wandering around, most of them caught fairly easily.

On the other hand,
Fremont Street, Penrose, deputy dispatched to check on a party acting strangely in his driveway. Party's behavior was part of his religious practice.
If he had a colander on his head, he would be a Pastafarian. Otherwise, we need more information!

December 27, 2013

The Revolution Was Not Televised, So I Missed It

From the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, as reported in the Cañon City Daily Record.

Wednesday, December 18: FCSO captain spoke with two parties in the lobby demanding assistance with contacting the Secret Service. One party had been contacted several times in the past week regarding the same request. Today he had an accomplice who was wearing a green mask and cape and wouldn't identify himself or speak. They warned that there would be a revolution on Friday.

Thursday, December 19: FCSO in Cañon City, male party was in the lobby again asking for the Secret Service and updating the captain on Friday's revolution. He stated it wouldn't take place in Fremont County.

I was in one Fremont County town on the 22nd and streets were quiet. I may be down in Cañon City today, and I will keep my eyes open. But I remember what Gil Scott Heron used to say.

December 14, 2013

Lost Italian Restaurants, Ghost-Town Guidebook Snobbery, and a Whiff of Coal Smoke in the Air

A wave of disappointment rippled across southern Colorado on December 4th when an article in the Pueblo Chieftain announced that Merlino's Belvedere restaurant was closing at the end of 2013, a casualty, its owners said, of the economy in general—and maybe another domino following after last summer's Royal Gorge Fire.

Opened in 1946 in the fruit-growing area of Lincoln Park, on the south edge of Cañon City, it had been operated by three generations of the Merlino family and drew diners from at least four counties.

We still go back there for dinners with visiting friends and relatives, so last Friday night we decided to make a farewell visit. An early time would be OK, we thought.

So did about seventy other people — and they had reservations.

We ended up instead at the Royal Gorge Brewing Co. in downtown Cañon City, eating OK pub food, but it wasn't the spaghetti aglia e olio that M. had set her heart on.

Sali's Club Paradise, 807 Cyanide Avenue, Prospect Heights, from old postcard.
And we talked about restaurants and about our six years (1986-1992) in Cañon City, which started in near-poverty and ended with us on our way up and out.

We went there because I had a magazine-editing job that collapsed with the magazine itself — most start-ups fail. Then 1987 was the worst — collecting unemployment, doing odd jobs, selling a few freelance pieces, with the emphasis on few.

When we could afford a cheap dinner out, we did not go to Merlino's but to somewhere even closer to our modest 1908 smelter worker's cottage in South Cañon — Sali's Paradise, haunt of movie stars and (reputedly) Pueblo and local mafiosi looking for a quiet place to eat their steak, noodles, and red sauce.

Cañon City, we learned, was glued together from three towns: East Cañon, South Cañon (our part, sort of the wrong side of the tracks), and Cañon City proper.

Then there was unincorporated Lincoln Park and other little towns: tiny Prospect Heights with its abandoned one-cell jail, Brookside (former location of the Hell's Half Acre saloon district), and the other "coal camps": Radiant, Rockvale, Coal Creek, Williamsburg, Chandler — some reduced to true ghost-town status, others merely clinging on.

Gus and Doris Salardino (hence "Sali's") had come from Rockvale, where the family had the Gold Nugget saloon before coal mining dropped off in the 1920s. But at Sali's Paradise, the calendar seemed to have stopped in 1948, with the neon lights in the bar and the big sepia photo of President Harry Truman hanging in the dining room.

But they got the antipasti to the table fast, and if they were out of the wine you ordered from the modest list, the waitress would scamper across Cyanide Avenue to the liquor store.

That's right, the restaurant stood unabashedly at 807 Cyanide Avenue. And there are streets named "Cyanide" in neighboring Florence, Colo., and Lead, S.D., among other places I have been. It's a mining-town thing.

Something I had already figured out was that there is a sort of "class line" in Colorado ghost town writing. You can find lots of books by authors such as Sandra Dallas about the precious-metals mining towns — you get St. Elmo, Victor, Blackhawk, East TIncup, etc. etc. over and over again.

But you never hear about the coal camps: Cokedale, Segundo, Coal Creek, and the rest.  Because gold and silver are romantic but coal is dirty? The work, the labor issues, the mining-town life — a lot of that seemed about the same. (1)

M. and I had thought of moving to Rockvale — it seemed safe from any threat of gentrification —  but there was no irrigation water, so we ended up in South Cañon as shareholders in the DeWeese-Dye Ditch, which gave our quarter acre plenty of water once I re-dug the lateral. (2)

When the annual meeting came, I would collect my neighbors' proxies and attend, just for more "time travel." We would meet in Brookside Hall, a bare rectangular room furnished with folding chairs, bare light bulbs dangling from the ceiling, and a whiff of coal smoke in the air. 1948? It was more like maybe 1932. Someone would come around holding out his Stetson had, and you would toss your ballot in.

But "time travel" and the odder nooks of eastern Fremont County could not hold us forever — we wanted cooler summer temperatures and trees, and so we moved upwards in elevation, out of the piñon-juniper belt and into the pines.

And for several springs thereafter I would get this uneasy feeling in March: "When is a good windless day to burn the ditch?"

Sali's Paradise is long gone, Merlino's Belvedere is closing, and I don't know where the ditch company holds its annual meeting anymore.

(1) Some of the coal camps were company towns, such as Chandler, and the mining company sold off all the buildings when the mine shut down.

(2) Acequita to my New Mexico readers.

August 22, 2013

Colorado's Retail Cannabis Producing a Legal Patchwork

What is happening in Colorado with the new legalization of retail cannabis sales is starting to resemble the situation when states had "wet" and "dry" counties. Counties and cities are all making different decisions, e.g., Pueblo County's acceptance of a large growing operation.

¶ The mountain town of Westcliffe turned down a proposal (PDF file) to use an empty industrial building for a growing operation that would supply retail outlets in the ski town of Breckenridge. 

Those sybaritic ski towns, right? Keep 'em high and happy.

¶ Yet Aspen, most sybaritic of all, is located in Garfield County, which has said no to both growers and retailers. The Aspen Times accused opponents of "paranoia."

¶ Touristy Glenwood Springs proposed a marijuana-sales moratorium. So did less-touristy Cañon City.

I could go on.

Meanwhile, people who proudly got medical marijuana cards (a lot of them young men in their twenties) suddenly are realizing that the cops can go traipsing through those records.

The other big problem is money and banking. Banks have been reluctant to handle marijuana dispensaries' cash because doing so illegal under federal if not state law.
"The mere acceptance of the deposit is literally the very definition of money laundering," explained Don Childears, President and CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association.
Dispensaries, therefore, end up trying to places to put all their cash, and piles of cash attract criminals.

Federal legislation has been introduced to remedy the problem, but has not yet gone anywhere.  All states with medical marijuana plus Colorado and Washington with their newly legalized recreational use face the same problem:
In all 21 of those states, federal laws are creating criminal and regulatory barriers to banks and credit unions, prohibiting them from accepting licensed marijuana growers, retailers and dispensaries as customers.
The federal government has the big stick, and the political journal Roll Call reports that President Obama's thinking "hasn't evolved."

Previous post on growers, "Making Money in a Mountain Subdivision."

July 04, 2013

What's not Rocks is Cactus, and What's not Cactus is Barbed Wire

That is how I used to describe the area south of Cañon City when I lived there.

At least in this drought year the cholla cactus is blooming profusely, everywhere. They look like rose bushes. Very unfriendly rose bushes.

June 16, 2013

Blog Stew, a Little Burnt

Items that might deserve longer individual posts but will not get them. . .

Speculation about the closure of the Royal Gorge Bridge and park (now reduced to the bridge and a tollbooth, as in 1929) and its effect on southern Colorado tourism, with a telling photograph.

Unlike Bloomberg, I would not all the American Prairie Preserve project a "land grab." Its rich backers are buying the land. But true, once the number of cattle and/or sheep ranchers falls below some critical point, there might be domino effect on the rest.

• A piece from the Nature Conservancy magazine on "water wars" in the San Luis Valley. Speaking of rich guys buying up big chunks of the West, I don't care how many monks his wife brought in, I never trusted Maurice Strong at all. This was the issue that dominated the 1990s there and led, ultimately to a new map of the valley's west side.

May 02, 2013

Cañon City Dinosaur Area Expands

Dal DeWeese — land developer, big game hunter, buddy of Teddy Roosevelt — helps to excavate a Diplodocus longus skeleton in Garden Park Fossil Area in 1902. I never heard that DeWeese was that big on dinos, so maybe this was a staged photo — look at how he is dressed. (Photo from BLM.)
People at the Bureau of Land Management office in Cañon City are happy about an official decision to expand the National Natural Landmark status of the famous fossil beds on BLM land north of town, the Garden Park Fossil Area.
The internationally renowned area boasts rich deposits of late Jurassic-period fossils. In the 1880s, fifteen species of dinosaurs, nine of which were new to the field of paleontology, were recovered from the area, making it one of the oldest and richest fossil sites in the country.
More history and old photos are linked here.  Go visit now, before the weather gets too hot.

April 16, 2013

What Happened to Triceratops?

The author of My Beloved Brontosaurus talks about the changing view of dinosaurs, which leaves people wondering what they were really like.

One type re-evaluated is Triceratops, early specimens of which were found in Frémont County, Colorado.
Some journalists came to the mistaken conclusion that paleontologists were about to eliminate Triceratops, one of the most beloved dinosaurs of all time! Dinosaur fans were outraged at the news, voicing their discontent in Internet comment threads and on Facebook. (My favorite protest was a mock-up of a T-shirt featuring three Triceratops howling at Pluto, the recently demoted dwarf planet.) Eventually, word went out that Triceratops was safe, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the public reaction as I searched fruitlessly for more dinosaurs in Wyoming. The Triceratops debacle perfectly highlighted the tension between the pop culture dinosaurs we love and the science that is spurring the evolution of dinosaurian visions.

March 24, 2013

Signs of Spring (2)

Sandhill cranes (Wikipedia)
While I was shoveling snow this morning — two flocks of sandhill cranes calling and shimmering in a clear blue sky.

And I don't know if this is springlike or not, but on the 17th a scorpion stung me in the hand — when I was in bed, which felt like a real violation.

The last time that happened was in 1986, I think, but I was in Cañon City, which is an outlier of the Chihuahuan Desert anyway.

It seems like I saw one in this foothills house one other time, but I can't remember when.

These little tan scorpions are not too bad — it's a hit like a wasp sting that is just a memory a couple of hours later. But M. says that venomous desert critters have it in for me.

March 13, 2013

Signs of Spring (1)

Two nights ago: The first scent of skunk spray. So they are up and about.

Last night: A dinner guest said that a bear had been seen in or near Cañon City.

Today: Mourning cloak butterflies in the air when M. and I went for a walk up into the national forest.

January 30, 2013

Fremont County Corn

Someone was growing corn north of Cañon City in 1939, and she shows up in the famous Shorpy historic photo archive. Originally from a Resettlement Administration photo, part of the "New Deal," so maybe the woman in the photo was a refugee from the Dust Bowl, which was not that far away.

August 07, 2012

Blog Stew with Ingredients that You Don't Want to Know About

Off-topic but fascinating. Sewer-diving in Mexico City (with video). Sewer-cleaning the "fatbergs"  in London (with video). More sewer history.  The good old days of scavenging in sewers.

The Humane Society of the United States is sued for racketeering and other issues.

District judge Emmet G. Sullivan did dismiss allegations of mail and wire fraud, but he did so only because Feld didn't have standing to file this charge. His ruling all but set the stage for a class-action RICO lawsuit against HSUS for misrepresenting itself in its fundraising campaigns across the nation. This lawsuit easily could bankrupt HSUS, put it out of business and send some of its top executives to prison.
Funny, isn't it, that you have to go to a blogger to hear about this.

Ze artiste Christo has pushed back the construction of "Over the River" yet again. Tourism-industry types are dismayed, try to find silver lining.

I understand the argument that asks how pristine is a canyon with a highway(US 50) and a railroad in it already. But I do think that the Bureau of Land Management should have restricted OTR to the stretch between Texas Creek and Parkdale, because if there are highway blockages — and there will be — one could detour around on Colorado highways 96 and 69.

Upstream of Texas Creek, there are no detours, except very long, twisty, gravel roads through the mountains such as Fremont County Road 2 or an even longer highway detour up to Hartsel and Antero Junction.

It doesn't take much to close US 50 now: a little roadside fire, a car going into the river, a truck hitting a bridge abutment — I have seen all of these.

• Oh yes, and this: tracking coyotes with GPS collars in urban Chicago.