Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts

June 20, 2016

Venomous and Nonvenomous Links

In El Castillo cave, hand stencils join a red disk (not pictured)
that may be Earth's oldest cave art (Science/AAS)
Arizona wants to kill you. I thought the rattlesnakes were bad; now this: "Arizona Hiker Dies After Being Stung by 1,000 Bees."

Americans don't visit national parks anymore — that was the message a couple of years ago. (See the graph for early 2000s.) Now it's "The National Parks Have Never Been More Popular."  Free admission for the 100th anniversary helps, so does cheaper fuel. Or is this just one of those "fat is bad for you / fat is good for you" deals? Will M. and make it to Yellowstone this fall?

In case you missed it — although we are not talking about Chauvet-type art, still the evidence is that the Neanderthal people made art. And of course it's older than the Cro-Magnon stuff.

April 25, 2015

Blog Stew Built from Stone

• Bishop's Castle, the hand-built fantasy castle that has become a southern Colorado icon, has a new owner—or not. There are complications. If you are on Facebook, there is this.

• "Bent on Birding," a combination birding and historical-prehistorical tour of Bent County in SE Colorado, is coming up.

• Another argument that despite all the dead trees you see, bark beetles do not increase the risk of forest fires. 

July 07, 2014

Looking for Squirrel Creek Lodge - Part 4

Missouri-Pacific Railroad tourism brochure, 1927

Selling the San Isabel to Out-of-State Visitors

The first post in this series described Arthur Carhart's vision for scenic roads connecting campgrounds, picnic grounds, and private resorts in the Wet Mountains, the "cradle of car camping."

But what about out-of-state visitors? From the designation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 into the 20th century, many North American tourists arrived at the nearest railway station to their destinations.

Then they might walk or take a coach to the nearest hotel. Some were grand, like the Banff Springs Hotel, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1888–89. From the hotel, they could self-guided or escorted tours, such as by stagecoach from Livingston, Mont., into Yellowstone under U. S. Army escort (the Army patrolled the park until 1918, when the National Park Service took over). 

The Baver Li Lodge on Highway 165, late 1920s or 1930s.
The Missouri Pacific RR operated a route west from St. Louis to Pueblo, Cañon City, and on to Salt Lake City via Grand Junction. Eager to attract passengers, it provided this 16-page brochure about the San Isabel National Forest, "Colorado's newest playground." 

According to the grandson of the Baver Li Lodge's founders, the Missouri Pacific tried to buy the lodge (built in 1927) in 1929, but his grandparents would not sell. (It closed as a lodge in the 1960s but is still in the family.)

The brochure offered numerous one, two, and three-day automobile tours, for example, this one booked through the San Isabel Forest Tours Co. of Pueblo: 
"No. 1" — One day. Includes automobile transportation and mid-day dinner. From Pueblo via Rye and Willow Creek Camp to Squirrel Creek Community House [Lodge] for dinner; returning through Squirrel Creek Canyon [Colorado 76], Pine Drive to Pueblo. Fare, $8.00 per person.
Another day trip went from Pueblo to Wetmore and Westcliffe, included a meal at the Alpine Lodge, and returned through the Arkansas River canyon and Cañon City to Pueblo. When you consider that was almost all on gravel roads with a maximum possible top speed of perhaps 40–45 mph, it would have been a long day's car ride for your $10.50 fare.

In today's dollars, that trip cost $142 per person, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics site. A cabin plus meals (fireplace heat, no plumbing) at the Baver Li Lodge cost $40–$50 in today's money (I would book one, definitely). I have not yet seen a menu for the Squirrel Creek Lodge, but I suspect that it featured fried chicken, since the archaeologists identified one foundation nearby as the chicken house.

The Missouri Pacific's brochure gushed about "Mountain Trout," "History and Romance," "The Wooliness of the West," "Altruistic Purposes" ("exorbitant charges for accommodation and services will not be countenanced"), "Scenic Grandeur," and "Special Vacation Summer Fares," among other headings.

One section, "The Hospitality of Colorado, reads as follows:
The spirit of wholesome friendliness is one of the refreshing pleasure to be anticipated in a visit to Colorado, and particularly to the San Isabel. The inhabitants of this country seem to be imbued with the bigness of their environs and manifest a sincere cordiality. In Colorado, all class distinction seems to be neutralized.
I wonder what areas we were being compared to.

To be continued at some point.

June 29, 2014

Looking for Squirrel Creek Lodge - Part 3

It's not just an incinerator, it is a "Kernerator,"
by the Kern Incinerator Co. of Milwaukee.

The US Forest Service's remaking of Davenport Campground into something like Arthur Carhart's original vision, as mentioned in my last post, was praise-worthy.

But does it make up for the Service's obliteration of much of Carhart's original vision for recreational faciltiies? Not really.

Under the supervision of Carhart and his former landscape-architecture professor-turned-business partner, Frank Culley, Boy Scouts and other workers built facilities on South Hardscrabble Creek — the Florence Picnic Ground — and on North Creek, just north of Beulah. Another picnic ground was built at Smith Creek, in Hardscrabble Canyon above Wetmore.

In the late 1970s, the Forest Service demolished them all. According to a friend of mine, a life-long area resident who attended a public meeting about this decision held in Beulah, the USFS representative claimed these facilities were "inacessible" and "rarely visited."

Another friend, a Westcliffe resident, said he had heard they were demolished due to vandalism problems. In any case, the Forest Service no longer wanted to maintain them.

Instead of picnic tables, trash receptacles, outhouses, etc., the new model was "dispersed camping." Tack up a sign saying "Pack in it, pack it out," and all is good. Of course, no one packs out human shit.

A lot of this dispersed camping takes place in very locations where Carhart laid out picnic and campgrounds!

We have come full circle back to 1919, except that the standard of environmental education among forest visitors is a little higher. Sometimes.

The incinerator built to burn trash from the 1920s Squirrel Creek campsites slowly crumbles away.

Arthur Carhart's contract with the Forest Service lasted only from 1920–1922, after which time funding was . . . lost. He went into private practice and did other interesting work, but eventually became a full-time writer of fiction and nonfiction with outdoor themes.

Just tonight, I heard a professional chef praising his The Outdoorsman's Cookbook. Of course, this praise was from a guy who has walked the Squirrel Creek Trail himself.

Until recently, recreation was not truly a Forest Service priority — at least that was my perception. As a specialty, it lacked prestige. From its early twentieth-century creation onward, the Forest Service was all about timber management — and also grazing management — and firefighting to protect those two priorities.

I remember Dad when he was a USFS district ranger in the Black Hills saying (without irony), "We're tree farmers."

As opposed, it did not need to be said, to the pressed-pants-wearing, somewhat sissified  (Dept. of the Interior) National Park Service rangers who led tourists around by the hand, (Dept. of Agriculture) Forest Service rangers did real stuff with horses, axes, increment borers, cruising rods, and log-scaling rules.

Recreation on his district was handled by one man, a "recreation guard," who lived in a cabin off away from the work center and had a crew of seasonal workers in the summer.

People who rose in the hierarchy came from a forestry background, not a recreation background, although that has changed some in the last generation.

But thanks to the San Isabel Public Recreation Association and Carhart's and Culley's work, private interests began pushing tourism in and around the San Isabel National Forest, something I will look at next.

June 26, 2014

Looking for Squirrel Creek Lodge, Part 2

Here are the 1947 flood waters one drainage north of Davenport Campground, near Baver Li Lodge.
What was then described as the Davenport Camp-Picnic Ground evidently survived the flood of 1947, which was most destructive in the narrow canyon of Squirrel Creek.

This photo is probably Davenport Picnic Ground in the 1920s, as the valley here is wider.
1920s-style cooking shelter recreated at today's Davenport Campground.
In 2004, Forest Service archaeologists Steve Seguin and Jennifer Cordova, together with historian Jack McCrory, prepared documentation to place the "Squirrel Creek Recreational Unit, " otherwise known as the "cradle of car camping," on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bases of guard rail posts at scenic overlook
on what was Colorado 76.

They listed all manner of remaining relics, down to guard rails and sign posts, but did not (so far as I noticed) say anything about a telephone line. But I found two mentions of a line that connected the Baver Li Lodge (of which more later), built in 1927, to the town of Beulah, running mostly along Squirrel Creek and the now-vanished Colorado Highway 76.

According to a 1967 article in the Pueblo Chieftain, summarized on this site,
The telephone line had been installed through Squirrel Creek by the Forest Service in the 1920’s. As their private line, Tena and later, grandson, Chuck, had to maintain it. Every spring one of them would ‘walk the line’ to find where the breaks had occurred and repair them. One year the Boy Scouts from Rye came up to help.
A short historical article about Beulah's Pine Drive Telephone Co. mentions it too:
One notable line was the one maintained from Baver-Li Lodge in Ophir Creek down Squirrel Creek. It took great fortitude to maintain that line after the ‘47 flood!

In 2009, as part of the U.S. Forest Service's centennial, Davenport was remodeled into a "retro" tents-only campground—and it remains popular.

You have to drive down into the campground (trailers and motorhomes should park above the entrance, in the Second MaceTrailhead parking lot) to see the interpretive signs.

There is nothing about Arthur Carhart's vision for forest recreation in any historical marker on any highway at this time. More signage, including a panel about him, has been proposed for the junction of Colorado 67 and 96 in Wetmore, part of the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway.

June 19, 2014

Looking for Squirrel Creek Lodge, Part 1

It is 1923, you are suffering the summer heat in Pueblo, Colorado, and you want to go car-camping up in the cooler Wet Mountains. So you load your blankets, quilts, and canvas tent in and on the Ford, pack some flour and bacon, maybe grab a fishing pole, and off you go. You take Colorado State Highway 76 (a gravel road) southwest to the foothills town of Beulah, then stay on 76 as it enters Squirrel Creek Canyon and the San Isabel National Forest.
1948 San Isabel National Forest map shows Colorado 76 coming southwest from Pueblo.
Bridge dated 1916 on Squirrel Creek Road, formerly Colorado 76, in Beulah.
You know this part of the road is new — in fact,  it was laid out by Forest Service landscape architect Arthur Carhart. His former professor from Iowa State, Frank Culley, was involved too on the project to design numerous campsites along the road, all with hand pumps, designated concrete garbage pits, and "sanitaries" (outdoor toilets) — all a response to the trash and piles of human waste that popular campsites had been attracting.

The first picnic and camping sites there had been designated in 1919. That was just five years after the southern Colorado Coalfield War that culminated in the 1914 Ludlow Massacre. It was two years after the Russian Revolution, which had segued into civil war, and one year after the end of World War One.

Private money — the San Isabel Public Recreation Association (SIPRA) — helped pay for the first improvements. Colorado Fuel & Iron, southern Colorado's industrial behemoth, with its coal mines, coke ovens, and steel mill, was the largest contributor. Wholesome outdoor recreation will lure its workers away from Red agitators.

Carhart writes,
There is a chance in this sort of [forest] camp to teach better Americanization of the people of foreign blood now living in our midst . . . these men will become better citizens and far less open to insidious suggestions of the radical agitator to strike at this land they have come to know and love.*
Enjoying one of the new campgrounds on Squirrel Creek. Woman takes photo of men by fireplace. Check gen-u-wine ten-gallon hat on man in foreground.
The campgrounds are wildly popular. On summer weekend days, as many as 700 cars pass up Colorado 76, which connects to Colorado 165, the north-south road through the Wet Mountains.

Many people stay or take meals at the privately operated Squirrel Creek Lodge, a two-story log structure in the center of the camping area. It stays popular until the World War II era, when it faces competition from the San Isabel lodge (which also began as a SIPRA project).

But Carhart's cool, winding creekside road is vulnerable. Rockslides menace it from the slopes above, and in 1947, a major flash flood rips down the narrow canyon, destroying all the little bridges, tearing out campsites, and wrecking many parts of the road.

Squirrel Creek Lodge: A central room with two wings, front porch on the left.
Dinner • Refreshment • Lodging • Souvenirs.

Click to enlarge for photos of original lodge.
The lodge falls into disuse and eventually burns in a 1979 forest fire.

The state builds a new highway from Beulah to Colorado 165. Formerly the Twelve-mile Road, it is now designated Colorado 78, and it  takes a higher route up a ridge.

Its last nine miles are still gravel today, and according to a friend on the Custer County Road & Bridge Dept., are the last gravel stretch of a state highway. (Many state highways around here were gravel roads into the 1960s, when there was a big push to pave them.)

Mentally remove the young trees along the trail, and there is the old Colorado 76.
Hiker at mortared wall that marked a scenic pull-off on Colorado 76.
Colorado 76 devolves into a Forest Service trail — one that oddly features mortared-stone retaining walls, log guard rails, and steel culverts. It passes the ruined campsites, where campers improvise new fire pits, and the ruins of the Squirrel Creek Lodge and its associated cabins.

You, meanwhile . . . Dad is in the steelworkers' union and has a new car with a powerful V-8 engine. Mom doesn't wear those 1920s cloche hats anymore.

You can go anywhere — Yellowstone, Banff . . . no more chugging up Squirrel Creek Hill with the Model T threatening to boil over.

Remember those days when you were younger, when the Squirrel Creek campground was the oldest auto campground in the national forest?

Next: Part 2: Davenport, the "Retro" Campground

*Tom Wolf, Arthur Carhart: Wilderness Prophet  (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2008), 55.

May 30, 2014

Floods, Fire, Buses: Changes at Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument visitor center with sandbags
M. and I last visited Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico in May 2011, mainly to see the new diorama in the visitor center that her brother had built. Then the Las Conchas fire closed in and threatened those buildings—but they survived (maybe with the help of copious Class A foam).

The brother himself had never seen it, since he lives in Virginia, but we went there Wednesday as part of a family reunion.

"They repainted my lizard," he said. "Crappy job." Apparently someone thought his yellow stripes were not bright enough. And the background mural had been cropped as well, although only he would have noticed that.

One change was the effect of the September 2013 flooding, worst in the monument's history. (See pictures here and videos here). Lots more debris piles and fewer picnic tables — maybe those washed into the Rio Grande.  The visitor center is still sandbagged.

Another is that visitors are now strongly encouraged to park in White Rock and take a free shuttle bus the last eight miles to the visitor center. Apparently this does not apply to those staying in the park campground and/or just driving to the Frey Trail head, judging by the number of cars there. (The bus also stops at the trail head.) There are a few other exceptions too—see the link.

But after years of seeing the main parking lot fill up in the spring and summer and having to turn visitors away, the NPS has taken a new stance.

May 04, 2014

Blog Stew on Horseback

 ¶ Western dude ranchers are having to buy bigger horses for fatter guests.
"Little horses just aren't sturdy enough to hold up in a dude operation in the Rocky Mountains," Kipp Saile said, noting that about 15 of their 60 horses were Percheron mixes, the largest weighing 1,800 pounds.
¶ Colorado's oil and gas-drilling boom is polluting farm land (spills, drilling waste), and oil companies hope that microbes will clean up the hydrocarbons.
The number of spills reported by companies reached a 10-year peak of 578 last year (43 related to the September floods), contaminating an estimated 173,400 tons of topsoil, according to the COGCC data, which come from reports companies are required to file.

While energy companies responsible for spills recover much of the liquid hydrocarbons during cleanups, an analysis of the data shows that roughly 45 percent stays in soil.
¶ Never mind the propaganda about how corn-based ethanol is "patriotic." Even the business press, like Forbes, is moving to the position that ethanol is a loss overall. (Especially when you use High Plains Aquifer water to grow the corn.)

April 12, 2014

Seven Falls Added to Broadmoor Empire, or rather "Campus"

Seven Falls, a "legacy" tourist attraction in Colorado Springs — that means that it predates the Chamber of Commerce, perhaps —has been purchased by the Broadmoor Hotel.

Although my maternal grandparents arrived in the Springs in the 1920s, and I have been in and out of the city most of my life, I have never visited Seven Falls! Someone once told me that the flow was augmented via a pipe to make the falls look better (is this true?), and that news convinced that it was merely a tourist trap.
"You have this very unique [sic], one-of-a-kind attraction that has stood the test of time," [said Broadmoor Hotel CEO Steve] Bartolin said. "You get to the top of the stairs and there's a fabulous network of trails. It's just beautiful property. It will be a nice enhancement to our campus."
"Campus"? Have they started a University of Golf?

August 31, 2013

Colorado's Ugly New "Hazmat" Tourism Logo


This "brand new logo" looks like a hazardous-materials placard. "This truck is carrying carbon monoxide."

Or maybe it's a tent, and you have been left the camping stove on with the tent flaps closed, and now you are dead.

Did someone in the highway department design it? It's highly visible, all right, but does it say "Come visit"?

July 21, 2013

Colorado's Redwoods

The Big Stump, a fossilized redwood, was once the pride of a commercial resort at the site. The tree would have been a "little" larger than the ponderosa pines now growing around it.
Taller and faster-growing, Colorado's redwoods were in all respects better than those in California — except for having flourished 34 million years ago, before a series of volcanic eruptions suffocated them.

Flash forward to the 1870s, when residents of Colorado Springs could take an excursion train west into the mountains and wander through the petrified logs exposed on the ground, chipping away bits to take home and place on the mantelpiece or in their flower beds.

Visitors chipped away so industriously that the logs are gone, except for those still buried. A generation later, two adjacent commercial establishments controlled the fossil beds, each one part dude ranch, part museum, and part fresh-air resort.

Only in 1969 did the area become the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, which also showcases fossils of quite a few plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates, preserved in volcanic ash.

M. and I stopped by in June 2013 for the first time in (non-geological) ages. We found the new park visitor center and more trails and signage than we remembered.
Too many visitors don't get far from the vistor center. That is actually a stump in the pit, surrounded by a supporting band of steel.

I poop on your signage.
The easy half-mile Ponderosa Loop Trail includes photos of the previous commercial establishments at the fossil bed, as well as a time line of geology and life at the site. Here a modern dinosaur appears to have left some comments on one of the signs.

The monument covers 6,000 acres, and there are 14–15 miles of hiking trails, depending which brochure you read.

We walked another three-mile loop, which crossed the Homestake Pipeline, part of Colorado Springs' water system. The pipeline carries water from a collection system near Aspen, with its flow shared by Aurora and Colorado Springs.

(It's amazing how many Springs residents think their water comes from snow on Pike's Peak, and Aurorans probably don't think at all about it.)

Despite its significance in our hydraulic civilization, the pipeline rates no signage on the hiking trail. Apparently it does not fit the narrative of the fossil beds.

The cleared strip marks the route of the Homestake Pipline through the hills west of Colorado Springs. It was built just before the national monument was created.

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.

April 30, 2012

Visitor Opportunities Reduced in Two Colorado National Forests

In northern Colorado, the US Forest Service promises "rolling" closures of trails and roads as beetle-killed lodgepole pines on the Arapahoe National Forest are cut to reduce hazards.
Almost every popular national forest access in Grand County will be affected at some point during the spring and summer, from mountain biking access near the towns of Winter Park and Fraser to hiking and backpacking trailheads to anglers and campers who use the Arapaho National Recreation Area (ANRA). 
in southern Colorado, where windstorms knocked down thousands of trees in the Sangre de Cristo Range, blocking trails and damaging a popular campground on the San Isabel National Forest, there is talk of "prioritizing" the response.
[District ranger Paul] Crespin, [Jeff] Outhier and other USFS officials will be meeting with local elected officials, civic groups and tourism organizations here to explain the situation in the Sangres, and to encourage them to urge summer visitors [instead] to take advantage of trails, campgrounds and public lands in the Wet Mountains. 
Crespin said it may take many months to open the Sangre trails, and some may never be restored to their prior conditions.
In both cases, it's mainly a recreational/tourism issue. If people can't play, will they stay? The Wet Mountains offer some hiking trails and only one developed campground, at Lake Isabel.

(And then there is the whole frozen-cow disposal issue.)

April 08, 2012

MM and BB?


Found this photo on the Web without clear attribution. It does suggest the 1950s in Yellowstone, when black bears eating garbage were considered to be a cute tourist attraction. And is the cute tourist really Marilyn Monroe?

BB? Black bear. Did you think I meant Brigitte Bardot?

September 14, 2011

Biking Across the Country

M. and I are on our way home from Yellowstone National Park, and I will have a few more posts about that soon.

This is another version of the logo.
While reading a historical marker, we encountered Missourian Brian McEntire, who is bicycling across the country on what I still think of as the 1976 Bicentennial route. He seemed surprised when I told him that there was still one of the old green-and-white "bike-centennial" signs on Colorado 96 outside of Pueblo.

He has been keeping a log in blog form.

January 07, 2009

As Medano Creek Flows, So Do Tourists

An article on 2008 visitation to Great Sand Dunes National Park contained this observation:

In keeping with the average number of visits, [park chief of interpretation and visitor services Carol] Sperling said an average flow year at Medano Creek, which streams past the southern face of the dunes and the visitor center, had an average year. "If the creek does not flow, that's when visitation really tanks," she said.

Incidentally, "Médano" is accented on the first syllable. It comes via Spanish from an Arabic word for ... sand dune.

December 23, 2007

Two Flawed 'Nature' Films

M. and I recently watched This is Nowhere, a film with no particular narrative or point to make.

I suspect that the filmmakers went down to the Wal-Mart in Missoula, Montana, looking for the awful sickening rot at the heart of AmeriKKKa and found -- fairly ordinary, pleasant, middle-class people?

For instance, the widower who tired of rattling around in his big house, sold it, bought a motorhome and who now travels with his cat around the US and Mexico. (He was talking of driving to Costa Rica next.)

(Sickening! Wasteful!)

Yes, they know that Wal-Mart permits them to camp for free, knowing that they will stroll across the parking lot and spend money. And they don't care.

Unfortunately for the filmmaker Doug Hawes-Davis, his subjects just seem ordinary. Or maybe that fact is supposed to scare you.

One academic reviewer called it "a theater of the absurd acted out in surreal Wal-Mart-scapes and highway strip developments, vehicles and people jiggling in fast motion staccato, going nowhere"? Yeah, whatever.

Another nature-and-culture film that could have been good but took itself too seriously was Darwin's Nightmare.

What does it say when the real ecological issue at the documentary's heart is only shown for a moment in a video that is being watched by some of the people being filmed?

That is taking the idea of a "movie within the movie" too far and too literally. Instead, sensation overcomes information in Darwin's Nightmare

It is still worth seeing, but you will only understand if if you do your research first. That conclusion is no praise for the filmmakers.

Too bad. Both could have been better.

Meanwhile, here is a blog for full-time RV-ers.

Or you can live in a van and be an "independent contractor," like the Hobo Stripper. I wonder how long that lifestyle choice will last. At least she is doing better than Chris McCandless.

August 06, 2007

This Ain't the Damned Lake Road


Here is the driveway of someone who is tired of tourists who leave their brains back in Kansas or Colorado Springs. (The actual signed and marked turnoff to Lake DeWeese is about 100 yards further south on Colorado 96, near Westcliffe.)

Full text: Private Drive Stay Out. This Ain't The Damned Lake Road. Stay Out.

In the background, a thunderstorm moves over the Wet Mountains.

I used to wonder about rural residents who were always putting up "Private Drive -- Keep Out" signs. Then I became one.

Every sunny Sunday there would be someone blundering up our little two-track driveway. The dogs would bark, we would go outside to see who was visiting, only to see a vehicle rapidly reversing away.

Once it was a Cañon City bank president in a red convertible with a much younger blonde in the passenger seat. His daughter, perhaps.

So I put up a "Private Drive" sign, which discourages most of them.