Eastern Mojave Vegetation Field Notes (Continued)  
 

Tom Schweich  

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Contents
Literature Cited
 When I first read the field notes of Annie Alexander and Louise Kellogg, I was fascinated by the descriptions they wrote about the places they went and the plants and animals they found there. By publishing my field notes on the Internet I hope to follow a little bit in their tradition.

 

   

September, 2017

 

 

   

Friday, September 1st

 
  Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space
  1761  Field identification: Gentiana affinis.

Gentiana affinis Griseb. Pleated or Rocky Mountain Gentian..

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 35 meters southwest on the slope above the road. 39.8928°N, 105.2662°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1953 m. Flowers just beginning to open.

  1762  Field identification: Sorghastrum nutans.

Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash. Yellow Indian Grass.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 35 meters southwest on the slope above the road. 39.8928°N, 105.2662°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1971 m.


Full Size ImageColl. No. 1763, Ambrosia psilostachya  
1763  Field identification: Ambrosia psilostachya.

Ambrosia psilostachya DC. Western Ragweed.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 35 meters southwest on the slope above the road. 39.8928°N, 105.2662°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1972 m.

  1764  Field identification: Schizachyrium scoparium.

Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash. Little Bluestem.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 35 meters southwest on the slope above the road. 39.8928°N, 105.2662°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1972 m. Smallish plants.

  1765  Field identification: Grindelia squarrosa.

Grindelia squarrosa (Pursh) Dunal. Curlycup Gumweed.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 35 meters southwest on the slope above the road. 39.8927°N, 105.2661°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1970 m.

  1766  Field identification: Bouteloua curtipendula.

Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr. Sideoats Grama.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 100 meters southwest on the slope above the road. 39.8923°N, 105.2668°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1979 m. Few plants in a small area.


Full Size ImageColl. No. 1767, Artemisia campestris
Full Size ImageInflorescence of Coll. No. 1767, Artemisia campestris  
1767  Field identification: Artemisia campestris.

Artemisia campestris L. Field Sagewort.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 250 meters southwest on the slope above the road. 39.8911°N, 105.2674°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1994 m. Rocky alluvial ridge. Somewhat ambiguous as to variety, but most like var. pacifica if infraspecific names are to be applied.

Coll. No. 1767, 1 Sep 2017, characters observed: Perennial herb, to 60 cm., longer lived than biennial; Stem, 4± per caudex, reddish; Leaves, basal mostly withered, cauline, 8 mm. × 0.6 mm. wide, narrowly oblanceolate, tomentose; Inflorescence, 130 mm. × 20 mm. wide; Heads, many, 2 mm. × 2 mm. wide; Phyllaries, 2+ series, 1.5 mm. × 1 mm. wide, green to scarious; Receptacle, naked.


Full Size ImageColl. No. 1768, Solidago speciosa var. pallida
Full Size ImageBasal leaf and inflorescence of Coll. No. 1768, Solidago speciosa var. pallida  
1768  Field identification: Solidago, elongated inflorescence, rosettes of leaves growing from caudex, likely S. missouriensis.

Solidago speciosa Nutt. var. pallida Porter. Pale Showy Goldenrod.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 260 meters southwest on the slope above the road. 39.891°N, 105.2674°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1993 m. Elongated inflorescence, new rosettes growing from caudex while in flower.

Coll. No. 1768, 1 Sep 2017, characters observed: Perennial herb, 50-55 cm., new rosette growing from caudex while flowering from adjacent stem; Stem, glabrous, reddish; Leaves, new rosette of basal leaves, petiole 38-55 mm., blade 80 mm. × 25 mm. wide, pinnately veined, glabrous, margin minutely ciliate, basal leaves of flowering stem, withered, cauline leaves, reduced, not clasping, short petioled 18-0 mm. distally, glabrate, turning reddish, margin ciliate; Inflorescence, panicle-like (only 1° and 2° branches), minutely glandular among heads; Heads, many, 6 mm. × 2.3 mm. wide; Peduncles, 2 mm.; Involucre, 3.5 mm. × 2.5 mm. wide; Phyllaries, 3+ graduated series, 1.7-3.0 mm. × 0.7 mm. wide, vein, 1, tip, obtuse, ciliate; Receptacle, epaleate; Flowers, 2 kinds; Rays, few (#2), tube 2 mm. + blade 2 mm., yellow, fertile; Disc flowers, #10-12, tube 3 mm. + lobes 1 mm., yellow; Pappus, bristles, 3 mm.; Cypsela, 1 mm., glabrous (sparse small hairs).

Other articles: Glossary corymbiform
Full Size ImageCorymbiform inflorescence of Coll. No. 1769, Solidago rigida var. humilis  

1769  Field identification: Solidago, maybe S. rigida var. humilis.

Solidago rigida L. var. humilis Porter. Stiff Goldenrod.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 270 meters southwest on the slope above the road. 39.8909°N, 105.2675°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1993 m.

  1770  Field identification: Symphyotrichum porteri.

Symphyotrichum porteri (A. Gray) G.L. Nesom. Smooth White Aster.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 210 meters southwest on the slope above the road and near a small group of Ponderosa pines. 39.8918°N, 105.2679°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1997 m. Glabrous throughout, leaves and phyllaries with a white spinulose tip, ray flowers white. Growing with Coll. No. 1771, Symphyotrichum ericoides.

  1771  Field identification: Symphyotrichum, either S. ericoides or S. falcatum.

Symphyotrichum ericoides (Linnaeus) G. L. Nesom. White Heath Aster.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 210 meters southwest on the slope above the road and near a small group of Ponderosa pines. 39.8919°N, 105.2679°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1997 m. Short hairy throughout, leaves with spinulose tip, heads secund, ray flowers white.

  1772  Field identification: Epilobium brachycarpum.

Epilobium brachycarpum C. Presl. Autumn Willow Herb.

Ranson/Edwards Homestead Open Space Park, Jefferson County, Colorado. High plains above Rocky Flats, 1.7 mi. west on Colorado Highway 72 from Colorado Highway 93, 1.6 mi. north on Plainview Road, then 100 meters west in a small watercourse above the road. 39.8931°N, 105.2673°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1980 m.

 

   

Saturday, September 9th

 

 

   

Sunday, September 10th

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 115 Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Locations: Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
Full Size ImageCheyenne Montain from the state park.  

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 105 72000

Locations: Palmer Lake.
Full Size ImagePalmer Lake  

Palmer Lake

 

   

Sunday, September 17th

Golden to Buena Vista

 

Other articles: U. S. Highway 50 Cañon City

Locations: Cañon City.
Full Size ImageA former railroad depot in Cañon City  

Cañon City

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Fremont Cattlemen's Association Brand Board
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Two old buildings on Main Street, Cañon City
 

 

Other articles: County Road 3A Royal Gorge Bridge and Park Royal Gorge

Locations: Royal Gorge. Royal Gorge Bridge.
Full Size ImageDRGW 499 on display at Royal Gorge.  

Royal Gorge Bridge

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Royal Gorge Bridge
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Interpretive panel for Royal Gorge Bridge
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Looking down into the gorge from the bridge
Royal Gorge

Lt. Zebulon Pike and his men, who traveled through this area in November and December 1806, were the first American explorers to view the Arkansas River canyon now known as the Royal Gorge. A small party from the Maj. Stephen H. Long expedition visited the mouth of the canyon in 1820, as did members of Lt. John C. Fremont's expedition in 1845.

In 1878 a right of way through the Royal Gorge became the focal point of a bitter struggle between the Denver and Rio Grande and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads, with the D and RG eventually winning the route through court action. Congress ceded the land comprising the Royal Gorge Park to Cañon City in 1906, and the world's highest suspension bridge spanning the Arkansas River 1053 feet below was built in 1929.

Elevation 6,626 feet.

Erected by the State Historical Society of Colorado

 

   

Monday, September 18th

Salida to Creede

 

Locations: Methodist Mountain.
Full Size ImageMethodist Mountain from Salida in the early morning  

Methodist Mountain from our hotel room.

 

Other articles: U. S. Highway 50 91960

Locations: Maysville.
Full Size ImageMaysville School  

Maysville

 

 

Other articles: U. S. Highway 50 91920

Locations: Monarch (historical).
Full Size ImageMining area at Monarch  

Monarch

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Turning aspens at Monarch.
 

 

Other articles: U. S. Highway 50 at Monarch Pass

Locations: Monarch Pass.
Full Size ImageMonarch Pass, 11,306 ft.  

Monarch Pass

 

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 near Powderhorn

Locations: Powderhorn.
Full Size ImageInterpretive panel for Powderhorn Valley.  

Powderhorn

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View southwest to the populated place of Powderhorn
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Horses grazing in Powderhorn Valley
Powderhorn Valley

Powderhorn Valley was named by mountain men and fur trappers because the shape of the valley resembles a bison horn that would have been used to keep gunpowder dry.

The Post Office in Powderhorn Valley was established in 1876 when the valley was settled by ranch families looking for lush grassland to support cattle. In the early years, Powderhorn Valley supplied beef and potatoes that fed the hungry miners and most of the hay for the horses, mules, and burros that worked in the mines in the mountains above Lake City.

For years, families shopped at Youman's store. Everything in the store was behind the counter and customers had to ask for needed items. Household goods, including fabric, nails, flour, and seed were available only in bulk and needed to tbe measured or weighed at the time goods were sold.

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 Gateview

Locations: Gateview.
Full Size ImageInterpretive panel for the Old Spanish Trail  

Gateview

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Interpretive panel “Lost in a Blizzard”
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Looking downstream on the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River
The Old Spanish Trail 1829-1848

Between 1829 and 1848 woolen goods were transported by mule caravans from the Mexican outpost of Santa Fe to the Missions of Southern California on the Old Spanish Trail.

Annual mule pack caravans traveled the historic Old Spanish Trail between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Los Angeles, California. Traders from Santa Fe headed to San Gabriel Mission as a welcome destination. They brought woolen goods from New Mexico and returned with highly prized California mules and horses. Following ancient Native American trails, the trade route went into central Utah during Spanish Colonial days and continued as an emigrant trail during the Mexican period. Anglo trappers and military expeditions, including John Fremont, Kit Carson, and John Gunnison used various routes of what is now recognized as the Old Spanish National Historic Trail.

In June 1853, Lieutenant Edward Beale, accompanied by Gwinn Harris Heap detailed their travel route through this area. Head wrote “ … we crossed the two forks of the Jaroso (Cebolla Creek and Powderhorn Creek) … we rested for the night by a small shallow brook, very marshy, and swarming with mosquitos … Numbers of deer and antelopes were seen; indeed, these sheltered calleys seem expressly intended as coverts for those gentle animals … Traders from Abiquiu come by it into these mountains to barter for peltries with the Utahs (Ute Indians).”

Lost in a Blizzard

“In the Colorado Rockies where the snow is deep and cold … a man afoot can starve to death unless he's brave and bold.” -- Ballad of Alferd Packer

What is now recognized as one of the most notorious events in Colorado's history -- cannibalism by Alferd Packer -- unfolded in the valley below you. If was here that Alferd Packer and his men made a most disastrous mistake, then missed a turn in the trail and became hopelessly lost in the San Juan Mountains.

On that fateful day in February 1874, Alferd Packer became lost in a severe snow storm while guiding five men from Salt Lake City ti the Los Piños Indian Agency, located south of what is now Gunnison. At the time, the Old Spanish Trail was a well worn trail that continued on to Taos and Santa Fe. Unfortunately, snow covered the trail in the valley below and the hapless men continued to the south instead of remaining in the trail to the east.

Cannibalism in the high country could have been averted had they remained on the correct trail towards Cohetopa Pass.

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at The Gate

Locations: The Gate.
Full Size ImageInterpretive panel at The Gate  

The Gate

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The walls of The Gate
Keeping the Peace

The trail is well worn, and the peeled trees show that the valley has been much frequented by (Ute) Indians.

Gold was discovered in the San Juan Mountains in the late 1860s leading to a rush of miners. Tension rose between the miners seeking gold and the Ute Indians who lived and hunted in the mountains. As a result, the U. S. Government negotiated the Brunot Treaty in 1873 with Chief Ouray and the Weminuche Ute.

At this point we passed the Great Gate, a rift in a spar sweeping around from range to range across the calley.” -- Lt. E. H. Ruffner, Corps of Engineers, Reconnaissance in the Ute Country, 1873

That same year, the military sent Lt. E. H. Ruffner into the San Juan Mountains to document mining operations in Southern Colorado and evaluate the effectiveness of the Brunot Treaty. Ruffner noted, “While at Camp 47 we were visited by many western Utes, mostly well armed, well mounted, and well dressed; uncommonly clean, smiling and civil; short men, with broad muscular shoulders.”

Literature Cited:
- Pitblado, Bonnie L., 2015.

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at interp. stop

Locations: Lake City.  

Roadside interpretive stop.

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Hazy view of turning aspens
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Interpretive panel for Early Holocene Encampment
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Interpretive panel for Lake City Caldera
A Volcanic History

Twenty million years ago this entire region was geologically active as massive volcanoes changed the face of the landscape.

If you were here 23 million years ago, you would be standing on the northern edge of that is now called the Lake City Caldera. As the magma chamber emptied from this massive volcano it could no longer hold its shape. The volcano collapsed and fell into itself. This formed the landscape we see today. Most of the rocks surrounding the caldera including granite, obsidian, basalt, tuff and pumice are direct evidence of this region's violent volcanic past.

A caldera is a caldron-like feature formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption. With the collapse of the Lake City and Silverton calderas, a volcanic soup of minerals was injected into the surrounding rock. This produced a rich intrusion of silver, gold, lead, copper, tellurium, and iron. For millions of years, these deposits remained untouched until discovered by prospectors in the 1860s and 1870s.

Early Holocene Encampment

Nearly 10,000 years ago, archaic hunters and gatherers camped along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. Here they hunted wild game such as bighorn sheep and elk in these alpine valleys.

At the end of the last Ice Age, Archaic big game hunters skillfully hunted animals such as elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and a now extinct variety of bison (Bison taylori). Archaeological evidence indicates that these hunters camped along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. Stone tools found in these emcampments include bifaces, drills, scrapers, projectile points, and point fragments.

Near the end of the Ice Age, during a colder and wetter period of time, Archaic hunters lived in small bands. Indications are that they did not stay in any one place very long, but moved often in search of game animals.

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 Lake City

Locations: Lake City.
Full Size ImageHinsdale County Court House  

Lake City

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Turning aspens above Lake City
 

 

Literature Cited:
- Anonymous, 2015.

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at massacre site

Locations: Alferd Packer Massacre Site.  

Alferd Packer Massacre Site

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Interpretive panel at Alferd Packer massacre site.
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Plaque at Alferd Packer massacre site.
Alferd Packer

You man eating son of a … There was seven Democrats in Hinsdale County and you ate five of them.” -- Quote attributed to saloon keeper Larry Dolan after Alferd Packer's first trial.

In February 1874, Alferd Packer became lost in a severe snow storm while guiding five men from Salt Lake City to the Los Piños Agency , (south of Gunnison). In mid-April, Packer arrived at the Los Piños Agency -- alone. Upon interrogation, he claimed that as each person died the other men ate the flesh of the dead. Packer said he killed only one person, but only in self-defense. That summer, five bodies were discovered at this site. Each person's head had been crushed. Alferd Packer was arrested and accused of murder and cannabalism. Before his trial, however, he fled Colorado.

Nine years later, Packer was captured in Wyoming and was returned to Colorado. He was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to prison for forty years. After serving fifteen years he was paroled in 1901. Until his death in 1907, Packer maintained his innocence in one of the most notorious events in Colorado's history.

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at overlook

Locations: Lake San Cristobal. Slumgullion Earthflow.
Full Size ImageSlumgullion Earthflow from Lake San Cristobal Overlook  

Lake San Cristobal

This is the best place along Colorado Highway 149 to view the Slumgullion Earthflow.

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Lower end of Lake San Cristobal
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Upper end of Lake San Cristobal
 

 

Literature Cited:
- Varnes, D. J., and W. Z. Savage, eds.,, 1996.

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at overlook

Locations: Slumgullion Earthflow.  

Slumgullion Earthflow Overlook

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View of Slumgullion from the official viewpoint
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Interpretive panel for Slumgullion Earthflow
Slumgullion Earthflow

The Slumgullion Earthflow was listed on the Natural Registry of Natural Landmarks in 1965 and designated a Colorado Natural Area in 1983.

Imagine what it must have looked like as a massive block of rock, dirt, and forest broke away from Mesa Seco and an enormous earthflow oozed into the valley below. About 850 years ago, during a very wet period of time, a series of slow-moving landslides occurred. the largest landslide dropped over 3,000 feet in elevation and extended downhill more than four miles. What is now called the Slumgullion Earth flow altered the landscape on over 1,000 acres and created Lake San Cristobal.

The story, however, is not over. About 350 years ago, the most recent earthflow began to descend. This flow covered half of the older flows and is still active today. Geologists estimate that in places it is still moving downhill about twenty feet per year.

Slumgullion is a mining word used to describe the muddy clay left in the bottom of a sluice box. However, miners often cooked a hearty and colorful stew that resembles the color of the Slumgullion Earthflow.

Slumgullion Stew


1½ lb. stew meat
1 sliced onion
1 bunch carrots
3 red potatoes
1 bell pepper
1 can black-eyed peas
4-6 cups water
Add leftover cabbage, corn, green beans, etc.
Add salt, pepper, and thyme to taste.
Thicken broth with flour.
Add ½ cup of macaroni in the last ½ hour of cooking.

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at meadow at overlook

Locations: Slumgullion Earthflow. Uncompahgre Peak. Windy Point Overlook.
Full Size ImageBeetle-killed trees on Slumgullion Summit  

Windy Point Overlook

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Head scarp of the Smulgullion Earthflow
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Interpretive panel at Windy Point Overlook
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Uncompahgre Peak in the San Juan Mountains
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Meadow below Windy Point Overlook
I Felt the Earth Move

A massive portion of Mesa Seco gave way about 850 Years ago. This resulted in the Slumgullion Earthflow, one of the most visible examples of “mass wasting” in the United States.

About 850 years ago, thousands of tons of water-saturated, earthen material broke away from Mesa Seco and slid nearly four miles into the valley below. The Slumgullion Earthflow dammed the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River and formed Lake San Cristobal -- the second largest natural lake in Colorado.

About 350 years ago, another portion of Mesa Seco began to slowly ooze down the hillside. Riding above the older slide, this flow covered about 2.5 miles of the older flow. Geologists estimate that it is still moving downhill approximately twenty feet per year.

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at Slumgullion Pass

Locations: Slumgullion Pass.
Full Size ImageSlumgullion Summit  

Slumgullion Summit

 

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at Spring Creek Pass

Locations: Spring Creek Pass.
Full Size ImageSpring Creek Pass, Continental Divide, 10,898 ft.  

Spring Creek Pass

 

 

Literature Cited:
- Lipman, Peter W., 2006.

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at FR 510

Locations: North Clear Creek Falls.  

North Clear Creek Falls

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North Clear Creek Falls
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View southwest from North Clear Creek Falls
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Clear Creek Graben
 

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at CR 18

Locations: Rio Grande River.
Full Size ImageThe Rio Grande River exits from the San Juan Mountains  

Rio Grande River

Drove out on Forest Road 520.21 to the bridge over the Rio Grande River.

 

 

   

Tuesday, September 19th

 

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 Creede

Locations: Creede.
Full Size ImageThe Mac Mine, the only restaurant open for business on an off-season Tuesday morning  

Creede

Walked around Creede.

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The former D&RGW depot, now the history museum
 

 

Literature Cited:
- Steven, Thomas A., and Peter W. Lipman, 1976.

Locations: Creede.
Full Size ImageCreede Mining District  

Creede Mining District

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The Equity Mine
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Bachelor City
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Town of Creede
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Looking upstream toward sources of the Rio Grande River
Bachelor City

When gold and silver were discovered in the nearby mountains, these meadows at 10,500 feet in elevation became home to nearly 1,200 people. Between 1892 and 1896, this was the bustling community of Bachelor City. In January 1892, an eighty-acre town site was surveyed into twenty-four blocks with twelve streets. By March of 1892, nearly 100 ramshackle houses had been hastily constructed.

In its heyday, Bachelor City had a dozen saloons, four hotels, five grocery stores, a meat market, two barber shops, two bakeries, several restaurants, a school, a jail, city hall and a Catholic Church with a parsonage. Bachelor City had a doctor and a dentist and the town newspaper, the “Teller Topics.”

“The camp was a bustling one, and its citizens composed … of the rougher reckless types of Westerners, men who neither feared nor shunned danger, and to whom 'knockdown and dragout' fights were merely ordinary recreation. Brawls and pistol-play were a nightly occurrence in the numerous saloons and gambling dens that infested the place … the character of Bachelor remained tough.” -- Bachelor City - 1892

 

   

Wednesday, September 20th

 

 

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 at Wagon Wheel Gap

Locations: Goose Creek. Wagon Wheel Gap. Wagon Wheel Gap Hot Springs.
Full Size ImageLooking upstream from Wagon Wheel Gap  

Wagon Wheel Gap

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Interpretive panel for Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout at Wagon Wheel Gap
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Interpretive panel at Wagon Wheel Gap
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Interpretive panel at Wagon Wheel Gap
Wagon Wheel Gap -- The Early Years

In the early part of the twentieth century, railroad passengers, tourists, and health seekers boarded wagons at Wagon Wheel Gap and ventured to the Hot Springs Hotel to partake in the rejuvenating water.

The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad touted the healing qualities of the hot springs located near Wagon Wheel Gap. These springs soom became a destination for health seekers.

In December, 1848, John Fremont led an expedition into the San Juan Mountains to find a route for the transcontinental railroad. The ill-fated expedition may have traveled up Embargo Creek, (to the east of Wagon Wheel Gap), where they encountered a vicious winter storm. With ten feet of snow and deteriorating conditions, Fremont abandoned his expedition and each man fended for himself. All told, ten of Fremonts men died of cold or starvation in the San Juan Mountains.

In 1863, Charles Baker led a group of prospectors into the San Juan Mountains. While returning to New Mexico for the winter, then abandoned a damaged wagon near the “gap” where the Rio Grande carved a small canyon. In the 1870s, a wagon wheel was discovered in this area and it was believed to be a remnant from the Baker party. Miners referred to this area as “the gap where the wagon wheel was found.” Over time this area became known as Wagon Wheel Gap.

Wheeler Geologic Area was named in honor of George M. Wheeler, who surveyed much of Colorado in 1874. The area was designated a National Monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt in part to protect the highly erodible spires, hoodoos, and geologic formations. Due to its isolated location and diffifult access, the area was delisted as a National Monument in 1933. Wheeler Geologic Monument is now managed by the Rio Grande National Forest.

 

Literature Cited:
- Jessen, Kenneth, 2012.

Other articles: Colorado State Highway 149 in South Fork

Locations: South Fork.  

South Fork

Saw some railroad equipment south of the highway while coming into town

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Ex-Southern Pacific GE B30-7 7863 in South Fork, CO
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South Fork depot
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Locomotive No. 1
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Ex-Utah Central GE 44-ton locomotive
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Denver & Rio Grande … something, not quite a goose, maybe a mudhen.
 

 

Other articles: County Road 38A at CR 40G County Road 40G at end
Full Size ImageInterpretive panel for Penitente Canyon
Full Size ImageVirgin of Guadalupe in Penitente Canyon  

Penitente Canyon

The BGN gives no name for this canyon, which seems to carry a local name of “Penitente Canyon.”

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Virgin of Guadalupe in Penitente Canyon
Penitente Canyon: Special Recreation Management Area
A place of solitude ... a place of mystery .. a place with a spirit of its own ... Penitente Canyon
In the mid-1980s, rock climbers discovered the Penitente canyonlands. Today the BLM manages the area primarily for climbing, though mountain bikers, hikers and people drawn to its sense of peace and history also make their way to the canyons.
History

Ancestors of the Utes, Jicarilla Apaches and Puebloans have all left evidence of time spent hunting and camping here, along with explorers and trappers. The valley's first settlers were Hispanic farmers and sheepherders who migrated from northern New Mexico.

Virgin of Guadalupe

It's said that in the mid-20th century a few men from the local community painted the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that's still visible today. Local legend has it that they sat in tires and were lowered over the cliff on ropes to complete the painting. The words above the Virgin read “Consuelo y Spiritu” or “Comfort and Spirit.”

Ecology

Penitente Canyon is home to many varieties of plants including chokecherry, wild rose, fringed sage and aspen; and wildlife including black bear, mountain lion, raptors, various lizards and prairie rattlesnakes.

Snakes

Always watch where you are stepping or reaching; don't reach where you can't see. If you encounter a snake, leave it alone and back away. Parents should always keep a close eye on their children in snake country.

Stay Safe

Safety is your responsibility. Know your limits and come prepared for the area's changing weather. All recreational activity is at your own risk.

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Date and time this article was prepared: 12/29/2018 10:41:48 AM