Saturday

See the bear?” she asks. The kids’ eyes widened like saucers. “Yeah,” she continued. “They wrecked our car carrier and coolers …

Don’t Mess with No Bears
No sense crying over spilled milk, right?

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

We spent Saturday hiking down the trail into Emerald Bay to check out the Vikingsholm.

Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay

A 38-room reproduction of a ninth-century Norse fortress from the land of my wife’s ancestors that flows through half of my kids bloodline.

After the tour we talked our way into D.L. Bliss State Park — at first they wouldn’t let us in for day use.

We found out the park is named in honor of timber and railroad magnate Duane Leroy Bliss.

His heirs donated 744 acres of land to the state in 1929.

It has since grown to 2,149 acres.

We just wanted to go to the beach.

Rubicon Point Lighthouse

And, I wanted to see the light house built in 1916, Rubicon Point Light.

For that minor request they kindly gave us permission.

Wikipedia says …

Over the years it has deteriorated to the point that many people mistake it for an outhouse; today, however, efforts are being made to restore the tower.

The lighthouse at Rubicon Point has the highest elevation of any American lighthouse; it stands 6,300 feet above sea level, at a point where it could be seen from most places around the lake.

Spotting Eagle’s Nests

We spotted an eagle’s nest in an old diseased, leafless pine tree along the way.

Heading for the Beach

The beach turned out to be a local boaters cove with about a dozen boats anchored.

Their owners had set up their portable grills on the beach.

Our kids climbed the rocks they found around the southern edge of the beach and swam in the ice-fed lake.

One day back at the campsite a woman walks over while we were cooking some breakfast.

See the bear?” she asks.

The kids’ eyes widened like saucers.

Yeah,” she continued. “They wrecked our car carrier and coolers …

Love Dem Bears

She had left them out against better judgement and in spite of all the signs saying bears were on the prowl for food.

Everything.

Including suntan lotion.

Need to be locked in cars, not tents.

Not anymore.

Bear lockers are the ticket.

Just ask the owner of the car in Truckee years later when a black bear turned up locked inside of his car prowling for something to eat.

Truckee Home Invasion

Another night in the camp latrine I overheard a guy telling another camper that only  black bears frequent the campsites.

The one sighted was about 5 feet tall.

Scary enough, right?

So you can see why we kept the discussion about bears to a minimum.

Especially at night.

We didn’t want to spook the younger kids, girls and wives.

Oh, ok and me.

Don’t Tempt Bears

Needless to say, when tucked away in sleeping bags in our tents almost any sound heard in the dark is sleepily interpreted as a would be bear ready to break in looking for something we forgot to lock up.

We still talk about it.

Sadly, when our vacation ended.

I couldn’t bear or bare returning by the long and boring way home.

Instead we took the scenic back roads.

Taking the Scenic Route

We drove counter-clockwise on the 89 to the 50  past the “Y”, north up the Nevada side of the lake and east out to the US 395.

We normally take US 395, the southern section, on our yearly trip to Mammoth Lakes but, on the other side of the Sierra Nevada range.

Over one pass we encountered three cows meandering on the pavement.

As I came out of a blind hairpin curve.

Just living large and enjoying their almost shortened life.

Steaks anyone?

No sense crying over spilled milk, right?

Steps:

(32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

Vikingsholm

Somewhere past Sacramento and Placerville, but before reaching the Lake Tahoe valley we witnessed a blackened forest surrounding new homes during construction and post wildfire ash covered terrain.

Neither one of our 5-year or 8-year olds liked the hike very much – climbing the mile trail to get there.

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

We had a schedule to meet.

Which led to the wrong choice.

Bad Decision

Forgoing the scenic route, more on that a little later.

No, instead we piled everyone and our outdoor gear into our SUV in Orange County and drove for 10 hours straight on the most boring route you can take – Interstate 5.

Vacation-Bound SUV

I cursed at traffic that never ended through Los Angeles.

It wasn’t so bad once we put that behind us, but this was August and it was hot.

Tourists on the freeway for the first time seemed clueless until we drove near the Angeles National Forest.

Fewer cars, trucks and SUVs, but then we entered the longest section of our trip — the Central Valley.

Central Valley Flat Lands

Flat.

Sparse.

Miles turned into hours.

The road signs told us how many miles separated us from hotspots like Modesto and Stockton and finally Sacramento.

The good folks at AAA routed us over I-80 just like the way most of the Bay Area vacationers prefer.

But being enough of a contrarian they didn’t convince me with their recommended route that took us north towards Truckee first.

All Routes Lead to Lake Tahoe

Then south on CA 89 to the western shore of the Lake.

We opted for the more direct US 50 east to South Lake Tahoe.

Somewhere past Sacramento and Placerville, but before reaching the Lake Tahoe valley we witnessed a blackened forest surrounding new homes during construction and post wildfire ash covered terrain.

We couldn’t help wonder after homeowners sink a ton of money into the homes and vacation homes how long it would take to return to a healthy, green wilderness that attracted the owners in the first place.

Months?

Vacation Home At Risk

Probably not?

More likely years, right?

We, however, needed to move on so we still had enough daylight left for pitching our tent and setting up our campsite.

We found the entrance to Sugar Pine Point State Park in the southwest corner of the Lake (by the 7 or 8 on the Washoe clock) between Meeks Bay and Tahoma.

Sometime after 2003 Sugar Pine name changed to Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park.

Nothing else changed.

It still occupies nearly two miles of the Lake Tahoe’s western shore and a total of 2,500 acres of forested mountains in El Dorado County.

The name change honored …

 Edwin L. Z’berg, a California state assemblyman who specialized in environmental legislation and worked to develop state parks and other natural areas.

Campsite for First Night

Luckily, our friends arrived just in time from Cambria to unload their tent and pitch it while it was still dusk.

That was the good news.

The bad news came when we checked in with the ranger station and inquired about extending our camping a few more days than what we had been able to reserve.

Friends had told us that our original campsites butted right up against the road.

For that reason we switched our reservation at the last-minute to Sugar Pine.

But we’d have to leave mid-week.

Change in Reservations

The ranger’s advice was to check back for last-minute cancellations.

We settled for one of the two overflow campsites vacant through Sunday.

What we wanted.

But, that meant we’d have to break camp and move the very next day.

Did we explore and do everything the park had to offer?

No.

But, we tried after we learned a little more about it.

We found out that General Creek runs from the Desolation Wilderness into Lake Tahoe.

Along the stream you see lakes, mountain meadows with wildflowers.

And two large moraines (debris leftover from Tahoe’s glacier period).

El Dorado National Forest

The trail leaves the park and enters Eldorado National Forest

The trapper William “General” Phipps was the first white settler on the land, having been seasonally inhabited by the Washoe before him.

The cabin he built in 1860 still stands.

Roughly 40 years later, ok, 43 years later the wealthy discovered and began building along Lake Tahoe’s shores.

Wikipedia fills in some of the details …

In 1903 the wealthy San Francisco banker Isaias W. Hellman obtained land and built the Pine Lodge, now also known as the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion. 

Hellman-Ehrman Mansion

The house was designed by Walter Danforth Bliss and featured electric lighting, indoor plumbing, and water directly from the lake. 

The estate included a tennis court, two boathouses, and cabins for the 27 resident staff. Hellman’s family spent summers on the estate for decades, and sold it to the state in 1965 when the park was established. The family still provides funds for the upkeep of the mansion and property.

Fun fact.

Again, thanks to Wikipedia …

This is the only California state park in the Sierra Nevada that operates recreational facilities during the winter.

1960 Winter Olympics

There are 11 miles of skiing and snowshoeing trails for public use, some of which were sites of the Olympic events in 1960. 

Some snow paths are machine groomed. Park rangers lead occasional snowshoeing tours of the park. Winter camping is available, with many more sites opening for the summer.

We were there for the summer recreation – swimming and other beach activities, fishing, and hiking.

With having to set up and take down and set up camp again, nobody felt settled until the following evening.

What Camping’s All About

But, we felt more like we were on vacation when on Wednesday.

We drove down to Meeks Bay to lay on the beach.

Biking Along the Truckee River

On Thursday we rode bikes along the 5-mile Truckee River trail.

Next up we toured the lake driving clockwise in one of our SUVs stopping at Incline Village on the Nevada side.

Gambling Side of the Lake

We marveled at the beautiful homes in the North Lake area.

And, noticed how the gambling casinos on both the north and south Nevada borders welcomed tourists, and more importantly for them, their money.

Instead, we kept our money and drove on to check out Camp Richardson’s Resort back on the South Lake side  near our campsite.

Exploring South Lake Tahoe

Each night after long days enjoying ourselves, we’d eat dinner in the dark, settle down in our lawn chairs and recall the highlights of the adventures around our campfire.

Hiking to Eagle Point Falls

On Friday we hiked into Eagle Point Falls and Lake.

The forest is not pristine.

Having been subjected to heavy logging in the late 1800s, as we already know.

Neither one of our 5-year or 8-year olds liked the hike very much – climbing the mile trail to get there.

But they loved the destination.

Because I took so many photos and video shots along the way and had the lunch we packed they had to wait for me to catch up.

Awesome View of Emerald Bay

A little food and they were good to go.

That was the last time they entrusted me to carry it.

Especially on Saturday.

Steps:

(32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

Moose

“ATTENTION! Moose In This Area.”

Watch Out For Moose in the Hood
Pop Quiz: Which of the following signs signal that when a moose sees you and walks slowly towards you something bad is going to happen — to you?

An excerpt from Book Four in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Rocky Mountain State.

Moose on the Fridge

All that sight seeing, first in a warm sun-drenched day, and later in a cool, clear mountain evening made us appreciate chilling out in the massively wood-beamed home.

You learn a lot about people based on what’s attached to their refrigerator.

On our annual ski and snowboarding trips to Mammoth Mountain in the Eastern Sierras of California, you find instructions about how long it takes to boil water in the high altitude.

Much longer, especially if you need to feed a dozen starving stomachs.

Kitchen Full of Cookie Monsters

On our hosts’ refrigerator the notice hand dated as 4-17-15 in bold red letters warned us —

ATTENTION! Moose In This Area.  

I expected the Cookie Monster, since this was the kitchen after all.

Rockies and Bullwinkle

Moose, the Colorado Parks Wildlife said, regularly use this area.

It is important that you take precautions to avoid conflicts with moose.

So, I’m guessing you have to pay attention, unless it’s Bullwinkle and Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

Continuing.

What to do if you see a moose — listed four bullet points followed by six more under the heading of Physical Appearance.

Do Wap, Do Wap, What?

They sport “dewlaps.”

Say what?

You know, a loose flap of skin hanging below the neck.

Probably not that many hanging out in Beverly Hills, or that unsightly sagging can be taken care of — just ask one of the “Housewives.”

Blinging Beverly Hills Housewives

Should you approach them?

No.

How about letting pets play with them?

No.

How about feeding them like the bears in national parks?

Yes.

I mean no.

Which of the following signs signal that when a moose sees you and walks slowly towards you something bad is going to happen — to you?

Ears laid back?

Long hairs on hump raised?

May lick snout?

Yup, any and all of them.

Don’t Forget to Tip Generously

If a moose in Beverly Hills charges you it is customary to leave a 20% tip.

In Colorado, not so much.

Run like hell.

Look for something to put between you and the moose.

In addition to finding a slower runner, you should consider the following.

Keep a Boulder Between You and Bullwinkle

Tree.

Car.

Large rock.

Steps:

(32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

McGee

“When you turned us perpendicular to the steep drop and the loose gravel spun the tires so we lost traction, we tilted over so far I thought we might slide and flip the SUV with us in it.”
McGee Mountain Turnaround
Dave McCoy and McGee Mountain: The 1930’s Origin Story of Sierra Nevada Alpine Skiing.

 

The next day most of the family herd split off to rent a boat and try their luck at fishing and trolling around the lake.

That was plan B for some of them.

Plan A was horseback riding.

Watch Your Step

Plan A required planning ahead and came with a hefty price tag according to Rock Creek Lodge website.

ROCK CREEK PACK STATION

P.O.Box 248

Bishop, CA 93515

(760) 872-8331

email: info@rockcreekpackstation.com

http://www.rockcreekpackstation.com/

TWO HOUR RIDE – Spectacular mountain trail overlooking Little Lakes Valley. $45.00

HALF DAY RIDE – 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. departures. Scenic trail rides in Rock Creek. $60.00

DAY IN THE SIERRA – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. A leisurely day. Includes sack lunch. $75.00

ALL DAY RIDE – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Bring your fishing pole! Includes lunch $90.00

My son whispered in my ear the night before.

“Dad, want to go off-roading?”

Tom’s Place to Mammoth Lakes

“Heck yeah,” 

I said.

He wanted to get a feel of what it would be like to live up here revisiting the questions he asked at  the canyon’s entrance on Tom’s Place porch.

So, we piled into the SUV, scrambled down Rock Creek Road and crossed over US 395 and took Owens Gorge Road.

Which it turns out ran out of asphalt and became a rustic dirt road.

We followed it slightly downhill since it bordered Owens River for as far as it still carved a dirt path through vehicle-high bushes on both sides.

You could tell this was still high desert country with very little but scrub bushes and rocks populating the opposite side of the river.

Classic Foot Bridge

We found a wooden bridge.

Rushing Below the Bridge

Directly below the river – about the size of Rock Creek in width – cascaded a few feet into a dark pool.

In bright sun, green grassy bushes, individual reeds and other vegetation seemed to take over the river as bushes had Owens Gorge Road.

Deep Blue Pools

We clicked off several shots of the deep dark blue pools reflecting a drifting cloud formation.

Clouds and Ripples

We had to turn around and drive slightly uphill and deeper into dirt road desert scrub.

We stopped captivated by the yellows bobbing in the breeze.

Up close the cotton ball tops showed a dark brown shading on one side and a fuzzy white – almost dandelion edge  on the other.

Cotton Balls and Mountain Peak

Yellow pre-fluffy buds vied for attention here and there.

Taking the long view the high desert filled in slight erosion valleys with the blanket of yellow cotton balls, gave way to a mix of black, gray and lightly orange brush before ending with another line of lodge pole pine trees.

Off in the very distant a mountain range framed the photo.

Out of the dusty windshield a deep cloudless sky dominated the upper half of a landscape with a hazy light purple range.

Three rounded peaks moved your eyes straight ahead to where the dirt road seem to disappear before we reached a sliver of blue water.

We reluctantly found asphalt again.

Owens Dam came into view at the bottom of an S-curve.

Lake Crowley curved around one of those bends away from us as we dropped in elevation.

Now what?

Return to the cabin?

Nope.

We wanted to find the next dirt road with a different landscape.

Dirt Path Adventuring

There it was.

Off into the evergreens.

Following a narrow trail with two ruts to guide us with brush in the median between.

We drove.

We admired.

We found shade.

We stopped when the stiff brush threatened to leave deep scratches on the SUV doors.

Finding Lake Crowley

We backtracked to Tom’s Place for refreshment before following our noses and meandering along the country road towards Crowley Lake and McGee Mountain running parallel to US 395 on Crowley Lake Drive.

We craved elevation.

We climbed a foothill on a trail that took us higher than we had been on the opposite side of US 395 off of Owens Gorge Road.

Lodge pole pines gave way to clusters of white-barked birch trees.

Instead of shimmering yellow and gold leaves at Marsh Lake and Mosquito Flats, the birch leaves shimmered as the wind blew through dark green leaves.

Climbing higher until we reached the end of the dirt road and turned around, we snapped a few vista shots of Crowley Lake framed by evergreens.

And one of McGee Mountain

McGee Mountain

On the blacktop road again we traveled for about a mile to what turned out to be the most dangerous part of our off-roading adventure.

On the driver’s side a pile stones and some rusty wheels next to them caught our eye.

Inspecting it we discovered something we had only heard about, but didn’t really know too much about.

The pile of rocks resembled what you might expect was a stone barbecue made of Rock Creek rounded rocks cemented together.

But the grill was missing.

Instead, a dark bronze – brown historical plaque with a gold lettered inscription revealed the origin story of Sierra Nevada Alpine Skiing in the 1930’s.

Rope Tow to The Top

Like a giant antique spinning wheel, the rusting wheels on the ground — two outer with gear teeth and two inner grooved to guide rope — made the story authentically real.

McGee Mountain Rope Tow #34

The first permanent rope tow in the eastern Sierra was built west of this site on the east slope of McGee Mountain.  

This predecessor of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area was constructed in 1938 because of its dependable snow and nearness to a highway.  

Dave McCoy’s McGee Mountain

Prior to this facility most down hill skiing was done by use of a portable rope tow system (a working gasoline engine, rope, and pullies. (sic))

Dave McCoy – World Class Skier, Entrepreneur, and Visionary was instrumental in organizing and promoting skiing here. 

The success of this rope tow motivated McCoy to move in 1941 to Mammoth Mountain.  

Subsequently, within a few years, the popularity of skiing here declined and the rope tow was abandoned.  

Some remnants of that first rope tow can still be seen today along the slopes of McGee Mountain.

We looked at each other.

We looked at the slope of McGee Mountain.

We tried to imagine what it was like to ski there in the early 40’s.

How dangerous could it be?

We looked back at each other with slight smirks on our faces.

How dangerous could it be?

Not very we figured.

There’s a rocky dirt path leading up the incline with fading green scrub brush cascading down from the top.

Driving up the well grooved incline only became sketchy near the top of what we calculated must have been McCoy’s run.

It wasn’t until we looked back down when that severely, steep drop scared us.

But the real danger came when we ran out of room to turn around safely.

At that deceptively steep angle we had to, because backing down felt too terrifying.

We had others to think about, too.

They depended on us for the six hours return home drive from this vacation.

That’s what I focused on to push the danger fright out of my mind.

None of those thoughts were shared until we made it back down safely.

Oh, Oh. Now What?

“Were you scared?”

“Yup”

“When you turned us perpendicular to the steep drop and the loose gravel spun the tires, so we lost traction.”

“Me too.”

“We tilted over so far I thought we might slide and flip the SUV with us in it.”

Steps:

(32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

Rustic

“Now in the summer there are about 1500 people living here with 2 grocery stores, two gas stations and 4 saloons. In the winter about 400 people, 1 grocery store, 1 gas station and 4 saloons.”

Silverton’s Extreme Winter Sports

Southwestern Colorado: Durango, Pagosa Springs, Telluride and Silverton.

Back to our summer vacation.

Reading between the highlights and headlines.

Checking out high quality-of-life mountain resorts on our bucket list.

Southwestern Colorado Travel Region

We planned our itinerary as efficiently as possible to visit as many up-and-coming resort locations on our vacation as we could.

In the Southwestern Colorado travel region we could check off three already:

Durango, Pagosa Springs and Telluride. And, another innovation growth stage candidate – Silverton.

But there were plenty more throughout the state.

So many towns to visit.

So little time.

And, it would be impossible to visit all the ones on our bucket list.

Over a two week vacation.

So we stuck to our regional plans to sample as many as we could.

The night before at our hotel we found ourselves right behind the Silverton Durango – the Durango train depot and roundhouse — and the hub of the city.

We jumped into the indoor pool before and briefly, and for the first time on our trip, unanimously agreed on the first adventure of the next day.

Durango to Silverton

We planned our first excursion from our “Durango Basecamp” to Silverton.

After missing the early morning train to Silverton, we opted for the bus tour later, instead.

“Stand-by?” For a bus!?

Not what we wanted to hear.

Luckily, a friend tipped us off before the trip.

He owned some property in Durango, had planned to build on his lot, but a divorce came between him and his dreams.

Fast forward years later.

He bought and renovated another home.

We visited him during the summer of 2015.

But, enough about that.

Now.

His recommendation?

Durango Train Station

Take the Silverton narrow gauge one-way, but not up and back.

Try a bus, or maybe a jeep tour.

Because, the train is so sllllooooooowwwww.

And, it’s not like we’ve got a precious vacation day to waste standing in line.

Well, we were still shocked.

We grumbled for a while trying to figure out how to kill about an hour and come back in time to stand by for the next bus.

But as it turns out, after schmoozing with the driver before we boarded we scored some seats after all.

We caught the 11:45, and still had plenty of discovery time.

And, we enjoyed the winding Durango to Silverton road with his local insights.

I guess we lucked out, when the 20-something bus driver announced:

“Unlike the other guides who came to Durango from Florida or Minnesota, I’m an original — born and raised in Durango.

I know every mountain, river, lake, tree, plant and all the local history — so sit back and sleep if you want, but I’ll make the hour trip as entertaining as I can.

Just ask away — any questions.”

Here’s what I picked up from the scenic Q & A.

  • Construction began on the narrow gauge railroad line in 1881 between Durango and Silverton.
  • Nearly a year later it was completed and began hauling mine ores – over $300 million — throughout the years.
  • For roughly eighty years.
  • Durango became cut off from the rest of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in the late 1960s, isolating the remaining narrow gauge track along the 45 mile route between the two towns.
Narrow Gauge Hugging Animas River Canyon Walls

So, today for us tourists, the locomotives operate 100% on coal-fired steam and were manufactured by the American Locomotive Works in 1923 or Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925.

All the coaches are from the 1880s era — many originally build in the 1800s.

The trip hugs the walls of the Animas River Canyon, rises to 11,000 feet and takes you back to the Silverton frontier days through history, forests, and natural wonder.

Downtown Silverton

We endured the Colorado afternoon rain.

Feeding Bus Loads of Tourists Lunch

We lunched, walked the main street, and visited Blair Streets once booming bordello district.

I guess you could say we did what every other tourist did.

We window-shopped.

We snapped pictures of a street that looked like it could have been the backdrop for the “Gunfight-at-the-O.K.-Corral.”

Snowboarder Performing Jump Silverton, Colorado, USA

The bus driver told us Silverton had 300 inches of snow each year and because of avalanche danger nothing was built on the other side of the river.

I loved his line …

“But, kids, there aren’t any snow days, because everyone walks to the one room school which could fit in this bus.”

“Look up on the hill,” he said.

There protecting the mining town was a monstrous statue, Christ of the Mines Shrine, built in 1958 -1959 as a tribute to all those who worked the mines.

Christ of the Mines Shrine

“One Sunday, the only time the mines around here weren’t working, a nearby lake broke through the ground and flooded the mines.

No fatalities, but if it had been on any other day of the week, at least 150 god-fearing souls would have been lost.”

He also said only the hardy stick around in the winter.

“Now in the summer there are about 1500 people living here with 2 grocery stores, two gas stations and 4 saloons.

In the winter about 400 people, 1 grocery store, 1 gas station and 4 saloons.”

He also told us that Silverton sits in a small valley called Baker’s Park, named after Charles Baker who led a small expedition to the area around 1860.

After the Civil War miners began flooding into the area, when it was still Ute Indian Territory — originally their hunting grounds.

And here’s another coincidence for you.

It has something to do with the only way into the area at that time – Stony Pass Trail.

A member of Baker’s original party of prospectors – George Howard, founded a town named after himself.

That’s right.

A long lost ancestor?

Turns out he was quite an entrepreneur.

Here’s how the story is told:

“When George decided he needed to build a log cabin, he put the free enterprise system to work. George hauled in a large stack of logs and set a barrel of whiskey next to it.”

“As the thirsty miners came into the area over the Stony Pass Trail, George would offer them some refreshment.

When the miners began to feel the effects of the free refreshments, George would ask them for a little help on his cabin.”

Before long he was the owner of the first permanent settlement.

In Howardsville.

According to Dee Brown:

“The Ute’s were Rocky Mountain Indians, and for a generation they had watched the invading white men move into their Colorado country like endless swarms of grasshoppers.”

Did they realize what was to become of them right away?

Don’t know.

  • But we do know that the Brunot Treaty negotiated with the Utes ceded the area to U.S. and by 1873 more than 1500 mining claims had been registered.
  • And, as our bus driver told us, Silverton as a town was plotted in a year later 1874.
  • But, in the early days Silverton was hard to reach.
  • With the railroad coming in 1882, getting supplies to Silverton was less of a problem.
  • In less than three decades, as Brunot had pointed out to Chief Ouray, you couldn’t turn away the hoards of get-rich-quick miners if you wanted.

In fact, mining hit its peak between 1900 and 1912 when San Juan County’s population swelled to 5,000 people.

Turning from facts to fun.

An excerpt from Book Three in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams.