Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

Upon waking up in Durango, Colorado one could easily see the outside was filled with smoke. The smell of smoke was strong outside, as well. The reasons for this white blanket of smoke were the two major wildfires north of Durango. The winds had shifted forcing the smoke southerly. Roads and ramps had been closed due to the intensity of the fires.  The train we were to ride had been cancelled due to the fire. We saw pillars of smoke miles away yesterday.

We headed east to another train known as the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.  This ride would take us on a 64

New Mexico

mile rail through areas of New Mexico and Colorado. This trek would include breathtaking sceneries through steep rugged mountains winding along the slopes and valleys. The ride includes scenery from the San Juan Mountains and the Conejos valley.

The old steam and coal engine dating back to the 1920 era would huff and puff its way along this railroad . This particular railroad is the longest and highest narrow gauge track in America. This preserved railroad is designated on the National and state Registered Historic Site. (Narrow gauge tracks are three feet between the rails instead of the standard 4 feet 8 inches. This aids in making tighter turns in the mountainous terrain.)

The rails began in 1880 between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. There is a 4 percent grade on this rail.

While traveling along the way the train suddenly stopped. We had derailed! The train was placed upon the track with a replaced bearing and we moved little before the same thing happened again. Another repair and stop yielded some disgust with the engineer. A decision was to lock all the car’s brakes, disconnect the engine and back in another engine. This wait was two hours in length of time. However, the weather was great and scenery was beautiful so I didn’t feel stressed at all.

There were two areas where the engine could have come from. They are Cumbres or Osier. Cumbres is 10, 015 above sea level.

One most beautiful site to behold was the Toltec Gorge. AT this point we were 600 feet above the Rio de Los Pinos and 800 feet across the opposite side. Two tunnels were used on the 64 mile trip.

Eventually we reached the goal of Antonito.



Additional photos to view are below.

Pine Beetle damage





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The title of this entry may be a little deceiving since a lot of interest was surrounding the man.  William  F. Cody, known commonly as Buffalo Bill, was born in Iowa and later spending much time in the west. He went to Denver to visit family for his final years. He died there in 1917 at the age of 70 years old. Supposedly he wanted to be buried at a site near Denver known as Lookout Mountain. Indeed the man was buried at the site.


Looking west

A controversy arose over the decision since Cody, Wyoming wanted his remains to be buried in their community.

Looking east

This stirred quite an issue at the time, so much that Denver covered his grave with cement and , at one time, had a tank on the hill with the grave site. Wow! Well, Mr. Cody and his wife Louisa are buried at the site toady. They were married in 1866.

Buffalo Bill was a man of a lot of interests. he served as a stagecoach driver, civilian scout, served in the Union army during the Civil war, buffalo hunter and even was involved as a Pony Express rider.  he is most known for his western Wild West Shows. The shows actually went to Europe in the day!


Annie Oakley?


Lookout Mountain is a very high mountain near Denver. Today a museum is present. The painting above is on display at the museum.  One needs to walk up a trail to the very summit to see the grave site of Buffalo Bill and his wife. the Ute Indians favored Lookout Mountain. The view is breathtaking. One can view the Continental Divide.

AT the top of the mountain looking westerly one can view snow-capped mountains of the Rockies. By turning easterly one can see

No idea???

the foothills, buttes and off farther the plains.

The actual site of the Lookout Mountain is 65.7 acres at the very summit of the mountain.

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When I was a young feller I would see articles and photos of the Cave Dwellers  of southwest Colorado. I was totally fascinated with seeing and learning more of those early people and their rock homes. I really hoped to see the sites someday.  Years passed and I remained interested, but had realized I may never make it to actually view the homes and country.

  However, this was the year! I finally made the journey to the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings.         

The Mesa Verde is a national park. The park was established in 1906. Initially local farmers began coming upon the sites in the 1880 time frame. The acreage is vast. sad to say, The property has had much burned over land mass. the last one occurred in 2012. Remnant of snarled and skeletal snags can still be visible from the fire. the fire had burned so hot that the soil has been void of the needed nutrients to aid in plant and tree growth. Today one can see many Pinion Pines and Junipers in the area.

The Indians who have been credited for living at the stone homes built in the cliffs are Pueblo Tribes. Many may have read in books or saw documentaries where the tribe was called the Anasazi People.  However, this is a Navajo term.


Sagebrush Lizard (I think)

It is believed the Pueblo Indians lived at these sites for over 700 years. Interestingly, they seemed to have left the sites in the later 1200 time frame. Why did they leave?  For me many possibilities could be possible for their departure. Such possibilities could have been disease, warfare, absorption or capture into other tribes,  soil depletion leading to crop failures… the truth is we can’t say with one hundred  percent certainty what may have occurred during the 1200 era.


Burned over areas


A subspecies of a Yucca. The Indians used these for basketry.

The Pueblo natives were farmers and hunters. Their primary crops were corn, squash and beans.  Their has, also, been  evidence of trading with other tribes. The people were good with making baskets and pottery. Many intact pieces had been found in the dry caves protected from the elements.

Some sites have petroglyphs on existing stone. Petroglyphs are carved pictorials on the stones walls.

Today this area has over 4,500 archeological sites with 600 of them being cave dwelling sites.

To learn more see: http://www.nps.gov/meve




Down the hall


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The second day we stopped at an area in Iowa known as Amana Colonies. The story of this colony is interesting to those who enjoy history. See http://www.AmanaColonies.com for more details.

  Two men in Germany had mutual religious beliefs. They began in 1714 to travel about and writing throughout Germany and Switzerland. Their actions resulted in forming small congregations. they became known as the Community of True Inspirations or the Inspirations. They advocated freedom of speech and were persecuted. Remember Europe was a hotbed for persecution’s.

Later, in 1842 this group bought 5,000 acres in New York. They developed a communal system of living that would last eighty-nine years.

they eventually decided to move farther west settling in Iowa. This would become known as Amana Colonies. (Amana means to remain true.) Beginning in 1855 the villages were constructed with communal living being the normal way of operations.  Their way of living lasted until 1932.

Many of the original buildings are still in place. many have become localized shops  and homes. Some buildings have been added on to with time.

I enjoy old buildings and barns and weathered wood so I took many photos. I grew up in a climate of old weathered barns and fences. Most are in black and white to give a sense of age.

Westward Ho the Wagons boys and off to spend the night in Nebraska.

The Amana Colonies are registered as a national historic Location.

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Bald eagle over the Illinois River

Laurie and I had planned on this trip to Colorado for several years. However, life happens! Extreme back pains plagued Laurie suddenly leading to surgery forces some time to regroup the plans. After the healing process the second concern was how would the traveling would effect her. Would discomfort on such a distance be too much? We actually had a shorter excursion planned into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This event was cancelled due to the issues. Last year we did a several day trip and all went rather well. This year…Colorado here we come!


Plum Island on the Illinois River

Earlier this month of June we began the travel westward. The goal would be the Rocky Mountain National Park and

White Pelican

many other sites in Colorado. Later, we would see sites in Utah and New Mexico. Interestingly, one can’t exit Kittanning, Pennsylvania and be out west in several hours. Many miles lie between Pennsylvanian and Colorado. That fact insures stopping in sleeping over along the way. The first stop would be in Utica, Illinois.

We stayed overnight at the Starved Rock Lodge located in the Starved Rock State Park area. This area was voted the #1 attraction in Illinois. The area is, indeed, beautiful. Many distinct canyons are located along sandstone watercourses.

Many Indian tribes had inhabited this area over the years. In fact the name of this site became to be due to a legend concerning the Indian tribes. In brief, Chief Pontiac in 1760 attended a tribal council between the Illinois Tribe and the Pottawatomi Tribes. An Illinois warrior stabbed Chief Pontiac.  The Illinois people took refuge upon this huge rock for they feared vengeance. The Pottawatomi surrounded the rock. The upon the rock died from starvation starved hence the name, Starved Rock.

Beautiful lodge area

Much of the lodge we stayed at and other buildings were originally built by the Civil Conservation  Corpse or the CCC. This was a government program in the 1930 era to construct buildings and do work out for various projects.

Unfortunately, time was limited, however, we did manage to do some hiking. One hike to see the Starved Rock itself

All I could think off was the movie, The Shining.

proved very interesting. A series of steps and landings was constructed to get to the bottomland area. Shear rock cliffs are prevalent, so to get down there we needed to use these steps.

Once at the bottom of the steps we were disappointed to see the trail to Starved Rock closed. I don’t know why that was to be, but barricades were erected to keep people out. We walked other trails. I could see the Starved Rock from the lodge’s decking.


Starved Rock in the distance.

Eventually we came to the Illinois River. The river is beautiful. An island known as Plum Island was present at this site. Many White pelicans could be seen along the shoreline and on the waters. They migrate here which was interesting since we tend to think of these birds along coastal areas and the southern states. two Bald Eagles flew about overhead. I managed several photos.

About five years ago the family visited a relative north of Starved Rock. He lived in Oregon, Illinois. the Illinois River flowed near his property.  Some of my great uncles (Yount) moved to Illinois back in the 1930 era. I found seeing them at family reunions and other places a most enjoyable time. Ira (Buddy) Yount recently passed away a couple of years ago. he was 99 years old.

The following morning we hiked a little. I spotted a hen turkey walking about. I could tell by her actions that some young poults were, no doubt, close by.

The next entry will be Amana Colonies of Iowa.

Old CCC building

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Memorial Day Parade

I attended the Memorial day Parade in Elderton, Pennsylvania this morning. However, I attended as a participant. I was asked to accompany my friend, Walt Marr, to walk along with him as we headed the parade.

I dressed in my eighteenth century militia man attire. The look I attain for is that of a militia member prepared to use my smoothbore to protect my family, community, state or nation. In years past others would walk along representing the Civil War, but this year I was alone to protect everybody from incursions by war-like Indians or British Redcoats. Word must have been out for no attacks occurred.

In past years, prior to the Elderton School closings big crowds would join together for Memorial Day events in the school’s gymnasium. This year, as others since the closing, the parade was all that occurred in the quaint little Americana town.

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The weather has not been the best for my hunting experiences. In fact many days I haven’t been hunting.

Last week proved to be a bad week for my breathing issues. Allergies were causing discomfort, but the asthma hit hard last week. Allergies and asthma simply stated waste me. I become very tired. I rested on the couch for a couple of hours before showering in preparation for my Bible study class later.  Around 3:30 the coughing, choking, gasping began leading to , at least, four vomiting experiences expelling “stuff” from my lungs.

After these bouts one thing is for sure. I’ll be exhausted. Also, I ached bodily for several days. On the positive side the coughing subsides in intensity, but don’t completely stop.

Yesterday, the 21st, I elected to hunt again. The morning proved to be a very nice day.  Even the humidity was lessened.

I made the way to a listening point and eventually heard three gobbles, but I never decided in direction for they were barely audible. The warblers singing and crows cawing make for a lot of noise add to the road noise about a mile away. I suspect the bird may have gobbled more, but I only heard three when the road noise ceased at times.

   I took an instinctive guess and moved in the suspected direction across the hollow.  I failed to invoke any turkey talk. Was I right as to the area?  I don’t know. I did see a Woodcock while traveling about. Close to seven and I believed I needed to go south for about a mile and half to get away from the road.

I began a steep grade and was close to the top when a call was needed. A small two acre field sets between the woods and I hoped a bird would gobble before I entered the field. I called and way across this huge hollow on the top of the hill I heard a gobble. Off I went!

Eventually I entered this small woodlot where I hoped the bird might have gobbled from and all I heard was silence. I kept kicking out deer as I moved along this ridge. Did the snorting deer affect the gobbler’s mood? Had the bird seen me?  I spent several hours working the ridges trying to stimulate a gobble to no avail. I returned to the original woodlot and heard nothing.

The temperatures were climbing by this time and I knew the grass needed mowed. I came out of the small woodlot and called as I began descending the hill. I still called occasionally. Suddenly, there he was! Too late now. Why did this gobbler gobble from across a hollow approximately a half mile across and shut up once I arrived? I’ll never know.

By 11:30 I returned to the jeep. I had mild allergy itches at times and several times I would need to cough, but I made it through the day relatively well.

This morning , the 22nd, the skies were allowing some light rain to fall. I hunted closer to home , but didn’t hear anything. I was, however, soaked from the increasing rains and high grass I walked through.  

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