This site is provided by Ted Amenta, Breckenridge
Ski School ski instructor,
available for private ski instruction upon request.
The following contains portions of tour commentary
notes I use on the road between Albuquerque New Mexico and Denver
The whole tour runs as follows:
COLORADO NATIONAL PARKS TOUR NOTES
- Generally above 8000 ft. Severe involves fluid in lungs,
look for heavy flem coughing. Otherwise shortness of
breath, dizziness, and nausea, nothing major. Sit 'em
down give 'em water.
- Prevention: Avoid booze, caffeine, smoking, and physical
exertion. Load up on water, carbos, vitamins (C), and
- "Queen City of the Rio Grande", "Unckle Sam's
- Metro Pop. 500,000 (35,000 prior to WWII)
- N.M. area = New England
- Per capita income $17,758. Avg. home $114,000
- Hi Tech Industry, Intel chip plant.
- Sunny 80%, Avg. day 70 deg., Avg. night 45 deg.
- Oldest wine region in U.S.
- On Rio Grande: Follows fault line, Tex / Mex Border.
- Oldest continously inhabited area in U.S.
- 2nd oldest township behind St. Augustine Fla.
- 1st weekend of Sept. worlds largest ballone festival.
- Sandia Man (25,000 yrs ago), Folsom Man (10,000 yrs ago),
Anasazi (2,000 yrs ago), Pueblos (Present).
- Folsom man: known from "folsom points" found in
long since extinct post-glacial bison.
- 1540 Spanish conquistadors, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado
looking for seven cities of Cibola (mythical golden
cities). Adobe looks golden at sunrise and sunset.
- 1706 Established by Governor Francisco Cuervo y Vldez.
Lacked 30 families needed for official villa, had 18,
lied and declared 35. Named for duke of Albuquerque
(Spanish province), Viceroy Francisco Fernandez de la
Cueva of Spain who had power to decide.
- 1821 Mexico won independence from Spain, New Mexico part.
- 1846 war with U.S., tready of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed
1848. New Mexico ceded to U.S. Begin major migration from
- 1880 (Apr. 22) Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe R.R. makes
first stop. Originally no stop planed, local business
owners bribed R.R officials with $1 land deal.
- With growth cam typical frontier town social problems.
- 1889 U. of N.M. came, businesses upset, wanted prision.
- 1912 NM 47th state.
- 1915 gaining reputation as "the heart of get well
country". Dry thin air good for TB. St. Joesphs
Sanatorium one of nations premier facilities.
- 1920s Great Depression. As gateway to Calif along Rt. 66
suffered less than most.
- 1941 Kirkland Field 1st of many military bases and
related business which continue to drive economy.
- Sandia Peak Tram: Worlds longest unsupported tram ride.
Runs over Domingo Baca Canyon, 2.7 mi. long, 4,500 ft.
vetrical rise, top @ 10,378 ft., pass through 4 of 7 life
zones. Like going to Alaska in 20 min.
- Sandia spanish for watermelon. Can see Manzano (apple)
mountains in distance. Ski area down back (east) side.
- Runs parallel to highway on Rt 14. Three major towns
(Cerrillos, Madrid, Golden). Cerrillos: spanish for
hills, mined turquoise and other precious metals, now
ghost town. Madrid: mined coal (had minor league baseball
team), now artisan community. Golden: site of first gold
rush west of Mississippi.
- Oldest capitol city in U.S., founded 1610.
- Used by Spanish primarly to bring Catholic religion to
- 1680 Pueblos rebelled and set fire to town, colonists hid
inside the Palace of the Governors (where we stay!)
- 1692 Diego de Vargas recaptured town after minor
resistance. Celebrated as Las Fiestas de Santa Fe every
September since 1712.
- 1821 Mexico won independence from Spain, New Mexico part.
- Under Spanish rule could only trade with other Spanish.
- With independence cam ability to trade freely.
- 1846 war with U.S., treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo singed
1848. New Mexico ceded to U.S. Begin major migration from
- 1869 St. Francis Cathedral begun, finished 17 years
later, now contains statue "La Conquistadora"
of Virgin Mary which de Vargas said brought him luck
battle with Pueblos to regain town. Paraded through
streets in June
- All buildings must be in Adobe style.
- Located on plateau separating Rio Grande river from
Sangre de Cristos mtns.
- Secluded nature of area protected Taos pueblos from
enemies (Comanche, Ute, Spanish). Santa Fe rebellion of
1680 planed and launched from here.
- 1848 two artists arrive, Edward and Richard Kern, stayed
briefly but are credited with being the first artists of
- 50 years later Bert Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein got
stuck with a broken wagon wheel. Stayed to form Taos
School for artists.
- 1915 Taos Society of Artists formed.
- Now artist community of 4,500 supported by tourism.
- Look for "recycled" homes built into ground,
made from old tires and cans.
- Taos ski area one of most challenging in U.S.
Pueblo (Elevation 7,500 ft.)
- Much Pueblo history forbidden knowledge for white man.
- Most construction between 1000 and 1450 A.D.
- Made entirely of adobe (mud, straw, and timber).
- Approx. 150 live here year round.
- 90% Catholic (yet also practice native religion), San
Geronimo Chapel completed in 1850.
- Blue (Shipapu) lake on reservation is where life is
believed to have come from. Returned too people in 1970.
- Tourism (art, craft, and food sales) support Taos Pueblo.
- No electricity or running water allowed.
- Tell People!: fee for cameras, observe restricted area
signs, don't enter bld. unless obviously a shop, ask
before taking Pueblo' picture,, stay out of river.
- Named by Spanish for villages they lived in, "house
dweller". 19 pueblos in NM. 300,000/yr visit. Most
pueblos speak own language only.
- Acoma Pueblo oldest continuously inhabited community in
U.S., since 800 AD.
- Family structure Metronomic (women wore the pants).
- Because of mild climate and abundance of food, took games
and recreation very seriously. Men competed in racing,
lacrosse, etc. Women played more indoor games and
- Spanish wanted as slaves, English wanted to convert,
French wanted trade. All justified behavior with myth as
discoverers of new land and native people primitive.
- Believed emerged from underworld through shipapu lake
- Told to wander, aided by kachinas (Kokopelli,
"Lizard Man", etc) and the Great Spirit.
- Corn staple of diet.
- Adobe housing, made of mud and grass, up to 800 room
- Came to Rio Grand area as one people (Anasazi?), were so
prosperous had to spread out but Great Spirit reminded
them they were one people.
- Hopi went West (Arizona), pueblo people but unique
history last 400 yr.
- One of most successful Indian's at retaining culture and
way of life.
- Not as prone to violence as others (Navajo) despite
rebellions of 1680 and 1696.
- Some thought Indians were descended from 10 lost tribes
of Israel, Atlantis, Noah's Ark.
- Now thought of as vestiges of past, media portrays
"noble savage" or "wild Indian".
- U.S. government has treated as a conquered people who
could be treated a it saw fit. Two general approaches;
"civilize them", and ignore them and let white
society dominate their life.
- Hundreds of tribes with different languages etc. now
share collective identity as a result of common
experience w/ Whitey.
- With Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson thought plenty
of land for everyone.
- Andrew Jackson's "Trail of Tears" forced march
in 1830's. Only time in U.S. history President has
ignored Supreme Court ruling. See KB gatlinburg notes.
- By 1871 most ancestral land exchanged for reservations
- 1877 General Allotment Act divided reservations into
individual farming plots of 120 or less acres. Surplus
sold, Indians not allowed to sell their portion. 90
Million acres taken.
- Since 1950s Fed. turning problem over to states who have
long wanted Indian land for own use.
- Pictograph = drawing, Petroglyph = etching.
- Kokopelli: Dancing hunchback flute player. Seen in ruins
from 200 A.D. to Spanish arrival. Several roles;
fertility (women and land), festival. Hump carried seeds,
blankets, and babies. Flute called rain and lead dance.
Often seen chasing women. Sometimes with bow or antennae
or long nose instead of flute. Hump figures always posess
- Lizard Man: Humped back serves as a bridge to spirit
- Is spanish for "red rocks" or "red
- 8th largest state @ 103,598 sq. mi., 2 x New York, 10 x
- Pop. 3,307,912. Denver capitol and largest city.
- Highest point 14,433 ft. @ Mt. Elbert South of Aspen. 54
peaks over 14,000 ft. One club climbs a different peak
- 1541 first european explorers with Cornando, little
- 1776 Francisco Antanasio Dominguez & Silvestre Velez
de Escalante did first mapping expedition through
Colorado looking for route between missions of New Mexico
and California. Named many areas including San Juan and
Sangre de Cristo Mtns. Went as far as Jrand Junction.
- 1803 Thomas Jefferson makes Louisana purchace from
Napoleon for $15 million. Colorado a part.
- 1806 Zebulon Pike first American to explore what was
- 1820 Pres. James Monroe sent Major Stephen Long on
similar mission further north.
- 1858 first gold found near Denver
- 1861 Colorado Established as a Kansas territory.
- Early history marked by clashes with indians.
- 1864 Sand Creek Massacre: Col. John Chivington wiped out
Cheyenne village near Kansas border. 500 inhabitants
including women and children killed although they were on
land the Fed told them to be on and despite the raising
of both a white and american flag. Chivington
court-martialed but never convicted.
- 1870s R.R. tracks laid with stations every 100 mi.
- 1893 silver demonetized. Areas like crested butte
continued mining coal.
- Great tension between mine owners and workers followed
crash, Nat'l Gaurd called in to break up riots.
- 1914 United Mine Workers Union formed.
- WWI short boon as investors sought precious metals and
domestic food demand up. Then depression hit hard.
- WWII: military bases and uranium mining (Grand Junction).
- Most recent growth in tourism and recreation. 10 mill.
- Summer 1990 voters approved limited stakes gambling in
Black Hawk, Centeral City, and Cripple Creek. 1st bets
placed Oct. '91.
- Only place four states touch: CO, NM, UT, AR. Navajo 12
mill acre reservation.
- Ute for "healing waters". Temp. avg. 153 F.
- 1866 Utes and Navajo dispute over land rights. Decided t
settlein single dual. Scotsman Albert Henry Pfieffer
(friend of Kit Carson) fought for Utes and won with his
- 1880 Springs and surrounding area claimed by U.S. no
- Fairfield Pagosa Resort on west side exclusive golf
- Thought to be site of ancient and great religious
- Artifacts from southern Aztecs and some Pacific tribes.
- 11th century dwellings might have housed 2,000 (possibly
- Also possible trade center, again several tribes from all
over had clearly been here
- Pop. = 12,400, Elevation = 6,512
- Adjacent to San Juan Nat'l forest.
- Born from Denver & Rio Grande R.R., which bypassed
Animas (2,000 w/ a newspaper) just 2 mi. North, in 1879.
Animas soon died. Animas river runs through town.
- 1880 had 2,500 people and 500 buildings.
- Was major supply center for San Juan mining camps. Rowdy
- Silver Crash of 1893 killed town until tourism took over
with interest in Mesa Verde.
- Durango & Silverton R.R. started moving PAX in 1980s,
spawned further tourist trade.
(Pop. 870, Elv. 6,993)
- Always been a ranching community.
- Free camping @ Boyle & Mancos parks.
- Dude ranch tourism @ Echo Basin...
- Means "Green Mountain". 80 sq. mi. rising 1,600
ft. above plains.
- 1874 first sited and photographed by William Henry
Jackson on U.S. geological survey (part of Hayden Survey
- 1880 Virgin Danaghe McClurg, NY journalist, found Balcony
- Main Anasazi ruins discovered Dec. 18, 1888 by Richard
Wetherhill and Charlie Mason, ranchers from Mason valley
looking for stray cattle.
- Wetherhill and family took thousands of artifacts, most
of which were sold to Co. St. Historical Society,
displayed @ Chicago World Fair 1893.
- No laws preventing looting of ruins, much lost and
- By 1906 heavily looted, Theo Roosevelt created Nat'l
Park. Only one dedicated to works of Man (Anasazi).
- Over 4,000 discovered ruin sites (~600 cliff dwellings)
in 80 square miles.
- Elevation range 6,500 to 8,500 ft.
- Anasazi is Navajo for "ancient ones, foreigners, or
enemies" depending on translation.
- Arrived to area ~500 A.D., left ~1250 A.D., not known
- Theories include: exceeded carrying capacity of land,
used it up! Disease, War, and superstition (were in
process of building "Sun Temple", drought, and
"mini ice age."
- At first lived in pit houses which got more and more
advanced (ventilation, separate space for different uses,
sturdiness etc.) Then around 750 A.D. moved to cliff
dwellings, very similar to adobe we have seen. Stone
towers suggest need for look outs.
- Thought to have come from South (Rio Grande Valley) due
to over crowding of highly successful farming (corn,
grains, squash, etc) and hunting.
- Some cliff dwellings had 400 rooms and may have housed
- Had special "kivas" for religious ceremony.
Built into ground, possibly symbolic of belief they came
from Mother Earth. "Sun Temple" suggests later
beliefs involved astronomy, not finished.
- Mostly short (5 ft. or less), died young (30 yrs. or
- Utes arrive 1,500 yrs ago. Stuck mostly to the mountains
hunting elk, deer, moose, sheep, etc. until discovered
horses. Then went for plains buffalo & clashed with
Comanches and Arapahos.
- Only tribe native to Colorado?.
- Probably lived in mountains to avoid plains indians
(Cheyenne, Comanche, Arapaho).
- 1879 Meeker Massacre: Nathan Meeker killed when he
confined Utes and told them to farm, then used U.S.
troops cut irrigation ditch across their horse track.
Utes then forced to Utah reservation, .
& Silverton R.R.
- Track Width info:
- Part of Denver & Rio Grand R.R. line.
- Continuous operation since 1882, runs 45 miles.
- May to Oct. 200,000 PAX moved on coal burning trains
(tell Pax to wear dark grubbies and not to rub against
outside of cars). 3 hr. each way w/ 2 hr. lunch layover.
- Durango link completed Aug 5, 1881. Silverton July, 1882.
- Estimated $300,000 in ore (mostly silver, some gold,
copper, etc.) was transferred along this track.
- Still use authentic coal engines from 1925 or earlier,
many cars built in 1880.
- Follows along animas river.
- Sit left, right has best views.
- So named because silver was removed by the ton, legend
- Baker declared "may not have gold, but we have
silver by the ton".
- Charles Baker had first strike 1860.
- Trouble with Utes and Civil War put damper on mining
- Purchased from Ute's 1873 in Brunot Treaty singed by
chief Uray. Named Baker's Park. By end of year 1,500
- Similar roller coaster growth as other mining towns.
- Blair Street: notorious for saloons and brothels. First
"redlight district" as R.R. engineers hung
their lanterns outside to let others know where they
were. (See "Bordellos of Blair St.")
- Bat Masterson from dodge city hired to clean up town.
- By 1918, $65 million in silver hauled out. Mining so rich
did better than most after crash.
- Tourism began in late 1950s with filming of several
movies including "Night Passage" and
- Last mine (Sunnyside) closed 1991, 118 yrs. after
discovery. Accessed by American Tunnel built in 1959,
could get to mine from below. 1978 mine too close to lake
Emma which broke through. Nobody hurt.
- Runs through San Juan county which has highest mean
elevation of any in U.S.
- Follows Otto Mear's (1880s) toll road for oar shipping.
- Reasons for name?: Paved with gold laden gravel, "I
wouldn't do that again for $1,000,000. Very expensive
road to build.
(Pop. 700, Elevation 7,800 ft.)
- Named for Ute Chief who signed Brunot tready, lies in
center of his territory. Wife was Chipeta. Were removed
- Marks end of million dollar highway.
- Know as "Little Switzerland". Victoriann Style.
- Have several hot springs.
- Inc. fall of 1876. Similar historyto other mining towns
- 1896 (after crash) carpenter Thomas S Walsh found gold in
Camp Bird silver mine, bought for $20,000 by 1910 had
produced $26 million.
(Pop. 370 Elv. 6900 ft.)
- 1881 R.R. arrive, supply town, R.R. 1951.
- "True Grit" filmed here.
- During last 19th century supply paint for miners, now
ranching, farming and recreational tourism.
- 1873 Oliver D. Pappy Loutsenhizer with Alfred Packard
looking for gold. Chief Ouray urged to leave.
"Pappy" did, Packard pushed south and later
convicted of cannibalizing 5 of his party that winter. CU
campus in Boulder has Alfred Packard cafeteria.
- 1881 Pappy returns with Joseph Selig. Named town Pamona
for Roman goddess of fruit. Changed to Montrose after a
duchess in a Walter Scott novel.
- 1822 R.R. arrives.
- 1904-1909 building of Gunnison Diversion Tunnel.
Dedicated by Pres. Taft.
- Named for Capt. John Gunnison, surveyor arrived Sept. 8
th, 1853, set camp, Utes killed Oct. 25. Utes the removed
to Los Pinos Indian Agency.
- 1963 Crested Butte opens, STEEP slopes.
- Largest flat top mountain in the world.
- Tops out at 10,000 ft., 5,000 ft. above Grand Junction.
- Over 200 lakes, 15 campgrounds.
- Like all mesas in N.A. slope south.
- Result of hard rock (granite) on top, soft rock (sand
- "Book Cliffs" named by John Wesley, early river
explorer sent to see what has been bought in the Louisana
Purchase. Blackish greyness of cliffs show Manacos Shale
- Nat'l Park takes act of Congress, Nat'l Monument takes
- John Otto 1907: "I came here last year and found
these canyons, and they felt like the heart of the world
to me. I am going to stay to promote this place because
it should be a Nat'l Park.
- 1911 Pres taft signs park into being.
- Otto works as park care taker untill 1927 for $1/mo.
- Rimrock drive, 23 mi, built by CCCers during Great
- 1933 9 killed by blasting accident in tunnel near
- Pictures of specific rock formations and descriptions in
"Rimrock Drive" book.
Junction (pop. 30,000, elv. 4,590 ft.)
- 1853, after Escalante & Co., John Freemont & John
Gunnison explored looking for X-country R.R. route.
- 1st settled 1881 once Utes gone, incorporated same year
- W/in 4 months irrigation projects began for farming.
- Denver & Rio Grande R.R. arrived 1882, big growth.
- Largest town between Denver, Salt Lake and Alburqurque.
- Irrigation of valley allowed farming, main concentration
of Co. vineyards on Rt. 70 going east.
- Named for intersection of Colorado and Gunnison river.
- Colorado river used to be named Grand river but was
changed to Colorado in late night legislative session
when it was discovered that Utah had planned to name it
the Utah river.
- One of world's richest areas in terms of dinosaur fossil
finds. Largest land animal "Ultrasaurs" found
here. Bottom of belly would clear bus.
- Rich in Uranium deposits, boom in post WWII decade, then
bust as miners left in '60s, now exists as shipping hub
and tourist destination.
- Travel along Colorado River, look for rafters, etc.
- Irrigation of valley allowed farming, main concentration
of Co. vineyards on Rt. 70 going east.
- Mountains to left rich in manacos shale. No economical
and/or environmentally safe way to extract.
- Rifle (Exit 87): Named so because early map maker left
rifle behind, marked "rifle" on map so he could
go back for it, forgot to remove reminder when turned map
Springs (Pop. 6,000, Elv. 5,750 ft.)
- First called Yampah Springs by Utes.
- World's largest natural hot springs, over 1 million
gallons @ 124 F.
- Vapor caves @ 115 F.
- Many who work in Aspen live here, Many who live in Aspen
- 1st white was a sick Capt. Richard Sopris brought here by
Utes (1860s) .
- 1880 John Landis arrived and claimed as personal
- 1885 Walter Devereux, Aspen Miner, bought and inc. as
- D.&R.G R.R. arrived 1887. 1888 springs concreted.
1893 Hotel Colorado.
- Hotel Colorado: Teddy Roosevelt set up "Western
Whitehouse". Empty handed after bear hunt. Maids
gave him stuffed bear. Press dubbed Teddy's Bear...,
Vanderbilts and Astors also frequented here.
- Polo local pastime, local teams dominated national
- Championship trophies displayed in Frontier Historical
- Things slowed a bit until Aspen ski areas opened.
- Family of 1940s, Paepckes (Walter & Elizabeth), Aspen
Idea (complete life...rec, art, festival, etc). Liz died
- Utes first in roaring fork valley. Elk, deer, Buffalo
- Only tribe native to Co.(?) Isolated by choice.
- 1879 Ouray treaty, prospectors through Independence Pass
(12,095ft.) from Leadville.
- First called Ute City by Henry Gillespie, major mine
holder. Went back east to drum up support for post
- 1880 B. Clark Wheeler did first survey & changed name
in to Aspen in Gillespie's absence for trees.
- Ute story of aspens: shake because refused to bow before
- 1883 Jerome B. Wheeler (no relation), rich guy from N.Y.
came in on day trip from the springs. Bought out several
mines, built bank and smelter, annual production to $1.25
- 1889 Hotel Jerome & Wheeler Opera House built. Wild
town, wild women!
- Hotel Jerome: 93 rooms including 50 suits. Rates from
$160/night to $1650/night.
- R.R. arrived in 1887, by 1892 annual silver $9.3 mill by
12,000 people (then 3rd largest town in state).
- 1893 crash when Congress demonetized silver & made
- Those who stayed ranched & farmed. Pop 700 @ start of
WWI (250 in 1930)
- 1936 skiing "prospectors" , William Fisk (U.S
bobsledder) & Ted Williams (rich guy from the East)
formed Highland-Bavarian Corp.
- Got Andre Roch as first ski patrol (swiss).
- Liked above treeline skiing, made Roch's run to town
- Liz first skied 1939.
- 1940s focused on both racing promotion and glamour of
- 1958 Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands opened, '67 Snomass.
- Aspen (expert), Buttermilk (teaching), Snomass (gapers).
- WWII 10th Mountaineers Friedl Pfeiffer, Bill Dunaway,
Fritz Benedict, trained here.
- Pfeiffer came back to partner up w/ Walt to form Aspen
Skiing Corp (best ski school pay in the country!).
- 1990 avg. house price $1.16 million, cheapest >1000
sq. ft. for $365,000.
- Located in White River Nat'l Park in roaring fork valley.
- Highest town in U.S. (10,152 ft.), Pop. 3,900.
- In valley between Co. 2 highest peaks (Mt. Elbert 14,433
ft. & Massive 14,421 ft.)
- Spring 1860 gold found, by end of summer pop. 5,000,
called Oro city.
- Gold dried up, everybody split, silver found in 1875 by
- 1878 postmaster H.A.W. Tabor estimated pop @ 2,00. Tabor
came from Vt. with wife Agusta in 1859 as part of gold
rush. By now had given up and worked as postmaster and
- Invested in german prospectors George Hook and Auguste
- Hit "Little Pittsburgh", Tabor took $500,000 in
silver before selling mine for $1 million.
- Continued investing, hit "Matchless", built $12
- By 1880 pop. between 25,000 and 60,000 (Leadville
- Silver fever: grave digger hit vein, left dead guy to
freeze till spring.
- Tabor went on to become lieutenant-governor and Senator.
- 1883 divorced Agusta & married Elizabeth McCourt Doe.
- 1893 silver crash, Tabor lost empire. Became postmaster
- 1899 Tabor died, last words to "Baby Doe" were
"hold onto matchless".
- She lived alone in shack next ot the mine for 30 yrs.,
found frozen on the floor 1935.
- During prohibition "Leadville Moon" some of the
best wiskey in U.S.
- Drive between Aspen-Vail-Summit County some of best
scenery on trip.
- 1850 Irishman George Gorecame through on extensive
hunting expedition of Colorado and Wyoming. Gore Range is
- 1873 William Jackson (see Mesa Verde above) took famous
photo "mountain of the Holy Cross". Displayed
at the Philadelphia Centennial Expo in 1876, inspired
visitors but nothing came of it.
- 1942 10th Mountain Division stationed to South (Camp Hale
- After war Peter Siebert (wounded during mission to Po
River Valley, Italy) returned with investors to build
Vail Ski Resort.
- 1st lift service Dec. 15, 1962. Back Bowls opened in
- Bowls the result of fires set by resentful Utes.
- Now over 4,000 skiable, 36,000 skier/hr. lift capasity.
- Pres. Gerald Ford home here since begining.
- Botanical Gardens at east end of town.
- Beaver Creek opened '80-'81 season (designed for '76
- 70 mi. west of Denver, 80% w/in Arapaho Nat'l Forest.
- 8,000 year round residents, 3 million/yr. visit.
- More skiers than Aspen & Vail combined.
- A.Basin opened late '40s.
- Eisenhower tunnel opened for '72-'73 season, all 4
(Pop. 1,200, Elv. 9,603)
- 1859 Gold first discovered in Blue River. Following
summer major mining camp established.
- Wanted own post office, named town for V.P. John
Breckinridge from Lexington, Kentucky. When he sided w/
south during the civil war town changed spelling. Already
got post office.
- Largest gold nugget (150+ oz) in N.A. found July 23, 1887
by Tom Groves (Tom's Baby).
- Quicksilver world's first high speed quad.
- Est 1881 when Judge Marshall Silverthorne bought 120
acres from Fed.
- Ran Silverthorne Hotel in Breck., invented and patented
Silverthorne Placier for gold extration from Blue River.
- Modern town is the third, 1st east of Snake River but
moved across to be closer to R.R.
- 1961 moved to present location when Blue River dammed to
form Dillion Reservoir (Denver water supply), old town
(Pop. 1,320, Elv. 9,000)
- Central location in county. Gov't, Hospital, Strip Mall's
- First opened 1973, finished '79, cost $300 million.
- 1st yr 4.6 million vehicles through, 10 mill by yr. 2000
(way more than designed for).
- Crosses contential divide, prior had to go over 11,992 ft
- East side empties into Clear Creek Canyon.
- 1884 Georgetown-Silver Plume Loop finished, 6 mi., now
- Named for George Griffith, miner from Central City around
- Mid 1870's Pop. 5,000, 3rd largest in state. Richest
silver producer till 1878 Leadville strikes.
- Central R.R. arrived 1877.
- Hotel de Paris: Louis du Poy arrived in 1869 (rich
Frenchman, thought to have been a deserter of French
Army), injured in mining accident 1873, bought local
bakery 1875, turned into hotel.
- Typical Frenchman, rude to everybody. Used to through
geusts out and deny rooms to thoes he disapproved of.
Park (Pop. 600, Elv. 9,000 ft.)
- Just over Berthound Pass (11,315 ft.), 1st ski area
- South end of Fraser Valley, wholly devoted to tourism
(ski area early '40s).
- 1820s hunters and fir trappers (beaver). Ranchers
- First called West Portal.
- 1850 first post office. 1870s Ute friction.
- 1927 $18 million Moffett tunnel (7 mi.) east to
Rollinsville. Gave Denver access (under Rollings pass
11,617 ft.) to Fraser Valley.
- Also opened rail service to Pacific.
- Named for banker David Moffett who worked for Denver
& Pacific Northwestern R.R. (Denver to Salt Lake).
- 1937 Forest Service built 800 ft. rope tow @ Berthoud
- Denver sought park, changed name and built their
"winter park", opened Jan. 28, 1940. City
screwed it up, 1950 created nonprofit Winter Park
Recreation Ass. WPRA still controls, made $5.3 million
- Look for "Doc Suzi's", county's first woman
doctor, practiced 1907 to 1941, died '60 @ age of 90.
(Pop. 1,200, Elv. 7,600)
- Farming and ranching, "mountain lettuce"
- R.R. shipping point.
- Largest 4th of July fireworks display, up to 100,000
Lake (Pop. 380, Elv. 8,153)
- Called "Spirit Lake" by Utes: Comanche and
Arapahos came to fight, women & children set adrift
on raft for protection, storm rolled in, raft capsized,
no survivors, bummer.
- Largest natural Lake in Co.
- Started as mining supply town, soon rich built summer
- 1892 Kauffman House hotel finished by Ezra. Ezra died
1921 but family ran through end of WWII.
- 1905 Grand Lake Yacht Club est.
- 1915 Nat'l Park est.
- 1950 Big Thompson Water Project finished, carried water
east for farming.
Mtn. Nat'l Park
- 1885 Enos Mills builds cabin at base of Twin Sisters
Mtn., can visit.
- 1909 Enos Mills (miner, climbing guide, John Muir
protege) first advocated formation of park. @ first made
a Nat'l forest, not good enough. Formed Co. Mtn. Club and
pushed for Park status despite Forest Service and land
- With Teddy Roosevelt's backing park formed 1915.
- 1920 to 1936 Roger Toll Park Superintendent, wrote first
climbing guide, made many 1st accents.
- Killed in car accident on way to Mexico to set up game
reserve on border.
- 417 sq. mi., over 100 (70) peaks @ 10,000+ ft.(12,000),
Longs @ 14,255 ft. is highest. 1/3rd of park above
- Drive along Trail Ridge Rd. (open May-Oct), 11 mi., avg.
12,000 ft. (12,183 highest point), highest continuously
paved highway in country, completed 1933.
- Word "park" from french
- Colorado river headwaters here.
- Trees: Pine, Aspen, Spruce. Animals: Sheep, Elk, Moose,
Deer, Mountain Lion, Black bear, Coyotes, Beaver. Bison,
Grizzlies, and wolves gone.
- Part of front range which extends from Wyoming Border to
- Result of collision between Continental and Pacific
oceanic plates 200 million years ago.
- Recurrent waves of force, 65 million years (peaks to
25,000 ft.) and 2 million years ago (front range becomes
- First humans at end of last Ice Age, 15,000 to 10,000
- Built rock walls to funnel hunt.
Peak (14,255 ft.)
- See picture pg. 88 RMNP Road Guide.
- Named for Major Stephen Long sent by James Monroe in 1820
to explore area.
- 1864 William Byers (Rocky Mtn News editor) failed to
- Declared "no one will ever be upon it's summit"
- Arapahos used to climb and build shelters to trap eagles
for few feathers.
- Byers made it with John Wesley Powell (1 armed geology
professor) 4 yrs. later. Now several hundred a week make
- To left is Mills Glacier, between Longs Peak & Mt.
Meeker (13,911 ft.)
- Parks 2nd highest peak.
- Named for Nathan C. Meeker, New York Tribune agriculture
editor who formed farming colony in the Colorado plains
- Became U.S. Indian Affairs Agent for White River Agency
with Utes. Tried to get Utes to farm on reservation. Utes
not given promised supplies. Accustomed to politeness and
grace, Meeker a basic asshole.
- Sept. 1879 Meeker Massacre when he dug irrigation ditch
across their horse track and plowed under traditional
- Meeker sent for troops (final straw) when heard "war
drums", Utes killed most men (including Meeker) and
took most women hostage (Meeker's wife and daughter
included). Women returned 1 month later in peace
settlement which banished norther Utes to Utah
- Town of Meeker 40 mi. north of Rifle.
- #1 tourist destination in Colorado.
- One of highest return rates in country,
- 3 million visit park annually, over 95% of that in the
Spring to Fall.
- Avg. home in 1994 $141,183.
- Settlement began 1860s wi ranchers like Joel & Patsy
- Joel cam on mining expedition in 1858.
- Little worth mining, is why it stayed pristine.
- Estes stayed 1859 to 1866. Left because of harsh last
- 1872 Lord Dunraven visits, starts planning takeover.
- By 1874 20 families including Grif Evans and Alexander
- 1874 McGregor builds toll road to Lyons, now rt. 36.
- Soon followed wealthy hunters, climbers, and other
- Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin, fourth Earl of Dunraven was
rich engilsh hunter. Wanted area as personal resort.
Bought up and stole over 15,000 acres. Land managed by
"Homestead Law", 160 acres/application. Quin
submitted aps for "loafers & drifters"
(whom he paid a pittance upfront) & dead people.
- Built hotel, locals burned it down & drove him out of
- 1880 Isabella Bird published "A ladies life in the
- Area became fomous as a result.
- 1907 Freelan Stanley (inventer of Stanley Steamet Auto)
bought most of Dunravens holdings.
- 1909 opened Stanley Hotel.
- Stanley ran steamer line from hotel to Lyons R.R. station
25 mi. away.
- 1906 town laid out by C.H. Bond, incorporated 1917.
- 1947 Olympus Dam completed to allow water from Grand Lake
through Alva B. Adams water diversion tunnel (under
contential divide) to Estes Park. Created Estes Lake.
- 1982 Lawn Lake dam burst flooding Elkhorn Ave.
("Mile High City") (Pop. 500,00 Metro 2 million)
- 1832 Louis Vaquez fir trapper visited.
- 1st settlement 1858 with William Green Russel's discovery
of gold along South Plate river called Montana City soon
dried and everyone left.
- Another settlement along Cherry Creek led by Charlie
Nichols, St. Charles City. William Russel setup Auraria
across stream. Gen William Larimer setup third site named
Denver after Gen. Games W. Denver former governor of
- 1st edition of "Rocky Mountain News" published
April 23, 1859 from office on pilings mid stream between
- Apr 3, 1860 sites consolidated and Denver incorporated.
- Next 20 yrs. gold mining dropped off.
- 1880s saw silver production boon & between 1880 &
1890 Denver tripled in size.
- By 1890 Denver producing more machine equipment than any
place in the world.
- Became social hub as lucky miners spent lavishly on
mansions, luxury items, parties, etc. Horace Tabor opened
Tabor Opera House 1881.
- All came to a halt with silver crash depression.
- 1928 Moffatt tunnel provided for rail access to Pacific.
- See ITMI fax for city tour route and sites.
- DIA: Replaced Stapleton Int'l (8th busiest airport in
world). Began by Mayor Tony Pena (now U.S. transportation
secretary), finished by Wellington Webb. Blame each other
- 1st airport built in a major U.S. city in 20 yrs.
- Hightech: Advanced radar, weather info, 5,000+ mi. optic
- Cost $5 billion ($800 million planed), opened 1 year
late. On going federal investigations.
- Allows for 3 landings and/or takeoffs at once. Planes
land, taxi, and takeoff all in one direction.
- Move between 3 concourses using underground train.
- Main terminal 1.4 million sq. ft., roof 126 ft. high.
- $7.5 million spent on airports art.
- Located 25 mi. from Denver (2x as far as Stapelton).
- B-52 upon entering: "Diamond Lil", first used
1965 in Vietnam, flew over 200 missions (8 part of
operation Linebacker II or "Christmas
offensive" in Dec. 1972).
- Curriculum based on four pillars: academics, athletics,
military training (1st 5 weeks BMT), and honor code. Want
- Parachuting one of most popular electives, 700 do 5 basic
- USAF a sperate service in 1947. April 1, 1954 Pres.
Dwight D. Eisenhower singed authorization of academy
- This site picked from 580 possible in 45 states w/ help
of Charles Limburg.
- Class of 1955 to 1957 started at temp site at Lowery AFB,
- Aug. 1958 current site of 19,100 acres (largest military
academy grounds) opened. 206 "butter bars" in
June 1959. Now 1,000 annually.
- Oct. 7, 1975 Pres. Gerald R. Ford authorized women to
- 12,000/yr. apply, 1,000 get in, take 22-25 credits/yr.
- Falcon Stadium: seats 50,000. Falcon in school mascot
(kills prey in flight, diving speeds of 180 mph.). Custom
of letting trained falcons fly at half-time, rivals let
pigeons go to draw falcons away, falcons had a field days
- Most visited man made attraction in Colorado.
- Walter A. Netsch designed, much controversy over
- Bld. cost $3.5 million, Furnishings etc. from Easter
donations by bases world wide.
- 17 spires 150+ ft. tall, began Aug. 28, 1959, finished
- Protestant chapel: seats 1,200, ceiling 99 ft., 46 x 15
ft. 1,200 lb. cross is focal point, $122,000 organ has
4,334 pipes from 32 ft. high to pencil size, pews are
mahogany and walnut (ends resemble propellers, aluminum
on backs resemble wings). Whole room is designed to draw
the eyes upward. 24 shades (24,000 pieces) of glass,
darker toward back (creates effect of "coming into
God's light"). Altar is 15 ft. long, marble, shaped
like a ship. Kneelers around altar donated by various
officers wives clubs.
- Catholic Chapel: Blessed Mother ("Our Lady in the
Skis") to left, Guardian Angel on right, Holy Ghost
between. Cross 6 ft. across (doesn't look it). Marble
from same quarries Michelangelo used. Seats 500.
- Jewish Chapel: seats 100, circular design symbolizes
global mission of Air Force, contains Aaron Kodesh (Holy
Ark) which shelters the Scrolls of Torah which were saved
from Nazis during WWII.
- All faiths room: devoid of religious symbols.
- 1858 "El Paso" founded at end of Ute Pass
Trail, between modern Colorado and Manitou Springs.
Changed to "El Durado" next year.
- 1871 William Plamer (D.& RG. R.R.) bought 10,000
acres to the east and established Colorado Springs.
- Wanted "upright" community, discouraged
industry, saloons, and gambling. Remained "dry"
until probation repealed in 1933.
- Came to be known as "Little London" because of
all the europeans who visited resort community.
- Nearby Cripple Creek struck gold after crash, help keep
- Also several miners who had made it before the crash
- 1900 to 1910 per capita wealth highest in country.
- 1940s military influence, 1942 Fort Carson, then Peterson
AFB, North American Aerospace Defence Command (built into
mountain), and AF Academy.
- Royal Gorge bridge is worlds highest suspension bridge.
Crosses Arkansas river @ height of 1,053 ft. Finished in
6 months without a fatal accident in 1929 for $350,000.
- Utes thought springs sacred.
- Founding father of region, William Palmer, owner of
Denver & Rio Grande R.R. Planed on resort town with
- Zalmon Simmons in Spring (1880s) after mule accent of
peak. Thought of installing rail while sitting in spring.
Wisconsin mattress king. Formed Manitou & Pike Peak
Co. 1889, finished rail Oct. 22, 1890. 1st run delayed
till June 30, 1891 after a dumping season.
- Top rail worker paid 24 cents/hr., 6 killed in blasting
- Manitou Cliff Dwellings are a fraud since 1907.
Peak (Utes called "long one")/Cog Railway (also called
- Remind PAX of altitude. Begin @ 6,570 ft. Top @ 14,110
ft., 7539 diff.
- Pikes Peak highest and w/ greatest vert., 7500+ ft. Top @
- "Pikes Peak or Bust" misnomer, no mining.
- Named for General Zebulon Pike who called it "Great
Peak" in 1806 (then a lieutenant). Failed to climb,
made it to "Lion's Den".
- 5 cog rails in world, 1st @ Mt. Washington N.H. (1869).
Another @ Zermatt, Swiss.
- 1st cog to go gas powered, June 16, 1938. 1964 cars were
Swiss made, diesel going up, electric going down
(electric from own inertia on cog wheel). Modern cars
from 1974, diesel-hydraulic.
- On a clear day can see Denver (75 mi. north) and Sangre
de Cristo Mtns. (100 mi.).
- Pikes peak highway: 19 mi., built 1915 for $350,000,
mostly on top of 1889 summit access carriage road. Pikes
Peak Auto Hill Climb ("race to the sky") 2nd
oldest race in U.S. (Indy 500 1st), every July 4th since
- Race course 12.5 mi. w/ 156 turns, 5,000 ft. vert.,
speeds of 130+ mph.
- Record speed of 10:04:06 by Rod Millen in 1994 driving
- Katharine Lee Bates wrote "America the
Beautiful" after visiting here in 1893. "Purple
mountain...above the fruited plains"
of the Gods
- Free city park established 1909, contains 1,350 acres.
- Hiking, horseback, mountain biking all allowed.
- Rock formations 300 million years old (morrison
sandstone). Were lying flat, got propped up by tectonic
shifting. Point out fault line @ entrance.
- Gift shop adobe style since 1900.
- Point out "kissing camels", "ship
rock" (good picture stop), the "scots man"
and whatever else you can make up.
If you are a professional tour director or
anyone else who uses these notes for business purposes and would
like to offer a small gratuity, please address envelopes to:
P.O. Box 7824
If my efforts here prove worthwhile,
I have lot's more notes where these came from, including:
- Northern Nat'l Parks : Salt Lake City, Jackson
Hole, Yellowstone Nat'l Park, Great Falls,
Glacier/Waterton Int'l Peace Park, Flathead Indian
Reservation, C'our 'd Lane, Spokane.
- Kentucky, Tennessee, Branson : Nashville,
Gatlinburg, Lexington, Bardstown, St. Louis, Branson,
- Eastern Canada : Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottowa,
Montreal, Quebec, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, Cape Breton.
- And anything else you see on my tour
This site is provided by Ted Amenta,
Breckenridge Ski School ski instructor,
available for private ski
instruction upon request.
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