Saturday, August 23, 2008

Last Summer Family Trip Before School Starts

Welcome to Durango, Colorado! Home of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Built in 1882, this train provided transportation for food, people, animals (primarily mules) and equipment in between the mining towns. Today this wonderful train is a fantastic tourist attraction and constant reminder of the hard work and dedication of many of those from years gone by.

Here's one of the ole 1923-25 era coal engines coming thru the campground. Ain't she a beaut?

Next stop, Mesa Verda. About 1,400 years ago, long before Europeans even thought to explore North America, a group of people living in the Four Corners region chose Mesa Verda for their home. For more than 700 years they and their descendants lived and thrived here in these wonderful stone communities. Initially, they started out on top of the mesa and eventually, they migrated to these fantastic cliff cities, aka, cliff dwellings.

'Far View' farming sites on top of the mesa.

'Spruce Tree' House in the cliff side.

Next stop, Ouray, Colorado. The town’s original name was “Uncompahgre”, the Ute word for “hot water springs.” The town was renamed in 1876 after the Ute Chief, Ouray, who was forced to give up the land to the government. This is a beautiful environment but also very unforgiving if you are not wise to the way of the land or respectful to Mother Nature herself.

After a little tour, we were able to stop and enjoy a local yearly craft fair going on the town park. Nothin' like mountain folk to make you feel at home!

Bridal Veil Falls just outside of Telluride, Colorado. Notice the generator house at the top? Built in 1891 as the world's first commercial-grade alternating-current power plant. The hydro-powered electrical generation plant supplied power to the Gold King Mine 3.5 miles away. Yes, back in 1891! The falls are the highest in Colorado at 365 feet. Telluride is at the base of them at only 8,750 feet above sea level. Gold was discovered in this area back in 1858.

Telluride was name after an ore originally thought to be in the area, tellurium, but soon took the name of Telluride, espeically after miners truly realized the difficulting in reaching this mining town (only via mule power over the 11, 000+ foot pass)... hence the name "to hell u ride." One small step for man, one devastating fall if you missed.

Ahhh, the end of another great family trip!