Perched on a remote mesa on the Uncompahgre Plateau lies one of the last standing examples of a vanadium-radium-uranium mining camp in Colorado: Calamity Camp. This historic site, which contains a variety of well-preserved structures, housed the men and their families that mined the area from 1916 to 1980. I’ve had the opportunity to explore the structures on two occasions, one to monitor the condition of the structures, and one to help establish a protection plan in the event of a wildfire. Calamity Camp is a unique site, providing a window into the lives of the families who lived in this remote location; it would have been a harsh existence. No running water, no electricity, etc. into the 1950s! All that remains are a couple of rock structures, including a bunkhouse, a rock and cedar post barn, outhouses, and wooden cabins, as well as hundreds of historic artifacts. When visiting places like Calamity Camp, keep in mind that it is illegal to remove any artifacts or harm any structures on public lands. Furthermore, if you see a sign warning of numerous open mine shafts, keep your distance.
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