Calamity Camp Mining Site

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.

 For more information:

https://www.blm.gov/visit/search-details/627/2

http://www.historic7thstreet.org/remembering/decpdfs/calamity.pdf

Adventures in Rock Art: Canyon Pintado National Historic District

“Halfway down the canyon toward the south, there is a very high cliff on which we saw crudely painted three shields or chimales and the blade of a lance.  Farther down on the north side we saw another painting which crudely represented two men fighting.  For this reason we called this valley Cañon Pintado,” wrote Fray Escalante on September 9, 1776.  I read these words on an interpretive sign while walking a dusty trail to view some of these painted images.  It’s thought that Father Dominguez and Father Escalante observed a variety of Native American pecked and painted rock art in this canyon as they traveled through the Douglas Creek Valley.  This area is now a popular recreation site, where you can explore prehistoric and historic pictographs and petroglyphs.

This 16,000 acre area is listed as a National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places as an important historic property in understanding our nation’s past.  The rock art panels represent several time periods and cultures.  There are panels that were created by the Fremont, dating between 800 to 1150 AD; these images include animals, anthropomorphic figures, and geometric symbols.  The Ute created images like bear paws, horses, and hunting scenes between 1200-1881 AD.  Historic rock art includes ranching symbols, buxom ladies, and horses.  As always, when visiting archaeological sites, keep in mind that these places are incredibly fragile and need to be visited with respect.

For More Information:

https://www.blm.gov/visit/canyon-pintado-national-historic-district

http://www.nomadcolorado.com/canyon-pintado-rock-art/

http://www.coloradolifemagazine.com/Canyon-Pintados-Rock-Art/

Potwisha Rock Art

These beautiful pictographs were created by the Monachee (Western Mono) people, particularly by the Potwisha tribe, who inhabited what is now the Potwisha campground Sequoia National Park, California.  The rock art was outlined with chalk back in the 1970s, which was a common practice when recording rock art elements.

*Please note: rock art is incredibly fragile.  Do not touch rock art, spray-paint it, or vandalize it in any way.  Not only is it ethically wrong, it is illegal.

 For More Information:

https://www.nps.gov/seki/index.htm

Wolfe Ranch, Arches National Park

While making my way on the Delicate Arch trail at Arches National Park, Utah, I passed by a rough looking wooden cabin, corral, and outbuilding.  Being the history nerd that I am, I wandered over to the interpretive sign to find out what on earth people were doing at this remote location.  A John Wesley Wolfe left Ohio in 1898 with his son to live in a drier climate; they settled at this location with some cattle.  The cabin you can see now is a later construction that Wolfe’s daughter (and her family) made them build, a better dwelling with a wooden floor and windows.  Very fancy.  It’s amazing that six people lived in this building!  Maybe that’s why they all eventually moved back to Ohio . . .According to the Arches National Park website, the Ranch and acreage were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

For more information:

https://www.nps.gov/arch/learn/historyculture/wolfe-ranch.htm

A Star Attraction: The Dionysus Mosaic

Millions of tiny fragments of glass, stone, and ceramic comprise the incredibly intricate and colorful mosaic known as the ‘Dionysus Mosaic.’  The mosaic was once part of a villa on the site of the now Romano-Germanic Museum in Cologne, Germany.  Most sources say that it was created around 220 or 230 A.D.  The mosaic is a major attraction to the museum, and I must say that I can see why.  There are a number of figures, animals, and designs to investigate.  This lovely mosaic is so well-known in this area that when President Clinton visited Germany during his presidency, his hosts had a dinner party on it.  Stew on that, conservators.

For more information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romano-Germanic_Museum

 

A Layered Cake: Cologne Cathedral

The city of Cologne, Germany has a long and interesting history.  When I visited the city, everywhere I looked there was some reminder of ancient and Medieval cultures.  Much of Cologne was destroyed during WWII, but an impressive amount remains.  And, nothing is quite so impressive in Cologne as the Kolner Dom/Cathedral.  Beyond being an excellent example of Gothic architecture, as well as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a beautiful building.  Construction began in 1248 to house the reliquary of the Three Kings (a giant golden box supposedly containing the bones of the Biblical Magi) but the cathedral remained incomplete until the 19th century.  Consequently, the Dom has a multilayered history from the ground-up.  The interior of the Dom is everything you could possibly want from a cathedral: beautiful stained glass windows, mosaics, murals, ornate altars, etc.  After exploring every inch of the nave, you can actually hike up one of the towers and lookout on the city (I can’t imagine doing that climb more than once).

Around and underneath the Dom are Roman ruins of various sizes, from a random wall or arch to larger architectural remains.  Just meander over to the parking garage near the Dom and you’ll find a lovely bit of Roman ruins.  Within the Cathedral Treasury, which houses an amazing assortment of ecclesiastical robes and jewels, you can also view the grave goods of two Frankish burials of a woman and a boy.  Ah, a structure to fulfill every need of a history/archaeology nerd.

To learn more:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/292

Moon House Ruins, Bears Ears National Monument

This well-preserved cliff dwelling, located on Cedar Mesa within Bears Ears National Monument, was built by the Ancestral Puebloans sometime between 1150 and 1300 AD.  The pictographs and painted walls are what draw visitors to this beautiful site.  I was able to photograph the interior of Moon House, but the lighting was too poor to capture the pictographs.  I highly recommend hiking this area and exploring the archaeological sites.  As ever, be respectful of the site: do not touch the rock art, do not sit on or lean against the cliff dwelling walls, do not take any artifacts, etc.  This fragile site is just another example of why this area deserves the preservation and protection that can be provided under a national monument.

General Information/How to Get a Permit:

https://www.blm.gov/visit/kane-gulch-ranger-station