Saturday, August 29, 2015

World Basketball Champions

 

A story that grew into a legend of mythical proportions.  The little town on the prairie beat  the big city boys.  In 1929 the little town of Joes was the Colorado state basketball champions and went to the national championship tourney.  They progressed though the tourney but not to the finals.  Because they had beat at team that had beat a team that had beat the national champions, Joes was declared the national champions. 

Here was a little school of less then 40 students in all of 4 grades in High school.  There were 20 boys and 10 made the team.  The tiny school was the goliath slayer of the 1920’s. 

Today about all that is left of Joes is the story, now in epic proportions.  Population is less then 100 souls and the streets get rolled up at night and the wide spot on Hwy 36 is host to an occasional truck passing through in the night. 

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Sore fronts, businesses sit silent along the highway, the liquor store shows some sign of life.  Peeling paint, boarded windows, tattered shutters on long neglected shops.  The school has long closed and consolidated with neighboring schools.  The roar of the crowds are silent.  Whispering winds of the past echo over the rooftops of yesterday. 

How does the little burg cling to life.  Back a ways off the highway sits a nice well kept modern office building.  The telephone company  maintains an office building in the little village, giving it life support.

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Here are a few jobs to keep things going.  The nearest shops are not near.  A town of any size is an hours drive or better.  Here the few dwellers learn to live without lots of amenities. 

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Then there is the guy that retired and moved to Joes.  He bought an old gas station and made it into hos shop.  Here he works on his dragsters and street rods.  There is a nice house next door and is well cared for.  Time marches on while he and a couple of friends tinker in the old gas station.  More hot air is generated along with some dregs of coffee.   In the wide spot on the empty highway life motors along. 

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On the east side of town is a Memorial roadside park, picnic shelters, horseshoe pits and well manicured pasture grass. 

Hwy 36 across the eastern prairie probably has one of the best collection of little towns and old empty buildings.  It is a road of past times, passing many a ghost of other years.  From Strasburg east it is almost all ghost towns and dozens more on the country roads. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fort Cedar Point

Fort Cedar Point, sits just off of I-70 about 80 miles east of Denver.  Nothing there to mark the site where the Colorado Militia had a fort there to protect early day travelers on the Smoky Hill trail and Benkeleman Cutoff.  For about 5 years Company F was garrisoned at the little prairie fort. 

At the crest of the hill is an exit off the Interstate for Cedar Point.  It is not close to the military post.  To the south down the exit road is where the railroad established the depot of Cedar Pint.  Here there were some houses built along with a RR depot.  The railroad had put in a turning wye for the steam engines that helped pushed the trains up the hill.  Elevation of Cedar Point is just over 6000 feet and is a pretty good climb for the trains.  Even with the high power of toady it is still an obstacle to deal with. 

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Today the railroad uses the siding at Cedar Point for a storage lot of surplus rolling stock.  Looking up from below it does not look like much of a climb.  The distance to the rails  is about 7 miles and an elevation gain of about 500 feet, a steep climb for trains. 

Devoid of trees, the land looks pretty empty.  Yet here the Indians roamed, hunting their buffalo and other game.  The hill is loaded with springs and there are pools of water in the area and small streams.  The Pikes Peak or Bust gold seekers traveled across this empty land on their way to the gold fields.  Here a trail from the north joined central plains trail. 

Cedar Point is the spine of the Palmer Divide, where the divide forks off to the Republican River Basin, separating from the Arkansas and Platte rivers.  The Arickaree River has its beginnings on the east face of Cedar Point from a series of springs.  It was this ribbon of water that early traveler followed as the Indians had been for years. 

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Along the banks of a small creek that tumbles down the hill is where Fort Cedar Point was located.  Here is where the Benkleman trail junctioned with the Smoky Hill Road.  Traffic on the Interstate whizz past the trees that are in the vicinity where the fort was.  Some old concrete footers have been found in the area, along with old military metal buttons and spent shell casings.  Nearby were a couple of state stops, One at Resolis and the other at River Bend, the old stop. 

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Nature has reclaimed most of these forgotten places, all within about 15 mile radius.  Old River Bend sits on the bend of the Big Sandy creek.  The railroad tracks curl around the hill and the old highway notch can be seen above the RR grade.  Here was  rough and tumble little town that did not survive.  Saloons, brothels and other establishments were a part of this little hell raining town.  Their boot hill cemetery is north of the River Bend exit.  There they were buried with boots on.  The old town is off the Kiowa exit and when crossing the tracks one can see the bend in the rails and where the town had been, now on private property. 

It is an area rich in old west lore, gunfights, Indian conflict and dreams lived out and lost.  Here were the buffalo hunters, going up into the hills camping on the Arickaree River.  Selling buffalo meat to the railroad, shipping the hides to the east.  Sheep roamed the hillsides, cattlemen wanted the grass land free of sheep.  The Indians lived in the woods of the Cedar Breaks, hiding from the reservation life. 

Today, trains still click on the iron rails and the cars fly by on the Interstate.  The high elevation creates nasty storms in the winter and spring.  Snow drifts of the land, burying the concrete slab in glazed white, closing the high speed roadway.  Baseball hail pummels the land in the spring and the uplift of the hills generates violence in the clouds, blasting the wind turbines with lightening.  It is a harsh land and for that reason few people live on it. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Peoria, Colo

 

Much like a cat, Peoria, has had more then one life.  Today it is an exit on I-70 and a few empty building and some rubble piles mark the spot. 

Peoria had its beginnings on the smoky Hill trail during the 1860’s n 70’s.  The summer of 1870 the railroad passed through the site and they put in a depot and some section houses for a maintenance  crew.  It sits on a ridge overlooking the East Bijou Creek where there are springs and water. 

A store was built for the local settlers and later when the highway pushed through a gas station.  Peoria never became much of a town, mostly a stop on the railroad and a wide spot on the highway.  The railroad closed their facilities and the rest followed suit and soon it was an empty wide spot.

Then the Interstate was built.  Rather then isolating the area, it brought life.  Some dog people bought some land by the exit and soon the Byers race track was built.  Busloads of people traveled out the Byers racetrack at Peoria. 

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The greyhounds brought the little junction back to life, well kind of.  There were a few homes built for the caretakers.  Nothing else but the race facilities.  The the racing dogs hit as pot hole and greyhound racing went into the history books.  For years the p;lace sat empty, collecting dust and tumbleweeds. 

For years it was an empty land mark next to the Interstate. 

Few years ago it was given a new life transfusion.  It was purchased and things were cleaned up, painted and new life as a race track of another type was on the horizon.

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The collector of tumbleweeds and dust was looking new and shinny.  Time rolled on and nothing more was happening.  Activity around it was gone.  The ghosts of greyhounds were free to roam again. 

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Today, machinery site quietly, fences are up and gates secured.  The prairie land mark sits in slow repose of nothing. 

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Even the house looks forlorn as waits for something.

The wide spot of Peoria is once again an empty wide spot.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Old Saw Mills at Thresher’s Day

After the Harvest, lots of communities will have their heritage festival of some type.  These run through October in some parts of the country.  Here one can see many of the old machines that were used during the 1800’s in to the early 1900’s.  Lots of this could be found in the mining camps as well as the prairie land. 

The pictures are from scanned slides I took a number of years ago, well decades ago.  Since then things have changed some yet here is a glimpse into another era that is slipping into fading memory banks. 

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The steam engine was developed during the early 1800’s and one of the reasons for the Industrial revolution.  The vertical steam donkey supplied power to factories and was put on the wheels to operate early trains.  Here the steam engine is a tractor that is being used to operate a saw mill. 

Lumber was critical to any early pioneer endeavor.  Building houses, shops, sheds, buildings… etc. 

The mill could be set up in the woods, town, camp or wherever a supply of wood could be found.  Down into the mine shafts the timbers went for bracing.  Out on the land there was a home raising and on the corner was a half frame for a saloon tent. 

It was fascinating to watch the old timers operate these old pieces of machinery that their parents or grandparents had used to help build their home. 

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The lumber would take shape and one could feel the anticipation of new structures being built,a dream coming to life.  It was a shared experience, neighbor helping neighbor.  Working together to accomplish their dream. 

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The crowd was just as enjoyable as was watching the different machines operate. 

because of the plethora of government regulations many of these old machines now sit back in the corner of the barn collecting dust. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Money of the Greenies

Read the other day that the big business of being green in now in the trillions.  The snake oil of climate change has been bought by many and they have been good capitalists and turned their fear mongering into trillions of dollars.  Like rats, the followers of the greenies will follow them over the cliff, even to self destruction.  People can point this out and they look them in the eye and call them liars.   Even when the facts are contrary to what the climate change advocates are advocating.  If a person watches them closely they have a tendency of self destruction. 

I get close and personal with the green energy stuff because of all the wind turbines that were built in the area and near by.  Now approaching over 5000 within a couple hours drive.  There are some large solar panel arrays nearby also and the oil patch in around.  In Denver is the National Lab for renewable energies, somewhat of an oxymoron. 

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These giant things are termed as being green, but are they really. 

Look at the size of one these things, rated at 1.5 KW.  Then look at how much space they use compared to a 500 KW fired generation station.  Their foot print is incredible.  There is the station base, where it is mounted, then the access road for repairs and servicing.  Then the cabling to get the power to a transmission line.  Throw in a sub station and all of a sudden, one big footprint.  How much land is lost compared to a power plant and much wildlife is affected plus your food basket. 

Next thing, look at what it takes to build one of these wind turbines. 

The tower is four sections of steel, each 50 feet long weighing about 100,000 lbs. each.  Question, how much iron ore is need to build one of these of steel?  How much energy has to be expended to process the ore, then process the steel then form the tower sections?  All of a sudden we are looking at lots of energy being expended just to begin building one. 

Then on top is the narcel. the turbine generator.  Again well over 100,000 lbs.  The housing is steel but the working parts are copper and rare earth metals.  So how much energy has to be spent to mine the ore, then process the ore and then mill it to a useable material.  It is not a simple one or two step process. 

Then there is the hub, blades and nose cap.  A mixture of steel, carbon fibers and other materials.  Carbon fibers are petroleum based product.  They are also very easily damaged by lightening and high winds.  Again, what kind of energy has to be spent to get these materials out of the ground and into some kind of useable form?

How much energy has been consumed just to manufacture the components?  They only generate 1.5 KW and on average a useable life of less then 15 years and many sustain lots of damage and or malfunctions.  Now that the bits and pieces are built, they have to be shipped to the installation site. 

Each blade takes and over size truck, 3 blades.  Each tower section takes an overweight truck, 4 sections.  The narcel takes a special oversize truck, 1 piece.  The hub and cone on one trailer.  Now that all of this is being shipped there are the guts that go in the tower from the narcel.  The cables, the elevator and the instruments.  Then the cable to connect into the grid. 

Whoa there is a whole bunch more of energy being spent on manufacture, mining, milling, processing and production. 

With all the parts, there is lots of energy used up in transportation.  Particularly for the components that get shipped in from overseas.

The next energy expense is site preparation.  A 10 story hole is dug then filled with concrete as a mounting pad for the windmill.  The manufacture of cement is one of the most energy intense process there is.  Then the cement is shipped to the batch plant where it is mixed with an aggregate to make concrete.  Both components are intense energy mining endeavor.   Tons of earth have to be moved just get the site ready.  Along with the mining for the other materials, some seriously big holes had to be dug in the ground.  Now all this concrete has to hauled out to the job site and dumped in the ground. 

Next, equipment has to be brought to the job site for assembly.  There are cranes for unloading, other equipment for moving machines around, then a huge crane to set things in place.  Again a very intense energy operation.  There had to be roads graded for access streets and buried cables. 

Now repeat this operation a hundred times and let me know how long these turbines have to last before they have a return on investment.   Now you can see why there has to be a government subsidy.  A wind turbine is a negative cash flow machine. 

One thing that seldom shows up in the news, are the farms that have been shut down.  The other is how many failures they have with them.  During high wind storms they are shut down and after severe lightening storms there is lots of repair work waiting.  There comes a time when repairs is no longer feasible.  So the windmill become a static display to  …………….?

Now if some one calls them green energy, I look at them and ask what other jokes do you have. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Kirk, CO

 

 

            Out there somewhere is one of the coolest little towns from a century and then some more years ago.  During the late 1800’s, towns would spring up around a community.  A Post Office would start and soon there would be stores and shops.  Occasionally the commercial buildings would be a few miles from the Post Office and this became the town.  It appears this is what happened with Kirk. 

            The map shows a previous Kirk Post Office couple of miles north of the present day Kirk.  A Post Office would start in a farmhouse but the town would spring up at another location and eventually the Post Office would move to the town.

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            Here on the central plains of Eastern Colorado the little town of Kirk still survives.  Located on a secondary state highway and junction with a country road lies the little village of Kirk.  It is pretty much what a pioneer community would have looked like a couple of centuries ago.  On the corners are the stores.  A grocery store, a bank, meat processing and an empty shop, all that missing is the livery stable and a lumber yard.  The grain elevator and feed store stand at the south entrance to town on the north is a CO-OP. 

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            The little village is about three blocks long and two blocks wide.  There are a few residents that live there. Populations was unknown but in the vicinity of 50 people live there.  There are a couple of churches, town park with playground and ball filed.  The school is long gone, consolidated with some neighboring towns. 

The occasional car passes through and there are shoppers in town on occasion.  The Post Office stays busy.  The newspaper has rolled up the mat.  The big farm truck rumbles trough more than cars.  Road crews pass through checking on roads and signs, a sheriff’s deputy cruises town and stops at the grocery for coffee n a roll. 

Here time has stood still and a small village has survived the bigness of the big box mind set. 

There empty stores that still stand on main street.  Showing when Kirk was a busier town and there were more people in the area. 

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            The bank is a fairly non discreet building and fairly new.  With the blink of an eye, one could drive right past and not notice. 

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            Across the corner from the bank is the meat processing locker.  The meat locker used to be an icon in small town America.  Today they are fading into the sunset of memories.

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            There are a variety of homes scattered around the little burg.  For whatever reason, these little wide spots have junkyards.  Kirk is no different, the house surrounded by junk cars sits on the edge of town.  

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            Out on HWY 36 is a sign indicating there is a little town back down the road a ways.  For those that turn, be ready for a short trip back in time.  For here, is what a lots of the little ghost town on the plains used to be like. 

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Corporal Baatz

One of those little puzzling quirks in History.  A German POW is still buried in a National Cemetery.

A ll types of questions rose of the mire of my grey matter.  When I first found out about the POW, I had to have answers. 

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Being less then a detective, I went looking for answers.  Bottom line was, after the war ended, no body claimed the remains.  Even the country did not claim him.  So in Ft Logan national Cemetery the remains of one German POW rests in peace. 

During the research I found ot that Colorado had over 30 POW camps scattered around the state and across the country there were numerous POW.  Most were in farm areas and the POW’s were expected to do farm wok while in captivity.  This led to minor conflicts here and there and other stories.  Most of these camps are now gone and only memories are left. 

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Baatz was not the only German to die while in custody of the US.  There were others who died, Baatz was the only one not claimed.  Not next of kin could be located.  The cause of death, I did not ask, yet there a few that passed on from lead poisoning from a farmers shot gun. 

A few of the German soldiers refused to work in the fields and the local farmer would get upset with them.  One such farmer told the POW when he came to work the next day if he did not work the soldier would be at the end of the shot gen barrel. 

Next day the POWE shows up, again he refuses to work.  Farmer goes off and retrieves his shotgun.  Different type casualty of war. 

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Then there was the POW that was an affair with one of the local gals.  She was 2nd generation German and brought baked goods to the POW’s.  She fell for one of the troopers and he found a way to get out of camp.   A night he would leave camp for the evening to spend it with the lady that was just a ways down the road. 

this went on for sometime before it was discovered.  There also various types of escapes and manhunts.  Yet the mystery of Karl Baatz is still a mystery.