Thursday, February 26, 2015

Amache ….. Relocation Camp


At the end of the Arkansas River in SE Colorado is where the Japanese interment camp was located.  Overgrown with weeds the markers rise out of the growth.  Foundations and footers dot the land, that today is almost empty.  There have been numerous conversations about fixing the place up and recreating parts of the camp.  Yet that has been mostly it, conversation.  With the governments poor condition, money for projects like this is hard to come by and it takes lots of effort that few are willing to put forth.  So the prairie winds rustle over the land. 

Here is a link that will take you to a web site with numerous pictures of the area showing its size.

Fear causes people to do many unusual things and sometimes there are regrets.

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The day I walked the camp it was empty.  Few grasshoppers and the rustling breeze.  There were a few markers in the cemetery.  Most had been exhumed and moved to a family grave site after the war. 

For years, families lived out their lives in a military stockade.  There was bitterness and anger, among the residents and the neighbors.  Many of the local people did not want the camp to be in their back yard and there was the occasional conflict. 

Some of the locals had relatives that had been at Pearl Harbor and they carried lots of bitter anger.  There were some Japanese that had sympathies with the homeland and there were others that were some of the most Patriotic of Americans. 

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Some of the Japanese descendants joined the military and fought during WWI in the European theatre.  Most lived out their time in the camp and tried to go back to their homes after the war. 

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Out on the empty grass land of the prairie are conflicted memories, Love, anger, melancholy and a moment in time that stands. 

A ghost town in short duration.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Deertrail, CO


Interstate 70 sliced through the heart of east central Colorado.  In the process it sliced the life out of many of the small towns that dot the high plains of eastern Colorado.  The high speed slab was built over there and the old highway the main street of many a small town was amputated.  No longer much traffic, the little town businesses would fail and soon main street sidewalks were rolled up.  Empty stores dotted the once heart of the town and ghosts from the past were the only visitors. 

Deertrail was of those little towns that struggled to keep a business district going.  Very little success.  Numerous businesses have opened, only to close a short time later. 

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Deertrail was a railroad town built in the 1870’s and it prospered for a number of years.  Near by was a stage station and it was on the North Branch of the Smoky Hill Trail.  Its claim to fame, is the world’s first rodeo.  The town has a nice arena and they still have the rodeo. 

Set on the banks of the East Fork of the Bijou River, it is well wooded and a scenic location.  Deer roam the woods, hence its name and it great wildlife habitat.  Although the river flooded in 1935 and washed part of the town away.  The south side of the old highway is vacant and a parkway today. 

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The north side of Main Street is a classic western town, brick store fronts, elevated walkway and the store front porches.  Here was the newspaper office, the dry goods store, hardware, grocery,a hotel and a saloon.  All the fineries a person could want in the late 1800’s.  One of the vacant stores caught fire a few years back and was gutted.  The store front still stands and the broken windows reveal charred timbers. 

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Out on the Interstate, a couple of convenience gas stations have been built that catch an occasional traveler.  Few venture down to the old part of town.  Here the old saloon and restaurant are undergoing renovation and a few of the stores have been fixed up.  The junk dealers are pretty organized, there is a pizza place and a nice museum park with the old train depot, schoolhouse and log house.  Yet the old buildings on the old highway are the attraction.

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Whoever is fixing up the old Brown Derby appears to have a bit of money and it make take this time.  Have not been through here since last year when I took these pics.  Yet when I drive the old highway, it is a fun place to pass through and ponder what it was like at the turn of the past century. 

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Puffery of Guilt Mongers


20% of the children in the US are hungry.  Boy that statement will catch ones attention.  1 in 5 children suffer from hunger is the implication. 

When I first saw that I was angry.  Initial thoughts were, why the hell is that happening.  With all the government programs available, no one in this country should go hungry.  If a child is going hungry, some one needs to have a conversation with some parents.  I was a little put out and began to watch closely and see if I could notice thing to that effect in children in passing.

Then it dawned on me what they were talking about, people on food stamps.   Latest statistic is; there are 48 million people in the US on food stamps.  Using this, the group putting out the PSA, states that one in five children are going hungry because their parents are on food stamps.  What a stretch.  Here a country is being generous by providing tax funds for these families to have something to eat and a group is bending the spectrum to fit an agenda of shamefulness. 

This an example of how a stats can be distorted and have half truths added to generate shame in the hopes people will provide more to their treasury.  Shame is used by many to generate donations to their cause.  When on looks at these organizations, roughly 80% of the money raised goes to the administration of the group and the rest goes somewhere. 

then look at that figure, 48 million people on food stamps.  For a country that is pretty embarrassing to have that large of a percentage on government dole.  So I ask the question of the government, why have you failed these people that you have to give them a hand out.  Living on hand outs does not produce pride.

As a country is this something to be proud of?  Like it or not, it is a part of our legacy that the government has manufactured for us. 

Many will say, it is real easy to get food stamps, others say it is the illegals.  No matter, it is 48 million people that owe their existence to the government of the United States, because the country can not provide gainful jobs for them. 

Welcome to the new world of government slavery.  Freedom and independence leave when one has to rely on the dole to live. 

One in five children hungry……. hardly.  Because they are considered in poverty, they are considered hungry.  What an ugly label to put on someone. 

The message implies that the parent is incompetent.  Talk about a shameful label. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Frontier Post

Fort Lyon

            More lives than a cat, Ft Lyon has survived numerous changes and abandonments over the past decades.   Ft Lyon was abandoned as a military post by the Army in 1897.  The frontier post was shuttered for 9 years.  The US Navy acquired the post in 1909 and made it into a Tuberculosis Hospital for sailors.  Later it became a treatment center for veterans with mental health issues in 1922.  The Veterans Administration opened a Psychiatric Hospital on the former Army post.  2001 saw the VA close the hospital and the Federal Government later gave Ft Lyon to the state of Colorado.  Colorado made it into a prison but that did not last long.  The prison was closed and the fort is now a Rehab Center for homeless people.  The many lives of a frontier place that refused to die. 
            One can drive through the installation and look at the varied buildings that have been built on it over the years.  There are some of the old buildings from its early days where native rock was used in construction.  There are tall stately formal buildings around the parade ground and the grass is well manicured.  A gate sits on the corner and just a short ways in is a chapel that was built from some of the rock that had been part of the hospital when Kit Carson was hospitalized there and later died.  The NE area of the compound is the National Cemetery.  Here, there are veterans from the Indian wars, Spanish American, both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. 
            Ft Lyon had its beginnings in 1833 when the Bent brothers and their partner St Vrain built a trading fort on the banks of the Arkansas River.  The men were merchants and had been trading with the Indians in the area for some time plus Mexico.  They had stores in Taos and Santa Fe and later would open more trading forts. 
            At the time when the fort was built, it was in Mexico and the trade route through here was busy with freight wagons.  Bent’s Fort as it became known was in the heart of Indian country.  Trade with the Indians for the buffalo robes was a booming business and the travel on the Santa Fe Trail gave the traders an expanding market for trade goods between the two countries of Mexico and the United States.  The Mountain Men trappers used Bent’s fort for trading and supplies as they headed into the mountains.  It was a busy hub of trade on the Arkansas River.
            Hostilities between Mexico and the United States was brewing and in the i840’s, The United States was at war with Mexico.  The US military used Bent’s Fort as a staging site for their battles with Mexico.  With the treaty of 1848, Bent’s Fort became a part of the United States.  The trading post was becoming a adjunct to the Military.  Trade was resumed between the US and Mexico but now the US Military had a larger presence in the area.  An Indian agent for the government set up office in Bent’s Fort.
            With so much government business going on at the trading fort, the government was approached about buying the place.  No deal was reached to buy.  The fort was closed and Charles Bent went east a number of miles and began building a new fort.  Here at this place the government agreed to buy the new fort.  Bent’s new fort was named by the government, Fort Wise after the governor of Virginia.  With the US Army taking over the post, Bent returned to his old fort and destroyed it.  There had been an outbreak of cholera earlier and it was speculated that is why Bent blew his fort up.  He also did not want anyone else to use it.  Taking gunpowder, the fort was blown up. 
            During this transition, the Indian attacks in the new US territory had escalated.  The Santa Fe Trail travel had almost ceased.  The arrival of troops at Ft Wise did not change the attacks on the plains across Kansas into Colorado.  1850’s-60’s was the throes of Indian wars.  A peace Treaty had been signed at Ft Laramie, with the Indian Reservation to be most of eastern Colorado and western Kansas.  With the discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains, more invaders crossed Colorado with gold fever.  There were more Indian attacks.  Ft Wise was a focal point of these skirmishes with the Indians.  Ft Learned in Kansas to Ft Wise the Army moved their troops and supplies. 
            When the Civil War broke out, Ft Wise became Ft Lyon.  The government did not want their Army post named after a southerner.  So it was named for General Nathaniel Lyon.  With the Civil War, the Indian battles became secondary.  The US government had tried another Peace Treaty with the Indians.  The Ft Wise treaty shrunk the reservation land and gave commodities to the Indians.  This treaty did not last long and when the Civil War began the Indians were staging attacks across the high plains.  Travelers arriving in Denver had varied reports of Indian attacks and mutilations by the Indians.  Outrage at the brutal Indian attacks inflamed many a citizen in Denver.  With a Confederate Military detachment marching towards the gold fields of Colorado, Col. Chivington was dispatched by the US Army to stop the Confederates.  Chivington and his militia met the Confederates at Glorieta Pass.  The battle was short and a decisive victory for the troops under Col. Chivington.  The Confederates were thoroughly routed and sent back south. 
            Retuning to Denver, triumphant, Chivington was incensed by the brutal Indian attacks.  The Colonel met with Territorial Governor John Evans and discussed what to do about the attacks.  Sometime later after the meeting, Chivington mustered his Colorado Militia and they marched to old Ft Lyon. Here, Colonel Chivington moved about the local troops finding more soldiers to march with him to the Indians camp on the Big Sandy Creek. 
            Gaining more troops, the combined Militia and Army soldiers moved out for an early morning attack on the Indian Village. 

            Just five years later the Army would launch a similar attack on the Indians at Summit Springs.   They were on a rescue expedition of two kidnapped women.  Numerous Indians were killed in the attack and one woman was rescued, while the other captured woman was killed by the Indians.  The leading chief was hunted down and killed and the Indian village was burned to the ground.  The battle at Summit Springs will be in another chapter.

            Old Fort Lyon would not last much longer.  It was not well built and it was too close to the Arkansas River, susceptible to spring flooding.  A new site for Ft Lyon was chosen to the west a few miles.  The new post was completed in 1867 and the troops were moved into their new quarters.  The previous year the old fort had been seriously flooded and the troops were ready to move.  After they had moved to the new location a detachment was traveling back to the old place and found Indians in the old fort ransacking it and it had been set afire.  Today, outlines of Ft Wise adobe walls can still be seen a local ranchers pasture. 


            The summer of 1870 was the last major Indian attacks across eastern Colorado.  Ft Lyon would settle into a quite outpost on the western frontier.  The Army Post was marking time until its closure in 1897. The settlers were arriving and the Indians were gone.  The railroads had replaced the large wagon trains traveling on the Santa Fe Trail. 
            For almost ten years the empty breezes flutter through the vacant fort.  The Navy acquired and a new chapter was beginning for the frontier Army Post.  Soon the place would take on the appearance of a TB sanatorium.  Large brick buildings were constructed around the quadrangle for the new patients. 


            The Navy operated the sanatorium until 1922 when the VA took over operations of the hospital.  The former Army Fort was now a mental health facility for veterans.  It would remain this way until the federal government gave it to the state of Colorado.  At that time the state made it into a minim security prison.  The fort was fenced off and inmates were now housed in the buildings.  The prison had a short life and was converted again.  Fencing was removed and new program was started there for homeless rehab work.  Today it is the homeless and their counselors that walk on the grounds of the venerable frontier post. 


            On the north side of the post is a National Cemetery.  They began burials there in 1907.  There are soldiers there from the Indian wars to present day. 
            It is at the end of the road that leads to the chapel.  The construction of the chapel used some of the materials from the infirmary where Kit Carson died.


            Stroll the grounds, visit with the ghosts of the past, peer back into their day.  Listen to the ruffles of times past ebbing across the grasses.  There are moments that beg one to pause and look, listen….. let the imagination rum. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Shaw, CO

A cattle chute, stock tank and shed are silent reminders of bygone days at Shaw..

Due north of Bovina Lies the remains of Shaw community.  For years this had been the focal point of many local.  Here was their Post Office, gas station, general store and dance barn.  Today it is a pasture with rubble piles here and there. 

Gone are the signs of yesteryear, well almost.  Nearby are numerous empty homestead's.  Within a mile are about 6 abandoned farm houses and there are foundations and cellar depressions for another dozen or so homes in the area. 

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At one time these buildings mad up a community of around 2-300 people.  Near by was the country school.  Over there a short distance had been a church.  It was everything a homesteader could want. 

On the weekend a neighbor down the road would be the entertainment for the dance that evening.  The tinkle of the piano would roll out the doors of the barn across the prairie as the feet shuffled across the barn floor.  Sometimes it would be the screech of the fiddle or maybe a harmonica.  The moonlight would bounce off the mason jar as it tilted to the lips.  The glowing ember of the cigarette beamed out of the darkness.  It was a brief respite from the hot days in the sun working in the fields. 

The land was worked to provide a living.  No lunch pails to the office.  Out the door to the shed, hook the horses up and head to the field.  With the sun dead overhead, it was back to the house.  Water and feed the horses.  Go inside for lunch and a short noontime nap.  Horses rested and watered, it was back to the field, working under an unrelenting hot sun till it began to set.  Then the evening chores began, drive mild cows home and begin the milking, run the separator.  With the cool of the evening sit down to an evening meal.  Listen to the little ones talk about their day and go to the front porch to play. 

Before the sun rise it was up for chores,  Mild the cows, let them out, open the chicken coop, slop the hogs and get the horses ready for the day.  After breakfast the day continues in the filed following the horses.  There were no time clocks, no weekly pay checks and the doctor made house calls. 

A whole different way of life that is hard to grasp.  No such thing as a 40 hour work week. 

The rhythm of life followed along with nature t a pace  one could only follow. 

A golden eagle perches on a utility pole surveying the land, its home.

The golden eagle, stoically watches.