It’s time to celebrate the beauty Mother Nature provides us and because it’s Friday, that means we’re joining our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard. Autumn has definitely arrived and judging by your kind comments this week, a favorite of many peeps.
This week nature has had a lot to offer. Sadly, not all of it was good either. Several wildfires continue to burn in our fair state and there have been a number of officially ordered evacuations. Winds, warm weather and tinder-dry conditions have fueled these fires and we pray for the safety of residents and firefighters.
Human activity can impact the look of nature in any number of ways. Last week while visiting the Vail area, I saw what extraction mining can do to a remarkable landscape. The ghost town of Gilman, Colorado, located near Battle Mountain was once a thriving mining operation with a number of mines being opened beginning in the 1870’s during Colorado’s silver boom. Gold and silver were mined until the 1920’s.
As is often the case, mining operations went deeper and deeper and the extracted ore contained heavy sulfide content which local smelters refused to process. Separators were installed in 1905, and a problem was turned into an asset. Zinc, often a by-product in silver mining, became the economic mainstay until the early 1930’s. When the zinc market dropped, the mines switched to copper and silver ores which then became the main focus until the zinc price returned. Zinc became the principal ore until the mine was forcibly closed due to extreme pollution by the EPA who designated the town a Superfund site; it being listed on the National Priorities List in 1986. Gilman’s residents were forced to abandon the 235-acre site, many leaving much behind. By 1984, rock-bottom zinc prices coerced the company to leave Gilman for other profitable enterprises. A couple of attempts have been contemplated for redevelopment of the site but much like the town, they have also been abandoned.
The thriving town of Gilman (population of around 350) once included an infirmary, a grocery store, and even a bowling alley in its heyday. By 1970, total production was 10 million tons of ore ( 393,000 troy ounces (12,200 kg) of gold; 66,000,000 troy ounces (2,100,000 kg) of silver; 105,000 tons of copper; 148,000 tons of lead; and 858,000 tons of zinc) while an astonishing 8-million tons of mine waste was excavated and deposited into the ecosystem.
The townsite has long been notoriously vandalized over the years with worker’s homes being heavily tagged in graffiti by trespassers and nearly every window broken. The main shaft elevators still sit ready for ore cars, permanently locked at the top level. Various vehicles still sit in their garages, left behind by their owners. The town has been the subject of interest for many historians, explorers, and photographers.
The once colorful homes of Gilman sit close to the mining facilities with the waste tailings flowing down the hill. Though posted as a no-trespassing area, the town continues to draw vandals who have posted hundreds of images on social media sites. Looking through many eerie and creepy images on Instagram, it seemed the residents left in a hurry. One particular image, a box of Cheer soap, spilled on the floor along with children’s toys, magazines, among scads of debris haunted my thoughts. I did not trespass the fence area, instead taking in some of the natural beauty of the mountain. I couldn’t help but wonder about those who lived and worked there and how many of them fell ill after they left.
Notice the mine tailings flowing down the hill on the right.
Still, all is not all bad and I certainly don’t want to end on a sour note. All the changing leaves reminded me that Nature can still be a very beautiful place.
We hope you have a beautiful weekend.
Live, love, bark! 🐾