Nature Friday ~ October 4, 2019

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.

Fires
Photo courtesy of Jerry McBride/Durango Herald via AP)/The Durango Herald via AP

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.

Gilman, COThe 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.Gilman, CO

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.

Vail, CO
Betty Ford Alpine Garden, Vail, CO

We hope you have a beautiful weekend.Vail, CO

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

57 thoughts on “Nature Friday ~ October 4, 2019

    1. Thanks, the changing aspens are pretty spectacular this year. Sadly, the fires seem to be getting worse. The Decker fire is only 5% contained and it’s been burning for a month now. Snow is forecast later this week-hopefully that will help.

  1. Here in Costa Rica a Canadian company were permitted to open a gold mine in a protected area for macaws….the project was stiffly opposed and finally abandoned, but the pollution of water is still a problem…and the macaws have gone.
    Needless to say the President of the time has escaped scot free….bringing proceedings having been delayed for years so that he could claim that the time in which he could have been prosecuted has expired…

    1. Gold mining is one of the more toxic to the environment of all the extractive metals. And yet one of the most valuable. *sigh*

  2. Oh no … wildfire season. Bummer, but I also know the forests have a way of making them important. Gotta hope for personal safety. The mining town looks interesting. Definitely a walk back in time. … Love – just love your pics of the outstanding fall colors … golds, reds, and green all in the same pic – Ahhhhhh.

    1. Seeing all the various colors of autumn is unusual for Colorado. Our big showstopper are the golden aspens.

      As for the fires, the one near Salida has been burning since September 8 (started from a lightning strike. The weekend forecast is for high wind conditions with low humidity. The proverbial double whammy for firefighters. Small communities surround the area with cattle ranches. Officials are asking for voluntary cattle evacuations just in case-if they wait, it’ll be too late to move herds. Some 100 residents have evacuated earlier this week. 😕

  3. Goodness with all this talk of contamination you make it sound like a mini-Chernobyl. The Iron Barron Iron Ore mine closed down in 1960. The Baron was a thriving little town with a club a few dozen houses, stores, a school, a little church, a large swimming pool and, of course, people. The town continued to survive. However, people slowly moved away and by the time the company was ready to introduce new and better extraction methods, and reopen the mine in 2011, the place was just about empty. But to save any hassle, the company bulldozed the entire township into a great pit until nothing was left. When I visited it a year or so ago, I couldn’t even recall where the club was, or even where the swimming pool was, yet the club I had been to several times and my son’s school had a swimming carnival there one year. People who work there are bussed back and forth from here.

    1. In this case John, it pretty much is a mini-Chernobyl. The site is a Superfund site with the EPA, the worst designation. No one seems able or willing to clean up the mess they left-it will take to many millions.

  4. Oh, we in California know all this all too well! From the fires (I hopes they gets those contained soon, and everyone is okay), to the abandoned mining towns and mines. We also have the closed military bases that they have tried to clean up, so peeps can build some desperately needed housing there ~ that’s a long depressing process. Anyhu, I thinks nature can heal all that, butts it seems not in our lifetime. apologizes to the young’s for our effacing of our beautiful country
    Kisses,
    Ruby ♥

    1. Yes, I can imagine you are far too familiar with fires and abandoned mines. They’re still trying to clean up Rocky Mountain Arsenal (which was turned into a wildlife refuge) and Rocky Flats where they have some new housing development in the less contaminated portions. I wouldn’t live there if the houses were free! Yikes. Plutonium triggers were made there for years. Umm, can you say no thanks?!

  5. Nature will reclaim itself eventually. Why does mankind insist on working against nature rather than with it?

    Anyway, hope you have a great weekend.

    1. I hope she’s not too taxed with all our ‘good’ intentions. You have great weekend yourself!

  6. I know the Gilman area well, it’s a favorite of ours. But I never entered the restricted space although I sure was tempted!

    On another note, visit Bitey Dog The Adventures of Bitey Dog website…little Geordie could use some advice re: CBD and I recommended Sam’s store.

    1. Thanks for passing along Geordie’s website. I’d be honored to share our experience.

      Yes, Gilman is tempting to enter…but…contamination?…um, no thank you. It sure is pretty around there, but I was quite surprised not knowing the details surrounding it. Happy weekend to you, the AJF and of course, my favorite Malt.

  7. Makes you wonder just how many towns are like this… abandoned as if scared off too quickly to take their personal stuff with them.
    On a bright note, your pictures are fabulous.

    1. With the level of contamination, not surprising frankly. I’d get the hell out of dodge too if the groundwater and surrounding environment were as contaminated.

      Glad there was a bit of lovely with the doom and gloom. I try to balance things because everything isn’t all bad. Happy weekend, my friend.

      1. Yeah. So awful.

        I feel ya. I try to do the same! So far so good! Slept in, made chicken stock, watched TV… totally lazy day! Tomorrow, gonna go to the market and hope there are still tomatoes left so I can can them. If not, well, then I shall find something else to do!

        1. Yay. So glad you had a nice day off. Chill out as best you can this weekend. It’s good for the soul.

          1. Yes. So am I. I actually got a combined time of 9 hours of sleep. (I woke up just before 5 and couldn’t sleep before past 6). Still. Was sublime.

  8. That fire is scary! To be honest, fire is my “thing:” my greatest fear that manifests in a ton of ways. I know forest fires are necessary for the ecosystem – and some trees rely on these fires – but sheesh! It’s disgusting how badly we’ve cared for the beautiful world we were given.

    1. Having suffered through a fire many years ago, I’m right with you. It is terrifying that we continue to allow these horrible and catastrophic events to occur on the environment.

  9. that is so sad about the contaminated area, I remember reading horror stories of health conditions that miners often suffered from. That being said, you are right, nature is still a beautiful place and you live in a magnificent state. Praying all in the path of the fire are safe.

    1. We are truly blessed; it just takes a moment in all the chaos and crazy to look for it sometimes. Happy weekend.

  10. Very interesting about the mine at Gilman. Peeps and their vandalism is ridiculous but some have nothing better to do. We have a ghost town up here called Barkerville. It was a gold mining town. At its hay day it was populated and busy. Meanwhile the gold became less and people vacated in droves for better prospecting and gold panning locales. The town has now been turned into a tourist stop with goods to buy and all the houses and buildings are furnished like the age it was thee hot spot. I believe the government has made it a national treasure.
    This year was virtually wild fire free. It was a wet cool season.

    Jean

    1. Your area is most fortunate to have not suffered through a bad wildfire season.

      Mining towns around here tend to have some significant contamination issues-it’s unfortunate that mining companies generally oppose any common sense safety measures to protect the environment as well as people.

  11. (said with disgust at the greed of people) so there was 8 million tons of waste… it provided a lot of money for a few people at the top, and jobs for the miners… right? Is there no way to live on this earth while still taking care of it? Kate Morton said in my current novel,(Secrets) something like war is devastating the world and yet bees buzz, flowers bud and birds chirp as if they had no idea.

    1. Sadly, mining is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. While it’s probably not easy to live the modern life without mining extraction, I am all in favor of regulation of companies to keep the planet and peeps safe.

    1. Thanks. The high country colors were just beginning to peak. Talk about being fortunate to be able to see them!

  12. The Yuba River was recently closed to human/animals due to runoff from old gold mines in the area–the river was running yellow, it was full of several poisons. People, being stupid, immediately ran over to see, bringing their dogs with them. I hope the dogs were smart enough not to drink

    1. The whole area was so badly contaminated, they had to leave. The fire season is still going strong unfortunately.

        1. This is usual what happens in mining towns. Companies come in, extract what they can while the getting is good, contaminate the devil out of the environment then walk away. Repeat at next location. *sigh*

Howl or bark your thoughts but no growling, please.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.