Mary Jo Copper: Boom Days Parade Grand Marshall
It only seems appropriate that this year’s Grand Marshall for the Boom Days Parade should be Mary Jo Copper. After all, she should finally get to see Leadville’s biggest and grandest parade for herself!
“I never really got to see it, because I was always working,” explained Copper as she sat down recently with Leadville Today to discuss the upcoming honor. And while her family’s retail store – Bill’s Sport Shop – was always housed somewhere along Harrison Avenue, the busy, festive weekend, rarely offered Mary Jo time to stop working, and get a glimpse of the Cloud City’s longest, and most impressive parade.
Mary Jo Copper moved to Leadville in 1950, so this year will mark her 66th Boom Days. For those keeping track, this year also marks year 66 for the annual celebration; in other words, Copper was there from the start! How many can say that?!
And while her background includes a stint in healthcare and a real talent for the numbers that bookkeeping offers, many remember Mary Jo’s smiling face and sunny disposition that often greeted them at the family’s successful retail store. Known as a dedicated mother and wife, she was married to Bill Copper who, by the way, will be inducted into the Leadville/Lake County Sports Hall of Fame tomorrow, August 5.
It’s been six years since the popular sports shop closed its doors for good, but most long-time locals can still fondly recall the different locations it called home during its more than 60 years in business. From the historic Vendome (now the Tabor Grand Apartments), to its first spot directly across from the courthouse (where a portion of Leadville Community Threads is now housed), to their last mainstay at the corner of 3rd and Harrison (now Leadville Outdoors), until they closed their doors for good in 2010, you could say that Bill’s Sport Shop always had a good vantage point for Leadville’s grandest march.
And though the busy sports shop rarely afforded Mary Jo the luxury of leisurely viewing the Boom Days Parade, she did often hear it. So maybe that’s why Copper was a big advocate of the event finally including a marching band. If she couldn’t see the passersbys, at least she could hear the festive music!
“When they first started I was really disappointed because they didn’t have any music, no marching band” stated Copper reflecting on her 66 years of Boom Days celebrations. “Although it’s good to see that has improved over the years!”
But if she had to pick, it would be the mining events that Copper enjoyed the most when she was able to get out and enjoy the fun. Of course, today its Cooper’s grandkids (10 and counting) and great grandkids (17 and counting) who get out to enjoy all of the Boom Days competitions, reporting back to Grandma Jo on their placing in the pie-eating and costume contests.
When it comes to memorable Boom Days stories, it’s the burro race that rises to the top. Bill Copper, although not a regular racer on the circuit, actually won the Boom Days Burro Race back in 1951 with his trusty burro Bosco. But his return in 1952 to defend his crown saw a slightly different outcome. As is often the case, once the leading runner-and-beast team hit the pavement on historic Harrison Avenue, that stubborn beast had a different end in mind.
“Bosco just stopped; it was only about 39 feet from the finish line,” recalled Mary Jo. Seemingly there was nothing that Bill was going to do to get the burro motivated to complete the race, keeping his glorious victory crown in place.
In fact, it was only when the team in second place passed the Copper/Bosco team and continued on to the winner’s circle, that the stubborn ass finally got some renewed giddy-up-and go, dragging his teammate across the finish line in second place.
No doubt. Mary Jo’s venture down Harrison Avenue on Saturday as the Grand Marshall of the Boom Days Parade will be much smoother, where the only planned stop is for the National Anthem at the courthouse.
“I’m a bit anxious to be in the limelight,” concluded Copper, wondering aloud if a Victorian costume was required for the Grand Marshall stint, and if she should bring along a hat. Regardless, many will recognize this great lady as she rides in the wagon behind the color guard at the beginning of the 2016 Boom Days Parade.
So, be sure to give Mary Jo an enthusiastic parade wave and extra loud, good for you, from the sideline. After all, it’s one of the first parades after 66 years she’ll be able to see, from one of the best seats in the house. Enjoy every moment of it, Mary Jo! You deserve it!
Lake Fork is Full of Pride
by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor
The first ever Lake Fork Pride BBQ was held last Tuesday, July 26, in the Lake Fork Manufactured Home Community at 150 State Highway 300. The park is just south of Leadville and Stringtown on the way to Halfmoon Creek, and home to over 100 Lake County families. The free BBQ, championed by resident Amy Small, was a successful attempt to provide continuous character-building activities for the kids of Lake Fork, and an open discussion space for adults to voice their concerns and ideas about making Lake Fork a better place to live.
Lake Fork is owned by property management company Ascentia, and managed by Lee Rager. Privileged in location and view, the park sits in the shadow of Mt.’s Elbert and Massive, the open Arkansas Valley laid out at its foot. Most families that live in Lake Fork are Hispanic and have several children between the ages of six and fifteen, most of which enrolled in the Lake County School District.
After a bullying problem became apparent among the children, and other adult concerns talked about but never forwardly handled, Amy Small decided to take the high road and engage both the children and adults of the community in an alternative and positive way. Picking up a pen and paper Small began to piece together a BBQ to spotlight the community and provide avenues to voice and solve the concerns of her neighbors.
Representatives from Full Circle of Lake County, Project Dream, Sol Vista Health, St. Vincent’s Hospital, and the Fire Department all showed up for burgers and dogs, and on a volunteer basis met with and made themselves available to the people of Lake Fork. Firetrucks and Ambulance’s were open for kids to explore, while the first responders taught about what they do.
After everyone ate, the children went off with volunteers Dawn Penso and Jena Finch of Project Dream to talk about the Seven Principles. These were drawn up by Small as guidelines for respectful living, and as a way to earn Lake Fork Dollars, a local currency for which the children earn rewards year-round. The Seven Principles are:
- Play Nicely
- Be Respectful
- Help Others
- Perform Good Deeds
- Clean Up
- Practice Good Behavior
Meanwhile the adults had their meeting, discussing everything from four-wheeler’s, to babysitting, to establishing neighborhood watch and safe houses.
Small is from Long Beach, Cali., no stranger to neglected communities. “I was twelve years old when the Rodney King riots broke out,” Small said, “and that experience was very real for me. After leaving there, I knew I never wanted my children to grow up in an environment like that.
Small also had a few things to say about the way outreach programs are often operated. “When I was growing up, whether Boys & Girls Club of America or other outreach programs, they took us out of our neighborhood to do really fun incredible things, but we always had to go back home at the end of the day. They never initiated change from within our community, made us appreciate what we already had.”
Nothing worth doing is ever easy, and its always easier to complain and point the finger. Small had to stick with her convictions to make the event happen, and in the matter of a just a few weeks. With great help from park manager Rager, from neighbors, the program representatives, and the kids themselves, the BBQ had an incredible turnout with every intention of the event fulfilled.
“My goal was already achieved before the BBQ even took place,” Amy said. She’s seen the kids already practicing the 7 Principles, helping each other, volunteering, cleaning up, and settling their disputes peacefully. “My vision is for other neighborhoods to have similar events, and that all the communities here can come together for healthy competition in games and forward-thinking problem solving.”
These are the kind of organic plans that render change from within. They don’t rely on rescue or grant dollars; Lake Fork already has all the tools it needs to become an even better place to live.
Brennan Ruegg lives down the way from Lake Fork, near Halfmoon Creek.
Wildflowers Are in Bloom in the High Country
Lupine, Columbines, Trumpets – It’s Wildflower Season!
And you don’t need to go very far to see all the color and variety. A simple walk along the Mineral Belt Trail or the Nature Trail out at the Leadville National Fish Hatchery should provide plenty of good viewing. Another option is riding the special Wildflower Train aboard the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad this Saturday, July 16. This is peak season for Mother Nature’s high alpine garden, so make sure you take some time to stop and smell the (wild) roses!
Publisher’s Note: Please do not pick or use (medicinally) any wildflowers without knowing what you’re doing. The following is merely informational, not instructional. Don’t let the altitude clear your mind of good, old common sense!
Here are some of the beauties currently in bloom.
The Columbine: These majestic beauties are Colorado’s state flower and known for their purple spurred petals. In fact, it’s the shape of those petals that give this flower its name. The word “columbine” comes from the Latin for “dove,” due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together.
The Lupine: This flowering plant is from the legume family, as in bean! Lupines are high in protein, dietary fibre and antioxidants, very low in starch, and, like all legumes, are gluten-free. Lupines can be used to make a variety of foods both sweet and savoury including everyday meals, traditional fermented foods, baked foods and sauces. The legume seeds of lupins, commonly called lupin beans, were popular with the Romans, who cultivated the plants throughout the Roman Empire; hence, common names like lupini in Romance languages.
The Purple Alpine Aster: Aster alpinus (Alpine Aster) is the only species of Aster that grows natively in North America; it is found in mountains. And here’s an interesting fact: The Hungarian Revolution of 1918, became known as the “Aster Revolution” due to protesters in Budapest wearing this flower.
The Fairy Slipper: This Calypso Orchid, also known as the Fairy Slipper or Venus’s slipper, is a perennial member of the orchid family. It has a small pinkish-purple flower accented with a white lip, darker purple spottings, and yellow beard.
These little purple blooms can be a pleasant sporadic sight on hiking trails like the one along Busk Creek, out by Turquoise Lake. The plants live no more than five years, and they are classified as threatened or endangered. The Fairy Slipper relies on “pollination by deception”, as it attracts insects to anther-like yellow hairs, but produces no nectar that would nourish them. Insects quickly learn not to revisit it.
Indian Paintbrush: This plant got its name from a Native American legend. In the legend, a young Indian wanted to paint the sunset, but became frustrated because he could not produce any colors that matched the beauty of a sunset.
He asked the Great Spirit for help. The Great Spirit provided him with paintbrushes with the beautiful colors on them which he used to create his painting. When he was done, the young Indian left his used paintbrushes scattered around the landscape. These paint brushes blossomed into plants and were thus named Indian Paintbrushs.
American Indians also used this plant for various purposes including as a hair wash, to enhance their immune system, as a treatment for rheumatism, and to treat sexually transmitted diseases.
Did you know that The Indian Paintbrush is Wyoming’s state flower?
Fairy Trumpet: Also known as a Skyrocket, or Rocket flower. It blooms throughout the summer, and is a favorite of hummingbirds and hawk moths. The petals are fused into a trumpet-shape with a long narrow tube and spreading lobes.
Medicinally, this plant has been reported to be boiled up as a tea, and heals everything from blood diseases to rheumatic joints. An infusion of the roots is also used as a laxative and in the treatment of high fevers, colds.
Leafy Cinquefoil: Also known as Biscuits, Five-fingers, and Flesh and Blood. Known as a real creeper, the stem runners of this perennial herb can often reach up to five feet in length.
That said, the herb is a rather pretty and dainty species of plant. The name of the cinquefoil is after an Old French word that means “five-leaf.” The five leaflets of the cinquefoil was a symbol for the five senses of the human body, and served as a motif for the Medivial man who had achieved mastery over the self. Have you ever noticed the cinquefoil’s five-fingered leaf symbol on a knight’s shield? The right to use this heraldic device could only be granted to knights who gained mastery over the self.
The cinquefoil was also linked to many other powers in superstitious medieval times, for example, the herb was supposed to scare off witches. Medieval lovers often used the cinquefoil in preparing love potions and as an instrument in romantic divinations. Medieval fishermen often fixed the herb to their nets to increase their catch of fish.
Herbalists through the ages have been familiar with the cinquefoil as a remedy to reduce a fever. It is also used as an herbal analgesic for alleviating the pain of a toothache and in a gargle for treating oral sores.
Yarrow: This aromatic perennial with its lovely, fern-like foliage is also called “thousand leaves,” because of its finely-divided leaves.
Introduced to North America by early colonists, yarrow soon became a valued remedy used by many tribes of indigenous people. Human relationships with this healing plant reach back to ancient times. The fossilized pollen of yarrow has been found in Neanderthal burial caves from as far back as 60,000 years.
Yarrow has also been associated with magic and divination, and is considered by some folk herbalists as a sacred plant with special spiritual powers to offer protection. The herb was also believed to be useful in love potions.
Yarrow accompanied soldiers into battle and was relied upon for its hemostatic action to treat wounds. Achilles, the Greek hero is said to have used yarrow in the Trojan War to staunch the blood flowing from the wounds of fallen comrades.
And for all you follicly challenged, infusions of yarrow have been used as a hair rinse in attempts to prevent baldness.
So there you have it – those are just some of the alpine beauties you can see in bloom this time of year! Colorado’s alpine meadows are home to some of the country’s most vibrant and colorful collections of wildflowers. And in Lake County, you don’t have to go very far to see any and all of them!
Movie Cameo Could Hit Big for Leadville Bartender
Leadville is the new Hollywood! And while Linda “Mom” Jones hasn’t had to get an agent – yet! – she will be the latest starlet to hit the big screen in an indie film that is winning big on the festival circuit. And next Monday, June 27, locals will have an opportunity to see the film at a private screening in Lake County.
It’s been three years since scenes from the indie film West of Her were filmed in Lake County. (STORY LINK). And while long-time, beloved Scarlet bartender Linda “Mom” Jones who makes a cameo in the movie, hasn’t been mobbed by legions of screaming fans, yet! – the movie is capturing critics attention on the festival circuit, including a screening at this weekend’s 2016 Intendence Film Festival (IFF) in Denver.
But fear not, for the Leadville film hobnobbing set because the Leadville red carpet will be rolled out on Monday, June 27 with Director Ethan Warren making a special appearance to discuss the film, a Corner Piece Production (Update: Warren will not be able to attend the Leadville screening due to a medical emergency).
“I love talking about the movie, how it made people feel, and what it made them think about,” said Warren in an interview with Leadville Today. “This film doesn’t tend to be one that goes in one ear, and out the other.”
West of Her is a film for anyone who’s ever longed for adventure, romance, and a life of meaning; all while traveling across ten states in iconic American locations. And well, Leadville’s downtown historic district is its own star in the indie movie, stealing the backdrop show in several clips from the trailer alone! Movie-goers will also make note of Turquoise Lake in other scenes which were filmed in the area nearly three years ago.
But it’s the local starlet and bartender at The Scarlet, Linda “Mom” Jones who made the cut!
“I didn’t run want to do it,” recalls Mom Jones. “But when Chuck and Lee called, I couldn’t say no” she explained regarding the July 2013 filming the crew did in the area, including at the popular downtown watering hole.
And it sounds like Mom made the film! Warren was able to confirm to LT that Jones does make an appearance in the film, and is noted in the end credits.
“She appears out of focus behind the bar throughout the scene,” noted the director. “We cut down a ten-minute dialogue scene dramatically, and audiences will thank us, even if it did mean sacrificing Mom’s one line: ‘Here ya go.'”
Regardless, fans will cheer wildly and likely to make her more of an iconic Leadville character than she already is – Go Mom!
The West of Her screening will be shown locally with two screenings at The Scarlet Bat at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday, June 27. Warren explained that there is about ten minutes worth of footage in Leadville, including some street shots, a sequence at Turquoise Lake, and a long scene shot at the Scarlet Bar in downtown Leadville.
Of course, besides all of the local scenes that will make it worth seeing, the film has been doing well on the festival circuit, winning five awards at its premiere, including “Best Narrative Feature.” Warren has been hoping to bring the film to Leadville ever since he shot here.
“We had a wonderful time in town, and the citizens have been very interested and supportive ever since,” he stated. So come and check out America’s highest city on the big screen, as Leadville’s makes its latest appearance in West of Her.
Oh, and don’t forget the autograph book, just in case Mom Jones makes an appearance!
The Dog-Serpent of Twin Lakes Village, Colorado
by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor
A beast green like the slimy wash on the underside of a boat, with black eyes “encircled with a rim of red” and a mouth “filled with glistening fangs.”
For more than a century words like these have circled around Lake County referring to a Loch Ness-ian monster who allegedly inhabits the Twin Lakes Reservoir. It is a creature of varying reported size who makes a periodic journey from its subterranean rest to appear above the surface at the audience of select townsfolk, if only to inspire continued fear of its legend. Tales of anchors being dropped into the lake only to be swept off in an underwater current to unknown depths has led to rumors of the creature’s home below the lakes. No photos have yet been taken of this grisly abomination, only stories have been told:
“The reported appearance of a marine monster in Twin Lakes revives a bit of strange and undoubted history. In the summer of 1881 a young man named Herman Wolf, and a boy whose identity has passed out of recollection, were fishing late one evening in the lower lake. Several people were watching them from the bank, when Wolf, who was rowing, suddenly dropped the oars, and, rising to an erect position, began to walk backwards out of the boat, his eyes fixed on the water in front of him, and an expression of speechless terror on his face. As he rose, the boy, who was seated in the stern, looked over his shoulder, and leaping up, sprang with outstretched arms after his companion. Both disappeared at once and did not rise, and although the spot was carefully searched, the bodies to this day have never been recovered.” [Carbonate Chronicle, 6-1884]
Here’s another story with a more vivid description of the beast:
. . . James Powell, a miner and prospector, who lives close to the Twin Lakes house, was walking with a party of several, armed with fishing poles, near the shore of the lower lake, when their attention was attracted by an unusual commotion in the water several hundred yards out. As they looked they were appalled and bewildered to see a GIGANTIC HEAD rise from the surface. They stood petrified with amazement and terror as a neck fully twenty feet long reared itself out of the waters and poised there for a moment. The contour of the monster was that of a colossal serpent… During this time it was seen not only by the fishing party whose attention it originally attracted, but by several other people near the bank of the lake, who fully corroborate the description given.” [Orth Stein, 1884]
These tales, while ominous, give no indication to the legend’s origin. Some hunting through the annals of local history uncovers the first story ever recorded on the subject, from that summer of 1881. On a Monday afternoon, a man named Hulbert was walking the edge of the upper lake when he sighted a thrashing beast in the water. After racing back into the village, and only a half-hour of convincing entreaty, several townsfolk agreed to accompany Hulbert to the place of the disturbance.
“To the afrighted Twin Lakers [its head] seemed as big as a cracker box, and of a vividly green color… It was like to nothing in the heavens above or the earth below, and as it seemed to be heading directly their way, the spectators did not tarry any longer, but made some of the best time on record out of the vicinity. Between the spot where the monster appeared and the village, the terrible head grew to at least four times its original dimensions, and the description they gave it was fearful and wonderful in the extreme.”
In short order a small army of twenty men and boys armed with rifles made their way to the water’s edge, and carefully approaching began to throw sticks and stones into the water. Evidence of the creature’s thrashing was visible, but they could not incite an appearance. They deliberated the truth of Hulbert’s claims, and even considered throwing Hulbert into the lakes to settle the matter, as either it would bait the monster and encourage an appearance, or would serve as his punishment for such a crafty ruse; but instead the band of warriors turned home, the matter still a shrouded in mystery. It’s where the story reaches its conclusion that we get the first solid hint at the true nature of the beast:
“Meanwhile a shock had been preparing for their nervous systems, at the village. They had not been gone more than five or ten minutes before a strange creature wandered in. It required a scrutinizing glance to recognize it as a big New Foundland dog that had been disfigured in some extraordinary manner… It seems that a gigantic but superannuated canine that had passed its days of usefulness and basked for months at the village store, had been enticed to the bank of the lake by a couple of Twin Lakes humorists. Here he had been tied while they applied a coat of green paint to his head, touching up the eyes with a few artistic strokes of vermillion. The result is better imagined than described.
It was their original intention to create a consternation among the villagers by simply turning the animal loose, but a far more brilliant idea struck one of the wags. It was immediately acted upon, and the luckless dog taken to the bank of the lake. A rope was attached to one of its legs, a big stone fastened to the other end, and the animal anchored far enough out in the water to permit only its head emerging. In this melancholy condition it was left, while one of the jokers gave the alarm. At the time the crowd rushed to see the monster, however, the dog’s frantic efforts had succeeded in breaking the detaining cord and rushed out of the chilling waters. The denouement took place as soon as the gang got back, and the village saloon did a thriving business for the next ten minutes. So ended what bid fair to be the biggest item ever gleaned in the locality.” [Carbonate Chronicle, 9-10-1881, R386]
And thus the first account of the Dog-Serpent of Twin Lakes comes to an end. It becomes a cautionary tale for domestic animals of that region for the lengths Twin Lakers are willing to go for a good gaff. Though people have continued to report sightings of the creature, they are more careful now about who they tell, for fear of enticing the wrath of a far greater beast, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Brennan Ruegg swims only in shallow water.
Standing Tall Through It All: Mt Elbert – Colo’s Highest
by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor
Think of it as a portal to wilderness adventure – but which door will you pass through? The unincorporated village of Twin Lakes provides entry to the summit of Mount Elbert by several routes, acting as gateway to the highest peak in Colorado, and the Rocky Mountains. The perfect Lake County summer tradition, most every fit and able adventurer can reach the mountain’s peak, walking away with the impressive claim of literally standing at the top of the Rockies.
Mount Elbert is the unofficial mascot for Leadville and Lake County. With two flanking false peaks, an evenly pointed cap like a pyramid, with a giant bowl and four descending ridges etched on its northeastern face, it is maybe the most recognizable peak in the Sawatch Range.
While it stands tall at 14,439 ft, it is one of the most accessible fourteeners, having been ascended with virtually every type of vehicle since its first recorded summit in 1874 by H.W. Stuckle as part of the Hayden Geological Surveys.
For example, Dave Morrison rode a 24-year-old bicycle to the top in 1951, and orator Anna Elizabeth Dickinson reached the summit on a government mule. A helicopter delivered an issue of The Denver Post to the summit in August of 1959.
Over the years, there have been promotions to build a road to the peak and to develop ski resorts on the mountain, but all have failed, leaving Mount Elbert unmarked by mankind but for a few primitive campsites, fire-rings, and signposts along the trail. While it is decked with climbers in the summer, the majestic giant stays mostly a private conquest in winter.
The mountain was named for opportunist Samuel Hitt Elbert of Ohio, who came to Colorado in 1862 to work as secretary to Territory Governor John Evans. In 1868 Elbert married Evans’ daughter, and in the subsequent five years worked his new-found political muscle, making friends and enemies, and sacrificing his federal post to create the Colorado Republican Party.
In 1873, when the people of Colorado petitioned to remove Governor Edward M. McCook Territorial Legislature, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Elbert in his place. The new leader immediately arranged the first presidential visit to the Rocky Mountains and accompanied Grant in a meeting with Ute leaders to create a treaty that would open more than three million acres to the Union for mining and railroad development.
In fact, it is the miners who bestowed the mountain with Elbert’s namesake, and for this reason his favor among the people, initially. However, that first blush of popularity would not be enough to retain his power. Before serving a full year in office, in 1874 he was removed by President Grant without explanation and replaced by his predecessor, Civil War hero and fellow Ohioan, Edward McCook.
Mount Elbert’s height and even its status as highest Colorado peak has been disputed since it was named such in 1933. It’s northern neighbor Mount Massive, which sits only 12 feet shorter than Mount Elbert, lends itself to hardier enthusiasts for the mountain’s size and physical demands, and a war of building and destroying cairns on the summit of Mount Massive to manipulate its height have ensued between fan clubs of both mountains since the 1970s. Mount Elbert, with Class 1 trail accessibility, has kept its place as the tallest.
The most popular route to take to summit is the East Ridge, Class 1, which starts at the South Elbert trailhead. Turn right onto County Road 24 from CO-82 heading west towards Twin Lakes. 2WD vehicles can park at the scenic outlook and take the lower trailhead which follows the Colorado Trail 1.8 miles up to the upper South Elbert Trailhead. 4WD vehicles however may continue up the cut road straight to the start. Round-trip clocks in at 8.5 miles from the upper trailhead, and 12.5 from the paved lot.
The Southeast Ridge is a Class 2 route with mild exposure, starting at the Black Cloud Trailhead. From US-24 South, turn west onto CO-82 toward Twin Lakes and drive about 10.5 miles before turning right at the Black Cloud Trailhead sign. The trail begins behind the first two parking spots on the right. This trail totals 11 Miles round-trip with 5,300 feet of altitude gain.
The most difficult route is referred to as Box Creek Couloirs, accessible by the same County Road 24 used to access the South Elbert Trailhead. Continue 50 feet past the lower trailhead, and turn left onto 4WD Forest Service road 125.1B, where 1.8 miles ahead the trailhead may be found. This is a Class 2 route with moderate exposure, so use caution.
When climbing any fourteener, always get an early start, heading off the trailhead at 6 a.m. at the latest, to avoid afternoon storms above treeline.
See Carl at the Twin Lakes General Store for questions, tips, tricks, and to fuel up before and after the hike. They have a new ATM, and a “Wookie Corner” of Bigfoot mystique and memorabilia. Happy trails, and always be safe and smart!
Brennan Ruegg is another Ohioan staking (small) claims in Colorado.
A Sign Of The Times: We ♥ Leadville (Still)
by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor
Heading into Leadville from the north end, it’s impossible to miss the “Leadville Wall.” Standing nearly 10 feet tall and 100 feet long, it reads “WE ♥ LEADVILLE GREAT LIVING @ 10,200,” in giant black capital letters.
Yesterday, May 22, volunteers gathered at the Leadville landmark with ladders, paint, and rollers to touch up the wall, whose face was weather worn, and recently tagged by a rogue artist. The graffiti read, “In Loving Memory, Jordan Gausman” referring to the recent death of the local 31-year-old bartender. While the graffiti may have sparked the action to restore the wall, plans had been in place to repaint the sign long before Gausman’s death. More appropriate locations to properly memorialize Gausman are being considered. Read Jordan’s story HERE.
But yesterday, under bright blue skies the sign was restored to all its glory, ready to provide the backdrop for hundreds of visitors this summer, capturing their trip to America’s highest city.
Of the hearty group of volunteers, three were original painters of the sign: Julie and Henrik Lundgren, and Frank Bradach. Bradach and the Lundgrens laid the first coat of paint in 1988. That year, the Leadville Raiders spearheaded the initiative, hosting an open contest to choose what the wall’s message would read. Of course, between bad memories, and bad record keeping, no one can recall who came up with the message we see today. But, thanks to the Leadville Lions Club who put up the money to repaint and restore the well-known sign, it will continue to welcome people in from the north portal to town.
Publisher’s Note: Thanks to the social media exchange on the Leadville Today Facebook Page, reader Mandi Lee was able to provide some helpful information regarding the wall’s message creator: Longtime resident Helen Hurkes – my mother-in-law – was the one who came up with the message on the sign, she won $50! Now you can put this in your records so you know who came up with this!!
Though the wall is currently on private property, permission to manage its condition has been granted several times through the years. And a host of rumors circulate concerning the fate of the wall: from complete redesign, to the city obtaining its ownership, to the destruction of it, in efforts to develop the property into hotels and low-income housing.
Yesterday, the goal was to keep it looking as it always has, and the volunteers, donned in overalls and painting clothes, finished the job in a few hours. For the three original painters, returning nearly thirty years later, it must have been a special experience. Among story-swapping under a bright spring sky, Henrik Lundgren said, “This is why we love Leadville. We all stick around and get to know each other.”
Brennan Ruegg loves Leadville, which has been his home for just under two years.
Leadville/Lake County Senior Citizen News!
It’s time to check in with the Leadville/Lake County Senior Citizen Center and see what’s been happening with this group of active older adults.
As reported earlier in the year, the Senior Citizen Board meets monthly to review the concerns and needs for older Lake County residents, as well as plan activities and social events, essential to the mental health and well-being of aging people.
Here’s the latest edition of their newsletter. Please note that they are still looking for assistance with Meals on Wheels – this does not take much time, so please consider giving of your time. Also if you’re part of a group that is starting to plan summer activities or community service projects, this is the best group of folks you can bring into the picture! Details listed below in The Leadville/Lake County Senior Citizen Newsletter!
The Sleeping Indian and Horse – Can You See Me Now?
Championship Snow Course Re-purposed for TV Shoot
Some are calling it one of the biggest recycling efforts in Lake County since the Household Waste Round-up Day at the Landfill.
After all, when you’re re-purposing 40 truckloads of the snow that it takes to build a first class Leadville Ski Joring course, to shoot a commercial at another location in Lake County, well, it propels conversation about conservation! Add to that a $1,200 check to the county to cover crew costs, and a visiting film crew of nearly 50 staying at local hotels and eating at local restaurants and some might say it’s the pinnacle in recycling efforts.
Last week, Colorado Film Locations owner Brooke Johnson returned to Leadville to shoot another round of what’s called “run shoots” in the industry. This is the type of footage viewers see for local dealership commercials, promoting new vehicle models taking on the challenges of winter driving.
“Leadville is one of the most cooperative places in the state with the friendliest people, and that’s why I bring commercials here,” stated Johnson from the grandstand as Ski Joring competition wrapped up for the weekend and road crews got ready to start clearing the snow off historic Harrison Avenue. Directly after the races, truckload after truckload of snow was piled up and brought to the Mountain Pines subdivision where it was put back onto the roads to recreate snowy road conditions for the “run shoots.”
As usual, this production shoot was a closed set, however Johnson’s latest commercial for Ram Trucks featured an impressive snowmobile flip and can be seen regularly airing on Denver TV stations. This commercial was filmed in late January out at the gravel pits by the Halfmoon Road.
Johnson has been a professional motion picture producer, production manager, and location manager in Colorado since 1977, and has always reserved a special place in his heart and business for Leadville. As a former Leadville Ski Joring champion, and Coloradan at large, Johnson has been spending summers and winters in Leadville for more than thirty years, making him a regional expert for film trade.
Johnson has assembled artistic crews around Leadville and Climax for international companies like Audi, Coors, Dodge, among many others, and helped orchestrate the famous Marine Recruitment commercial, which aired on national television for several years.
New Billboard South of Leadville: VICELAND
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
When you live in a small mountain town like Leadville, any slight change is noticed. So when the huge billboard south of town changed its advertisement from the old Subway (sandwiches) to the ginormous one word: VICELAND, the phones started ringing and the social media wires started buzzing.
Here are the facts. VICELAND is a new cable TV channel which will take the place of H2, an offshoot of The History Channel. The new arrival is geared toward millennials (18-34 yrs), a group of viewers who reportedly are migrating away from TV. The switch is expected to happen for local Charter Communication subscribers on February 29.
As for what the VICELAND channel will offer to cable TV subscribers, online reviews are mixed. Some program series will have four episodes, some six. The topics are varied, and include:
- “Flophouse” looks at up-and-coming comedians who live together in beat-up houses around the country.
- “Weediquette” investigates the science, culture and economics of the marijuana culture as it goes mainstream.
- “Balls Deep” features a host “hanging out with groups of people for four or five days.”
That said, it’s best to leave it to LT readers to decide if they like, or even tune into VICELAND. Viewers are encouraged to join the conversation on the LT Facebook Page, which comes with its own share of mixed reviews.
However, since the “sign of the times” south of town changed its message, many questions have arisen. They speak to the very nature of these advertisements, who owns them and how they are regulated.
So first, here is some background. In 1965, the federal government enacted the Highway Beautification Act (HBA), which called for states to restrict outdoor advertising along the Interstate Highway System and many state highways. In accordance with the HBA, Colorado enacted statutes and rules which limit the construction of outdoor advertising devices to designated locations. Today, that is known as the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Outdoor Advertising Program Guide, which readers can read in detail: HERE.
However, there was an additional caveat to the CDOT rules, when this portion of Highway 24 was designated “The Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway” in 1999. Once this happened, no new signs were allowed along the route after the designation was official. But established signs like old #08439A were “grandfathered in” and allowed to remain.
Leadville Today had a chance to speak with Alan Clubb, CDOT’s Permits Coordinator for Region 3 who was able to provide additional information. This billboard is what CDOT calls a non-conforming board, explained Clubb. Simply put, since this billboard pre-dates the scenic byways designation, it can remain, provided its structure doesn’t change. The “face” (i.e. advertisement) can change but not the structure of the sign itself.
As for the content on the billboard, CDOT doesn’t mess with that, unless it’s advertising something that’s illegal in the state of Colorado. In fact, the permitting process doesn’t even require CDOT to review the content prior to it being displayed.
“Content is a freedom of speech issue,” explained Clubb. “CDOT wouldn’t even comment on any content.” After all, CDOT permits the location of the billboard, not what it says (aside from something illegal).
“We monitor it through phone calls like this, quite frankly,” he said. “If somebody puts something up, we hear about it pretty quick.”
So while there is no content review from CDOT, what about at the city or county level? It seems these governmental entities follow suit when it comes to billboards. And explained Clubb, it’s not unusual for the local governmental entities not to maintain any historical records of these giant advertisements, because the state has traditionally monitored outdoor advertising on state highways. In fact, anything that “is visible and meant to be read from a state highway is regulated by state.”
Under CDOT’s rules, while off-permit signs (i.e. billboards) are restricted, commercial signs, attached to a gas station for example, are not. If the sign is going to hang in the same lot as the business, then news signs are allowed.
It’s important to note that the billboard does not sit on CDOT property, as the state’s transportation department does not allow advertising on its right of ways. So then, who owns the land that the billboard is located on? That stretch of property is privately owned by Cheryl Molleur of Leadville. Therefore the lease with Outfront Media, who owns the sign, is private as well.
Leadville Today reached out to the billboard company, who refused to answer simple questions, mainly how long the contract was with VICELAND. Ultimately, how long will the sign act as the southern gateway welcoming people into Leadville? The company’s upper management declined comment, eventually pushing off the conversation to their corporate PR people in New York, who after several calls, never returned the favor.
So, is there anything residents can do to express their opinions? Can the sign be removed? Nope, it appears that old #08439A is here to stay, unless, as Clubb mentioned during the interview, it gets removed by natural causes.
“If a wind storm blows it down, for instance,” said Clubb, “Outfront Media would not be allowed to replace it.” However, if the sign were vandalized, they could.
While CDOT does NOT have a process in place for complaints, Clubb was open to having questions concerning the VICELAND sign directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But, if you’re in the market to advertise on the space yourself, the guy to call is Paul Hiatt. His phone is (303) 333-5400. He’d be more than happy to take your call.
Let’s Hear It For the Seniors, Citizens That Is!
While much has been done for youth and families in recent years, Leadville doesn’t hear much about a very special group of citizens – the Seniors! After all, someone had to have all those kids, right?!
If you are unfamiliar with where the Leadville/Lake County Senior Center is, you can find it adjacent to the new million dollar Huck Finn Skate Board Park, and the new $380,000 Warming Hut for the Ice Rink. It’s in an older maroon building which was originally brought down from the town of Climax over 50 years ago.
The Senior Citizen Board comes together monthly to review the concerns and needs for older Lake County residents, as well as plan activities and social events, essential to the mental health and well-being of aging people. From the Meals on Wheels program to annual trips down to the gambling towns of Central City and Black Hawk, this appreciative, active group does their best with what they are given.
While their needs are simple, they often go unmet, or the seniors are given left-over, broken down equipment to use at their aging facility. Recently, the group’s request for toilet lifts (it can be a long way down when your knees aren’t so good!) was denied.
Or, if work orders are fulfilled, they are not done to order – for example, a request for coat hooks were installed so high up that they are ineffective and unusable for the shorter set.
After their regular November board meeting, the group of senior citizens reminisced with Leadville Today about times in the not-so-distant past. The photographs that line the wall, tell the story of a different time, when the center was often filled with children’s laughter and visits, bringing their lives full circle, and helping to build a generation of caring adults.
So Leadville, it’s time to balance the scales! If you, your group or business can help these golden gals and guys, please contact The Senior Center at 719-486-1445. Or if you prefer to communicate electronically, email email@example.com and your message will be relayed to the group.
So with honor and respect, Leadville Today is excited to bring readers this new, regular addition to community reporting: The Leadville/Lake County Senior Citizen Newsletter (see below).
Let’s hear it for the oldest and wisest in the community: The Grandmas! The Grandpas! The Nanas! The Papas! Three cheers for the Senior Citizens of Leadville and Lake County!
Donner, Party of One: Your Documentary Is Airring!
The wintery scene opens in a high alpine setting; it’s mid-December and supplies have run extremely low. The rapid succession of snowstorms has limited access to the outside world. Even the toughest mountaineers feel trapped in the unforgiving terrain, that seems to be closing in by the minute. . . .
While some Leadville residents might call this desperate scene: Tuesdays in winter, for the producers of the 2-hour documentary about the infamous Donner party, it’s the scene that gave an “Open Call” for Leadville extras and local talent. The production company choose Leadville, because as the Highest City in North America, it was most likely to have the necessary snow for the storyline. And as usual The Cloud City didn’t disappoint.
Some Leadville talent was cast in supporting roles, and their BIG moment is about be realized.
“If they don’t cut the last scene, you’ll never look at me the same way (and you might have trouble sleeping!),” posted Leadville actress Laurel McHargue on the Leadville Today Facebook Page.
The Weather Channel documentary airs, starting Thanksgiving Weekend. The first scheduled time is listed as Friday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. (local) on The Weather Channel.
ABOUT THE DONNER PARTY:
According to Wikipedia:
“The Donner Party was a group of American pioneers who set out for California in a wagon train. Delayed by a series of mishaps, they spent the winter of 1846–47 snowbound in the Sierra Nevadas. Some of the migrants resorted to cannibalism to survive, eating those who had succumbed to starvation and sickness.
The journey west usually took between five and six months, but the Donner Party was slowed by following a new route called Hastings Cutoff, which crossed Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and Great Salt Lake Desert. The rugged terrain, and difficulties encountered while traveling along the Humboldt River in present-day Nevada, resulted in the loss of many cattle and wagons, and splits within the group.
By the beginning of November 1846 the emigrants had reached the Sierra Nevada, where they became trapped by an early, heavy snowfall near Truckee (now Donner) Lake, high in the mountains. Their food supplies ran extremely low, and in mid-December some of the group set out on foot to obtain help. Rescuers from California attempted to reach the emigrants, but the first relief party did not arrive until the middle of February 1847, almost four months after the wagon train became trapped. Of the 87 members of the party, 48 survived to reach California.
Historians have described the episode as one of the most bizarre and spectacular tragedies in Californian history and in the record of western migration.”
Haunting Halloween Happenings in The Cloud City
by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor
The 15th Annual Leadville Pumpkin Patch was a huge hit at the 6th St. Gym on Saturday Oct. 25. Ghouls, princesses, pirates, and peacocks were seen gravitating through town to W. 6th St., where families flooded in to show off elaborate costumes, and gather treats and baked goods into their baskets already filling up a week before Halloween.
Pie-throwing, bowling, ball-toss, and bouncy-house were some of the features this year, and each event was tackled with all the enthusiasm that sugar and youth synthesize. Local artist Lincoln Bias was there for live carving of masterpiece pumpkins that put the traditional Jack-o-Lantern to shame.
Kids left the event onto a crisp fall day with arms full of loot and smiles on their faces. Thanks to organizer Kristin Sparkman, Lake County, and all the volunteers who leant a helping claw to make this fall tradition come alive again. MORE PHOTOS.
Leadville’s Ted Mullings Honored at “Meet The Artist”
By Sue Jewel, Leadville Arts Coalition
On Friday, Oct. 16, Harperrose Studios and the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse are co-hosting a “Meet the Artist” to honor Leadville’s icon Ted Mullings.
The event will be held from 5-8 p.m. at Harperrose Studios, 601 Harrison Avenue. The public is invited to visit with Mullings who will be signing The Climax, a book that features his cartoons and drawings.
For more than thirty years, Ted Mullings worked for Climax Molybdenum Mine as an artist, designing and drawing safety manuals, maps, and cartoons. This new book features a compilation of cartoons and drawings Mullings created from 1954-1982 for the Moly News, a Climax publication. These cartoons reflect an important part of Leadville’s history that resonates today.
After retiring from Climax, Mullings continued to share his artistic talents with Lake County. For years, he painted the Boom Days rocks used for the drilling competitions, and he designed numerous Boom Days belt buckles. Many of his safety manuals have been reprinted, and his artwork plays a role in the Climax display at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville. An octogenarian, he continues his artistic endeavors at his downtown Little Cottage Gallery on West 8th Street.
This special “Meet the Artist” celebrates Leadville’s talented gem: Ted Mullings. Ann Stanek of Harperrose Studios/ Gallery and Goods designed Mullings’ book. Stanek added, “We are so excited to be able to share this evening with Mr. Mullings. He has preserved our mining heritage and has been an influential Leadville artist for decades.”
The Climax will be available for sale, as well as framed prints. Refreshments are catered, compliments of the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse. This event is sponsored in part by the Leadville Arts Coalition.