Tag Archives: Brennan Ruegg

Latest News – June 17

Twin Lakes – Head South to Scenic Beauty

The Dog-Serpent of Twin Lakes 

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.”


An artistic rendering of a Twin Lakes monster sighting.

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]


An issue of the Carbonate Chronicle, which ran as Leadville’s weekly news publication from the late 19th century until 1987.

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.”

There's always something interesting going on in Twin Lakes. Maybe it's time for a visit! Photo: ColoradoGuy.com

There’s always something interesting going on in Twin Lakes. Maybe it’s time for a visit! Photo: ColoradoGuy.com

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.


A Newfoundland Dog Monster

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.

Latest News – April 20

It’s 4-20 in Leadville, Celebrate with A Pot Pop Quiz

by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor

April 20 has arrived and stoners round the world observe their holiday referred to as 4-20. Recreational marijuana has been legal in the state of Colorado for five years already, medicinal for 17 years. What remains a Schedule 1 Substance in other states, has become Colorado’s latest boom, with images of pot leaves on the street and on signs. The change has come swiftly and where law-abiding Americans had previously to book a trip to Amsterdam to get a puff, they now flood into this state for the experience.

With the growth of the industry has come the coining of a host of new cannabis terminology (as if there wasn’t enough already) which can sometimes sound like a new language altogether. In honor of Mary Jane’s unofficial Birthday, here’s a pot pop quiz to test your 4-20 vocab:Spac_50

Pot Quiz

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If more than half of these words were foreign to your vocabulary, then hit up one of Leadville’s dispensaries and talk to a bud-tender. For the best product and widest selection hit up Roots Rx at 145 Front Street (just past the curve at the south end of historic Harrison Avenue) with the big green cross on it. They sell a wide variety of in-house strains and edibles, and have friendly staff. Working at a pot shop, who wouldn’t be friendly?

Brennan Ruegg prefers the spliff.

Get Free Rides When You Find “Mile 420”

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Lyft are giving out free ride credits and discounted rides all week during Denver’s 420 celebrations, but you’re going to have to work for it.

Miniature “Mile 420” signs will be hidden at major marijuana-related events, each with a promo code that can redeem $42 worth of ride credit. The “Mile 420” hunt is part of CDOT’s Drive High, Get a DUI campaign to reduce the number of drug-related DUIs, traffic crashes and fatalities.

A few years back, CDOT replaced Colorado’s infamous 420 mile marker sign, along I-70 with mile marker 419.99 after it was repeatedly stolen. Now, marijuana users have the chance to get their hands on the coveted Mile 420 sign, in addition to free ride credits, as CDOT and Lyft work to encourage Colorado cannabis users to plan a ride before they’re high.In addition to the 420 mile markers, CDOT and Lyft will have street teams at 420 events to educate about safe rides. CDOT will also display a giant, 3D candy bar display, created to highlight the dangers of driving after consuming edibles—which can take up to two hours to affect the user.The giant chocolate edible is designed to look like a crashed car, and measures 14 feet long and 4 feet high. On the front, the safety message is “Plan a Ride Before You Bite It.” On the back, where nutrition facts would typically be found, are statistics on the dangers of driving high—including that 55 percent of marijuana users believe it is safe to drive under the influence of marijuana.The edible display will appear for the first time at TruCannabis – Mile High (1630 Federal Blvd., Denver 80204) from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday April 18.The giant edible display and 420 mile markers will be at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre for “420 Eve on the Rocks: Method Man & Redman” on April 19, and the “420 on the Block” multi-venue event on south Broadway on April 20. At each event, the Lyft team will be handing out discount ride codes to encourage and enable marijuana users to plan for safe transportation.”This is a big week for cannabis users in Colorado, and we want to make sure everyone plans ahead and stays safe,” said CDOT Safety Communications Manager Sam Cole. “The bottom line is that driving high is dangerous and illegal, and any amount of impairment puts you at risk for a DUI.”In March, CDOT and Lyft launched the 320 Movement, a proactive program that aims to change the way people think about driving high—to always plan a safe, sober ride, just as they would when drinking. On March 20, Lyft unleashed a fleet of 17 vehicles wrapped with green “Plan a ride before you’re high” messaging across metro Denver.The 17 vehicles represent the 17 percent of Colorado State Patrol DUI arrests last year that involved marijuana. If you order a Lyft any time through April 20 and are picked up by one of these vehicles, you’ll receive a discount of up to $10 on your ride.”We know that Lyft passengers are great about planning ahead when it comes to alcohol consumption, with almost 90 percent of Lyft users recently surveyed saying that they use the service to avoid driving under the influence,” said Gabe Cohen, Denver general manager for Lyft. “Lyft is proud to join with CDOT in promoting this same, safety-first message when it comes to cannabis consumption.”According to a 2016 survey conducted by CDOT, 55 percent of marijuana users said they believed it was safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. That’s an alarming statistic given the fact that marijuana affects reaction time, judgment, motor skills, and perception of time and distance. This year, CDOT has considerably ramped up its Drive High, Get a DUI campaign by focusing on reaching cannabis users directly through partnerships at point-of-sale and point-of-use locations.”This is a very collaborative effort among CDOT, dispensaries and the Marijuana Industry Group to educate the community on the realities of driving high,” said Cole. “We all want the same thing, which is to keep people safe.”In response to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, CDOT launched Drive High, Get a DUI in 2014—a public outreach and education campaign to raise awareness about the dangers and laws surrounding driving while under the influence of cannabis. For more information, visit the CDOT website.