Tag Archives: colorado

Latest News – October 5

That Long Hill Down Into Camp Hale

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

There are certain stories that stay with you. Maybe it’s the genuineness with which they were told, or the details are so vivid that it paints a picture that lasts. This is such a story, which was told to me years ago by one of Leadville’s grand matriarchs, Edith Seppi, who passed away one week ago on her Lake County ranch at the age of 95. Rest-In-Peace Edith, The Cloud City won’t be the same without you!

Edith Seppi Obituary photo

Edith Seppi

Edith Seppi moved to Leadville in February 1942 with her parents. Her father was a contractor, hired to build the present-day Sayer & McKee building, which was originally built on historic Harrison Avenue as the Safeway grocery store. Edith was nearly 20 years old, and Leadville was on the verge of another big boom cycle.

The contracts to build Camp Hale, the U.S. Army’s training grounds for the Tenth Mountain Division had also been awarded, and once that was project was complete, soldiers flooded into Leadville by the thousands.  

“Everywhere you looked there was Army,” explained Seppi, during one of the many interviews I had the honor of conducting with Edith over the years. The Leadville community had fully embraced the soldiers, with residents opening up their homes, making them feel part of their families.  The city seemed to come alive again, as the leaner years of The Depression began to fade into the background.

Remember this was the 1940s, there was no Interstate-70, no Vail Resorts. In fact, Leadville was the central point of mountain living, and these nearby World War II efforts provided the economic lift necessary to put the wind back into the sails of America’s Highest City. Town was bustling and once the local USO (United Service Organizations) was established, Leadville’s social calendar ramped-up to a level they had not seen in some time.

“We had dances at the Sixth Street Gym,” Edith explained, describing the impact that Camp Hale was having on the small mountain community. The bars were packed, the store shelves were stocked, and business was booming.   But as the months wore on, and the military efforts for the war increased, it all proved to be too much for Leadville.

CampHale

Camp Hale, the U.S. Army’s training grounds for the Tenth Mountain Division brought economic growth and thousand of soldiers to Leadville in the 1940s. Photo: Colorado Historical Society.

“Eventually the city council and mayor decided that they didn’t want the soldiers in town anymore,” explained Edith. “They put Leadville off-limits to the soldiers, and asked the military police to arrest any Army personnel who crossed the line!”

While such a decision is difficult to fathom, even by today’s standards, back then the new decree put a tremendous crimp in the young people’s social lives. And as is the case with most youth, regardless of the generation, they were bound to find a go-around for that! So, with the help of the USO, they came up with a new plan that would now bring the “Leadville girls” out to the Camp Hale Army barracks for the dances.

US Army Truck

A US Army truck similar to the one pictured here became the regular transport for the Leadville girls trips to the dances at Camp Hale, located north of town in the 1940s.

“From then on, the GI trucks would pick up us Leadville girls at the Sixth Street Gym and bring us down to Camp Hale,” said Edith. Now in the 1940s this 17-mile journey over Tennessee Pass, and down into valley was not on the paved thoroughfare you see today. It was a rough ride, on a rough road in an Army truck, with bench seating along the sides and a canvas roof.  But when you’re young, and looking for love in the arms of a soldier on the dance floor, you’ll endure all kinds of conditions to get you there. And so the Leadville girls did, for many months. But one Saturday night, that could have all changed.

“We were headed down to Camp Hale for a dance,” describes Seppi.  “And the Army truck was packed with us girls, in our formal dresses and high-heels.”  Up until then, the journey had been pretty routine with chatter about the young officers they’d hoped to see and latest dance crazes of the day.

“But then, as we got to that long hill that leads down into Camp Hale,” described Edith in such detail, it was if it had happened yesterday, “we really started to pick up speed.”  The Leadville girls began to bump up and down on those hard wooden benches; some of them knocked to the ground during the violent ride that had become anything but routine!

“By the time we hit the bottom of that hill, we had been tossed around like a salad,” Edith exclaimed. As the truck regained control, turning off Highway 24 into Camp Hale, the ladies collected themselves, along with their purses and high-heels as they made the final leg into the “dance hall.”

They were all pretty shook up, wondering what had happened. Later that night, the Leadville girls learned that the Army truck’s brakes had given out on that long hill down into Camp Hale. In fact, had it not been for a skilled Army captain at the wheel, they all might have perished in a fiery, high-speed crash! Can you imagine?!

In The Ville Head ShotI think about that story every time I drive that long hill down into Camp Hale.  Of course, I also pump my brakes, just in case! And now I’ll add wink and a nod for Edith Seppi, a woman I’m honored to have known. RIP

Writer’s note: You may read Edith Seppi’s full life story on the Leadville Today Obituary Page: HERE.

Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, LLC, a media company located in Leadville, Colorado which publishes LeadvilleToday.com and SaguacheToday.com.

Latest News – September 20

Ready, Aim, Fire – Hunting Season is Underway 

The 2017 Colorado Hunting Season officially got underway on August 26 with the opening of archery season. HuntignSignPostAnd while the thick of the season – rifle season – doesn’t start for another couple of weeks with Rifle season opening on October 1, 2017, sportsmen and women have already been spotted (or not?) around town in their camouflage get-ups.

Hunters are good for the economy. They not only purchase hunting gear, trucks, ATVs and boats; they also fill their gas tanks and coolers. They stay at motels and resorts. They buy hunting clothes and those goofy hunting hats with sayings like, “If the Lead Don’t Fly, the Meat Don’t Fry.”

Hunting contributes $919 million in total  economic impact to Colorado. Reports indicate that a five-day elk hunt trip runs around $6,000. 

While other places in the state might not appreciate the hunters’ tourism dollars, Lake County is keenly aware of it. And maybe that’s because there is a large population of Leadville hunters, who recognize that wildlife recreation is an important component of the local economy.

Hunters also pay a truckload of special excise taxes, in the form of licenses, fees and equipment. In turn, those funds are earmarked for wildlife and habitat conservation.

In Lake County, hunting has strong generational ties, with grandpas and granddaughters taking to the trail together, to stock the family’s freezer with fresh game for the winter. Many families rely on their Fall harvest to get them through until Spring!

Another benefit of hunting that should not be under-rated, is that it is good for body, mind and soul. As the world seems to spin faster and faster – even for alpine dwellers – hunting provides a healthy escape. It offers relaxation and affords quality time with family and friends, many times out of range of cell service or internet connection. So, as the bright orange vests begin their annual migration into the Colorado high country, be sure to make them feel welcome, with a friendly elk bugle.Hunt Guide 2017

Hunter Pink is the New Orange

According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Division, it is now legal for hunters to wear solid fluorescent pink clothing as an alternative to solid daylight fluorescent orange garments. This law which went into effect on August 10, 2016 after the Colorado legislature passed Senate Bill 16-068, applies to those who take deer, elk, pronghorn, moose or black bear with any firearm. Find out exactly what this means for hunters with the Authorized Fluorescent Pink fact sheet.

Pink Hunter

Florescent pink is the new orange among hunters. Photo: Colorado Parks and Wildlife.