Beltane Sumi-e Moon
Ted of All Trades came by yesterday. We want to add a screen door on the front so we can keep the front door open during the summer. Screen not for bugs, in this case, but dogs. He offered a couple of suggestions, one we’re considering. Maybe have it open left instead of right. Why? Chinooks and other high winds, often well 0ver 60 mph, can catch, in our situation, a right hand swinging door and wham it against the house.
There’s a gap between our composite deck at the east facing door and the garage. For younger folks, not a big deal, but for Kate, with neuropathy in both feet, the jagged surface created after several snows becomes treacherous. We had a work around the last two years with rubber mats I threw over the snow once I shoveled it, but that’s an imperfect solution. The advantage of the composite decking is that I can use a plastic snow shovel and just shove the snow off. A back preserving snow removal method and one I can then extend all the way to the garage. Ted proposed a floating deck extension. Sounds fine.
In other trade folk news I had Will out on Tuesday to talk about stump grinding. Two years ago I cut down about 60 trees for fire mitigation. I can do it, but I can’t leave stumps cut very close to the ground, too hard for me to hold the saw steady far below my waist. Lots of centrifugal force on a chainsaw blade and I tip it into the ground. Instant dull blade. With 60 I’m not going to do it. He’s not gotten back to me with a bid because he usually bids stump removal by the inch diameter and I think he’s shocked at the potential cost.
Anyhow he knew a lot of cool stories about our area. Two for instances. Back when Denver was being built, end of the 19th century, there was a mining railroad that ran from Denver all the way to Fairplay, about 60 miles. It ran along the present route of Hwy. 285, our main thoroughfare east and west now. Ore on the train, into the Denver. Smelting.
But. Some smart guy realized that the train also ran through the mountains. Which had lots and lots of old growth Ponderosa and Lodgepole pine. Never been forested. Wait. So much building in Denver, all this wood. Aha. The lumberjacks left the forested east face of the Front Range untouched, a first acknowledgment of a view shed, I suppose, but between there and Fairplay they clear cut everything! Made sense back then. Just trees. Far away from civilization. Free. Today though the small, evenly aged forests that we have, that create much of the fire danger for us are a direct result of this work. Young forests, never thinned, and now with a century + of fire suppression. A combination of the worst possible forest management techniques.
A building left in Webster, now a ghost town
Second story. The Reynolds Gang gold. This was one’s good if you’re a little short on retirement funds. Back in the same time period there was a rip-roaring, bar and brothel filled town called Webster beyond Guanella Pass but before Kenosha Pass. There’s no visible evidence of Webster from 285 today, but then it was a place where miners and lumberjacks came to relax. Or, their equivalent of that idea. Not the sabbath, for sure.
Lots of gold and silver. The Reynolds Gang, twice, robbed Webster, getting away with a substantial horde. A railroad guy asked then governor of Coloradao, John Evans, (a main Denver thoroughfare is named after him), for help. “Sure,” he said. He sent out the Colorado Militia, a group of state paid thugs who had recently mustered out of the civil war. They knew killing.
One night they found the gang around a camp fire somewhere still in the Webster area. The Militia, which I think was modeled after the Texas Rangers, did not what any upstanding law enforcers would do. They went in with guns hot, lighting up the night with muzzle flashes. All dead, except a small group, maybe 2 or 3, who escaped with the loot. No one saw them leave and they ran in the dark so they didn’t pay attention to where they ran.
Yes. They dug a hole or found a small cave or animal den, stashed the loot and ran on to escape the militia. They lived long enough to mention to somebody that they’d stuck a knife in a tree to mark the sport. But the militia caught up with them later. Dead. So somewhere in the mountains around the former townsite of Webster is a tree with the tang of a knife protruding, probably about 20 feet up now, allowing for the growth of the tree.
And, no. No one’s ever found it. Get out the metal detector. Or, Kate suggested, power up your drone. We could live large in the third phase on Reynold’s gang gold.