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Ever prowl around a ghost town?
In high school and for years afterward, one of my favorite things to do was drive with my Kiowa friend Tim Kloberdanz into the high country to check out Colorado's ghost-towns. With names like St. Elmo, Pearl, Querida, Apex, Pandora and the ever-popular Eureka, these shells of one-time boomtowns, fallen aspirations and might-have-beens dotted the landscape in the hundreds in those days. Most of them were old mining towns where the veins of gold, silver, lead and copper had made a handful of people rich, tickled the hopes of a few hundreds or thousands of others and then played out, their residents trickling away or hanging on until old age turned them into ghosts as well.
At that time, half-a-century ago, many of these towns had been abandoned for only a few decades and some of the buildings were in remarkably good condition given the heavy weather that the Colorado mountains can deliver. Inside the best preserved, you could still find intact curtains, stoves, furniture, dishes, books, ledgers, figurines and other knick-knacks, even sealed tins of food. It was as if the zombie apocalypse had occurred and the people had suddenly departed wearing only the clothes on their backs. Other towns were gone much further into rot, all the windows without glass, the doors off their hinges, roofs caved in and the walls askew as the ground slowly gave way.
Our own big finds were far more mundane: a couple of broken, rusty pistols; cartridges; framed family photographs; oil lamps with intact glass chimneys (just like the ones used in the house where I was born until electricity was installed when I was 7); solid, dovetailed wooden boxes; costume jewelry; buckles; spoons and forks; and many dimes and cents, including a few Indian head pennies. Nothing spectacular. Nothing sellable for more than a few dollars. But supremely good fun.
We did none of our poking around the way modern ghost-town spelunkers and other treasure hunters do, with sophisticated metal detectors. Just folding Army surplus shovels and a careful eye. We surely missed a lot.
One mid-'70s summer day we took another friend, Richard, with us to Cripple Creek. Not quite a ghost-town, with a few dozen mostly aged residents still living in what had been a booming little metropolis of 10,000 during the last big Colorado gold rush in the 1890s. The place was still decades away from economic revival as one of the state's local-option gambling towns.
In the rubbish dump behind an abandoned store, we found lots of mostly broken dishes and scores of empty patent-medicine bottles. Some of these had been imbued with factory color, mostly purples, blues and greens. Others had started out clear but turned violet by exposure to the sun.
Empty bottles. We had no idea of their economic or aesthetic value. And there we were with our target pistols. So, yes, clueless, we took those bottles to an isolated hillside and shot holes in every single one of them. Even in those days decades ago, they were probably worth a good deal more than all those Morgan dollars Dennis would later discover.
We also made a bit of a find in Blackhawk. In those days, it was three-quarters of the way to ghost-town status strung along the banks of Clear Creek. My parents were friends with an artist and teacher who decided that with a little fixing up, the town's brothel would provide quarters for a dozen or so students to spend their summers working on their art projects, with him and his wife as instructors. They put together the $25,000 asking price and over several years, added two additional ramshackle stories to the three-story building.
Next door to the brothel was Blackhawk's old jail, a windowless stone building with a dirt floor hacked partway into the mountainside. It boasted an intact crimson-painted iron door. One day Tim and I brought our shovels and scraped the jail floor for artifacts. We made two finds: a pair of heavy old handcuffs and a human skull without its lower jaw.
Years later, the brothel-art retreat was sold for $6 million to one of the casino companies that have in the past 20 years transformed quiet, charming, dying Blackhawk into a flashy, thriving, gambling resort where players face greater odds of striking it rich than the early miners who often visited the painted ladies there.
Inevitably, most of Colorado's ghost-towns have become mere phantoms, crumbled by time and the elements, and picked over by several generations of people like Tim and me. Finding anything of worth in those places not protected from interlopers by land-owners or preservation societies is a good deal harder than when we did our thing.
Latest Updates on Kossack Regional Meet-Up News Below the New Day sunrise cloud
Let's build communities!
Every region needs a meatspace community like SFKossacks.
We take care of each other in real life.
I urge YOU to take the lead and organize one in your region.
Please tell us about it if you do and we're here for advice.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY
NEW GROUPS IN THE PROCESS OF ORGANIZING:These are the groups that have started since * NEW DAY * began. Please Kosmail navajo if you have started a group before that.
Send a Kosmail to the organizers and ask for an invitation to the group.• Northern Indiana Area: Kosmail Tim Delaney
• Long Island: Kosmail grannycarol
• Northern Michigan: Kosmail JillS
• Nebraska: Kosmail Nebraska68847Dem
• Westburbia Chicago Kossacks: Kosmail Majordomo
• Caprock Kossacks (Panhandle/Caprock/Lubbock/Amarillo area) : Kosmail shesaid
• West Texas Kossacks (including Big Bend Region and El Paso) : Kosmail Yo Bubba
• Vermont Kossacks: Kosmail 4FreedomNote to the above new leaders: Feel free to leave a comment any day reminding readers about your new group. Also, tell us about your progress in gathering members. Kosmail me when you've chosen a good name for your group and have created a the group. Then I'll move you to the NEW GROUPS LIST. When you've planned a date for your first event I'll make a banner for you to highlight your event in our diaries and your diaries.
NEW GROUPS LIST:
• Kansas City Kossacks - Formed Oct 15, 2012, Organizer: [Founder stepped down]
ESTABLISHED GROUPS LIST: (List will grow as we discover them)
Wow. Boom! ericlewis0 blew us all away on Sunday. He provided a LIVE BLOG of the NYC event complete with photos and bonafide commentary from the attendees. Amazing!
Photo 1 L-R: In the orange, thankgodforairamerica, ghchaucer2, sidnora, joanbrooker, dave g & kathny Photo 2 L-R: Plf515, Laura Clawson, mets102, son of broccoli, Communitygis, no exit, designthefuture & mattc129
sidnora promises her faithful follow-up diary and she could likely have food pr0n. I hope so. I live for explicit photos of the fries at Spitzer's Corner.
Our intrepid Houston Area Kossacks got together again. It was time for socializing after all the Battle Ground Texas work many of them did last year. Here's to gearing up for more work this year.
Chrislove is the group organizer and he can be seen in the photo below on the top right:
Top L-R: doraphasia, cosette & Chrislove
Bottom L-R: htowngenie & MarciaJ720
L-R: mjbleo, Mary, flekk17 & TDDVandy
A polar vortex could not stop six Motor City Kossacks from getting together on January 4th. Kudos, all! ACA Daily Kos celebrity, Brainwrap attended and brought the group up to date on his work.
Even folks from the White House are quoting his figures now. He also observed how odd he thought it was that the mainstream media (and governmental) sources were 1) not talking to him directly, seemingly content to take his numbers as valid, and 2) not conducting similar statistical aggregations on their own. We shared his astonishment, but agreed that he is doing an important job.Also in attendance were prolific diarist BFSkinner, user ID 162795 and has been around since long before 2008. Amber6541, famous pootie/woozle diarist with an old user ID of 157580 and sydneyluv, who beat them all with the user ID of 132330. Long timers, these three!
Discussion included Michigan's crucial statewide elections in 2014 and the need to displace Rick "the Nerd" Snyder.
As hosts for upcoming NN14, the Motor City Kossacks are ready for their first meeting with the NN14 staff this January 9th. peregrine kate expressed the need to hear from as many politically radical, grass-roots organizers in Detroit during NN14 as possible and coalesce all this collective energy. All who attend this early meeting will get to shape the agenda. Please kosmail peregrine kate to attend this important event.
Here's one photo:
Saturday, January 25th
Tennessee Three Star Kossacks & Nashville KosKats Meet-up
LOCATION: TBA (Please send suggestions to marykk)
[Address] • Nashville
ORGANIZER: Send marykk a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: Nashville Meet up with KosKats and 3 Star Kossacks
2. Sandy on Signal (Guest of Honor)
Saturday, January 25th
Asheville Kossacks Meet-up
Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith
Sarah Zambon from the League of Women Voters.
TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: The Cantina
10 Biltmore Plaza • Asheville
ORGANIZER: Send randallt a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: DKos Asheville Update-Guest speakers!
7. Otteray Scribe
9. GordonNC (UID 5123 & City Councilman) GUEST SPEAKER!
12. Captain Sham
13. Mrs Sham
17. Mr. Alecia
18. Nic Goodman
19. Sarah Zambon (League of Women Voters) GUEST SPEAKER!
One Pissed Off Liberal
people power granny
Sunday, January 26th
SFKossacks Welcome matching mole to San Francisco!
TIME: TBD, daytime car trip to the Delta for birding with lineatus
LOCATION: Grizzly Island Wildlife Area
2548 Grizzly Island Road • Suisun City
lineatus will have a spotting scope and a few spare pairs of binoculars, so novices can have something to use.
ORGANIZER: Send lineatus a kosmail to attend.
2. matching mole
ORGANIZER: Send lineatus a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: Dawn Chorus: Preview of Coming Attractions
2. matching mole
5. side pocket
8. Glen The Plumber
13. navajo's guest
Las Vegas Kossacks SOTU Watch Party
TIME: 5:00 PM
LOCATION: Barefoot Bob's Beach Bar & Gaming
1590 E Flamingo Rd • Las Vegas
Northside of Flamingo, across from Blueberry Hill Diner, Barefoot Bobs is the old Murphy's Law Pub. We will be outside in the enclosed HEATED Patio with 2 big screen tv.s. We will be a private group and Happy Hour prices will apply!
ORGANIZER: Send miracle11 a kosmail to attend.
Tuesday, January 28th
Silicon Valley Kossacks SOTU Watch Party
LOCATION: Lusty's Home
Address given privately to RSVPs • Silicon Valley
Event will be potluck, please bring a side dish to complement a crock-pot main course provided by Lusty. Desserts and tasty beverages are needed, also.
Discussion will be about how the Silicon Valley Kossacks can use their group effectively to support Mike Honda since he is being primaried.
ORGANIZER: Send Lusty a kosmail to attend.
1. Lusty - Crock-pot main course
2. Glen the Plumber
5. navajo - wine
8. MrNavajo - wine
Mr. Cali Scribe
DETAILS COMING VERY SOON! TBD
Seattle & Puget Sound Kossacks Inaugural Meet-up
[Address] • Seattle
ORGANIZER: Send EagleOfFreedom a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: [Waiting for linked diary]
Send navajo a kosmail if you post a diary about an event so we can update our round-up.
Okay. Floor's open.
Tell us what you are doing on this NEW DAY?