Saturday, December 31, 2016

Go Up and Down the Mountain

We took a trip to Colorado this week.  
We made plans to meet Anthony's family in Leadville to ski.
There is a smaller sized ski area not far from there called Ski Cooper.  
We had good roads all the way including the winding interstate until we turned south to Leadville.  
We drove on snow-packed roads up and down again with great vistas of snow covered valleys and peaks dotted with evergreens.

Leadville, at 10,200 ft, is a mining town, making it's debut in the 1860s with gold and silver mines and in the nearer past with molybdenum. 
I elected to stay in our nice little house instead of heading to the ski slopes, I don't ski anymore since I don't want to risk any face or head injury due to past events.  I was just getting good, well fairly comfortable with skiing, when circumstances decreed that our skiing adventures would be put on hold for a time. We arrived on Monday and I was played out.  Either too much travelling, too many people on one house or the altitude made me so tired that I was in bed before 8 pm and not out of it again, (except for occasional trips to the little girl's room) until 6 am. 
Tuesday, the effects of an earlier time zone prodded everyone out of bed on the road earlier than expected and I spent the morning making cards and starting a new crocheting project. In the afternoon I walked up hill two blocks, (puff, puff) and wandered in and out of the shops on the main street. There are about two bars for every specialty shop.  Since this used to be a mining town, maybe that's no surprise. The people that run those shops must think that since their town was founded with gold and silver, that their goods should be worth their weight of it.  I bought some candy and rocks for the boys and brought some ice cream home, which was rather difficult since I kept stopping to snap photos of the other cute little Victorian houses along our street.

People are very kind here.  There aren't many traffic lights and when I was ready to cross the main street and had to wait for several cars to go by, twice someone stopped where there were no lights or stop signs to let me cross.
Wednesday there was fresh snow so it was pleasant to stay inside and watch the snow falling gently down.  When we got here there was 24" of snow on our front 'lawn', and piles on the edges of the streets, so it was extremely difficult to park the 3 four-wheel drive pickups belonging to our party.
We got 3 more inches that day and all along the street, signs were posted saying, "no parking tonight, snow removal".  So, we had to park further down where there were no signs, and by morning all those piles of snow were in the middle of the street!  Soon, however, two loaders and a truck removed the snow and we have a nice clean snow-packed street.

It's been interesting living in all this snow.  We just don't have lasting snow as a rule.  As I walked today to the visitor's center and later to the museum about mines, I noticed those big piles were still on other streets and no effort was being made to dig them out.  I plan differently when I'm going to walk in the cold.  It was sunny again today, with no wind and just at 32 degrees, but I put on socks and leggings under my long skirt with snow boots, mittens, scarf and hat along with my new winter coat.  I'm not cold then, walking the several blocks around the town and home again.  
I hoped when going to the visitor's center that I would find some history about this town and the kind clerk directed me to the Museum of Mines, a block down and a block over from there.  So, I went.  I paid my $10, and proceeded to look over three of the four floors in the building.  I was especially interested in the molybdenum mine which was been around since the early 1900s, closing down in 1984 when international competition reduced their profits to the extent that closing was necessary.
The company started up again in 2012 and the mining area is north of Leadville. Molybdenum is used in hardening steel, a very useful thing in war time and for use in engines.  It is also used in lubricants and multivitamins.

Climax Mine


Molybdenum Ore
Climax Mine, Colorado
This sample of molybdenum ore is from the Phillipson Level of the Climax Mine located in centraol Colorado.  The ore consists of a stackwork of quartz-molybdenum veins in a host rock that has been repeatedly fractured and mineralized. In this specimen the host rocks are Precambrian granite (white) and biotite schist (brown).
This ore is 0.8 percent molybdenite (MoS2), the bluish-gray mineral which occures as very fine-grained, hexagonal platelets in quartz veins.  The brass colored mineral is pyrite (FeS2).  The brown to black mineral in the one centimeter thick vein (lower right to upper left) is the tungsten mineral huebnerite MnWO4. Tungsten is the by-product of the molybdenum ore at Climax.

Also interesting was the story of the beginnings of the gold and silver mining in the area.  According to the lady taking the admission money, silver is what made the town back in the day.
I asked her, "Why then, is the town 'Leadville'?"  Why not Silver City or some such.  I think there is a Silver City somewhere.  I'm not sure if there is one in Colorado.  She answered that prospectors looking for gold found this black mineral that they assumed was lead.  It turned out to be lead with silver with it by some chemical process done eons ago and by which I am not able to explain any more about it except when I just looked it up, it is common for ores with similar characteristics to be found together.  Scanning a couple of histories of Leadville, I found no explanation of how the town got its name except for the incident of naming the post office and Leadville rather than Slabtown was voted in.  
Friday we drive home.  This is a very interesting town, I'd like to come back again and explore it's museums, landscape, activities and old mines.

I didn't do very much in the evenings except wish I was in bed for the first couple of nights, even though game playing was going on.  
The last night, per Lynette's wishes, we made an enormous mess turning graham crackers into 'gingerbread' houses.  
Mine is simple, and not very well done, but it was fun.  The other 'kids' took their time about it and turned out some rather fantastic specimens.

The humorous part of this event was the great fall of the 'sniper cave', (middle photo).  It was all done when the great pile of frosting caved in.  I think the rest of us would have given up, but Anthony gallantly salvaged all the icing and re-roofed.


Looking up and down the street.


Anonymous said...

I love this post. My husband and I moved to Leadville as newlyweds in October of 1959. My husband worked at the Climax molybdenum mine, always in the mill, he never worked underground. Two of our children were born while we lived there. The snow and scenery was always spectacular, but we eventually got tired of 9 months of winter and moved to California!

Anonymous said...

Such lovely pictures! Interesting history too. Wow, it really has been years since we had any snow that piled up and lasted like that. It's so beautiful with the clear blue skies! --Maxine

Renee said...

This is an extremely interesting post!!!! Love all the pictures of the houses. However, it is a bit disconcerting that molybdenum is used in multivitamins.........right???

Gramma's Corner said...

Many multivitamin formulas contain vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, biotin, A, E, D2 (or D3), K, potassium, iodine, selenium, borate, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, betacarotene, and/or iron.

Most of the 'wordy'vitamins are minerals, like calcium, magnesium, zine and iron.