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Valley Vintage

Local History Blog

  • Sep 20, 2010

    Fire Season

    Forest fires in Colorado can easily get out of hand.  The recent fires near Boulder destroyed many homes and all Colorado communities watching Boulder are concerned.  More people are building out from the suburbs in forested areas, beetle kill pines are providing a lot of fuel, and the summer is prime time for lightning strikes.  A recent brush fire in Eagle was rapidly extinguished but not before the rising smoke provided some tense moments.     Read More »

  • Sep 03, 2010

    Revolutions Redux

    Electricity came late to rural Eagle County.  By 1928, the town of Eagle had an established grid.  Many less populated areas relied on generators, mostly gasoline driven.  Avon, with a population spread over many ranched miles, was without commercial electricity in 1928 but it did have the Eagle River.  Emmett and Myrtle Nottingham decided that they would use the fast-flowing river to produce electricity.    Read More »

  • Aug 11, 2010

    Burying the Past

    Cemeteries provide so much history for genealogists and researchers.  Cemetery and mortuary records are usually accurate and are a source of birth and death dates, interment dates, and information about place of death.  When these records are compromised, most recently noted at our national cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, there is indignation over the breach of trust with regard to respect for the deceased. For early settlers in any geographical region, many burials took place outside of...    Read More »

  • Jul 16, 2010

    My Little Rocky Mountain Canary (thank you, W.C.)

    In addition to being a term of endearment used by W. C. Fields, Rocky Mountain Canary refers to that glorious beast of burden, the burro, used by early prospectors in the American West.  In the West the word “burro,” coming from the Spanish, is interchangeable with “donkey.”  There is now recognized a connotation of size, a burro being a smaller donkey, but whatever the size, the braying characteristic of the animal can be heard for over three kilometers.  This vocalization  (“eeyore”) named...    Read More »

  • Jun 26, 2010

    What's Black and White and Read All Over?

    Historic newspapers are such a rich source of information, especially for our small towns of Western Slope Colorado.  When newspapers and letters were the only choices for the dissemination of information, the content was rich and the local goings-on were well documented.  If Chester Mayer went to the County Seat in Red Cliff to conduct business, there would be a paragraph mentioning his trip in the Eagle Valley Enterprise...    Read More »

  • Jun 10, 2010

    Mt. of the Holy Cross Scrapbook

    Scrapbooks fall into the class “visual biography,” so aptly categorized by Jessica Helfand in Scrapbooks, an American History p. ix.  Generally speaking, scrapbooks are collections of ephemera, things not meant to last forever:  movie ticket stubs, letters, pressed flowers, clippings, etc.  The one thing they have in common is that they mean something to the collector and thus give us information about the collector. It...    Read More »

  • May 20, 2010

    More Volcanoes

    Similar in age to the volcanic rock covering the Flat Tops, Castle Peak is a distinctive volcanic visual marker north of the town of Eagle.  At 11,275 feet, it is covered with snow during a large part of the year, making summer hiking preferable.  It is also summer range for elk and deer and home to a variety of wildlife.  Meadows and stands of fir, spruce and aspen provide habitat and great views over the dramatic landscape.    Read More »

  • May 04, 2010

    I'm Stumped

    Logging has been a part of Eagle County history since the first homesteader built a lean-to.  The need for housing is the most obvious reason for cutting trees but timbers were also used for reinforcing embankments at road shoulders during construction and for bracing mine stopes, beautifully described in William L. Jude's "Gilman Modification of Mitchell Slice Stoping" in Underground Mining Methods Handbook, 1982...    Read More »

  • Apr 13, 2010

    Revolutions per minute

     As you approach McCoy via State Bridge on Hwy 131 (just past the Copper Spur Rd.), look to the left.  On the Colorado River, you will see the answer to moving irrigation water onto hay and alfalfa fields 100 yards uphill from the river bottom—the Brooks Water Wheel.  The wheel is one of several such devices built at this spot.  In 1910, when the surrounding...    Read More »

  • Mar 30, 2010

    It's Not Dead, It's Just Resting (Sorry, Monty)

    The most recent lava flow in Colorado occurred in Eagle County.  This was approximately 4,000 years ago ( think Stonehenge) as determined by radiocarbon dating of a tree found in the ash in 1962.  Local historians weren’t available for documentation purposes, however, according to an article written by Allen Best in 1990 [Vail Trail Dec. 7, 1990], there would have been a native American local population to witness the event.     Read More »


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