Fantastic Friday

Blue Chairs on Couse Porch - B

A century-old world of creativity and inspiration opened as we stepped into the domain of famed Taos artist E.I. Couse (1866-1936). By pre-arrangement, we met Couse’s granddaughter Virginia in the garden of his home and studio. For nearly two hours we were captivateCouse Palette - Bd by the stories she shared of her grandfather, one of the founding members of the Taos Art Society as we walked through rooms filled with family furnishings, collections, sketches, prints and original paintings. We left inspired not only by Couse’s art but the family’s commitment to preserve his legacy through The Couse Foundation.

Tours must be arranged in advanced. No fee is charged but donations to the foundation are gratefully accepted. When you go be generous for this is worthy of support.

Bavarian Exterior - BFor the afternoon we headed to the Taos Ski Valley and lunch at the Bavarian Lodge and Restaurant. The 19-mile drive from Taos ascends through the Carson National Forest into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The restaurant sits at over 10,000” altitude, transporting guests to an alp-like ambiance. After a filling German lunch we stroll the Village of Taos Ski Valley, considerably quieter than a wintertime visit.

Returning to Taos we stop in the quirky village of Arroyo Seco. It’s impossible for me to pass through Seco twice without a stop at Taos Cow Bob with Ice Cream - BIce Cream. I consider the day a total success when one of today’s choices is Pinion Caramel, my absolute favorite. Across the street we “need” to do some jewelry shopping at Claire Works. Bob is now supplied with gifts for my birthday and Christmas.

In light of spaetzle and ice cream we make a workout visit to the Taos Spa. The facility accommodates regional visitors with reasonable priced day passes or multi-visit punch cards.

We peacefully conclude the day back at the casita with music, wine and books – a fantastic Friday.

 

A Walk with the Spirits

Crested Butte Cemetery Arch A leisurely walk through an historic cemetery relates intriguing details of the region’s settlement and struggles. Styles of enclosures, markers and headstones reflect cultural, ethnic and societal influences. Inscriptions tell of epidemics, natural disasters, gunfights or the steadfastness of a man’s character. A chiseled boulder in the Cripple Creek Mt. Pisgah Cemetery states, “He died as he lived, honest, loyal and an upright man.”

Children’s graves were frequently enclosed with wooden or wrought iron fencing, or carefully laid stone borders. Headstones with carved lCrested Butte Child's Graveambs denote infant burials. Poetry abounds. Especially memorable is a monument in a Central City cemetery marking the graves for one family’s five children – all who died before reaching their first birthday.

Graveyards near ghost towns and mining camps remain worthy of investigation. Spend a crisp autumn afternoon strolling the distinctive cemeteries near Alma, Central City, Cripple Creek or Leadville for a Colorado history refresher coarse.

The Littleton Cemetery on South Prince Street is the permanent (?) resting place of Alfred Packer, the only man in United States history to be convicted of the crime of cannibalism.

An October tradition in Aspen is “Walking with the Dead” in the Ute Cemetery. Tales from the grave are told by young pioneers. Aspen Walking Tours offers the hour-long cemetery walks every Saturday of October, the last two Fridays and Halloween Sunday (Oct. 2, 9, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30, & 31, 2010) at 5:30pm. Grave - B Cost is $20/person; call 970-948-4349 for reservations.

Meet the Spirits of Boulder’s Columbia Cemetery (also known as Pioneer Cemetery) on October 17, 2010 from noon to 5pm. Victorian mourners, funeral music, vintage hearses, and a solemn Masonic burial service reenactment will enhance the stories told by costumed “spirits” risen from their graves for the afternoon. Ghost Hunters with ParaFPI will demonstrate  equipment and techniques used in paranormal research. The elite TAPS Family team is currently investigating the Columbia Cemetery.

Tickets will be available at the cemetery gate at Ninth & Pleasant Streets, Boulder, on the day of the tour. Cost is $10/adult, $5/children and studens under 16. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Historic Boulder office, 1123 Spruce Street. A rain date of October 24, 2010 is schedule for “Meet the Spirits” if weather conditions cause cancellation on the 17th.

Madame - B The tombstones in Cripple Creek’s Mt. Pisgah Cemetery tell numerous stories of the town’s famous and the infamous. On September 18, 2010 the Gold Camp Victorian Society plans a day of Mt. Pisgah tours with character reenactments throughout the cemetery. Tours start at the Cripple Creek District Museum located next to the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad Depot. The tour begins with a ride aboard the historic trolley. The first tour leaves the museum at 9:30am; the last departs at 2:00pm. Donations to benefit the society’s historic preservation efforts are $8/adult, $15/couple and $5/child under 12. I’m sure you’ll meet Pearl.

Crested Butte Cemetery Open Gate

Tom “Dr. Colorado” Noel pays respect to Denver’s pioneer movers and shakers at Riverside Cemetery on Saturday afternoon, October 30, 2010. Meet Nathan A. Baker, whose daughter claimed he, “Loved horses more than his own blood kin.” Baker lies under a life-sized stone Arabian stallion – named Frank. Perhaps the daughter was right. Numerous other Colorado “characters” will make appearances including governors, miners and businesswomen.

The 2010 Riverside Halloween Tour is sponsored by History Colorado and Dr. Noel and hosted by the Fairmount Heritage Foundation. Reservations should be made at 303-866-4686; cost is $25 for History Colorado members, $30 for non-members.

In Glenwood Springs costumed historic characters recall their lively pasts as lantern led tours visit the “spirits” of Linwood (Glenwood Pioneer) Cemetery. Doc Holliday is reportedly buried here … or is he? Join the Annual Historic Ghost Walk to hear the story. The walks are planned for Oct. 15-17, Oct. 22-24 and Oct. 29-31, 2009. Tickets are $15/person and go on sale Oct. 1. These annual walks sell out quickly, purchase tickets as soon as they go on sale by calling the Frontier Historical Museum at 970-945-4448.

We’ve tramped around many of Colorado’s cemeteries through the years, especially those near early mining camps. Each has its own distinctive Leadville Sunken Gravescharacteristics and slate of citizens with fascinating stories. Leadville’s Evergreen Cemetery contains graves from 1879 to the present, graves with ornate headstones and those with rotting crosses. One early section with sunken graves ranks as the spookiest I’ve ever visited. Judge Neil Reynolds introduces the spirits of  Evergreen Cemetery during Halloween Tours Oct. 29-30 at 8:00pm each evening. This popular event usually sells out – call 719-486-3900 or 888-532-3845 for tickets, $10/person.

Leadville Grave with Aspen

Related Post:

Mt. Pisgah Speaks

Mt. Pisgah Speaks

2010 Cemetery Tour – September 18th

Cemetery Tour - B

The personas of Cripple Creek’s famous and infamous, millionaires and paupers, celebrities and commoners, come to life during the yearly Mt. Pisgah Cemetery Tour. Members of the Gold Camp Victorian Society assume the roles of former residents buried in the mountainside graveyard overlooking the historic mining district.

Tour Guide on Trolley - B Tours begin in the parking lot in front of the Cripple Creek District Museum and the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad Depot. A historic trolley transports each tour group to the cemetery. As we travel through town a costumed guide sets the stage with historic background.

“Digger O’Dell Martenson” welcomes the tour to Mt. Pisgah and describes how graves were once “dug” by dynamite. Approximately 4,000 souls – including 2,000 paupers without headstones – and one horse lie in final repose.

From extensive research the reenactors are well versed in the lives of their “characters”. We meet Vitus Neilsen – Cripple Creek’s blind piano man, Civil War veteran David McClintok and George Smith leader of the Elks band. Each tells “their” story incorporating historic fact and interesting antidotes.

Doc Susie - B Following graduation from the University of Michigan in 1897 Susan Anderson practiced medicine in Grand County, Colorado until she was 86. “Doc Susie” inspired the 1990s television series Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. An unnamed nurse from St. Nicholas Hospital relates the high rate of children deaths, “In the first years up to one-third of the graves were of children under six. I hear there are some of my patients still walking the halls of St. Nicholas, now a hotel.”

Mabel Barbie Lee tells of teaching in Victor where Lowell Thomas was one of her history students. She later taught at Colorado College and served as administrator at numerous universities including Ratcliff, Bennington and the University of California. In retirement she wrote memoirs including Cripple Creek Days about the gold rush boom days and Back in Cripple Creek.

Sheriff - B Sheriff Hiram Wilson recalls that, “The bad guys and prostitution were my problems. Proper ladies didn’t want to see those ladies of the night. They could only come to Bennett Avenue to shop on Monday mornings when the proper ladies were doing their laundry.” As we turn to leave his gravesite he closes with, “Thanks for coming today, gives me a chance to get out of my grave and stretch my legs. I died of a heartache, nobody shot me.”

Cripple Creek’s most renowned lady of the night was Pearl DeVere, madam of the Old Homestead House brothel. Always liking the finer things in life, legend has it that Pearl was buried in a $1000 designer dress from Paris paid foMadame by Bob - Br by an anonymous Denver donor. Pearl’s funeral procession was led by four mounted horsemen and a 20 piece band from the Elks Club. Carriages filled with businessmen, girls from “The Row” and miners followed the lavender casket up Cripple Creek’s main street, Bennett Avenue, to the slopes of Mt. Pisgah. More than a century later Pearl’s grave is one of the most decorated in the cemetery.

Working downhill through the cemetery we meet more than a dozen “residents.” The tour group enjoys lemonade, coffee and cookies as the they wait for the return trolley. We’re delighted we came to Mt. Pisgah Cemetery where history comes to life one day each fall.

 

When You Go: The 2010 Mt. Pisgah Cemetery Tour is scheduled for Saturday, September 18th. Tours leave from the Cripple Creek District Museum parking lot, 5th Street and Bennett Avenue, every half hour starting at 9:30am. The last tour will leave the museum at 2pm. It’s advisable to arrive early.

Donations benefit the Gold Camp Victorian Society’s historic preservation efforts – $8/adult, $15/couple, $5/child under 12.

With an elevation of over 10,000’, the uneven terrain and standing for over an hour the cemetery tour may be a challenge for people with health issues. Wear sensible shoes and dress in layers as weather can change quickly.

 

Visit Cripple Creek

Johnny Nolan's

 

Previous Related Post:

Cripple Creek and Victor Railroad

 

Ghost Hunting

Jail Museum Sign - B Spend Saturday night, September 18, 2010, in jail investigating paranormal activity in the Cripple Creek Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum. The facility served as the Teller County Jail from 1901-1992. The museum has kept the original cells intact and visitors frequently claim they’ve seen moving shadows or heard voices coming from the cellblock.

Certainly the jail saw many outlaws and troublemakers incarcerated, especially during the boom days when Cripple Creek was known as the World’s Greatest Gold Camp. The museum also  remembers those who enforced and maintained law and order. Police logs, newspaper crime stories and copies of early city ordinances recall the era when gold was discovered and the town grew from a population of 15 to 50,000 in ten years.Man at Jail Museum - B

During the overnight ghost hunting experience Mountain Peak Paranormal Investigations will teach participants the latest techniques and use of equipment for such investigations. Space is limited with reservations required (call 719-689-6556), no walk-ins accepted. Participants must be 18-years-old, cost is $40.

Paranormal activity cannot be guaranteed.

Whether one joins the ghost hunting overnight or just stops in for a look around when they’re in Cripple Creek the Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum offers a worthwhile and unusual look into the region’s history.

Windows and Reflections of Bannack

Windows 20

While visiting Montana’s Bannack State Park I started noticing the characteristics of windows in the deserted 19th-century buildings. They varied from artistic to simplistic. Some of the panes were the original wavy glass while others were 21st-century replacements.

Windows 26

Whether peeking into a cabin at a potpourri of tools and paraphernalia deserted decades ago or gazing out while seated at an aged treadle sewing machine the windows seemed to frame Bannack’s past and present.

Windows 04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I became intrigued with how the windows reflected the scenes before them – swaying tree branches, the crowd gathered in front of Hotel Meade or the upstanding Masonic Lodge / Schoolhouse.

Windows 21

Observing and photographing the windows of Bannack added depth and perspective to out visit to Montana’s past.

When You Go:  Bannack State Park is located 26 miles southwest of Dillon, Montana. From I-15 exit #59 head west on Highway 278 for 20 miles. Turn south on the paved Bannack Road, follow for four miles. Turn left onto the graveled park entrance road. Well placed signs point the way.

Bannack Days

Return to the Old West

 

Morning Coffee The click of spurs on boardwalk accompanies two men down the deserted street, enameled tin cups filled with their morning coffee. Shaded by an old tree in the front yard of Montana’s first governor’s mansion, a spinner adjusts the tension of lanolin rich wool as she draws it into fine strands of yarn. Resting against the front of the combined post office/barbershop the barber and a friend shoot the breeze before the first shave and haircut of the day.

For one weekend each July Bannack, Montana comes to life recalling the 19th-century boom days of gold, growth and government. Frontier live is recreated by hundreds of volunteers for two days theLady with Wool third weekend of July. The wooden boardwalks once again are filled with people, many in period clothing. Bannack Days celebrates the town’s fabled history.

Demonstrations, hands-on activities, music and entertainment fill Bannack Days plus the opportunity to enter dozens of buildings. Start the day with breakfast at Hotel Meade before panning for gold, touring the mill or taking a horseback ride. Simulated shootouts and stagecoach robberies recall the days of highwaymen and a sheriff who ended up swinging from the gallows. Visitors can even rent costumes and become part of the scene. A horse-drawn wagon and Model A Ford truck shuttles tired tourists from one end of town to the other. Food concessions satisfy the hungry and thirsty. Note from Nancy – the hot donuts were the best!

Quilts Today, with designation as a state park, Bannack is preserved as a genuine ghost town not a tourist attraction. During a regular visit tales of the past and a stiff Montana wind may be your only companions.

When You Go: Bannack Days is always scheduled on the third weekend of July. A modest per person entrance fee is charged for the event. Bannack is located 26 miles southwest of Dillon, Montana. From I-15 exit #59 head west on Highway 278 for 20 miles. Turn south on the paved Bannack Road, follow for four miles. Turn left onto the graveled park entrance road. Well placed signs point the way.

Exploring Connecticut’s Farmington Valley

With friends flying to Hartford, Connecticut I can’t resist the urge to recommend a number of attractions, activities and historic sites we’ve experienced and enjoyed in the nearby Farmington Valley.

 Hill-Stead Exterior

  • Hill-Stead Museum – history, art and gardens. The home of the Alfred Pope family during the first half of the 20th century is a National Historic Landmark complete with the family’s furnishings, sculpture, photographs, ceramics and art.  I Hill-Stead Interior loved seeing the extensive  French Impressionist collection –Monet, Degas, Cassatt – hanging in a home environment instead of a sterile gallery. The Sunken Garden blooms from mid-April into October with flowers and plants historically based on the original garden plan. Guided tours of the house give insight into the Pope family, art, collectables and architectural details.  A Poetry & Music Festival highlights five Wednesday evenings during the summer.

 

Christ Church

  • The town of Farmington has a fascinating history from early Colonial settlement dating to 1640, the Revolutionary War, Underground Railroad and the Amistad. Learn about many of the interesting citizens of the past during a historic walk through the Riverside Cemetery. The hospitality of local inns and restaurants make Farmington an ideal hub for a visit to the region.

 

  • House Guards The 1st Company Governor’s Horse Guard, in Avon, is the oldest continuously mounted Calvary unit in the US. The public is welcome to watch them drill on Thursday evenings at 7pm.

  Phelps%20Tavern[1]

  •  Phelps Tavern Museum in Simsbury provides a look into the home of Capt. Elisha Phelps where three generations of innkeepers (1786 – 1849) welcomed travelers arriving by stage, canal boat or horseback to the tavern and inn. One can imagine historical figures from America’s early years seeking respite from their journey between Boston and Philadelphia.

Stanley - Whitman

 

  • Stanley-Whitman House Built circa 1720 the Colonial home relates aspects of everyday life during that period in Connecticut. The living history center and museum encourages an interactive experience for visitors.

  • Canton Historic District Canton Historical Museum This place is chuck full of  "stuff" and every item has a story that one of the volunteers is eager to share. Collinsville was just what I expected from a New England village. The nearby LaSalle Market makes a good sandwich and salad for lunch.

 

  • Pettibone TavernAbigails Grille and Wine Bar,  – because of the building’s history. It was built in 1780 as a stage stop between Hartford and Boston. Abigail is the guest who won’t go away – tales of Abigail give lots of haunting history. This was known as Pettibone Tavern when we were there and has since experienced a fire, come under new management and been renamed so I don’t know about the food, service, etc. today. I loved the building, haunted tales and sense of stepping back in time to walk in the footsteps of earlier guests such as John Adams.

 Auction Barn Sign

  • A real piece of New England is the Canton Auction Barn. When one goes the first thing you want to do is reserve a piece of pie from the night’s selections. They’re homemade, very good and sell out. I’m not really an auction aficionado and didn’t buy a thing (my house is already filled to the brim) but this was still a fun experience. Housed in a circa 1820 barn the Saturday night weekly auction attracts Canton Barn Auctionserious collectors and casual observers. No reserves or buyer’s premiums; all items are owned outright by the Richard Wacht and Susan Wacht. Doors open at 5pm for inspection of items up for sale that evening – the Wachts encourage questions before the auction begins at 7:30. Reserve a seat by placing a cushion on a chair. Don’t forget to indulge in a slice of pie. 

  • Salmon Brook Salmon Brook Historic Society – Buildings include the Abijah Rowe House (circa 1732), Weed Enders House (circa 1790), Cooley School (circa 1870), and the Colton/Hayes Tobacco Barn (circa 19114). Located in Granby, the National Register of Historic Places site  is open Sunday afternoons from June through September.

 

Avon Old Farms

 

  • Old Avon Farms School – The buildings and grounds of this private boy’s boarding school makes one think they will meet Harry just around the next corner.

 

  • Flaming Lamb Flamig Farm – Young and old learn about farm life at Flamig Farm. Who can resist the Farm Animal Zoo populated with bunnies, piglets. llamas, peacocks, emus, ducks, draft horses and sheep? Plus, happy egg laying chickens. Open April through November, pony rides on weekends, old fashioned hay rides by reservation. Fresh eggs for sale in the store.

  • Kayaking Kayak the Farmington River with a guide from Collinsville Canoe & Kayak. See the Farmington Valley from a new perspective – meadows, farmland and Hublein Tower atop Avon Mountain during a gentle 8.5-mile flat water paddle. Numerous other guided trips available as well as equipment rental and sales.

  • Air Museum New England Air Museum  – Aviation buffs will love the collections including over 125 aircraft, 200 aircraft engines and outstanding array of aviation artifacts. The museum is located at the Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.

Each of these recommendations brings back treasured memories of an area rich in natural beauty, historic preservation and cultural enrichments. I’m ready to plan a return visit to Connecticut’s Farmington River Valley.

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