FEATURE COVERAGE

Thu
04
Oct

THE MINE NEXT DOOR: PART 6

 

 

 

 

 

Grass on Gray Mountain

Adventures in Tailings Remediation

by Samantha Tisdel Wright

Every workday morning back in the 1970s, Joe Smart would kiss his wife and little son goodbye, step out into the bracing dawn, and tune his ear to the rhythm of the Pandora Mill, a mile and a half up the valley from his company house in Telluride.

As long as he could hear the tick-tick-tick-tick-tick of the big gray mill’s powerful vacuum pumps, that meant it would be a good day.

“But if the mill wasn’t running, I knew it wasn’t gonna be a good day,” Smart said. “Everybody would be scurrying to get the mill back running.” Every minute the mill was down, the Idarado Mine lost money. Muck-bound ore. Idle miners. Cranky bosses. Empty con trucks. Not a pretty picture.

Fri
10
Aug

THE MINE NEXT DOOR: Part 5

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Watersheds

by Samantha Tisdel Wright

Deep inside the guts of the San Juan Mountains, thousands of feet beneath the ragged ridge line that parts the mighty San Miguel and Uncompahgre river watersheds, two headlamps bobbed along like buoys in an inky sea – Alfred Berry in front, George Cappis right behind him – on the abandoned 2000 level of the Idarado Mine.

The year was 1991. Idarado was proactively working on mine closure, even before the Redial Action Plan that would ultimately guide that closure was negotiated and signed. A skeleton crew on a shoestring budget did the dirty, dark and dangerous work of re-activating the long-neglected underground workings, to make them safe for future closure activity.

Fri
10
Aug

THE MINE NEXT DOOR: Part 4

 

 

 

 

It’s a RAP
The Battle over Idarado’s Reclamation

by Samantha Tisdel Wright

Locals called it the Toxic Twinkie.

By the time the Idarado mine shut down in 1978, the enormous loaf-shaped mound of tailings at the edge of Telluride – otherwise known as the Number 6 tailings pile – had taken on a life of its own in the town’s collective consciousness.  

On gusty days, 20-foot-tall dust devils lifted off the tailings and swept through town, inspiring KOTO (Telluride’s local radio station) to broadcast “tailings alerts” warning town residents to take cover. No one really knew what was in that dust, or what it might do to them when they breathed it in.

Some folks joked (and perhaps secretly fantasized) that the Toxic Twinkie would roll out of town one day of its own accord, like a giant jellyroll filled with slime.

Fri
10
Aug

THE MINE NEXT DOOR: Part 3

 

 

 

 

Snow is the New Gold
Telluride’s Transition from Mining to Skiing

by Samantha Tisdel Wright

In a small upstairs room at the Telluride-Miners-Hospital-turned-Historical-Museum, Bill Mahoney’s first skis are mounted to the wall, convalescing like stout wooden soldiers beside a window that looks out over the ski area he helped create.

The next room over, a handful of Mahoney’s mineral specimens sparkle inside a glass case. Tidy little cards identify what they are, where he found them – mostly deep within the Idarado Mine.

Fri
10
Aug

THE MINE NEXT DOOR: Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

Miles of Tunnels

by Samantha Tisdel Wright

A Brief History of the Idarado Mine

The history of the Idarado Mine is as long the tunnels and as rich as the ore veins that riddle its guts. Its stories are stoked by volcanic tantrums, and sculpted by the winds of history that blew Americans across the West.

How far back do you want to go – World War II? Manifest Destiny of the 1800s? Dominguez and Escalante in 1776? The Tertiary period 35 million years ago, with its great belching supervolcanoes and collapsed calderas that spawned the fabled ore bodies of the San Juan Mountains?

All had a role to play in the rise of the largest mining operation that ever existed in the San Juans.

The Big Bonanza

Fri
10
Aug

.THE MINE NEXT DOOR: Part 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Samantha Tisdel Wright

Getting to know the Idarado Mine is a little bit like that poem about the blind men and the elephant. Depending on which part of the elephant each man encounters, he declares it to be a wall, a tree trunk, a spear, a fan, a snake – never grasping the whole animal for its bewildering array of parts.

Likewise, it’s hard to imagine that the scattered remnants of the Idarado Mine could possibly all belong to the same being:

Thu
31
May

BIRDS OF OURAY COUNTY: The erratic wandering bird

Red Crossbills

Red Crossbills photo taken in Elk Meadows.

Courtesy photo by Rebecca Kindred


By Sue Hirshman
with Kent Nelson


A bird that is called a nomad
 with beaks of each type
  adapted to fit the cones
  of specific conifers
          —anonymous—

Thu
16
Nov
atodd's picture

A lofty goal for an iconic Ouray sign

Thu
26
Oct

Grad student monitors Portland Creek as part of master’s project

John Hammond and Abby Eurich install stream monitoring equipment in the bed of Portland Creek. Eurich is studying the combined effects of snow and land cover change in mountain watersheds for her master’s degree in watershed science.

Courtesy photo


by Mary Menz
news@ouraynews.com


Water from Colorado serves 19 states, and Colorado’s population alone is expected to nearly double from 4.3 million (2000) to 7.2 million in 2030. With 80 percent of the water supply coming from snowfall, it makes sense that today’s watershed scientists are looking to better manage and estimate water supplies that drain from the mountains.
That’s what native Coloradan Abby Eurich is doing. Eurich is a graduate student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, but the work she’s doing for her master’s degree in...

Thu
07
Sep

Potter Ranch celebrates 80th anniversary

Christine Potter Witherspoon poses with her display at the Ouray County Fair last week. The exhibit depicts memories associated with the 80-year history of the Potter Ranch. Included was an antique washing machine used by the family for years, her father’s old hat and spurs, and her mother’s boots, among other memorabilia, some of which has been donated to the Ouray County Ranch History Museum in Ridgway.

Plaindealer photo by Mary Menz


by Mary Menz
news@ouraynews.com


Nestled in the lush valley between Ridgway and Ouray is the Potter Ranch, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary. Christine Potter Witherspoon, granddaughter of John and Jennie Potter, who purchased the original property in 1937, commemorated the event with an elaborate and memory-filled exhibit depicting the ranch’s history at the Ouray County Fair last weekend.
“I just love this ranch,” said Witherspoon. “It’s been my life and the life of my family, including my siblings and children.” All told, the ranch has supported four generations of Potters since 1937, when her grandparents leased the property to others from their home ranch in Gunnison.
“But when my father John turned 15, they gave him this ranch and the brand 43 bar, which represents the year he took ownership of it,” explained Witherspoon.
Shortly thereafter, John Potter...

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