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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was hoping for a little sun today, and it was trying to make a presence, but the clouds have an affection for the highest of places when there is moisture in the air. Pointed the Road King towards nearby Kenosha Pass, bringing the camera. Usually prefer the sun for images, but you know, the black bike kinda fit in well with the leaden clouds and snow laden peaks.

A cold, moody ride up high to a lonely area. Early spring in the Rockies. Lunch in a small and unchanged town in South Park.

In 1885 here was Kenosha Pass. Image by famed photographer William Henry Jackson... Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, CHS.J3535:


The peaks to the right above are the ones in the image below. The RK is paying homage to the history of South Park down below, a history including vast herds of bison, rich indian hunting grounds, and mining. Big time wilderness remains in many places here...


Made it to the very small town of Jefferson in the Park, where I will have lunch, but first going to take a couple of pics. Until 1938, the only way into the Park was by narrow gauge train. From the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, X-9573:


The Jefferson Depot today. We turn right here to take two pics down the Michigan Creek road.


Focused on this spur of the Mosquito Range. Bike kinda fuzzy. Bald Mountain (13,684ft) is the backdrop. The Continental Divide goes over these ridgelines. Moisture on this side makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Moisture on the other side will flow to the Pacific. It is getting cold.


Further down the road is Mt. Silverheels (13,822). Snow falling up high is blending the peak with the sky. The mountain was named after a caring woman who looked after sick miners. See the tale below following the image...


The residents of Buckskin Joe weren't all miners, of course, and there were certainly women to be found. One of these women was a dancehall girl known both for her beauty and for the distinctive silver shoes that she wore while performing. She was one of the more popular girls among the miners and probably made pretty decent money. Because of the color of her shoes, she was known popularly as "Silverheels."

1861 was a big year in Buckskin Joe. In addition to getting a new courthouse, the town was hit hard by a smallpox epidemic. Letters begging for help were sent to Denver, but little came. A good portion of the citizenry skipped town fairly quickly, but most of the miners decided to remain behind and risk infection because they feared claim jumpers. For many, this proved to be a fatal mistake.

Hope for the miners came in the person of Silverheels, who stayed by the stricken miners' sides, caring for them the best she could. In addition to nursing the miners, she also helped by cooking and cleaning for them while they were ill. Through her efforts, a number of men who might otherwise have died were saved. Unfortunately for Silverheels, the constant exposure to the disease eventually caused her to contract it as well. She was placed in the infirmary with many of the miners, and managed to beat the disease.

The miners she had worked so hard to save took up a collection that they hoped to give to Silverheels to thank her for helping them. After raising $5,000, they went to her cabin to deliver their gift, only to discover that Silverheels was nowhere to be found. One version of the story says that all that was there was a pair of her silver shoes sitting on the table. She is said to have fled because the scars from the smallpox had scarred her beautiful face.

The money was returned, but the miners decided to name a prominent nearby peak in her honor: Mount Silverheels.

It is said that many years later, after the mines had been exhausted and the town mostly died, a mysterious veiled woman would sometimes be seen placing flowers on the gravestones of the victims of the 1861 smallpox epidemic. And some people say that even today you can see the ghostly figure of a veiled woman walking through the Buckskin Joe cemetary, placing flowers on the graves of the friends that she wasn't able to save.


How about that Silverheels story? OK, lunchtime! And here's the five star place... the Jefferson Market off of Hwy 285. Hey, there isn't a lot to chose from here! Paid a visit to the Port-a-Let. Man am I glad #1 doesn't require sitting down. With gear and chaps on. On a cold day. Do you know what I mean? Microwaved a burrito. Mmmmm :)...


Getting ready to leave and return home. Gonna point the bike this direction...


A little focus on the bike. In the distance can see we aren't too far below the 12,000ft. timberline...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
See the cut in the hillside ahead? Road is going to take us there. See the lesser cuts in the hillside down lower? This was the grade for the narrow gauge train. Until 1938, it was the only mechanized way to get to this place. Can see some cattle to the left. As noted above, vast herds of bison used to roam these high meadows. The last wild bison in Colorado was shot a few miles from this place, in the year 1900.


In 1938, the narrow gauge train made its last run over Kenosha Pass and into the Park. Automobiles were changing the landscape in more ways than one. Here's an image from one of the last runs, as the train descended Kenosha Pass, from the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, OP-6338


Great narrow gauge train story... there was a blizzard in the Park one night and the train was trying to make it across the meadows. Things got bumpy and the engineers simply couldn't see. They decided to shut down the train until the morning. When they woke and the blizzard subsided, they learned they had left the tracks behind for miles and had ridden across the cold hard ground!

Well, approaching the end of the ride. Here's a pause on the northern descent of Kenosha Pass. Can see the intimidating ramparts of 14,164ft. Mt. Evans to the left, almost hidden by a passing snow squall...


Despite the gray, the cold... a fantastic ride.
 

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Steve,

You should be an author, your blessed with a way for words, and any eye for detail in your photos.

Anyway, once again I've enjoyed your commentary and photos. And I enjoyed the history of your area, especially about the Railroad.

Then there's your new SE RK, gorgeous bike, enjoy it!

Barry
 

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Niiiiiiiiiiiiice! What magnificent country!
 

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Thanks for sharing Steve. Enjoyable, as always. Researching the history of an area and then being able to ride it is, I'm sure, enjoyable for you. We, the viewing audience, sure appreciate it also!

This Ride Report section is a great idea. I hope that many of us will share, especially as better weather is on the way and our expolrations will be more frequent.

Ride on, ride well.

Doug

"I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone.

Doug... yes, enjoy going on the rides of others, even virtually. Hopefully there will be other posts here over time.

BTW, the highway in the pics above is the same Hwy 285 to Santa Fe. If we ever rendezvous in Alamosa or nearby, this will be the way I head south.
 
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