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The closing of Granada

October 15, 2011

The National Archives “Today’s Document” shows a photo from the closing of Colorado’s Granada Relocation Center on October 15th, 1945.

I’ve noticed that one reason I so seldom post to this blog is because it takes awhile to do the research that backs up an entry.  So today, I’ll just leave you with some pertinent links about Granada.

Governor Ralph Carr is profiled by the Colorado State Archives, which includes this quotation:  One of the few voices of reason during wartime was Governor Carr, who continued to treat the Japanese-Americans with respect and sought to help them keep their American citizenship. He sacrificed his political career to bravely confront the often dark side of human nature. “If you harm them, you must harm me. I was brought up in a small town where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it because it threatened the happiness of you and you and you.”  

The book to read about Governor Carr is The Principled Politican by Adam Schrager which I own, but have yet to read.   An indication of his reputation in modern-day Colorado is a building project named after him, the Ralph Carr Colorado Judicial Center Building, which you can learn more about here.


An interesting blog post about recent archaeological finds is here.  That article includes a link to the Amache Preservation Society, which includes some primary source documents.

The Colorado Archives has information about the camp itself here and links for more information here.  The National Archives has an “exhibition” about the camp here.  You can find photographs like the one that illustrates this blog post by searching in Flickr: The Commons.

Christmas at Granada 1943



Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Colorado Curtain

May 19, 2011

Christo and his wife Jean-Claude (along with their 13-year-old-son) lived in the trashiest apartments in Rifle for most of the two years it took them to hang the Valley Curtain across Rifle Gap.  The apartments are still trashy and still lived in, though not by world-famous artists.

Orange Curtain flapping in the breeze

I read a lot of negative things about Christo’s proposal to drape the Arkansas River Valley, but even though we knew he was eccentric, if not crazy, to hang a curtain near Rifle, it was a unique experience for those of us who lived here then.  Since part of my story about the curtain is something I only tell close friends, maybe I’ll write it and let someone post it for me posthumously (which means it could appear in several decades).

Yes, it was a strange project.  But yes, it was also strangely beautiful.  We were lucky that he chose our valley.  If you want to know what it felt like to live in Rifle then, check out the movie The Dish.  Our town was a lot like that town.

Valley Curtain

Mrs. Murphy freezes to death in a ditch

May 8, 2011

Occasionally, you run across a story that sticks with you.  I’m not sure why I thought of Mrs. Murphy today; perhaps it’s because she was a mother and it’s almost Mother’s Day.   I read about her over a decade ago, but I’m not even sure which decade she died, although it seems as though it happened before 1900.   The story is something like this:

Mrs. Murphy was found frozen to death in a ditch.  She’d last been seen alive staggering out of one of the local saloons, and perhaps in her drunken state, when she fell in the ditch, she was unable to get out and too drunk to know the difference, and so she fell asleep and died.    She was married to Patrick Murphy, a miner, had five children, and was to be buried in Carbondale’s Marion Cemetery

Who knows which of those details are accurate?  I certainly don’t.  I wasn’t searching for Mrs. Murphy when I read the paper on microfilm–it was chance that led me to read her story.

I’ve searched for the story again in Colorado’s online newspapers, but without success.  Why do I remember the story?  It’s the details.  She was falling-down drunk, but no one took care to see that she made it safely home.  She had five children, but she’d left them alone while she went to the saloon.   Also, the article didn’t bother to mention her name.  It wasn’t Mrs. Bertha Murphy or Mrs. Margaret Murphy–she was only Mrs. Patrick Murphy–just a drunk, dead, first-nameless, negligent mother found frozen in a ditch, apparently buried in an unmarked grave.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The Denver earthquake series of the 1960s

April 9, 2011

Subtitle:  How to cause an earthquake.

The USGS has websites of earthquake history for each state.  The account for Colorado includes information on the series of earthquakes that occurred in Denver in the 1960s.    When and why did the earthquakes start?

“In 1961, a 12,000-foot well was drilled at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, northeast of Denver, for disposing of waste fluids from Arsenal operations. Injection was commenced March 1962, and an unusual series of earthquakes erupted in the area shortly after.”

In fact, the earthquakes continued through the 1960s so  “in September of …[1968], the Army began removing fluid from the Arsenal well at a very slow rate, in hope that earthquake activity would lessen.”

Click on map to see USGS explanation.


The trip home from Phoenix

March 18, 2011

Photo labeled "Taken April 3, 1927 Phoenix, Arizona"

The family spent several months in Phoenix before they headed back to Colorado.  The photo above is of Leona and Joe in Phoenix.  Judging by the bow on her dress, it must have been a windy day.

This part of the story details Grandma’s story of the return trip through Gallup where Grandpa cooked breakfast on the campfire and they picked up a couple of hitchhikers.

Trip to Phoenix part 3

Crossing the Colorado–twice?

March 17, 2011

My grandmother continues telling the story of the trip to Phoenix.   They traded for a new vehicle in Topock, Arizona, then they drove it over “that big high bridge” across the Colorado River.  She then tells the story of crossing the Colorado River on the ferry.   Does this mean they had to cross the Colorado again? Which ferry was it?  My father’s favorite story about the trip was that they arrived in Phoenix with snow in their vehicle.  Since the Phoenix children seldom saw snow, this was exciting to them.  My confusion continues about the exact route they took to Phoenix.   Perhaps the ferry trip happened on the way back to Colorado in the spring and Grandma conflated the two events in her story.  Too bad I can’t ask.

Photo is labeled "Joe 1927 Arizona"

I’m always struck by how small Phoenix seemed to be in 1926-27.  According to the City of Phoenix, the population in 1930 was 48, 118.

Click on the link below to hear the story.

Trip to Phoenix part 2


Arizona Roads historic maps, including a 1927 Arizona highway map
Arizona road map from Wikimedia commons

Trip to Phoenix

March 16, 2011

My grandmother was a storyteller.

One of her best stories was about a trip she, her husband, and my dad made from Rifle, Colorado to Phoenix, Arizona in  November 1926.   I recorded her telling this story in the late 1970s.  Recently, I converted the audiocassette using Audacity, so I’m posting the story in three parts.

The main people she mentions in the story are “Joe’s dad” (Gene Crook), herself (Leona), and her son Joe (my dad).  They were headed to Phoenix to visit/temporarily live with Gene’s sister Sue Eschelbach and her family.

I used to think that they’d crossed the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry.   Grandma herself may have told me that, or perhaps in a different version of the story, she talked about crossing Lee’s Ferry on the return trip.   However, based on the few places she mentions on the trip,  they must have crossed over the Colorado between Needles and Kingman, Arizona  (of course, I wish I’d asked at the time).

The trip took them several weeks, in part because they had to stop and buy a new vehicle on the way.

The story reveals a lot about transportation in the 1920s western United States.  Although she reveled in telling about the journey, I think this trip might be one of the reasons that my grandmother generally preferred to stay home for the remaining decades of her life.

Gene, Joe, and Leona at Helper, Utah in November, 1926

The first part of the story talks about the trip from Rifle through Helper, Utah (where they spent Thanksgiving) to Needles, California.    Click on the link below to hear the story.

Trip to Phoenix


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