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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

10th Mountain Division oral history

February 11, 2011

The 10th Mountain Division, which trained at Camp Hale near Leadville to fight in the Alps during World War II, is an important part of Colorado’s history, not least because veterans of the Division returned to Colorado after the war to help develop the ski industry in our state.

I once taught Colorado history to a 10th Mountain Division veteran.  We hit it off well enough to take what seemed like the world’s longest one-day jeep trip over Kebler Pass to Crested Butte to Gunnison to Montrose to Grand Mesa and back to Battlement Mesa, but although he was proud to have served, we never discussed the specifics of his service.

During World War II, my mother lived at Climax where her dad worked at the Climax Molybdenum mine.  She told stories about the German prisoners-of-war who were housed at Camp Hale and put on a song-and-dance program for the local townspeople.

My personal interest in Camp Hale began in the 1960s when we lived near Leadville.  Since Camp Hale was off-limits, yet visible from the highway, we joined in the rampant speculation about what was really going on there.

I’m always on the lookout for 10th Mountain Division information.  Thus, I was intrigued by the Denver Public Library’s blog post today on 10th Mountain Division Oral Histories.  A sample is available in the video below.

Resources on the 10th Mountain Division and Camp Hale:

Prisoners of War at Camp Hale

Camp Hale Home Page

10th Mountain Division Home Page

Tales from the 10th: the 10th Mountain Division is born

Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division Camp Hale

Aspen Historical Society history timeline 1940s

64 counties

February 5, 2011

One of my undergrad professors told us that Colorado has 63 counties (64 since we added the City & County of Broomfield in 2001) because the legislators wanted residents to have no more than a one day’s horseback ride to the county seat.

Source:  Map from

I’ve never tried to verify that, but I wonder if that’s true, or if they just gave up by the time they reached the western slope.   In Colorado, you can find a number of strange city/county arrangements, many caused by the geography of mountains and rivers.

For example, Redstone, Colorado, is located in Pitkin County.  You might be able to make it over the mountains to the county seat in Aspen in a day’s horseback ride, but to drive from Redstone to Aspen, one goes through Carbondale.

Map modified from  Wikimedia Commons.  Place names roughly added.

From Basalt, you could have ridden a horse to the county seat of Eagle via Ruedi Reservoir and the Woods Lake road, but the best roads today lead through Glenwood Springs, then Glenwood Canyon.

Debeque is in Mesa County, but it’s separated by a canyon from the county seat in Grand Junction, so Garfield County takes care of some of Debeque’s needs while Mesa County takes care of parts of Garfield County.

I sometimes wonder why Colorado needs 64 counties while our mountainous neighbors have far fewer:  Utah–29; Wyoming–23; New Mexico–33.  But at this point, it seems as though the county configuration is unlikely to change.


Colorado County Place Name origins

Dates of County organization

County map showing county seats

States, Counties, & Statistically Equivalent Entities gives historical background on county formation in relation to the federal census.

Denver Public Library Digital Collections Beta

February 4, 2011

Denver Public Library announced that their new photo interface has gone live.

I’ve tried a few searches, and it’s definitely less clunky to navigate than the old CARL interface.  It’s also more aesthetically pleasing.   If you choose to search all the collections, you’ll be searching “the former PhotosWest photographs, …History Colorado, Auraria Library and Creating Communities collections as well.”   Search results include Denver city directories and digitized histories, as well as photographs.  So far as I can tell, though, there’s still no direct way to correct misinformation in a photograph.  I can email them through the same contact form as before.  Ah, well.  It’s definitely an improvement over Photoswest, but I hope the promised ability to tag and comment on photos is still in the works.

Source:  Western History & Genealogy Blog, Digital Denver.

My previous post about a desire to easily correct misinformation on Denver Public Library photos is here.