Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book Cliff

By the time Grand Junction was three years old it had become apparent to its citizens that they needed a good coal supply if the town was to grow and prosper. Early in 1884 an experienced coal miner by the name of George W. Smith set out to locate a mine that would adequately supply the city’s needs. In a remote and unexplored canyon of the Book Cliffs twelve miles from town he found a huge body of coal. Smith and several other men developed the discovery into what became known as the Book Cliff Mine. Two years later another coal mine was opened a half a mile north of the Book Cliff coal mine; it was called the Grand Valley Mine. Both mines were purchased by William Thomas Carpenter in the summer of 1888 and under his Grand Valley Fuel Company they were improved and further developed. He built the Little Book Cliff Railway to serve the mines. A small community of miners took root near the mines and the U.S. post office established a branch there during June 1890--officially dubbing the settlement Carpenter, Colorado.

This is where a friend and very experienced hiker took Dana, Michael and me to visit today. It was quite a grueling hike. We walked up to the very top of the mine (I wasn't sure they would get me back down) and it was breathtaking. Carpenter is now a ghost town and shows little evidence of humanity trampling there except for the hiking trails. The trail follows directly the path of the Little Book Cliff Railway straight to the mine shaft and beyond. The town population at its peak was about 100 people and was a company town. I could see that living there was likely a tough experience, but today we got to enjoy the beauty of the landscape. I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked, my camera batteries died. But I think some of the pictures show the area pretty well.

The view from the bottom. Not bad at all!

The view from the top. We had to climb back down that! Yikes!

A culvert that was built to move water from a natural spring into the town. All the rocks were cut to make the bowed shape.

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