Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Picture Travelog - Uncompaghre Uplift

The post at Arizona Geology about uranium mine tailings cleanup reminded me of a trip I took down to southern Utah. On my traverse around the region (looking at the top of the Navajo Sandstone) I drove through the Uncompaghre Uplift in Colorado (Moab, UT Rt 191 along the Las Salle Mnts to Rt 46 to Paradox, CO to Rt 141 to Grand Junction, CO).
The small little valley in this steep walled canyon was so beautiful that my first thoughts were "I could retire here." Now, I'm a little young to be thinking about retirement, but it struck a cord in me.

What reminded me about this trip was the mention of the nearby Uranium mine. I witnessed the operations from the roadway for a bit before continuing onwards. Unfortunately, I did not grab any pictures. Along the way, I also stopped at a geologic/historic stop and I am glad I did. There I saw this display and evidence for a hanging flume from placer gold mining.

The display reads:
"In need of water to work its Dolores Canyon gold claims, the Montrose Placer Mining Company built a thirteen-mile canal and flume to deliver water from the San Miguel River. The last five miles of the flume clung to the wall of the canyon itself, running along the cliff face below you."

(See it along the wall?)

"Constructed between 1888 and 1891, the four-foot-deep, five-foot-four-inch-wide "hanging flume" carried 23,640,000 gallons of water in a twenty four hour period. Its construction dazzled mining pros with its sheer ingenuity. The placer claim, unfortunately, dazzled no one; after three years of indifferent yields the company folded, abandoning the flume to the ravages of weather and time. Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this engineering marvel symbolizes the twists of fate so often encountered in the pursuit of Rocky Mountain gold."

Display Picture Captions:
"What is left of this section of the flume can be seen today from the River Road.-Jerald Reid Collection from Main Street Photo"

"This work will show how easy it is, when backed up by enterprising capital, to bring water from and to points which were always thought to be inaccessible. -Engineering and Mining Journal, Jan 1890"

"Hydraulic mining operation similar to that used by the Montrose Placer Mining Company. This method separated flake and flour gold from the dirt and gravel running across the sluice boxes. -Colorado Historical Society"

Even though I was there to ogle the sandstones, I was pretty impressed with the construction feat. All the rappelling that would have been done to build this for five miles... They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Looking through my pictures for this trip, I've got a lot of pretty good ones. I'll try and post them as blog posts. Perhaps I can trigger some memory recall for others. If it's anything like the fondness I have for this trip, then as Martha Stewart says "It's a good thing."


ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...

I got to take this drive right before Christmas on our way to Albq. to see my parents. We did not stop at the overlook, but I saw many tailing piles on the east side of the road, making it really easy to still locate the old mines. I wish I had taken some pictures. I am sure we will be driving through there often (and next month for sure, maybe we can stop then).

Silver Fox said...

I haven't been there, but it looks well worth adding to my list of places. Thanks for the photos!