Top Ten Cool Facts About Lake Dillon, CO & an Underwater Ghost Town

Citizens of the town on Dillon, Colorado, in Summit County stand along a boardwalk in front of commercial storefronts. c. 1887. (Photo: Denver Public Library)
A house moving from Old Dillon to the new townsite (Courtesy: Dr. Sandra Mather Archives and Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, from the Summity Historical Archives)

“Kayaking on Lake Dillon, CO” shows the lake of today–beautiful, serene, and surrounded by statuesque mountain ranges. Before posting, I wanted to find fun facts but had no idea I’d learn about a town originally built as a “stage stop and trading post” for pioneers heading west. And I had no idea that town became an “underwater ghost town!”

Pretty cool, hon!

Ten Fun Facts About Lake Dillon, CO and its History

  1. Lake Dillon is a large, fresh water reservoir located in Summit County, CO.
  2. The reservoir, which supplies water for the city of Denver, has approximately 3,233 surface acres of water and can hold 83 billion gallons of water.
  3. Over 26 miles of shoreline surround the lake.
  4. Lake Dillon is nestled along the Ten Mile and Gore Mountain ranges and bordered by the towns of Dillon, Frisco, and Silverthorne.
  5. The mountains top out above 14,000 feet.
  6. Construction of the dam that was built to create Dillon Reservoir began in 1961 and was completed in 1963.
  7. The entire town of Dillon, Colorado, and a hydroelectric plant were relocated to build the dam.
  8. The town’s cemetery and more than 300 graves were moved before construction of the dam started.
  9. The Old Town of Dillon actually sits at the bottom of Lake Dillon.
  10. Dillon is nearly 60 miles west of Denver and on the other side of the Continental Divide, so a tunnel was built to get the water from the reservoir to the city.

Mountain town to railroads to dams to a tunnel that took 18 years to complete.

Old Dillon

In 1960, the town of Dillon was bustling. Home to 814 residents, it was the largest town in Summit County. But, it also needed to move.

The Denver Water Board wanted to create a new dam and the place where Dillon sat would eventually be 250 feet under water. So, they moved the town. For the fourth time.

Dillon was originally built as a stage stop and trading post in the 1880s. At that time, it was on the northeast side of the Snake River in the Blue River Valley. The town, named after prospector Tom Dillon, was officially incorporated in 1883.

But when the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad expanded into the area, it bypassed Dillon. Wanting to be closer to the tracks and therefore have a better chance to survive and grow, the town was relocated to the western side of the Blue River.

Not long after, a second railroad arrived from the northeast. Again hoping to make it easy for expansion the town moved for a second time. This town site, established in 1892 at the confluence of the Blue River, Snake River and Tenmile Creek, allowed for one train station for both rail lines.

By the early 1900s, the Denver Water Board recognized it needed to do something to meet the growing needs of the expanding city. Eventually they decided on damming the Blue River and diverting water to Denver.

The board bought water rights for the Blue River Valley and slowly began buying land. During the Great Depression, many Dillon residents were not able to pay property taxes so sold their property to Denver Water for back taxes. They also bought land on a hillside along what would soon be the shore of the new reservoir for the new town.

By 1956, the remaining residents were told they had to sell and be out by September 1961. On Sept. 15 of that year, the process to relocate Dillon for the fourth and final time began.

Moving the town of Dillon

Those who wanted to move homes and businesses from the Old Dillon to the new town site were responsible for paying for the cost to transport those buildings. So, many decided not to and instead began rebuilding or simply moved away. However, a few did choose to make the move. At least 10 homes were uprooted and relocated to the New Town of Dillon. A new cemetery was purchased near the new town site and more than 300 graves were moved.

Once everything that was going to be moved was, the remaining buildings were demolished and construction of the dam was ready to begin.

Dillon Dam construction

Construction on the Dillon Dam officially began in 1961 and was completed in 1963. The idea was to divert water from the Blue River Basin, store it in the massive reservoir and transport it to Denver when needed.

The only problem was that Dillon is nearly 60 miles west of Denver and on the other side of the Continental Divide. Denver Water’s solution? A tunnel.

The 23-mile Roberts Tunnel, the longest underground tunnel of its kind, was drilled between Dillon and Grant, on the other side of the [Continental] Divide. It took 18 years for crews boring from each end to meet in the middle.

When water is needed, it flows from the reservoir, through the tunnel and into the South Platte River, which feeds into Denver’s water supply.

Amanda Kesting, Caitlin Hendee (Denver Business Journal)

Sources: Town of Frisco, Colorado.com, Denver Business Journal, 9 News

Kayaking on Lake Dillon, Colorado

Me and Rosanne kayaking on Lake Dillon.

Looks Photoshopped But It Isn’t!

The highlight of this summer? A short trip to Denver, Colorado! (shout out to my aunt, Rosanne and cousin, Alex!) One of my daughters traveled with me, and we took advantage of the beautiful summer weather and gorgeous scenery. We kayaked on Lake Dillon, paddling in ripply, cool water and in a picture-perfect postcard setting. I could not get over how fluffy the clouds were and how blue the sky. Afterwards, we visited the Farmer’s Market and picked up yummy, small-batch chocolates. No wonder we all loved the day!

Hannah and Alex.
Tandem kayaking.

Iridescent Blue

Orchids.
Orchids.

This is the next to last installment in my Series of Blue.

The sun shining through vivid red, yellow and orange leaves invites me to breathe in the crisp autumn air, but iridescent blue takes my breath away.

I have to stop and study the line

where blue becomes indigo and indigo becomes violet,

where water, waves, day and dusk mingle,

 and where colors crash, whisper, and then fall silent.

Dale Chihuly blown glass.
Dale Chihuly blown glass, Denver Botanic Gardens, CO

Dale Chihuly blown glass.
Dale Chihuly blown glass.

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Dale Chihuly blown glass.
Dale Chihuly blown glass.

Delphinium.
Delphinium, Breckenridge, CO.

Links:  Dale Chihuly in Denver:  Pink and Purple Color Comparison.

 

 

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Pink and Purple Color Comparison

Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass Spheres
Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass Spheres, 2014.

Pinks and Purples 

I loved the glass in the garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Dale Chihuly created gorgeous glass sculptures that grew alongside “rooms” of blooms.  The resulting color comparisons were poetic.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
and before the street begins,
and there the grass grows soft and white,
and there the sun burns crimson bright,
and there the moon-bird rests from his flight
to cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
and the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
we shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
and watch where the chalk-white arrows go
to the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
and we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
for the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
the place where the sidewalk ends.

Hon, I write.  I write picture books and chapter books.  In my stories, the little girl inside of me invites other children to mark the place where the sidewalk ends.

In that place and in that space,

we explore the world with open minds,

share our curiosity and wonder,

marvel at spiders and stars,

and believe in the magic of our imaginations.

Zinnia
Zinnia, Denver, CO.

Columbine
Columbine, Breckenridge, CO.

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Purple Reeds, Chihuly.
Purple Reeds, Chihuly, 2014

Flat Sea Holly.
Flat Sea Holly, Denver, CO.

Blue and Purple Boat, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass.
Blue and Purple Boat, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass, 2014.

“Glass itself is so much like water.  If you let it go on its own, it almost ends up looking like something that came from the sea.”  (Quote by Chihuly.)

Related Posts:

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Glass in the Garden

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Fifty Shades of Grey

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Orange Color Comparison

 

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Orange Color Comparison

Dale Chihuly, Blown-glass spheres in a boat.
Dale Chihuly, Blown-glass spheres in a boat.

Orange 

If you ever wondered–and even if you didn’t–where I came up with Bmore Energy’s tag-line, “Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary,” I’ll tell you. One day Hubby and I were taking a walk, and I pointed out some pretty yellow flowers. He said he hadn’t even noticed them. I said, “I find the ordinary extraordinary” and “That’s it! That’s the essence of my blog.” He laughed. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in a wow-Naomi-has-an-eye-kind-of-way. My guess it was in a what-is-she-talking-about-kind-of-way. Two things are certain:  1) I’ll keep pointing out words, images, sounds, people, animals, nature and the infinite amount of things I find fascinating, and 2)Hubby will shake his head and laugh.

Last summer at the Denver Botanic Gardens, my bet is that everyone found color at the Dale Chihuly exhibit fascinating. The next series of posts will study color comparisons.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for viewing. I hope you like my photographs.

Enjoy!

Complementary Colors.
Complementary Colors.

Orange Mountain Poppy, Breckenridge, CO
Orange Mountain Poppy, Breckenridge, CO.

Glass Spires.
Glass Spires and Spheres.

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Goldfish.
Goldfish.

Koi.
Koi.

Flame-like translucence.
Flame-like translucence.

“Glassblowing is a very spontaneous, fast medium, and you have to respond very quickly.” (quote by Chihuly)

Related Posts:

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Glass in the Garden

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Fifty Shades of Grey

 

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Fifty Shades of Grey

Dale Chihuly, Perennial Fiori, Blown Glass, 2014
Perennial Fiori, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass, 2014

Many shades of grey exist between black and white.

In my last post, Glass in the Garden, vibrant colors resemble Monet’s Impressionistic paintings. Here, black, white and grey stand in stark contrast to grass, leaves, bees and a wall of water.

Aside from contrasting colors, I am taken with the dichotomy between straight and curved lines borrowed from nature and mirrored in glass and stone at the Denver Botanic Gardens

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As stems reach for the sun, bees drink up the shine.

Nicholas Kadzungura,Chapungu Sculpture Park, Zimbabwe, Africa.
So Proud of My Children, Nicholas Kadzungura,Chapungu Sculpture Park, Zimbabwe, Africa.

This African mother may walk tall and straight , but the curve of her face, tilt of her head, and bouquet in her hand form a circle of devotion around her children.

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I’m passionate about children and reading, so it’s no wonder why this sculpture spoke to me.

The Boy and a Frog, Elsie Ward Hering, stone 1898
The Boy and a Frog, Elsie Ward Hering, Stone 1898

I am always amazed at how material such as stone can be chiseled to look like a person. This sculpture’s curves harmonize with the brick path and bushes.

Surprise! Instead of spires, around a corner were huge, wavy glass blooms. I wasn’t expecting these white flowers. Their clear “petals” blend with the falling water yet, at the same time, they wave upward and outward in an unnatural way. I do like the way they are both opaque and translucent.

Dale Chihuly, Perennial Fiori, Blown Glass, 2014
Persian Towers, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass, 2014

Dale Chihuly,

“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced. ” (quote by Chihuly)

Hon, what do you think of the black and white glass?

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Glass in the Garden

Monet Pool Fiori, 2014, Blown Glass and Steel
Monet Pool Fiori, 2014, Blown Glass and Steel

Monet’s Garden Re-Imagined

Last summer while visiting relatives in Denver, Colorado, we saw exquisite colors, smelled fragrant blooms, and heard busy birds and insects. The Denver Botanic Gardens featured an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s organic blown glass.  (June to November 2014.) The sculptures were vibrant, iridescent and sensual.  

In 2001, Chihuly started his Garden Cycle, exhibitions within botanical settings. Many sculptures stood on their own, while others were set amongst existing gardens.

I love color, texture and the juxtaposition of the natural and manmade, and try to capture that in my photographs.  

Enjoy this “tour” of the gardens, the first of many posts inspired by an artist.

Royal blue and turquoise glass accent the more traditional Impressionist colors.
Royal blue and turquoise glass accent the more traditional Impressionist colors.

Claude Monet is my favorite artist, and there are many whose work I love.  When I sit in front of his enormous canvases in the MOMA or MET, I find that elusive thing I search for every day…inner peace.  I am transported to Giverny, lost among the flowers, and walking in the forest forever…just for a moment.

Organic creature grows out of lily pads.

Where does the glass end?  Where do the reflections begin?

In this photograph, reflections of green swirls become Lily Pads roots.  Purple glass spikes grow out of the water and erase it.

Victoria 'Longwood Hybrid' Water Platter
Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’ Water Platter (from Longwood Gardens)

Glass or Creature?
Glass or Creature?

“Glass itself is so much like water. If you let it go on its own, it almost ends up looking like something that came from the sea. ” (quote by Chihuly)

Hon, have you seen Chihuly’s work before?  Where?  What did you think of it?

Me and my Plus One.
Me and my Plus One.

Creepy Cowboys and Other Oddities

Giant arrows and teepees outside a shop in between Durango and Mesa Verde, Colorado.
Giant arrows and teepees outside a shop in between Durango and Mesa Verde, Colorado.

Old West store front.
Old West store front.

Propped up and its not even a movie set.
Propped up and its not even a movie set.

Forget online shopping, catalogs, t.v. and newspaper ads.  Nothing says, “Pull your car over RIGHT NOW and SHOP HERE” than giant arrows and teepees!  Hon, Hubby hates to shop but even he was curious about what we’d find inside.

WARNING:  Do Not Proceed Reading This Post if you are an Animal Activist.  It might be the 2000’s, but the West is still wild and animals skins and taxidermic animals are everywhere you look.

In my last post, Window in the Wild West, I mentioned stopping at the Roadkill Cafe and getting the heebie jeebies in the back room.  I don’t know why going to the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan doesn’t bother me.  Maybe its because the animals have been there so long.  Maybe its because they’re behind glass.  Or maybe because you know what you’re going to see.  Whatever!  Hubby, Tween Daughter and I gaped and gawked…all under the watchful eye of The Sheriff!

 

Buffalo jaw bones.
Buffalo Jaw Bones.

I’m not sure who would buy Buffalo Jaw Bones and what you’d use them for.  The sign says, “The Historical Native American War Clubs.”  Umm, really?  I haven’t read any American history text books that mentioned this but, then again, those text books were probably biased in favor of the Colonists.  So, maybe war clubs were kept out of the mix.

Turtle Shells.
Turtle Shells.

Here’s another head scratcher.  I asked the saleslady what on G-d’s green earth would you use these for and she replied, “Indians used to make rattles out of them.”  That’d be a mighty big rattle for little hands.  Even if they were used for rattles back then, what about now?

Pelts.
Pelts.

Le’s face it, fur is warm (and feathers).  I bet, if you lived in Siberia…or on the North Pole…or in Antarctica…or on some very high mountain in a wooden hut, you’d rather have fur (and a down comforter) than something made of Thermoloft.  Not to knock modern technology (I have many coats made with Thermoloft), but ecology and evolution will outlive and outperform all of us humble humans.

Porcupine.
Porcupine.

Taxidermic wall.
Taxidermic wall.

Consider the next photos sorbet to cleanse your palette.

Not odd.  Pretty rugs and wraps.
Not odd. Pretty woven rugs and wraps.

Beautiful strands of turquoise.
Beautiful strands of turquoise.

Need a lasso?
Need a lasso?

Now for the strangest things we saw. 

Varmint Tails.
Varmint Tails.

Varmint Faces.
Varmint Faces.

I have three questions about the oddities above.  1) What would you do with a Varmint Face?  2)  Unless you’re making a Davy Crockett hat, why would you buy a Tail?  3) Who says “Varmint” besides actors in a shoot-em-up Western movie?

And then there were the Creepy Cowboys.  

The first one sat friendly-like outside a store in Old Town Albuquerque. He was strange but he didn’t scare me silly.

Creepy Cowboy #1.
Creepy Cowboy #1.

Tween Daughter and I came around a corner and realized we were being watched by The Sheriff!

Creepy Cowboy #2.
Creepy Cowboy #2.

I actually said, “Hi.”  When The Sheriff didn’t answer, I figured he was the silent type!

Have you seen strange things in your travels?  I’d love to hear what curiosities and oddities you’ve seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southwest Roadtrip: The Great Sand Dunes, Up Close

The Great Sand Dunes
The Great Sand Dunes

In my last post, I was at the base of The Great Sand Dunes in Alamosa, Colorado. I was awed by their height, the starkness of the sand against the sky and The Quiet.

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Some of us had the urge to slide down the dunes then climb back up. We all wanted to absorb the warmth of the sand.

Tween Daughter with my childhood friend's daughters.
Tween Daughter with my childhood friend’s daughters.

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Teen Daughter and shout out to my childhood friend, Cindy, who drove from Albuquerque, NM to meet us in Colorado.
Teen Daughter and Cindy, my childhood friend, who drove from Albuquerque, NM to meet us in Colorado.

 

Tween Daughter
Tween Daughter

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In the profoundness of The Quiet, I thought I might hear G-d whisper. Standing atop a mountain of sand, I felt close to the heavens. Walking ahead, the rising sand is all you can see. Behind, the immense, lush Sangre de Cristo Rocky Mountains are as tall as the clouds.

The dunes call out to your mind, body and soul. I never wanted to leave.

Teen Daughter
Teen Daughter

Southwest Roadtrip: The Great Sand Dunes, First Glance

The Great Sand Dunes, Colorado
The Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Our summer roadtrip seems like a long time ago, but I’ll never forget visiting The Great Sand Dunes.

It was a long drive from the main road in Alamosa County, Colorado to the park’s entrance. Then, finding the one lane, dirt road that wound up along the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range to a parking area was a challenge. Would our rental car make it up the hill and over the rocky, bumpy path? Once we parked, the sand dunes seemed very far off, and in between us and the sand dunes was scrub, bent trees and cacti.

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Maybe it was the big sky that made the sand seem so far away, but it didn’t take long to hike down to the base of the dunes and reach a stream.

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I saw creatures in the partly submerged driftwood.  After I let my imagination stretch wide, I looked up and…

…breathed in the beauty of the dunes. 

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