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

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Hiking Montserrat, Spain

Montserrat, Spain.

Montserrat’s trails are rocky, sunny, and steep. Hon, I needed to catch my breath! We were lucky to be accompanied by a guide who knows the mountain well enough to re-route us when paths were blocked. You know what we saw? Mountain goats resting in the shade. The multi-peaked mountain range overlooks Catalonia and reaches 1,236m (4,055 feet) at its highest summit, Sant Jeroni. The other two main peaks are Montgrós at 1,120m and Miranda de les Agulles at 903m. 

The geology and nature of Montserrat Mountain Range are unusual and to preserve it, a nature park was established in 1987. In Mesozoic era, over 100 million years ago, the mountain top was under water, part of a delta area, and the sediments in the present day rock pillars were in the bottom of a river and lake. After the lake and river dried, the area was exposed to erosion, and over a long period of time, the mountain with several peaks formed.

Not just the geology is uncommon, but also the climate up in the mountain is unique, with different micro-climates. Wildlife of the park includes mammal like squirrels, boars and goats, a wide range of different birds, bats and geckos. Vegetation varies from oak forests to small flowery meadows, and altogether there are over 1250 species of plants.

Finnsaway
Climbing a vertical, rocky path.

Rhyme and Reason, The History and Symbolism of a Wedding Day Tradition, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, April-May 2022

Where does “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” come from?

Right before the pandemic caused everything to shut down in March 2020, I’d written two articles for Elegant Lifestyles Magazine: one was an in-depth, 6-7 page feature about a fundraiser/showhouse called Mansion in May which included interviews and photos of custom-designed rooms; the other was a shorter bridal article about the history of the saying, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

Though Mansion in May transformed into Splendor in September, ELS was temporarily shuttered and my articles never ran. So, I was pleasantly surprised when the editor of ELS (shout out to Kara Sibilia) included my bridal piece in the Spring 2022 issue. The topic is the saying, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” which, it turns out, is based on superstitions surrounding evil spirits and fertility. The most interesting thing I learned?

‘Something blue’ is directly related to the Evil Eye jewelry we wear today. Though Evil Eye amulets dates back about 5,000 years, the earliest iterations of blue as the eye color were discovered in the Mediterranean in 1500 BC. Since blue eyes were a genetic rarity in that region, people possessing them were believed to be ‘uncannily proficient at bestowing the curse.’ Blue glass beads circulated around the world, and people wore their own Evil Eyes to deflect wicked stares. Brides traditionally wore blue garters to ward off, once again, the threat of infertility.

Naomi Gruer, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine.

Mental Health Highlighted, Thank You Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka, photo source cnn.com

I recently told a relative that after my mom died, I sought the help of a therapist to work through the grief. I’m not ashamed to say that as a young newlywed and mom of triplets and a younger daughter, I’ve worked on my mental health, gaining tools, techniques, and strategies to recognize my hot buttons and ways in which I can improve parenting, marriage, and relationships.

Goals? To a) better understand myself, b) live a purposeful life, c) direct my energy towards personal and professional pursuits that bring me joy, and d) find inner peace in our short time on Earth. Working through issues isn’t for everyone, but it has helped me tremendously.

So I was taken aback when that same relative threw the conversation back in my face…twice! “Did you say you saw a—-pause for effect—-PSYCHIATRIST?”

The first time, I calmly responded that, no, she’s a social worker and reminded her that, by the way, so are my sister, niece, and several friends. The second time, I was not calm. I jumped down her throat and said, “We’ve already discussed this and we live in the 21st century!” BUTTON PUSHED!

Why? Why was I so upset that the only takeaway from a prior heartfelt conversation were questions that felt like she had asked, “Did you say you’ve decided to become a real-life mermaid by undergoing surgery to remove your legs and attach a tail?!”

Hon, seriously! That’s about the only news that would warrant her titter-worthy tone!

A few reasons I was annoyed:

  • If someone has a medical problem, is it noteworthy if he/she seeks medical help? Of course not! So, why the stigma about treating our emotional selves?
  • Are there aisles of Self Help books and a podcast industry born out of the desire to improve our emotional lives? Yes!
  • Are we neanderthals who existed as hunters and gatherers? No, we’ve evolved into hunters, gatherers and listeners.

Upon further research, I discovered that counseling goes back to ancient Egypt:

Even before the written language, people told stories and parables. It’s an ancient tradition that often served as a kind of therapy, helping others heal while passing on indelible wisdom to support others. More than 3,500 years ago, references to “healing through words” appeared in ancient Egyptian and Greek writings. The word “counseling” found its way into Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale in 1386.

The more formal term “psychotherapy” was coined in the late 1800s, which the Mayo Clinic defines as a “general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health provider.” It’s during psychotherapy where participants examine their moods, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, while learning how to take control and respond to challenging situations in a healthy way.

Talkspace.com

And. And for someone who watched the 2021 Olympics and as much as I did, knowledge of Olympic gymnast Simone Biles’ need to take a step back, which called to mind professional tennis player Naomi Osaka’s own mental health journey, the questions were anachronistic and insulting.

The day after Simone decided not to compete in the individual all-around competition after withdrawing from the team finals, Better Up, a coaching resource [“helps your people identify their strengths, achieve their goals, and reach their full potential. The results? A high-performing workforce ready to tackle whatever comes their way] ran a full page ad in The New York Times.

I love it for its clever wording and for its message.


Thank you Simone.

Thank you for raising the bar without touching one.

For showing your strength without moving a muscle.

And for showing the world that taking care of yourself is never selfish.

It’s human.

Thank you for trusting your instincts as much as you trust your teammates.

Thank you for using your voice to give others one.

And for teaching us all that leaving a legacy isn’t always about sticking the landing.

Sometimes it’s about helping others just get off the ground.

You’ve shown us once again

That mental health and physical health are one and the same.

And that your courage is one of a kind.

Thank you, Simone.

Thank you, Naomi.

And all who have helped us see that everyone is going through something.

But no one has to do it alone.

As a small gesture to show our tremendous gratitude, we’re gifting athletes, coaches, and anyone else inspired to start their mental fitness journey, free BetterUp coaching. We hope that this moment turns into momentum, and we can continue to empower the next generation of GOATs.

Let Liberty Rise, How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save The Statue of Liberty by Chana Stiefel

Happy Book Birthday to a bunch of NJ SCBWI writer-friends!

Hon, you know how much I love Kidlit, especially picture books, so congrats to authors whose picture books have just debuted!

Chana Stiefel’s newest picture book, Let Liberty Rise! How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty, illustrated by Chuck Groenink, debuted on March 2, 2021.

On America’s 100th birthday, the people of France built a giant gift! It was one of the largest statues the world had ever seen — and she weighed as much as 40 elephants! And when she arrived on our shores in 250 pieces, she needed a pedestal to hold her up. Few of America’s millionaires were willing to foot the bill.

Then, Joseph Pulitzer (a poor Hungarian immigrant-cum-newspaper mogul) appealed to his fellow citizens. He invited them to contribute whatever they could, no matter how small an amount, to raise funds to mount this statue. The next day, pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters poured in. Soon, Pulitzer’s campaign raised enough money to construct the pedestal. And with the help of everyday Americans (including many thousands of schoolchildren!) the Statue of Liberty rose skyward, torch ablaze, to welcome new immigrants for a life of freedom and opportunity!

Chana Stiefel’s charming and immediate writing style is perfectly paired with Chuck Groenink’s beautiful, slyly humorous illustrations. Back matter with photographs included.

Scholastic

Check out “The Picture Book Buzz – Interview with Chana Stiefel” by Maria Marshall to find out what inspired Chana to write this book, where she did research, what she wants kids to take away from the story, and which illustration contains a surprise historical coincidence.

Chana is an author of over 25 books for kids, including My Name Is Wakawakaloch!, Animal Zombies…& Other Real-Life Monsters, and Daddy Depot. @chanastiefel

Passover Seder, Easy Charosets Recipe

Charosets and desserts are usually my contribution to our extended family’s Passover seder. But, due to the pandemic and worry over COVID, this is the second year we aren’t all gathering. I always thought Charosets on the seder plate was a representation of mortar enslaved Jews used to when they were forced to build those gorgeous pyramids in Egypt. Little did I know there this dish’s significance was up for discussion!

Meaning 

Charoset (חֲרֽוֹסֶת, pronounced ha-row-sit) is a sticky, sweet symbolic food that Jews eat during the Passover seder every year. The word chariest derives from the Hebrew word cheres (חרס), which means “clay.” 

In some Middle Eastern Jewish cultures, the sweet condiment is known as halegh.

Origins 

Charoset represents the mortar that the Israelites used to make bricks while they were slaves in Egypt. The idea originates in Exodus 1:13–14, which says,

‘The Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel with back-breaking labor, and they embittered their lives with hard labor, with clay and with bricks and with all kinds of labor in the fields—all their work that they worked with them with back-breaking labor.’

The concept of charoset as a symbolic food first appears in the Mishnah (Pesachim 114a) in a disagreement between the sages about the reason forcharosetand whether it is a mitzvah (commandment) to eat it at Passover.

According to one opinion, the sweet paste is meant to remind people of the mortar used by the Israelites when they were slaves in Egypt, while another says that the charoset is meant to remind the modern Jewish people of the apple trees in Egypt. This second opinion is tied to the fact that, supposedly, the Israelite women would quietly, painlessly give birth beneath apple trees so that the Egyptians would never know that a baby boy was born. Although both opinions add to the Passover experience, most agree that the first opinion reigns supreme (Maimonides, The Book of Seasons 7:11).

by Ariela Pelaia, Learn Religions, June 25, 2019

Charosets

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups walnut pieces (or finely ground walnuts)
  • 3 large apples
  • 4 Tablespoons sweet red wine, or to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons honey, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, or to taste
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste
  • dash nutmeg

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, process walnuts until finely ground, then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  2. Peel apples, core and cut into quarters. Process in food processor until finely chopped. Place in mixing bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Combine well and taste to correct seasonings.

[Good for the] Soul, Pixar Movie

Even if we weren’t in a global pandemic combined with a toxic and scary political climate, Soul, available on Disney+ and rated PG, would have been a wonderful movie. Given that we are stuck in an historic chapter that everyone would like to rip out of the book, Soul means even more. The movie’s messages combined with the color of the cast are significant. The music, humor and animation are amazing. And there’s imagination in spades.

Hon, have you seen it? What did you think?

The best Disney/Pixar animated movies historically straddle the line between delighting children and adults. “Soul,” a Pixar title diverted to Disney+, tilts heavily toward the latter, beautifully exploring ambitious themes about the meaning of life that should resonate more with adults than the younger souls in your streaming orbit.

That warning aside, credit Pixar veteran Pete Docter (“Up” and “Inside Out”) and co-director Kemp Powers (the writer of the play and upcoming movie “One Night in Miami”) with an addition to Pixar’s library worthy of its classics. While the movie might not have been a commercial slam dunk, it’s hard not to admire a premise that dares to tackle such lofty ideas as life after death and what makes living worthwhile, as filtered through the hopes and dreams of Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx).

A middle-school music teacher, Joe has spent his life yearning to make it as a musician, pursuing gigs at the expense of his career. When the opportunity suddenly presents itself to live out those dreams, his distracted glee leads to his untimely demise — a real bummer, considering that he had just said he “could die a happy man” if he got to play with the musician that had offered him the chance.

Awakening on the escalator to the hereafter, Joe makes a desperate break to go back, leading to a fairly amusing tour of what the great beyond might resemble. While that animation is customarily lush, the actual character design of the “souls” is rounded and simple — a bit like the Poppin’ Fresh doughboy, only a slightly eerie shade of blue.

In the process, Joe encounters a young soul in what’s known as The Great Before, 22 (Tina Fey), who has long resisted embarking upon the journey to Earth, despite a hilarious roster of mentors that includes a who’s who of historical figures.

It’s around here where “Soul” really begins to leave small fry behind, unless your preteen is apt to get jokes about George Orwell and Mother Teresa.

Ultimately, Joe and 22 do find their way to Earth, but not in the way (or form) he expected, leading to a madcap series of encounters as he seeks to achieve what he sees as his life’s purpose.


That section of the movie unfolds cleverly enough, but it’s the resolution that really brings the whole idea home. The emotional nature of that experience recalls the opening sequence in “Up,” which silently chronicled a lifetime of love and ultimately loss, leaving many adults in the theater (ah, theaters) sobbing while their kids waited to get to the talking dog and airborne house.

“Soul” also features a wonderful score, since music is fundamental to the story, provided by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with jazz compositions courtesy of Jon Batiste — again, not something likely to be fully appreciated by the tykes on the couch.

Aside from Foxx and Fey, the voice cast includes Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett and Graham Norton and Daveed Diggs.

Of course, the idea of animation tackling big, existential themes is welcome, and the “Soul” creative team deserves enormous credit for the effort. Yet one suspects translating that into the sort of box-office stampede Pixar has enjoyed with movies like the “Toy Story” and “Incredibles” franchises would have been challenging, making the direct-to-streaming gambit less of a financial sacrifice.

Either way, “Soul” is highly recommended — especially to adults who might not be otherwise inclined — and a return to form for Pixar after the less-satisfying “Onward.” Parents wanting to really enjoy it, however, might want to watch at least once without their kids, who, understandably, will be less cognizant of choices made, roads not taken and where their own escalators might lead them.

CNN Entertainment review by Brian Lowry, Thursday, December 24, 2020

Spies and Intrigue, Red Joan, Movie Review

You know when a story sits with you? I saw the movie Red Joan, starring Judi Dench and Sophie Cookson, and can’t stop thinking about the central dilemma, which revolves around allies and enemies, intelligence and ignorance, and war and peace. “Red Joan is based on a novel of the same name written by Jennie Rooney, which was itself inspired by the life of Melita Norwood.”

Guess what, hon? Now I want to read the book! 

Excerpts of the movie’s review on Roger Ebert.com:

A based-on-a-true-story spy thriller, Trevor Nunn’s conventional yet sneakily absorbing “Red Joan” toggles between two separate eras. Nunn’s period piece frames its story by introducing us to the 80-something Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) first. She lives a quiet life in a British suburb and tends to the cookie-cutter demands of her uneventful days in the early 2000s. Except, this simple old woman (whose story is based on the real-life case of Southeast London’s Melita Norwood) doesn’t seem to be all that ordinary—soon enough, the British Secret Service pulls her out of her quiet retirement and arrests her on the grounds of treason. But did she really commit those crimes and give away Britain’s secrets to the Russians as a KGB spy in the 1930s?

As the old Joan settles into an interrogation session in a drab room (and repeatedly denies every accusation), the film’s lengthy flashbacks chart Joan’s opinionated past in thoughtful increments. Nunn swiftly takes us back in time to 1938, when Joan (Sophie Cookson) was a green but genius physics student at Cambridge, grabbing onto new inspirations and expanding her political horizon while growing into her sexuality.

Allured by friends’ Sonia and Leo’s world of ideas around societal justice—and equally swept away by the noisemaker Leo—Joan joins in their meetings and rallies against Hitler. The advancing timeline gently pushes Leo out of the picture and introduces a new partner-in-crime/love-interest for Joan, the gentlemanly professor Max Davis. Working out of a government laboratory and eventually becoming lovers during a perilous cross-Atlantic trip, the duo shares a joint view of the world but differs in their respective implementations. 

We halfway understand the basis of Joan’s unlawful actions when she finally admits them to both her son and the stone-faced interrogators. Turns out, Joan didn’t just pass on her country’s nuclear secrets in the innocent name of devotion—in reality, she took up an ideological agenda entirely of her own after seeing the catastrophic atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She had thought it was only with access to equal information could the superpowers be on balance with each other, and stopped from such disastrous actions in the future. While this reasoning doesn’t seem to hold much historical accuracy, it makes sense within the context of a film that leaves a lasting impression mostly with its flashback scenes and emanates a memorable essence.  Tomris Laffly for Roger Ebert.com

Have you seen Red Joan? What did you think?

Water Week, Historic Waters

We had to get to the Atlantic Ocean! Hannah at Sullivan Island, SC

In June, one of my daughters and I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. On a sunset cruise with Adventure Harbor Tours, we not only enjoyed the relaxing ride and beautiful views, but got a history lesson to boot! Here are some highlights.

  • Fort Sumter: historic fort, start of the Civil War, Confederate forces fired shots upon Federal troops on April 12, 1861

Since the American Revolution, Americans have built systems of forts at harbors along the coast to strengthen maritime defenses. Following the War of 1812, several major weaknesses in the American coastal defense system were identified. To fill these voids, Congress and the US Army Corps of Engineers planned the construction of forty-two forts, primarily located along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to Louisiana. These forts are collectively known as the Third System of Seacoast Defense.

Charleston Harbor made the list of sites vulnerable to attack, prompting the construction of Fort Sumter. Construction on the man-made island began in 1829. Thirty-one years later, sectional tensions exploded at Fort Sumter into armed conflict.

  • USS Yorktown: tenth aircraft carrier to serve in United States Navy, built in 16 1/2 months

 YORKTOWN was commissioned on April 15, 1943. World War II’s famous “Fighting Lady” would participate significantly in the Pacific offensive that began in late 1943 and ended with the defeat of Japan in 1945. YORKTOWN received the Presidential Unit Citation and earned 11 battle stars for service in World War II.

In the 1950s, YORKTOWN was modernized to operate jet aircraft as an attack carrier. In 1957, she was re-designated an anti-submarine aircraft carrier, and would later earn 5 battle stars for service off Vietnam (1965-68). The ship also recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule (December 1968). YORKTOWN was decommissioned in 1970 and placed in reserve.

In 1975, this historic ship was towed from Bayonne, NJ to Charleston to become the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.

  • Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge: opened on July 16, 2005, the longest cable-stayed bridge of its time in North America, the tallest structure in South Carolina

The new bridge had to be high enough to accommodate ship traffic to a world-class port, strong enough to withstand seismic events like Charleston’s 1886 earthquake (magnitude 7.3), sturdy enough to weather hurricanes like Hugo and aesthetically pleasing enough to satisfy the discerning public eye. The new structure also had to meet long-term traffic needs. To that end, it has eight vehicular lanes, and pedestrian and bicycle accommodations.

The awe-inspiring, cable-stayed main span boasts a deck almost 200 feet above the water of Charleston Harbor’s shipping channel and two diamond towers almost 600 feet high.

Have you been to Charleston, SC? Did you tour some of these sights? 

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Sources: National Park Service,  South Carolina Picture Project, Patriot’s Point