As a writer, one of my favorite sayings has always been “A good story is more about the story than about the truth.”
How true how true. This past Tuesday, I joined the “Senior” hikers, and my maxim came home to hit me over the head. Typically, we meet at Club American, and under the leadership of Phil and Debbie Rabinowitz, who plan hikes of increasing length and elevation gain, we “seniors” move from moderate to the more challenging hikes.
This week’s hike, the first of the season, saw us leaving Westcliffe and heading north on Rte. 69 to 191 (the Cotopaxi cut-off), driving three miles, and turning right into a BLM/forest service parking lot where you can pick up an unimproved road that works its way down McCoy Gulch to Rte. 50 and the Arkansas River.
Walking the road and taking a seven-mile loop, we passed an impressive quarry of white granite – enormous stones baring drill marks – cleaved clean as if built of butter and cut with a butter knife. The stones themselves were impressive, but more so when Deanne Montgomery, one of the hikers told us that stones from this quarry were used to build Colorado’s State Capitol building.
I was duly impressed. I’ve always been awed by the distance covered 2,000 – 3,000 years B.C. to move the Stonehenge stones 150 miles from Pembrokeshire, Wales to England. And in the same timeframe, in the case of the pyramids, the the limestone was mined locally, but the red granite used for the ceilings and the surround of the King’s Chamber (in the pyramids of Menkaure and Khafre) was transported 500 miles, and the individual stones are estimated to weight 50-tons!
Improved technology and transport aside, I found moving the white granite from Cotopaxi to Denver an impressive feat. The state capitol was built in the 1890’s. Just how did they move these enormous stones to Denver? By train, I would guess. The Denver and Rio Grande reached Canon City in 1874 and Salida by May of 1880.
Curious about the transport, I looked on-line for more information. Oops! There’s more to the story: we can claim the White Granite came from neighboring Cotopaxi (just over the Custer County line and a mere 23 miles north) but another source added that the Colorado Rose Onyx within the capitol building came from Beulah – some 35 miles south.
If I were a good neighbor, I would give Beulah some credit. The granite is ours; the rose onyx is theirs. On the other hand, “if a good story is more about the story than the truth,” I could write that we/our stones built the Colorado State Capitol.
As for the “Senior” hikers, if you live nearby, consider joining us on our next hike. We meet at 8:00 a.m., Tuesday, May 19, at Club America. Dress in layers, bring water, food and your camera. Next week’s destination is Lion Canyon, a moderate trail into the Sangres. For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Camera. Take your camera.