Loop de Mesa

Delightful day in the cool mountains

The temperature climbed back up in the 100’s so I took a drive to the high country. I took the frost-heave highway (US 50) to Delta then 92 toward Hotchkis, Crawford, Paonia, Somerset, Redstone, and back thru Glenwood and I-70 west

Sleepy Main Street in Crawford

Crawford was still asleep when I got there. It looks like a nice little town right at the edge of where the desert turns to green forest. Further south it looked like a delightful forest road with hay fields dotting the landscape. I went north via the Crawford Rd to Paonia. The road to Paonia drops out of the green and into the brown/ grey desert. It looks like it has never rained out there. Ever

Town Hall

Paonia was also a bit sleepy-faced. The grocery store is a decent size, but there is no sign out front saying “Grocery Store”. They also don’t do face coverings in Paonia (Written Sept 2020 – pandemic days). Real estate is spendy and there seemed to be a few rich-folk about

All about local coal

I took hwy 133 over McClure Pass and traveled thru Somerset along the way. Coal mining town gone bust from the look of it. The further I went toward Carbondale the more I saw expensive new SUV’s flying down the pavement. Ah, the smell of money in the fall, mmmmm

Monument to the miners

At the bottom of the pass sits Redstone. It was a company town for the coke ovens (the meth labs were in Marble on the Crystal River, hence crystal-meth). Seems coke was a thing besides a drink and a drug

Got coke?
Restored ovens
Below is a section of the tale of the coke business in Redstone

“These ovens comprise part of the Redstone Coke Ovens Historic District, where men at the turn of the century [19th to 20th] “coked” some of the country’s finest metallurgical coal, turning the coal into coke, or pure carbon. Brought by narrow gage railroad from the mines above Redstone at Coalbasin, the coal was loaded into the top of the 249 beehive shaped ovens. Redstone cokers cooked the coal for two days then shipped it to Colorado Fuel and Iron in Pueblo, CO, the biggest steel mill west of the Mississippi. There the Redstone coke, limestone, and iron ore were dumped into blast furnaces to create steel, which made the locomotives, steel rails, and barbed wire that settled the American West.”
These coke ovens were used between 1900 and 1909, then again from 1959 to 1961

Welcome to Redstone

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