Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Click on the image to see it in larger view.
Searching maps and aerial photographs for an historic mountain community is a challenge. Changes in vegetation over the past century have obscured and altered town and camp sites beyond recognition. In at least one instance that I've yet to document in this journal--the Salina Depot--the original site is buried under tons of mining debris, since grown over with heavy aspen cover.

Even when the location of a town is unquestioned--Puzzler, or Sunset at Pennsylvania Gulch, the heavy growth of forest makes it impossible to identify exact locations of landmark features.

Other times the exact location is simply difficult to discern from the road. I've yet to identify the exact sites of Shale or Copper Rock, despite the looming presence of obvious geological cues.

So with Crisman, showing up on maps as the area below the Logan Mine site. Despite a good number of trips up and down Four Mile Canyon, the precise location of this important townsite eluded me. Was it buried in the forest now? Needless to say, for residents of the areas in questions these are silly questions. But for a researcher, not so silly.

On a run up the canyon last January, I was moving slowly enough--with good time to actually look at what I was passing--and saw the street sign with the name on it. Crisman. About a half-mile below Logan Road, not far from the Black Swan mill site and curve.

It's a clearly marked opening with a road branching down, the main Four Mile Canyon Road continuing on uphill across the eastern flank of the valley. Unmistakably, this is a natural location for a settlement.

And inspection reveals the RR right-of-way along the western flank, down.

Identifying it so positively, I felt the complete fool. I was looking so hard for subtlety I overlooked the totally obvious. Blinded by the openness.

A couple of days ago, Saturday, found me once again on a long run, preparation for an upcoming half marathon in Fort Collins. Starting at my locker room in downtown Boulder, midway through my 14 mile run was Crisman, at mile 7. Stopping to explore the area from the road, identifying the RR right-of-way, making the images for the panorama in this journal entry, I was greeted by a local resident wondering what I might be up to. Introducing myself and explaining my interest, I was met with a warm welcome.

Ms Eileen Sharbonda has lived in Crisman for 60 years. Her mother, living next door to her, has been there 80 years. The home Ms Sharbonda lives in was the General Store for Crisman. She has graciously agreed to meet with me one day soon, when I'm more disposed to visit.

These great images are from God's Country, U.S.A. Wall Street, Colorado, by Delores S Bailey. This is a book I discovered in visiting the Assay Office at Wall Street last summer, a copy of which I've acquired for the STA Foundation Library.


Tom Lambrecht said...


just stumbled on this fine blog while doing a book search (guess which one? ;)

thanks alot for putting this information up ... as a fellow Frotn Range train and history buff,I'll be following with great interest

Michael O'Neill said...

Glad you're following along, Tom. I'd love to hear about your projects.

James said...

Great Blog! I am surprised we haven't run into each other out on the trail. I have been researching the Switzerland Trail for the past three years. I'll be in the area all summer. Let's have coffee and compare notes.



Michael O'Neill said...

Thanks, James. Great to hear from you and I'd love to learn about your work. I'll drop you a line.