Colorado National Monument–So Close to I-70

A few miles south of I-70 in Western Colorado, and we were in a canyon.   Today, Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck experienced Colorado National Monument.

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument

We are on the Redlands Fault now.   Between 40 million and 70 million years ago, the earth moved.   Subsequent erosion produced this, the Colorado National Monument.   The canyon wall is gorgeous.

Canyon wall

Canyon wall

Nature is so powerful.   This balancing rock fascinates the Colorado Traveling Ducks.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

Around another curve and we stop to enjoy Fruita Canyon.

Fruita Canyon

Fruita Canyon

We admire these Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep as they stroll along the road.

Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

They are within a foot of our car.   Erosion has formed Independence Monument.

Independence Monument

Independence Monument

Amazing.   In this canyon we see the “Coke Ovens”.   Erosion shaped some of the rock into the domed shape of Coke Ovens.

Like Coke Ovens

Like Coke Ovens

Real Coke Ovens are used to transform coal into coke, a fuel that produces little or no gas when burned.   Colorado has coal mines, and coke ovens were frequently used.   Another beautiful view here in Monument Canyon.

Monument Canyon

Monument Canyon

Looking at a canyon wall, we ducks see so many places for nests and dens for animals.

So many possible homes for animals

So many possible homes for animals

Now, in the Upper Ute Canyon we stop to admire another wonderful view.

Upper Ute Canyon

Upper Ute Canyon

But wait—mom, where are we?   It seems that there is only air under our resting place.

What are we on?

What are we on?

The wind is calm now, but you know that wind comes up quickly in the mountains and canyons.   We think you should get us off this ledge.  OK, we are now safely back in our traveling bag.   Driving on this 23 mile road through Colorado National Monument, we went through three tunnels like this one.

Tunnel

Tunnel

We like tunnels, mountains and canyons.   There is so much more to see here and so many trails to hike.    We hope  you stop here when you are on Western Colorado’s I-70 near Grand Junction.   When you see the sign for Colorado National Monument, try to spend a couple hours or a couple days exploring here.   It is beautiful.

Coke Ovens in Redstone, Colorado

Soapy Smith Duck and I, Zeb the Duck, saw beehive coke ovens at Redstone, Colorado.

Redstone, Colorado.  The Ruby of the Rockies

Redstone, Colorado. The Ruby of the Rockies

Coal of premium quality was mined in the mountains at an elevation of 10,000 feet and higher.

Coal was baked in these coke ovens to produce coke, a more efficient fuel.

Coke ovens at Redstone, Colorado

Coke ovens at Redstone, Colorado

These coke ovens, a few miles from Aspen, Colorado, were built about 1899 and used for 10 years, until the mines closed. At their peak, the 200 ovens were producing almost 6 million tons a year.

The idle coke ovens donated their support steel during the scrap metal drives of World War II. According to Wikipedia, later hippies who moved into Redstone used the ovens as living space.

Used as hippie housing?  We know how Redstone got its name.

Used as hippie housing? We know how Redstone got its name.

By the coke ovens we saw this monument. The first paragraph reads: This monument stands in tribute to the miners of Coal Basin, who confronted adversity and proved themselves resourceful, innovative and intrepid. We honor their achievements and their sacrifices, remembering in particular those brave, good men whose lives were lost in the mines.

Monument to the miners.  A tribute from Mid-Continent Resources, Inc.

Monument to the miners. A tribute from Mid-Continent Resources, Inc.

The plaque explains Colorado Fuel and Iron Company mined approximately 1 million tons of coal from 1900-1909. Then Mid-Continent Resources, Inc. mined approximately 28 million tons of coal between 1956 and 1991. The premium quality and unique properties of the coal were the inducement to mining under difficult conditions, including the high elevation, steep terrain, heavy snows and avalanching on the surface. The monument consists of mine roof support shields designed to withstand the massive overburden pressures and mine fan pedestals. This monument was placed here with gratitude and respect by the Mid-Continent Companies.

Coal mining in these mountains

Coal mining in these mountains

I, Zeb the Duck, did not know about coal in Redstone and I did not know about coke ovens. Perhaps you would enjoy visiting this area also and learn more about the coal mining in Redstone.