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Features

  • At the height of the Gold Rush, 1,600 mines were developed in Clear Creek County, and the now-abandoned mines severely damaged the local watershed over the next 150 years.

    In the 1990s, the watershed was in desperate need of an ally and found it in the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation and its unpaid president, Ed Rapp.

    Over the years, Rapp and the watershed foundation have completed countless mine remediation and rehabilitation projects, including the Doctor, Dibbens, Minnesota, Sydney and McClellan mines.

  • By Sandy Barnes

    Staff Writer

    Even though he no longer lives in Brookvale, Paul Fiorino is fascinated with the community and its history. 

    “Everything I do now is Brookvale-related,” said Fiorino.

    Nestled in a picturesque corner of Clear Creek County where Bear and Yankee creeks converge, Brookvale was once a thriving resort that attracted visitors from afar. 

    The 19th-century hotel in Brookvale was known as Sisty’s, named after the man who founded the town.

  • Outfitted in a medley of the macabre, Georgetown Community School students wound their way down the center of town from the school to the county courthouse as part of a longstanding Halloween tradition on Oct. 31.

    Tourists and business owners stopped to watch the colorful procession.

  • In seven seconds, longtime Idaho Springs resident Cindy Moore went 171 mph in her 1,000 horsepower, alcohol-injected dragster to win the Western Colorado Dragway 2012 Superquick Championship in Grand Junction on Oct. 6. 

    With the help of her crew chief and husband, Kevin, Cindy beat out 16 of the competition’s fastest cars to win the championship.

    In August, she also won The Wally trophy — the National Hotrod Association’s most coveted racing award.

  • Ignoring the frigid October wind, a group of children explored Empire’s new playground at Minton Park on Oct. 28, while town officials held a chilly ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the first improvements to the park in 20 years.

  • The first snow is always so beautiful that I am forced to admire it even though I’m not a winter person.

  •  On Monday, Oct. 15, Mike Krieger phoned to let me know that he and Kathy had their first Clark’s nutcracker at their bird feeder near Bailey. These big, gray, black and white members of the crow family look like a small gray crow with black wings and tail. They are strange birds that act like they couldn’t decide whether to be a crow or a woodpecker.

  • Some of the strongest men in the world gathered in Killeen, Texas, in early October to prove who is the strongest of them all. The answer is a Clear Creek County resident.

    After two years of coming in second for his age and weight division, local Mark Cucinella, 62, squatted 452 pounds, bench-pressed 314 pounds and dead-lifted 463 pounds to win gold at the International Powerlifting Federation’s World Master Championships. In doing so, Cucinella beat out competitors from Germany, Estonia and Canada.

  •  The first snow is always a surprise to me. No matter how many weather reports I listen to, I can’t quite believe that it is really going to snow. This is partly due to the fact that we frequently have a very warm day ahead of a cold front that brings the snow.

    That was truly the case last week because Friday, Oct. 5, was a beautiful late summer day but despite the weather forecast, I couldn’t believe it when I woke up Saturday morning to see snow.

  • Forged in Boston, the 1,200-pound cannon was used against the Confederacy during the Civil War.

    A “12-pounder” — so named because it could fire 12-pound “Round shot” shells — the cannon was brought west to Idaho Springs more than 100 years ago to commemorate the War Between the States.

    Seventy-five years ago, Bruce Bell said he remembers playing on the cannon in its current location on the Idaho Springs Library grounds. At the time, the library was also City Hall and the police station.

  •  On the night of Sept. 26, a cold front moved south through this area, and the morning of Thursday, Sept. 27, definitely was chilly. The high mountains wore a new dusting of snow, and my yard was filled with gray-headed juncos and white-crowned sparrows.

    All day, these two birds drifted through the area. Not in any hurry once they were out of the snow, they continued to drop down from the high country where they had nested.

  •  Over the years, my late husband, Bill, and I drove the highway to the summit of Mount Evans many, many times. It was one of our favorite places. We loved the high mountains, and Mount Evans was one of the good guys because he wore a white hat (of snow).

    I loved the alpine botany, and Bill always looked for the nesting birds and especially for a black swift flying over. We both were impressed by the silent grandeur of the Continental Divide, and the serenity and peace in the high mountains. In some way, we both seemed to feel at home there.

  • A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 22 to honor the completed Idaho Springs Cemetery Improvement Project is a dream come true for local Lue Howard.

    Howard has put her heart and soul into the project for the past year to do cleanup and document tombstones in the 138-year-old cemetery.

    The project also included volunteer work and local grants to build 30 concrete stairs, a new shelter and a sign/map of the area. A host of volunteers, the city and a $2,000 grant from the Clear Creek Metropolitan Recreation District helped make the project possible.

  •  September is such an unpredictable month. It is a lovely end of summer with warm sunny days and cool nights. It is gray cold days with scattered showers. It often brings the first snow, which usually melts the next day, as well as our first frost. It wants to be summer, but winter is pushing at the door so hard that it will soon be in, whether we like it or not.

  • When part-time Georgetown resident Joan Naylor heard that a little-known lake above town shared her last name, her path to the past inevitably led to county archivist Christine Bradley.

    The lives of the two women have been intertwined for the past two years as Naylor sought information about the lake’s history and its possible ties to her family. For Bradley, who acts as the springboard for many historic book and novel projects about Clear Creek, it was all in a day’s work.

  • When the Dumont Mill-City House was put on the National Register of Historic Places three years ago, hopes ran high that one of the only standing pieces of Dumont’s history would receive state and federal grants.

    However, time and time again, funding for the historic building was passed over for more prominent state projects.

  • Looking to stop and smell the flowers, Arika Zittlosen left the hubbub of Hollywood for the mountains of Colorado.

    A year ago, Zittlosen and her husband moved to Idaho Springs and this month opened Arika’s Mountain Flowers at 1535 Miner St., Unit 1.

    Surrounded by tulips, daisies and carnations, Zittlosen, a Colorado native, said operating a flower shop meets her artistic needs but at a slower pace. Previously, she worked at Warner Bros. Studio.

  • There is a small order of birds known as goatsuckers. The scientific name is the Caprimulgiformes, which comes from the Latin Caprimulgus, a milker of goats and forma or form.

    This name comes from the old belief that these birds, which are often seen in low sweeping flight over meadows, were sucking the milk out of goats. There are not as many species in this order as there are in some other orders such as finches and warblers.

  • The Underhill Museum in Idaho Springs is gearing up to celebrate the historic building’s 100th anniversary on Aug. 25.

    The fund-raising celebration for the century-old building will include a martini bar, hors d’oeuvres from local restaurant Mangia, and live music by Gary Jorgensen and Claudia Cupp in the museum’s iconic garden.

  • From beneath the wide brim of his cowboy hat, Ted Brown seeks out his quarry on the hillsides.

    His discriminating eye spots a plant that could be an oxeye daisy — not an unattractive plant, but one that is a threat to native species in the high country.

    On a recent afternoon in the fields behind Clear Creek High School, Brown is seeking the eradication of a specific weed: the common mullein, or Verbascum thapsus.

    Brown’s employees spray the mullein, whose brown stalks stick up from hillsides like Roman spears.