Along the Crystal River Valley, Redstone, Marble, and Avalanche Ranch: Video: Aspen Marble Detour IN PICTURES

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Please click the X and HD buttons, and adjust the sound level, for optimum viewing.

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Hello and welcome to the large format photographic version of the video that you have just watched. As you will know by now, the photographs you are about to see were taken between approximately 10 am and 5 pm on Monday the 8th of April, 2019

By way of introduction however I feel it appropriate to reveal my past in Portland, Oregon during the nineties as both a professional chauffeur and self-employed tour guide – the former as a corporate and celebrity employee with Classic Chauffeur, and then with my own luxury Garavance First Class Tours, which as the name suggests took clients to such exotic places as the Oregon Coast, the Columbia Gorge, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, and the Willamette Valley wine country. And so, you could say, that I know a thing or two about touring.

But what I want you to appreciate as you gaze upon such lovely idyllic scenes is that this is simply the tip of the iceberg – or snow covered peak. This was just one foray into a truly extraordinary landscape that would take a whole summer of outings to truly discover, and even then!  Speak to any local, ask them what they think of the land, and they’ll tell you in no uncertain terms. This valley is as rugged and remote as any I know of in Colorado.  And if there are more dramatic mountains than the mighty Elk range then I have yet to see them. So you can imagine the stories they have, and for the most part, are more than happy to share.  But I digress.

One final thought before we kick off and head down a long and practically deserted Highway 133 is this: at the moment I am putting together a business whereby in a few short weeks I will be once again leading tours; but this time, instead of a variety of daily tours heading off in different directions, each one themed to a different experience; this time around the direction will be the same, but the experiences will vary with each small group. Group preference will in fact dictate which of the many, many options we decide to take on any given day. But I’ll be back with more on that at a later date as things develop.

Now, clip your seat belts, settle back, relax and enjoy a varied and memorable day.

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Mount Sopris is located in western Pitkin County, south of Carbondale and southwest of the confluence of the Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers. Mount Sopris is notable for having two summits, East Sopris and West Sopris, that are one-half mile apart and have the same elevation of 12,965 feet. Wikipedia.

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Redstone was established in the late 19th century by industrialist John Cleveland Osgood as part of a coal mining enterprise. Osgood’s coal empire also spurred construction of the Crystal River Railroad and Redstone’s historic dwellings.  As an experiment in “enlightened industrial paternalism,” Osgood constructed 84 cottages and a 40-room inn, all with indoor plumbing and electricity, for his coal miners and cokers, as well as modern bathhouse facilities, a club house with a library and a theater, and a school.  Most of these Craftsman-era Swiss-style cottages are still used as homes.  Wikipedia.

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By 1899 the economy had improved. Osgood and CFI were able to build first the coke ovens, and then the company town of Redstone. Architect Theodore Boal designed small wooden cottages for the coke oven workers with running water and electricity, then luxury items rare in most Colorado mining towns.  He adapted various contemporary architectural styles, particularly the Swiss chalet style, to the mountain setting.

For himself, Osgood had reserved and fenced off 4,200 acres, to which access was controlled by two gates.  He had Boal design the mansion, which like the Redstone Inn to the north, then a dormitory for unmarried mine workers, used elements of the Tudor Revival style in addition to the Swiss Chalet forms.  Originally intended to be a hunting lodge, as both Osgood and his Swedish-born wife, Alma, were avid outdoor sportspeople, Cleveholm or ‘Redstone Castle’ was completed in 1903 at a cost of $2.5 million.  Wikipedia.

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The Town of Marble was first incorporated in 1899. Marble remains a statutory town of the State of Colorado today.

The town is the location of a historic Yule Marble quarry along the mountains that began operations in the late 19th century, and from which the town draws its name. It has been used for the Tomb of the Unknowns, as well as for parts of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and civic buildings in San Francisco. It was also used for the construction of the Equitable Building, a historically important early skyscraper in New York City.

The marble of the quarry is considered to be of exceptional quality, praised as one of the purest marbles ever quarried and a rival to classical Italian and Greek marble. It is nearly pure calcite marble with minor inclusions of mica, quartz, and feldspar, and has irregularly shaped calcite grains ranging from 100 to 600 micrometers in diameter.  According to physical tests of the marble, its strength is comparable to marble typically used in building construction.

The quarry has enjoyed a renaissance since its acquisition in 2004 by Polycor, a Canadian-based dimension stone company, and subsequent sale to Italian group R.E.D. Graniti S.p.A.  In spite of significant transportation costs, this high-quality stone is now exported in large quantities to Europe and Asia for transformation and use throughout the world, as well as being sold into the US market.

In the late 20th century and the 21st century, Marble has become a summer tourist destination.  It is also the gateway to the nearby Crystal townsite.  It is the site of the Marble/marble sculpting symposium held every summer since 1988.

Seven sites within Marble have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Wikipedia.

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The Colorado Yule Marble finishing mill and marshaling yards were once the largest of the kind in the world.

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Somewhere, in there, deep in the trees, nestles the town of Marble, Colorado.

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And right there, on the mid to upper right-hand side, sits the magnificent Colorado Yule Marble quarry, a true legend in its own time.

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Wisely, and following Federal MSHA Law, Colorado Stone Quarries do not let anyone anywhere near their theater of operations.  However the quarry can be glimpsed, and most certainly heard, from the vantage point of footpaths, trails, and the like, and once I have discovered the best and most easily accessed of them I will be back with photos, and hiking dates, for those interested in Colorado’s State Rock, and the nation’s national treasure that is Yule marble.

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The gentle, wide, and graded roadbed from the town of Marble to the quarry stretches to about three-and-a-half miles.  Being wide enough to accommodate Yule marble quarry trucks – which is why we are walking and not driving, by the way – allows for plenty of social engagement (conversation) along with a steady three mile per hour pace.  As opposed to a group strung out in a line, following one another like proverbial mountain sheep, we will be as a group, chatting, spotting, and generally having a ball of a time. We’ll get as near to the quarry as safety, convenience and logic dictate, then – perhaps even the best part – we’ll stride back into town, steadily downhill (this was a former hydroelectric powered tram line after all – at an easy and bracing FOUR miles per hour, and at the end of it all we will have only taken two to three hours out of our extraordinary Aspen Marble Detour Day.

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Note the wavy tracks in the steep snow cut by local expert back country skiers.

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Imagine yourself out here in the fresh air, views galore, a friendly and cordial group spirit, and seven miles of exercise under your belt to boot!  Yes, the altitude is high, right up to almost 9,300 feet – and so if the thought of that worries you I would skip this part of the tour if I were you – but if you feel truly up to it, and you consider yourself a moderate to fit walker, I can assure you that this short hike (for that’s what it really is to a regular hiker) up to a world famous marble quarry is just the excuse, the catalyst, needed in order to get out and about, deep into the heart of the Rocky Mountains, deep into nature, feet cushioned upon a smooth, well maintained roadbed, and as far from the maddening crowd as can be.

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McClure Pass, elevation 8,769 ft., is a high mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains of western Colorado in the United States.  The pass is located along the boundary between Pitkin and Gunnison counties, in a gap at the western side of the Elk Mountains south of Redstone. It separates the headwaters of the Crystal River (a tributary of the Roaring Fork River to the north) with the headwaters of the North Fork Gunnison River (south).  The pass is traversed by State Highway 133 between Carbondale and Paonia, providing the direct route between the Roaring Fork Valley and the North Fork Valley.  The pass is not especially high and is generally open year round, closed only during heavy snowstorms.  The approaches are fairly steep on each side, with an 8% grade.  The approach is smooth on the south side, as the road overlooks Muddy Creek above Paonia State Park. The approach on the north side has one large switchback overlooking the valley containing the town of Marble, Colorado.  Wikipedia.

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Hot Spring Pool dips must be booked (well) in advance.

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Taken from Avalanche Ranch website:

Avalanche Ranch is best described as a Rocky Mountain Picture Post Card in the Heart of Colorado. This pastoral setting offers the beauty and peace of an earlier era. Situated at 7000 feet, overlooking the Crystal River, with Mt. Sopris towering above at 12,953′, the views are more dramatic than you can imagine.  The 36 acre Ranch offers plenty of privacy for our 13 cozy log cabins, 1 bedroom Loft Apartment and 3BR Ranch House, the entire property can accommodate up to about 60 people.

There are nearby trails for hiking and biking as well as a half mile of private riverfront along the Crystal River to walk and fish. Across the river, the valley opens up providing spectacular views. Avalanche Creek flows into the Crystal River, surrounded by forest service and wilderness land.

The ranch grounds are very lush and include a variety of trees, apple and plum orchards.  We have cleared a hiking trail that skirts the upper boundaries of the ranch.  Tucked away higher up our property has a stocked trout pond and offers premier views.  Picnic at the water’s edge and check out a canoe to float in the moonlight.  Have your first boating experience with the kids, show them how to fish, or let them explore the pond in our one-kid paddleboats.  The tree house, sandbox, swing, sledding hill, ice rink and other games will engage the children. While, horseshoes, volleyball, and better yet, our three hot springs pools will beckon adults to relax.

The Lodge is open 24 hours as a recreation facility for all guests. It offers a cozy lounge area containing telephones, books, maps and brochures of local Redstone activities and attractions, plus a TV/VCR/DVD with a wide selection of free videos for all ages.  The game room has a ping-pong table and a variety of popular games and puzzles for your enjoyment.

The original homestead house built in 1913 has been completely renovated and remains a historic landmark in Redstone, Colorado. It currently serves as the manager’s residence/office, while the original garage, now attached to the main house, is the Antiques Shop.  There are 13 cozy log cabins, built between 1890-1950’s and since renovated. Each has a different décor. Some have woodstoves, clawfoot tubs and lofts. They range in size from a studio to 2 bedrooms and loft. A 1 bedroom apartment, the “Loft”,was added in 2008. The “Loft” sleeps up to 6 people and offers more contemporary amenities such as a flat screen TV, dishwasher and King bed.  Another option is our spacious 3 bedroom Ranch House that sleeps up to 8.  All the cabins and the Ranch House have private yards with BBQ grill and picnic table.  The Ranch House has a gas grill and private deck.

Special occasions, Weddings, Family Reunions, and Meetings are most successful in this setting and with our attention to detail.  Avalanche Ranch provides a quiet and productive arena for retreats and meetings as well.

There is a large antiques and gift shop (and more in the barn!) to browse during your stay.  Tasteful antiques, unique furniture, and decor is found everywhere on the ranch, adding to the ambiance and warm, personal touches the ranch is known for.  The shop also has a great variety of small gift items and collectibles.  Some necessities like fresh eggs, snacks and butter are available.

AvalancheRanch.Com  link

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While the hot springs may grab the limelight at this fabulous slice of rustic old rural Americana, on a personal note, while the pool is quite sensational I must admit, for me it is the direct contact with what were once known as farm animals (back when farms actually had animals, running loose, as they do here).  I know that Kris shares my view on this, as will many of you reading this. I know also that we (many of us) eat animals, and I am sure they know something of this too; for everything in the wild is eaten at some point, hopefully towards the end of their life. But here at this this remarkable place we are able to rekindle an ancient connection – or bond – stretching back many tens of thousands of years, when animals where part and parcel of one’s everyday life.  Here the animals are, would appear to be, at peace – out and about in the lovely fresh air of the Colorado Rocky Mountains – as opposed to being stuffed in warehouse cages, as modern day industrialized meat crop they have sadly become.

This is where the heart is healed while the animals do what they have always done.  And while the chickens may show complete indifference, the horses and cows feign a shallow interest, the sheep and goats go on munching, there cannot be a doubt just who benefits the most from the interaction.  Just watching these farm animals go about their business, never mind being able to pat and pet the forelocks of such magnificent beasts, right there on the other side of an old log fence, is manna for the head, heart, and soul.

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The Crystal River Valley, Redstone, Marble and the Avalanche Ranch Video: Aspen Marble Detour IN PICTURES

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thanks for visiting martincooney.com

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ΛΛΔΓℑÏη

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Thoughts ideas questions suggestions concerns requests and opinions here please, if you will?

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