The Million Dollar Highway is a spur of U.S. Highway 50, Also known as U.S. 550. The stretch from Silverton to Ouray is frequently called the Million Dollar Highway, but it goes by other names; such as the “Scenic Byway”. If you are being dramatic it’s referred to as the “Highway to Hell”.
The road has made its way to several large publications and most dangerous lists. Popular Mechanics ranked it Number 3 of 10of the “Most Dangerous Roadways”. It is the only road in the continental US ranked by USA Today’s list of the “World's Most Dangerous Roads”. The automotive blog RoadCrazed and the DangerousRoads.org Rank the Million Dollar Highway as the most dangerous road worldwide. If you are measuring how dangerous a road is by the number of fatal accidents that happened on it the Million Dollar Highway is the winner, with no contest. This is especially astonishing when we consider war zone roads, such as; Kabul-Jalalabad Highway (Afghanistan) and Nanga Parbat Pass (Pakistan) were included in most publications, considerations, and lists. Perhaps, the “Highway to Hell” isn’t such a bad name after all?
While the highway we see today was built in the 1880s, the original trail that it was built upon is one of the roads on the “Trails of the Ancients Byway”. In other words, this passageway dates back to the start of recorded history and then some. It provides insight into the lives and migration habits of the Ancestral Puebloans and the Navajo, Ute, and Apache people. With this much history, it has a big head start on the total death count and continues to add to its total each year.
he first time you drive it, you’ll have sweaty palms. Expect sheer drops; over 2,000 feet, along the entire road and enough hairpins to make anyone seasick. This road claimed over 412 lives since 1992 and is nothing to be toyed with. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) spends an average of $2 million per year, maintaining the 24-mile (38.6 km) section of highway. In an interview with the Telluride Times newspaper a CDOT representative; Nancy Shanks gave a few simple tips for surviving the Million Dollar Highway. Shanks said, “Know the conditions, (obey) the speed limit and, if you’re a truck driver, put your chains on.” But Seriously, if you decide to visits drive with care as this is a mountain road with hairpin curves, dangerous drop-offs, and no guardrails. If you are driving south you'll be on the outside with the “no guardrails view”. Do use caution and enjoy the majestic scenery. But leave the marveling to your passengers. This road requires 100% concentration and limited distractions. So passengers, please be considerate of your drivers' nerves (and perhaps be concerned for their sanity).
In other words, if guardrails aren’t your thing; this road is for you. The Million Dollar Highway also sports some seasonal hazards. In winter this ribbon of asphalt snakes through over 100 named avalanche paths and countless unnamed snow-runs. In the spring it is easily overcome by waterfalls and crumbling rock.
This winter blasted Colorado with its third-largest snowpack to date (since the National Resource Conservation Service started recording data in 1987). The highway had 500 torrents of snow down its slopes that killed three people, fully buried two, and nearly overtook a snowplow. According to data from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center the highway only saw 54 slides in 2018 and 140 in 2017. Meaning we saw a 72% increase in avalanches in the last year. Due to the increased amount of snow, The Million Dollar Highway can expect an increase in falling rock and waterfalls until fall.
The origin of the name “Million Dollar Highway” is very disputed. There are several legends and myths associated with its name. One of the more popular myths believes that the fill dirt used to widen the original trail had over $1 million of gold ore within it. This has been proven possible; however, it would be more like $100 million of ore under this road.
Nancy Shanks weighed in on the topic of the name and pointed to the story of Otto Mears as the most likely origin of the name. Otto was an Estonian immigrant who had become locally famous for building the Galloping railroads and Rio Grande Southern railroads. Otto began dynamiting for a basic toll road above Ouray. At the time it was said that Mears spent $1,000 per foot to construct this road. When it’s all put together this equates to a road the cost a million dollars a mile to build. Shortly after, word of Otto's expensive engineering marvel spread and the small tollway became nationally known as the “Million Dollar Highway”.
While the road has been updated over the years it still holds its old world charm and real world danger. It is an honest rollercoaster of a ride and will weigh on your nerves. People with vertigo, seasickness, or prone to panic attacks should not attempt to drive the Million Dollar Highway. It is a real treat to see, given that you have the right weather conditions, you have an experienced driver, and nerves of steel.
Raw Footage of Rain on the Million Dollar Highway:
Photos From the Day:
Lower Columbine Trail is a 2.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Broadmoor, Colorado that features waterfalls and trails that suit all skill levels. The trail offers a stroll along a peaceful stream. It’s best used from April until September; however, I visited to find some of the less obvious structures that become more visible in winter.
The land where the video was shot was once General William Jackson Palmers. He donated the land in order to establish a local park system in 1870. This particular portion of the park is called “North Cheyenne Cañon”.
The home featured early in the video was moved brick-by-brick In the late 1990s. However, in the early 1900s, two cottages were built at the entrance of the park to house the caretaker’s residence and storage for the park’s maintenance equipment. These two buildings burned down in the 1960s. I gave it an honest effort to find the foundations of these structures, but could not. I did, however, stumble on some very interesting spillway controls.
The Cañon has many tales to tell. It has a sorted history that includes a burnt hotel and an odd little structure called “the Cub”. Author and Native American advocate; Helen Hunt Jackson had a big role in the formation of the park. Please stay tuned for the next four installments to hear it all!
Photos from the Day:
Music From the Video:
In the late 19th and early 20th century, tuberculosis hospitals became common in the United States. Over 1.3 Million hospitals were constructed during this period. In the early 1900s, Colorado’s sunny days and dry evenings attracted many people (commonly called "lungers") suffering from tuberculosis. Wealthier people chose to recuperate in exclusive tuberculosis resorts, in Colorado Springs. While others used their savings to make the journey to Arizona or New Mexico. Some formed tuberculosis camps in the desert. They were formed by pitching tents and building simple cabins. During the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic, cities in Colorado advertised the state as the premier place for treatment of TB. Many tuberculosis hospitals in the state were modeled after European away-from-city resorts of the time, boasting courtyards and individual rooms. Each tuberculosis hospitals was equipped to take care of about 120 people
The first public tuberculosis hospitals in the was in the Pacific Northwest opened; in Milwaukie Heights, Oregon in 1905. Followed soon after by the first state-owned TB hospital in Salem, Oregon, in 1910. Oregon was the first state on the West Coast to set forth legislation stating that the state was to supply suitable housing for people with TB who are not able to receive suitable care at home. The West Coast became the most popular spot for TB Hospitals
The greatest area for tuberculosis hospitals was in Colorado Springs, CO with over 13 resort-style facilities in the city. By 1920, Colorado Springs had 9,000 people who had come for treatment of tuberculosis. Too many people came to the West, in-fact not enough housing was available for them all. By 1910, more tent cities began to pop up in Arizona and New Mexico; many described as a place of squalor and shunned by most citizens. Most of the TB infected slept in the open desert with no housing. The area adjacent to what was then central Phoenix, called Sunnyslope, was home to another large tuberculosis encampment, with its residents only living in tents pitched along the hillside of the mountains north of Phoenix. Several tuberculosis hospitals opened in southern California in the early party of the 20th century due to the dry, warm climate.
The first tuberculosis hospital for blacks was ironically in the segregated South. It was called the “Piedmont Sanatorium” in Burkeville, Virginia. Although locally it was referred to it as the “pigeon sanatorium” the most famous non-segregated tuberculosis hospitals is the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, a Louisville, Kentucky, tuberculosis sanatorium, from 1911. It is a mecca for curiosity seekers who believe it is haunted. Because of its dry climate, Colorado Springs was home to the most sanatoria and tuberculosis hospitals. A. G. Holley Hospital in Lantana, Florida, was the last remaining freestanding tuberculosis sanatorium in the United States, fortunately, it closed on July 2, 2012.
The closures were and are welcomed by the American people. It closes a horrific chapter in our history. The decline of tuberculosis started in 1943, when Albert Schatz, a graduate student at Rutgers University, discovered an antibiotic and the cure for TB, tuberculosis hospitals began to close rapidly. As in the case of the Paimio Sanatorium, many were transformed into general hospitals, jails, or schools. However, over 1 million tuberculosis hospitals were simply abandoned. Half of these were demolished by 1949. By the 1950s, tuberculosis was not a large public health threat; it was controlled by medicine rather than extended rest. Most tuberculosis hospitals were demolished years before.
Some, however, have been adapted for new medical uses. The Tambaram Sanatorium in south Indiana is now a hospital for AIDS patients. The state hospital in tuberculosis hospitals, Mississippi, is now a regional center for programs for treatment and occupational therapy associated with intellectual disability.
Photo's from the trip:
Music from the video:
Robert Wadlow, was known as the Alton Giant, or the Giant of Illinois, and Bob, was an American who became famous as the tallest person in recorded history for which there is irrefutable evidence. He was born and raised in Alton, Illinois.
Wadlow reached 8' 11.1" in height and was 439 lbs when he died, at the age of only 22. His growth continued into adulthood and showed no signs of stopping. His height was due to, hyperplasia; of his pituitary gland, which results in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone.
Not only was he the world's largest boy scout, but he still holds the Guinness Book World record for being the tallest man. He was taller than his father by the age of 8, and in elementary school, they had to make a special desk for him due to his size. As an adult, he was a member of the Freemasons and his Freemason ring was the largest ever made.
Wadlow became a celebrity after his 1936 U.S. tour with the Ringling Brothers Circus. He appeared with Ringling Brothers at Madison Square Garden and the Boston Garden in the center ring, never in the sideshow. In 1938, he did a promotional tour with the International Shoe Company. They provided him his shoes free of charge. Wadlow figured that he was working in advertising, not being exhibited as a freak.
Wadlow's massive size began to take a toll: he required leg braces to walk and had little feeling in his legs and feet. Despite these difficulties, he never used a wheelchair. He possessed great physical strength but was known as a “gentle giant” until the last year of his life, when his strength and his health, in general, began to deteriorate rapidly. In July of 1940, during a professional appearance at a Forest Festival, a faulty brace irritated his ankle, causing a blister and subsequent infection. his condition worsened due to an autoimmune disorder, and 11 days after contracting the infection, he died.
His coffin measured 10' 9" long by 2' 8" wide by 2' 6" deep, weighed 1000 lbs and was carried by 12 pallbearers and eight assistants. Setting on final record, for the world's largest coffin His body was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Upper Alton.
I drew a lot of inspiration from a visit to the "Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum". This is a must-see attraction if you find yourself nearby.
This video is a modern look at the Gettysburg Address. We draw a lot of parallels from the 1860s and today, It's easy to get caught up in divisions and partisan politics. But, it hard to forget Abe Lincoln's words and how we should draw inspiration from them today:
The Gettysburg Address
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
~ Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
Photos from "The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library":
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Balloonfest '86 was an event held by the United Way of Cleveland in Ohio. They set out to raise funds for the less fortunate and beat a world record by releasing almost one and a half million balloons, However; they stopped at a little over 1.4 million.
The event was intended to be a harmless fundraising publicity stunt, but the balloons drifted back over the city, Lake Erie and landed in the surrounding area, and caused problems for traffic and nearby airports.
The balloon also interfered with a United States Coast Guard search for two boaters who were later found drowned. In consequence, the organizers and the city faced lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages, and cost overruns put the event at a net loss
The stunt was coordinated by BalloonMart by Treb, a Los Angeles-based company headed by Treb Heining (shown in the video above). Tereb spent six months preparing for the launch. He and his team constructed a rectangular structure the size of a city block. It measured 250' x 150' and grew to three stories high. All of this was then covered by a simple piece of netting material.
Inside the structure over, 2,500 students and other volunteers spent grueling days and hours filling the balloons with helium. United Way did not approve of Balloonmart or Treb Heining's handling of the situation.
Children sold sponsorships to benefit United Way at the price of $1 for every two balloons. Beyond that, the event was a failure. The lawsuits caused by Treb and his team exceeded funds raised for the needy.
All of that aside, Ted is doing well and following his dream and the United Way is still able to provide help to the less fortunate.
Ted's Latest Video:
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