Yesterday turned out to be very cool, as I had figured it would. It had all the elements for a great adventure starting as soon as the Lincoln cleared the garage…
First off, remember all those people with the RVs and motor homes I mentioned in my last installment? Well, this time they were going down the mountain at 10 MPH rather than up. I left Château D’Isaster at roughly noon and made what is normally a 90 minute trip in a barrier-breaking 3 hours! Woot!
I would probably still be somewhere near Idaho Springs if I didn’t research old telephone stuff… Odd sounding yes? Well, it’s true; see, to research the old telephone infrastructure one has to get off the relatively new highway and onto relatively old roads, side streets and fire paths. Well, when you do this you tend to discover routes that normal people wouldn’t even guess, and I used this knowledge to get to Denver relatively quick while people were having cookouts on I-70.
The trip started with my reaching Dillon at roughly 1pm… That means it took an hour to go 35 miles over Vail Pass. So from Dillon I got on Highway 6, took the back route over Loveland Pass (beautiful views BTW), back onto 6 at Georgetown down to Idaho Springs. There I took County 134 around the Idaho Springs tunnel and over the ridge to Highway 40 at Golden which leads south to Morrison. It was a great drive.
Some interesting side notes; old Highway 6 used to be the longest highway in the US until segments of it were decommissioned in 1964 and before I-70 was completed, the drive to Vail from Denver used to take about 5 hours.
Another thing I noticed this weekend was the profusion of cars flying american flags. Far, far more than normal. It makes me wonder if folks have “Labor”day confused with “Memorial”day. Probably…
Ok, so I made it to Aryntha and Rai’s place again and we promptly took off to locate some old telephone infrastructure we hadn’t been to in over seven years. We skirted the “sprawl” via C-470 and headed south on Highway 85, then south again on 105.
Highway 105 is the “magic road” for old phone stuff as the road itself was a maintenance road for the Transcontinental Cable between Colorado Springs and Denver. At a fire station on 105 one can find two old Mountain Bell era “huts” with their 1970’s CO signs still pointing to “zuni” in Denver.
In the middle of the route is an ESS5E switch center, which is quite active still. We figure most of Douglas County routes calls though the old TransCon easement to Denver based on what we’ve seen.
A little further south we found an even older amplifier station with a very old “Bell Systems” logo on it from the mid 1960’s. A very amazing find actually.
We followed the TransCon poles down into Colorado Springs before the sun went down and it became impossible to continue. After a little deliberation we decided to head back to Denver so we could all be ready for today. I have to work, Rai has to work the morning shift today and Aryntha had homework to do before classes today.
I will be assembling a web site to detail the old TransCon system in Colorado in the coming weeks. It’s really an interesting page in the history of the US which is very much overlooked.
Well, I should go fix breakfast and head for the store. Later…