Vandals Damage Historic Buildings at Camp Bird Mine
by Peter Shelton
May 05, 2011 | 3688 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ouray County Road and Bridge Supervisor Chris Miller had two troublesome tales for the Board of County Commissioners at their regular meeting last week in Ridgway.

One was about an abandoned singlewide trailer off Hwy 62 near the top of Dallas Divide, a problem no one, from CDOT to the Double RL Ranch, seemed willing to take on. And the other, potentially much thornier issue, regarded vandalism to historic buildings off CR 361 at the Camp Bird Mine.

Ken Emery, of Western Slope 4-Wheelers, came to the meeting prepared to offer volunteer labor by his group in an effort to stop the thoughtless destruction at the historic gold mine, but both he and Miller faced daunting challenges.
“Our club will donate $500 to replace windows in the buildings, or put Plexiglas in there,” he said. And then, “Do we need fencing” to keep vandals from leaving the county road and trespassing onto the private property? “We’re here to help. What do you guys want us to do?”

Commissioner Lynn Padgett said she’d like to see a work session with all of the stakeholders sitting down together: “the private property owner, the historic preservation people, the cultural tourism people, the outdoor recreation people. There are lots of people who would like to help.”

But apparently not the owners of the mine buildings. Miller reported that “it’s his (the owner’s) opinion that ‘I don’t care.’”

“I’d like to fence it off,” Miller said of the county road, which traverses between and very near the old mine manager’s residence and a second once-graceful structure. “But I don’t know that we’re really going to stop [the vandalism] that way. If we can’t reroute the road, these buildings will be gone pretty soon. If we still have an opportunity to move the road away from the houses, I’d still like to do that. But there is no interest from Camp Bird Colorado, Inc.”

Commissioner Mike Fedel commented, “If he’s not willing to protect that, it will be destroyed. I’d rather not see that.”

Padgett added that the desecration is “an insult to our cultural heritage. Could we put up a sign on the county right-of-way,” she asked, only half kidding, “that says: ‘Due to bad actors, this road my be closed.’”

County Manager Connie Hunt suggested that “Chris draw up an estimate for fencing off the buildings, steel pipe or chain link,” and present it to the commissioners at their next meeting.

Fedel, who once worked at the Camp Bird, agreed to see if he could contact the owner about reopening talks to relocate the road.


Road and Bridge Supervisor Chris Miller told the BOCC last week that “that abandoned trailer on Dallas Divide is driving Junior crazy.”

By Junior he meant Ouray County Sheriff Dominic “Junior” Mattivi. And the trailer he referred to was the one abandoned by a moving company earlier in the winter at the last sweeping turn on Hwy 62 east of Dallas Divide. The 60-foot trailer, which is ripe with mold and upturned furniture, Miller said, is on property owned by the Double RL Ranch and, unfortunately, just this side of the county line. “The Double RL has been calling everybody,” Miller reported, CDOT, the county – especially Junior – to get somebody else to remove the thing.”

Commissioner Lynn Padgett said, “This really should not be the county’s problem. However, I am sensitive to the fact that this is the second most photographed spot in the state of Colorado,” she said of the sweeping view of the Sneffels Range from that very curve. “There is some economic issue there.”

Miller reported that a search inside the trailer turned up evidence of the last people to live in it, people with connections in Fruita, Colo. But there was nothing to point to the trailer’s owner, no registration, no license. And no clue as to who dumped the orphan rig and took off.

Hauling the trailer away would be “a bureaucratic nightmare” for CDOT or for the county, Miller said, given the ownership and liability issues.

“Might we alternately be able to handle it through our rubbish ordinance?” asked County Attorney Mary Deganhart.

“We were thinking of tearing it apart,” Miller said, pleased.

And that seemed to solve it. The mystery trailer would be torn apart as rubbish and carted away in little pieces.


Ouray County Social Services Director Allan Gerstle reported to the BOCC last week that, statewide in 2010, applications for food stamps increased by 26 percent. In Ouray County, that number was 37 percent.

In his Case Load Report for the first three months of 2011, Gerstle saw food stamps grow from 134 cases in January to 142 in February to 152 cases in March.

Gerstle interpreted the numbers as a reflection of the lingering, and delayed, effects of the great recession. Foreclosure rates are still high. And among the six counties in Region 10, unemployment is currently about 14 percent, well above the state and national averages.

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