Tuesday, April 20, 2010

mining era pipeline

Late last week, when I was looking at dirty snow, I was really scouting out a location for a geology/Colorado History field trip I was going to take a third grade class on. There are many areas to choose from and this trip (I use any excuse to get into the mountains) I wanted to check out Corkscrew Gulch, part of the Red Mountain Mining District. This pipeline was used to carry tailings from the mill down to the Ironton Park area. I am just totally amazed at what these guys did with wooden pipelines. Most of the pipeline is gone, and what is left is still under lots of snow, but I was still able to see a few of the sites.

The pipeline had to cross Corkscrew Gulch. Here, looking up at the pipe from the bottom of the gulch. Rumor has it that this was the second longest suspension bridge in Colorado.
Along the pipeline route there are small wooden boxes where the tailings slurry would drop some quick elevation. The gradient of the pipeline had to be such that the whole slurry would continue downhill. If the gradient was too shallow, gravity wouldn't be able to help the material to move. If the gradient was too steep, the water would run of leaving the solids behind. here you can see the uphill entrance for the pipeline. The downhill exit is below the snow.
This is the view across Corkscrew Gulch. The supports for the bridge are still in place, but the bridge itself is only for use in Indiana Jones movies. No one else would ever dream of crossing the span. There is a ski trail up to this spot and it makes a great afternoon of winter exploring.
The field trip is scheduled for mid-May. There is a chance that the snow might be melted. However, I think I need to scout out some lower elevation spots just in case.

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