Eastern Mojave Vegetation The Ghost Town of Independence  


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  Colorado, Pitkin County, Independence
Photographed 24 July 2018.

The Ghost Town of Independence

The Ute Indians

The Rocky Mountains are the center of the Ute's world. According to legend, the Ute were the mountains' first people. They spent their lives migrating with the seasons and following the animals that fed them, clothed them, and guided them spiritually and socially. Many Modern day roads and passes are trails the Ute traveled for hundreds of years as they followed their migratory paths.

Desire for the Ute's territory became overwhelming when gold was found in 1858. Tens of thousands of prospectors and settlers poured into the mountains. By 1861, the Colorado Territory was created and, in 1879, the Roaring Fork Valley was opened to prospectors eager to stake their claims. By 1880, the Ute were relocated to three reservations. The Ute, whose homelands included the Roaring Fork Valley, found it especially difficult to be exiled from their mountain home to the semi-arid land of Southern Colorado and Eastern Utah. Their traditional way of life was altered and they were no longer allowed to hunt and gather in the mountains, but were expected to farm on semi-arid lands.

Geology, Elevation 10,900 ft

About 69 million years ago, there was widespread volcanic activity in the mountains of Colorado. Ore-bearing fluids circulated through that is known as the Leadville limestone formation creating the rich mining districts of Colorado. The Aspen silver veins, discovered in the 1870s during the Hayden Survey, originated as part of this process and are considered the most highly faulted region in the state.

The most recent glacial period, the Wisconsin Ice Age, ended 10,000 years ago, forming many of the landmarks and valleys seen along Highway 82 today. The Rocky Mountains filled with hundreds of feet of accumulated snow and ice that flowed downhill from its own weight, grinding with terrific pressure into river valleys, creating the “U-shaped” valleys of the Roaring Fork.

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Date and time this page was prepared: 12/8/2023 3:45:25 PM