Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coal Country

Been spending the week in Emery- Carbon County. Mostly examining old coal camps, going for better pictures than I had time to take last year.

Spent the last four days in Spring Canyon. It rained every day. Which is unusual, because this is supposed to the be the high desert where it rarely rains. But it's also a canyon carved around the 6,500 ft level of a 10,000 ft plateau that generates its own weather. So I've had a lot of waiting around, for the light to be right and the rain to stop so photos can be taken.

This morning the clouds were only intermittent. I woke up in Standardville. Walked around to take a few photos. Exited a ruin, slipped on a board, and fell on my $500 camera. Destroying it.

This of course is a serious problem.

But I need a good camera to continue the project. My entire fall plans are based on having one to use. So. I took just over 1/5th of my checking account out of the bank and handed it over to Kmart today for an exciting new Nikon Digital SLR. Kind of like my old one, slighty nicer, about as expensive.

Going to stop by the mining museum on my way back out there. I'm running out of reading material. Gone through the pulp fiction, and already read and re read the geology books. Need some good deep something to have. There is a lot of down time out here, waiting for the light to get right.

Here's some of what I've been able to come up with...

Coal City:

One of the only images I've ever "cheated", slightly increasing the brightness... at Mohrland.

I took this picture last year... but it looks better in the afternoon light:

The orange "no tresspassing" spraypaint really screws up this historic structure, just outside the King Mine at Mohrland:

Except for a few concrete foundations, all that remains of Wattis.

Victor was a farming community. Until they realized farming without water isn't worth it. Just outside of Elmo, at the foothills of the San Rafael uplift

Spring canyon... had several old coal mining towns. Ruins are to be found both near the road level, and high up on the canyons. Most of the coal seems are about 1,000 feet about the road. The ruins up there are characterized by less graffiti and trash, usually.


Spring Canyon, formerly known as Storrs. Run by Jesse Knight, Mormon mining bigwig from the Tintic district. Got coal here to run a Smelter near Eureka. Frowned upon miners getting drunk.

Standarville... has numerous photogenic photos near the road.
(This one pic from last year)

But if you hike up the canyon, which fortunately is on an undriveable grade, you get to some old buildings near the mine which have not be vandalized:

Ripple Marks in the Mesa Verde Sandstone.

All this coal was found in it, near the base of the Mesa Verde where it is still interfingering with the marine Mancos Shale. Coal formed in swamps near the shore. The sea level rose and fell many times, leading to the shale (slopey, crumbling) / sandstone (cliffy) layers that characterize most skylines around Carbon and Emery Counties.

* * *

Having to buy the new camera was a big setback. It's always something. Car accident. Car falling in a ditch. Camera breaking. Something. But... maybe having to make this sacrifice will force me to dedicate myself to this project even more. (if possible?)