Sunday, June 28, 2015

Geology Museum at the Colorado School of Mines

Do you see the big letter "M" that sits at 6,900 feet, towards the top side of Mt. Zion in Golden, Colorado? It is made of white washed rocks and measures 104 feet X 107 feet.  It was designed by Colorado School of Mines professor, Joseph Francis O'Byrne in 1908 as a descriptive geometry exercise, and he succeeded in creating this letter that does not appear distorted from any angle. It has become a welcoming sign for the Colorado School of Mines --a prestigious public research university devoted to engineering and applied science. It has the highest admissions standards of any public university in Colorado, and among the highest of any public university in the United States.

All photos and photo collages will enlarge, for easier viewing ,if clicked on.

Founded in 1874 the Colorado School of Mines is a world class research institution, and contains a very interesting Geology Museum which acts as the Colorado state repository for its mineral heritage. Arthur Lakes, a world class geologist of his day, put together the first collection of geological treasures for the school when it opened, and the collections has grown through the years to over 50,000 specimens!

The new museum building was completed in 2003, and displays gemstones, minerals, gold, silver and copper in its original form, fossils, meteorites, and mining artifacts, in its well lit clear glass display cases and shelves.

The remarkable mining murals above the collections are by Irwin Hoffman.

There were many display cases of rare and valuable Colorado Minerals, such as the red colored Rhodochosite and Tetrahedrite that you can see in the middle of the display above, or the Turquoise that is in the top left.

More Colorado minerals were beautiful pieces of Amanozite and Quartz, like the blue/black specimen in the back center, and Microcline on the back right.

There was also an entire room full of examples of Gold mined from different areas in Colorado and also around the world.  It was easy to see how this element created the Gold Rush frenzy in the middle 1800's both in the mountains of California and Colorado.

There were large specimens of rare minerals from around the world--in order from top left: Amanizite,Schorl on Albite/Cleavelandite, 
bottom left to right:

There were beautiful examples of pink Rhodochrosite, and objects that were made from it.

Two pieces that really impressed me were the "Colorado Fire" necklace and the gem studded crown that is worn by "Miss Colorado" pageant winners, and stored for the rest of the year at the Geology Museum in a protective safe.

There was a walk through mine exhibit that contained this amazing ultraviolet mineral display! With the flick of a switch the minerals on the left would glow with their natural florescence under short and long wave ultraviolet light.

We saw many examples of meteorites...

..and also a wonderful fossil collections.

The "Cave Bear" skull, and Mastodon molar and tusk, were fascinating to see. Mastodons once roamed in my area, as teenagers found both a piece of a mastodon jaw and tusk in a stream in my neighborhood.

There was even a fossilized dinosaur bone in the Geology Museum.  This photo of my granddaughter and husband touching it is one of my favorite photos from our visit to the Geology Museum. Our little miss has become quite interested in dinosaurs recently, especially after our visit to Dinosaur Ridge--click here to read that post if you missed it. 

The Geology Museum also includes an outdoor geologic trail, that features seven outcrops with various geologic and paleontological points of interest, including dinosaur tracks, logs and leaves. We did not go to this trail on this visit, but saved it for the future, as we knew we'd like to visit the museum again. The museum exhibits change 20% annually, so there will always be something new to see.

The Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum is located at 1310 Maple Street, Golden, Colorado. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. It is open Monday-Saturday 9 AM to 4 PM and Sunday 1 PM to 4 PM.  It is closed on certain legal and school holidays call 303 273 3816 for information. 

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lair O' the Bear Park

Don't you just love the name of this Jefferson County Open Space park?   From the first time I passed Lair O' the Bear Park, while driving past it on State Highway 74, in the Morrison area, I've wanted to turn into its grounds and explore it. My husband and I finally had the opportunity to do that last week.  We have been trying to do a few hikes a week for exercise, and also to enjoy the late springtime beauty of the local trails. (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on) 

Bear Creek runs through Lair O' the Bear Park, and there are creekside trails for walkers and anglers who want to try their luck at fishing for trout. The 1.9 mile Bruin Bluff Trail is slightly more challenging going up to a higher elevation. Bear Creek Trail is 1.3 miles along the creek, and is shaded in many areas by Cottonwood and Box Elder trees and some Ponderosa Pine trees. There is also a challenging 12.6 mile round trip hiking trail that encompasses three Denver Mountain Parks to the west. Information about the history of the park and how it got its name can be read on this link.

We began our hike on Creekside Trail that leads to Bear Creek Trail. As you can see the creek was running high and hard! The spring alpine snow melt and the heavy rain falls that the Front Range has been experiencing this spring has made all the creeks and rivers run near flood levels this year,  This area is closest to the parking area and also contains 28 picnic tables and permanent charcoal, grills, plus a covered educational shelter, where Lookout Mountain Nature Center holds campfire events and programs for groups and the public.

Nearby were some interesting educational placards describing how this area is a watershed.  (Please enlarge by clicking on the collage to read the information) Water from the rain and snow melt runs down east in this area from the high Continental Divide, to form many streams and creeks. Bear Creek eventually feeds into the South Platte River that then runs through Denver, then north east through Nebraska, and to the Missouri River.  Eventually it empties into the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico!

We continued on the trail and crossed over Bear Creek on one of the bridges.

It is easy to see how high the creek is running in this photo, as it is getting very close to the bottom of the bridge! 

If you'd like to see a phone video I took of fast running Bear Creek you can see it on Youtube above or by clicking on my Mille Fiori Favoriti Facebook page on this link.

We enjoyed walking the entire loop of the trail. My husband dipped his hand into the water to feel the temperature of the creek and he said it felt very cool--maybe 40 to 50 degrees.

My favorite part of the Bear Creek Tail was also seeing all the beautiful wildflowers in bloom along the way!

We did not see too many anglers the time we hiked since the creek was running so hard they need to take precautions not to be swept away by the fast moving current.  There was an unfortunate incident, recently, where a fisherman drowned in Boulder Creek, perhaps caught up by the fast current there.

I loved this magnificent wonderful old willow tree by one area of the creek.  Countless children have climbed up on its welcoming branches over the years.  I felt fortunate to have a few quiet moments sitting on a branch and enjoying its shade.

It's wonderful to be able to connect with nature in such a beautiful setting as Lair O' the Bear Park, and I know we will be returning here many times in the future!

Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments and best wishes on the birth of our new granddaughter!  We feel very blessed to now have four grandchildren nearby, and have been been enjoying her so much!

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