Monday, July 10, 2017

The Tenth Mountain Division and the Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byway




If you read my post about the beginning of our drive to Independence Pass--click here to read that post-- you will remember that when we left Leadville, the highest incorporated town in the United States, we took a wrong turn, and instead of driving on CO 24 east, we went west.


It turned out to be a fortuitous mistake, as we soon discovered we were driving on the Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byway, and we were seeing beautiful vistas all over 9,000 feet high.


We passed by the Hayden Meadow Reservoir, which was still partially frozen in late June. The reservoir is a popular fishing area in summer. At a scenic pullover I saw this plaque which identified the reservoir at being at 10,618 feet elevation.  The towns of Robinson, Kokomo, and Recen once stood in this valley, with the highest Masonic Lodge having stood from 1882 to 1966 when this valley was flooded to make the reservoir.


The next stop we made was in the very scenic Pando Valley

Please click on to enlarge photo

Here I found some very weathered informational placards that told the story of the Pando Valley and the interesting story about the 10th Mountain Division from World War II and Camp Hale which was located here.


When the War Department decided in 1942 to establish a unit of mountain troops trained in skiing and winter warfare, they chose Pando Valley, a stop along the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad as the ideal location.  This area had consistent and heavy snowfall throughout the winter, due to its elevation at 9,200 feet (2800 m), as well as the topography conductive to ski training. There was also accessibility due to the railroad and Highway 24, which enabled building materials to be brought in easily and quickly. There was also water supply from the Eagle River and Homestake Creek and regional coal supplies to heat the camp.


Camp Hale was constructed with around 1,000 buildings and housed approximately 16,000 soldiers and 3,900 animals. Approximately 14,000 military personnel stationed there were members of the Tenth Mountain Division. After two years of rigorous training the Tenth Mountain Division was ordered to Italy in 1945 to prepare for an advance of the U.S. Army. They breached the supposedly impregnable Gothic Line in the Apennines and secured the Po River Valley to play a vital role in the liberation of northern Italy. By the time the German surrendered in May 1945, 992 ski troopers had lost their lives and 4,000 were wounded. This was the highest casualty rate of any U.S. division in the Mediterranean,


In 1965, Camp Hale was dismantled and the land was deeded to the US Forest Service. Except for a few foundations, signs and some concrete ruins, there is not much left of the camp except for memories.  Yet, the Tenth Mountain Division had a large impact on the state of Colorado, because after the war many of the returning members returned to Colorado and were pivotal in creating the recreational ski industry in the state. They designed ski lifts, became ski coaches, racers, instructors, ski patrollers, shop owners, ski school operators, improved ski equipment and developed ski resorts. In fact one of the founders of Vail Ski Resort, Pete Seibert, was a member of the Tenth Mountain Division.


This memorial sculpture dedicated to the Tenth Mountain Division stands in the ski town of Breckenridge on the Riverwalk.

Please click on to enlarge

A close up of the plaque on the memorial.


We continued driving west on 24 West until we reconnected with I-70 again, where we drove to Aspen and then turned back east to drive over Independence pass as we originally planned.

Map of Highway 24 west--the Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byway

We may have taken the wrong turn, and driven an unplanned byway, but seeing the Camp Hale area and learning about the Tenth Mountain Division turned out to be a real bonus! The fact that we took this trip on Memorial Day added extra poignancy to the Tenth Mountain Division's story and the ultimate sacrifice that was made by many.


Someone had left roses on one of the placards at Camp Hale, and I added a prayer as I stood there. May we never forget and honor them always.

Colorado is home to 26 scenic and historic byways, and eleven of them are designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as America's Byways, which gives Colorado more national designations than any other state!  To learn more about these byways go to this Colorado Department of Transportation Scenic Byway link.

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45 comments:

Daniela said...

Good morning Dearest One and happy Monday to you!

How beautiful to see so much snow during such a hot day here in Italy, it really seemed to refresh me :) !

Grateful more and more for the deep joy which you always fill my heart with,
I'm wishing you a blessed new week

XOXO Dany

Stacey said...

Wow!! What a gift to take that wrong turn. :)

From the Kitchen said...

The scenery is, as always, quite spectacular. The history of the Tenth Mountain division sparked a bit of a memory. I think there may have been a movie?? Or a TV special? I very much enjoyed the information about the group.

Best,
Bonnie

Snap said...

You are having so much fun discovering Colorado. Besides the beautiful scenery the history is marvelous. Happy Monday!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, looks like a beautiful place to visit. The mountain scenery is always gorgeous to see, I like the view of the reservoir. Lovely photos and post.

Happy Monday, Enjoy your day and the new week ahead!

Lorrie said...

Good morning, Pat. Your wrong turn led to an interesting bit of history. What a large camp that was, so high up in the mountains. Thank you for sharing. Have a great week.

Tamar SB said...

That is gorgeous!!

Ruth Hiebert said...

A wrong turn can end up being the best thing ever. These views are amazing.

Alan said...

Yet another place to add to my list!! This is beautiful!!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Sometimes taking the wrong road can lead to a happy adventure. It looks like you made the most of it.

Rajesh said...

Beautiful shots of snow covered peaks.

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

I feel like I traveled along with you! You share vivid photography, and great information about each place you visit! What a great mistake your turn was! Wonderful to get to see some new things that you hadn't planned on. So much to see and do in the mountains of CO! Always enjoy your posts :)

Vee said...

I do remember that wrong turn and that you planned to return one day and go the "correct" way. As wrong turns go, that one was most pleasant. So much to see and learn in the mountains of Colorado that it would be hard to go wrong. I think that I stopped receiving your posts because you were recuperating...this one came in just fine.

jeannettestgermain said...

We have made that similar mistake - a very fortunate one:) The view of the reservoir is so stunning and peaceful! Thank you for sharing this unexpected surprise with All Seasons! Have a great week, Pat:)

Maggie said...

Pat you take us to the most amazing places with your weekly travelogues, you're such a great guide and I'm always so glad to see the wonderful scenery and hear the history of the places you go to.
Happy Mosaic Monday.

Photo Cache said...

Wow these are the kind of mistakes you wanna make.

Worth a Thousand Words

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

How nice your wrong turn added so much history and adventure to your drive, Pat. It's nice to learn about Camp Hale and the Tenth Mountain Division. Your photos are always lovely and especially today seeing snow on our really hot humid afternoon. ♥

Al said...

That was a great wrong turn - such spectacular scenery.

Linda W. said...

I'd heard that many ski resorts were established from ex-military skiers. Thanks for the interesting history lesson.

Michelle said...

A most excellent wrong turn!

Steven Que said...

Wow! Just Wow! That very first photo of those snowy mountains, was like a screen capture to one of my beautiful recurring dreams! Hope it comes true!

Steven

Mary K.- The Boondocks Blog said...

One of the best wrong turns you ever took breathtaking scenery and lots of history!

Gemma Wiseman said...

Those mountain views are amazing. Love how a mistake became a hidden, precious gem.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Another fascinating post filled with interesting history. I'm glad you made a wrong turn.

Teresa Kindred said...

What gorgeous photos! Have a great week and thanks for linking up at NanaHood.com

Molly said...

Such beautiful landscape

Mollyx

bettyl-NZ said...

I love it when a mistake turns out so happily! Your images are just great of this part of the states and the information is quite interesting.

ellen b. said...

Well looks like a wrong turn with a good outcome. You both know how to do country roads and lovely road trips!

A Colorful World said...

A wonderful "misturn"...really interesting post! I know you were so glad to see Camp Hale. The history was fascinating. Loved the photos.

Tom said...

...I drive by Fort Drum, the home of the Tenth Mountain Division when I go up to the Adirondack Mountains. What gorgeous pictures of your beautiful neck of the woods. Thanks for stopping by!

Laura said...

What a wonderful place to take a day trip
Hope you come visit and leave a comment and follow
Laura

Felicia said...

Such wonderful history. who would have ever thought about ski troopers. beautiful scenery too.

alissa apel said...

I love driving through Colorado! There's just so much to see.

I live in Nebraska. Lots of flat plains and grasses. I do wish we had more mountains, even more bluffs would be nice.

Sylvia said...

Pat, Being able to go with the flow and adjust as life offers something other than we planned is a great advantage to living a happy life. Thanks for sharing Camp Hale. I would not think skiing as a war time skill but it was. Have a great week. Sylvia D.

Kristi Maloney said...

The scenery is beautiful. I would love to take my kids there someday before they are adults!

D.Nambiar said...

Isn't CO beautiful!
I loved every bit of the state that I saw while I was there. Thank you for taking me beyond Independence Pass. :)

Sally Wessely said...

We drove home to Colorado Springs from Grand Junction through Leadville a few weeks ago. I had to convince my hubby to go that way because he wanted to just go over I70. It was so good for me to travel that route again. I have so many memories of the days when I lived up there. I remember going to an area near Camp Hale with my father in the 1960's when he had to investigate a train derailment. It was fascinating and scary seeing a train on its side in a meadow not far from the camp.

I'm glad you discovered the area.

The Gathering Place said...

When you moved from New York City I wondered how you would find as many interesting things to blog about, but you know how to discover the unique and fascinating things in nature, too! I love that your "mistake" turned out so well.

Laura said...

It is so warm the mountains look so cool
HPS
Laura

Lowcarb team member said...

Such beautiful scenery, lovely to see the snow!
It was interesting to see the map too.

All the best Jan

Rambling Woods said...

I love history especially with photos.... Sad that we are still fighting wars... I wish we weren't.... Michelle

Rhonda Albom said...

Interesting that that high mountain reservoir was still partially frozen in June. I had a vague knowledge about the mountain division and the veterans returning to start some ski resorts. Your post put this into a much better perspective. Thanks.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

You know you have good karma when a mistake reaps benefits like this drive did! What fascinating history and of course views (after all you were still in the mountainous part of Colorado!) .... and of course as always your pictures are perfection.

Jann Olson said...

Beautiful scenery! Sometimes wrong turns are a blessing in disguise. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
hugs,
Jann

Ruth Rieckehoff said...

Oh wow, that reservoir at more than 10,000 feet! I do not think we have something so high in California (that you can drive to). Very beautiful area. It was good to get lost. #TPThursday