Tag Archives: history

Hiking The Vindicator Valley Trail

Throughout the state of Colorado, the landscape is dotted with memories of the silver and gold mining industries of the late 1800’s.  A high concentration of abandoned mines can be found about an hour outside Colorado Springs.  Miners came to the area trying to reach the Cripple Creek and Victor mining districts with the promise of wealth to be found in the area.   There is a great trail system in this area called the Trails of Gold where you can hike past the remnants of this interesting part of American history.

On this day, we hiked the Vindicator Valley Trail.  This trail is located off Rt. 81 just outside the little town of Victor.  It combines two of my favorite things…ghost towns and hiking! And it is great for photography.  Ok, three things!!

Vindicator Valley Trail Start

The trail is about 2 miles long is a fairly easy hike with some small rolling hills.  The scenery is spectacular!

Part of the Trail

The trail is bordered in most sections by split rail fencing which protects the ruins and hikers from unseen dangers.  Posted signs warn to stay on the trail and keep an eye on kids and dogs.  One never knows where an abandoned mine might lay as more than 500 mines once could be found in this area.

Longfellow Mining Company

Many buildings along the trail have historical information markers.

Vindicator Valley Trail - Abandoned Cabin

I really wished we had been just a couple weeks earlier so that we could have seen the aspens.  It must be even more beautiful in the early fall.

Vindicator Mine


Powder Magazine

This is one of a few powder magazines that have survived.  The explosives were safely and separately kept in these buildings far from the mining operations.

Vindicator Valley Mining

Vindicator Valley Trail Mining Building 1

Vindicator Valley Trail Mining Building 2

Our trip to Colorado was a short one and the Vindicator Valley Trail was the only hiking trail we were able to do this day since we had limited time.  There are nine trails in this area and I hope to explore more in the future.  Check here for trail descriptions and maps.

Stop by Victor for lunch after a day of hiking!


Jersey Goes West Pt. 7 – Manzanar


We were back on the road and headed west on 190 to the exit of Death Valley and into the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.  It is a beautiful drive, but for us “flatlanders”  it was a little nerve-wracking! The views were spectacular, the guardrails barely there, and people flying around switchback turns that made us a just a hair uncomfortable.  We had to get used to it though as it was just the beginning of the mountainous portion of our trip!

Once on 395 North, it is a relatively short drive to the town of Lone Pine and and then Manzanar National Historic Site.


Unfortunately, we arrived after 5 pm, so we were unable to tour the museum and other exhibits.  There is a self-guided driving tour that is available after hours with a map of sites and short descriptions.

Manzanar was a “relocation center” or interment camp for Japanese Americans (US citizens) and resident Japanese aliens during World War II. Nearly 120,000 people were relocated to 10 camps throughout the United States and forced to live here until World War II was over. Two-thirds of those people were US citizens by birth.  Without notice or due process, the government gave anyone of Japanese ancestry, days to dispose of possessions and property.  Houses and businesses had to be rented, abandoned or sold at a significant loss.  They were put on buses and traveled for hours without having any idea where they were going.   11,000 people were processed through Manzanar and lived in 504 crowded barracks.  The camp was surrounded by barbed wire, had 8 guard towers with search lights and was patrolled by military police.  For more history on the people visit the NPS site People of Manzanar.

Manzanar is the most well-preserved of these camps. It was made a national historic site and serves as an important reminder of a dark part of US history and the fragility of American civil liberties. Every American needs to know that there were interment camps on our soil that imprisoned our citizens.  I am not sure that many know that.


Most of the sites within the park are just foundations or cleared sites  where buildings used to stand.  They have recreated some buildings and a few of the better built facilities still exist.  There are some remnants of life at Manzanar such as orchard trees and rock gardens that have been preserved.


The evening had become smoky due to the wildfires burning in Sequoia National Park.  We visited the Manzanar cemetery.  150 people died while at Manzanar but most were sent to hometown cemeteries or were cremated to be sent back with relatives after they were released from the camp.  14 people, mostly men without families and infants, were buried here.  Only six remain here as family members had the others removed and reburied elsewhere.  It is a sadly beautiful,serene place and definitely a good place for reflection.

There was even a pet cemetery where people had left origami birds in remembrance and respect of pets lost.



Daylight was fading and it was time to say a quiet goodbye.

IMG_7381We drove past the last guard tower as we left.

Visit the NPS site on Manzanar to learn more.

Next up: The trials and tribulations of going from 282 feet below sea level to 10,000 feet above sea level in a few hours!  Welcome to Mammoth Lakes!


Jersey Goes West Pt. 5 – Nelson, NV

When my husband and I first started planning this trip, I knew that one place I definitely wanted to see was Nelson, Nevada.  I had seen many wonderful photographs of this area and it was a must do for me.

Nelson lies about 25 miles from Boulder City, NV so it makes it a great place to visit after a trip to the Hoover Dam.  The area is rich in history and sparse in population.  During its heyday, Nelson was an area that was home to one of the first gold strikes in the area.  Spaniards who first made gold discoveries called the area Eldorado.  The mines in the area produced several million dollars in gold, silver, copper and lead from 1858-1945.  Now most of the people have left and all that remains are a few private homes and a mine tour business.  The mine tour business operates out of an old Texaco building.

Nelson - Texaco Station

Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours are the caretakers for the “Nelson Ghost Town”.  A few movies including 3000 Miles to Graceland where shot at this location.  This site is eye-candy for photographers!  There are many old buildings and cars littering the landscape.  The current owners have placed items in such a way that are quite aesthetically pleasing.  Its not a true ghost town in the sense that it is kept up and some of the buildings are newer but made too look old.  There are many great artifacts and antiques that look perfect in the settings.  If visiting, be sure to stop into the store to check in before looking around outside and be respectful of the property.  The caretakers also live on site. Based on my research, there is a fee for professional photographers as this is a popular place for photo shoots.  There was actually a model shoot going on while we were there.

Nelson - All Lined Up

Nelson - Desert Trucks

Nelson - Desert Refreshments

Nelson - Chevron Gas Station

Nelson - Chevy Truck

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