Colorado Fall Color 2013 Part II: Historic Redstone and Marble (Sep 30 - Oct 1)

Monday afternoon we headed west on Hwy 82 out of Aspen, with a detour through Snowmass Village. This was new territory and helped satisfy a need we both feel to explore more of the backroads of our home state.

By the time we reached Carbondale and once again had voice and data on our smartphones, we had decided our next destination would be one of our favorite spots, Crested Butte via Kebler Pass. A drive-through would not be enough so we contacted a friend on the off chance that his condo, where we had stayed once before, might be available on short notice. Not tonight, but the next night. Okay great, we'll figure something else out in CB for tonight.

Aspen grove along the highway

Just past Redstone we stopped at Hays Creek Falls, a nifty little waterfall right off the road that we visited in 2011. While Mike was photographing the falls, I began chatting with a woman who recommended we stay at the Redstone Inn, which seemed like a great idea rather than drive all the way to CB tonight. Plus we would have time to check out the scenery and aspens on the drive to Marble, another historic town new to us. A big bonus to staying the night turned out to be picking up some interesting tidbits of Colorado history.

Hays Creek Falls, along Hwy 133

We checked in to the hotel, built in 1902 by John Osgood an upscale dormitory for his single employees. He also built the cute chalet style homes in town for his married employees. All of this was part of his experiment in welfare capitalism.

Redstone Inn

Sitting room outside the Inn's restaurant

Redstone Inn 2nd floor hallway

The coke ovens across the street were the reason for Redstone's existence.

Coke Ovens along Hwy 133 at Redstone

The Redstone Inn desk clerk suggested we visit the quarry in Marble, and we found it fascinating. While access to the actual quarry is not permitted, we took a self-guided walk through historic remains of the original facilities and saw giant blocks of new Yule Marble awaiting shipment.

From Wikipedia:
Yule Marble is a marble of metamorphosed limestone found only in the Yule Creek Valley, in the West Elk Mountains of Colorado, 2.8 miles (4.5 km) southeast of the town of Marble, Colorado. First discovered in 1873, it is quarried today inside a mountain at 9,300 feet (2,800 m) above sea level, in contrast to most marble, which is quarried from an open pit and at much lower elevations.
Yule Marble was used for the exterior of the Lincoln Memorial and for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Park near the load out area in Marble

Susan with the marble loading heavy equipment
Yule Marble -- made in the USA; and Colorado's official state rock!

We lingered around the huge marble blocks, contemplating their density and the effort required to extract them from the mountains. 

The next morning we returned and saw a huge rig being loaded with two blocks of marble headed for Houston. The larger block weighed 21,000lbs; the smaller 10,000lbs. Yule marble weighs 170lbs per cubic foot. In 2011, a cubic foot sold for as much as $150.

Those two blocks weighed almost 16 tons!

We couldn't leave without driving up as far as permitted on the Quarry Road. We were hoping to see a truck bringing marble down the road, but didn't see one while we were there.

Aspen groves along the quarry road

View back down from the quarry road

Parked at the end of the road near the quarry entrance; note marble blocks used as guard rails!

Mountains of marble blocks were visible in the distance, cast offs not of high enough quality for use in monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial.

Cast-off blocks of low quality marble. Note worker relaxing on a block at lower center.

If you're interested in the history of the quarry or of photos inside it, we can't recommend this website enough -- Ron Bailey Photography. If the quarry is ever opened up for tours, we'll be first in line!

Oh, and there is one restaurant in Marble, Slow Groovin' BBQ. No directions needed, you'll smell it.

Slow Groovin' BBQ - Marble's Local Bar and Grill

We would love to come back to the Marble area -- the iconic Crystal Mill is just a few miles down a 4x4 road!

Continued in Part III...

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