Monday, February 28, 2011

The Silver Thread Scenic Byway

After we left the Pueblo area on our trip west in the spring of 2009, we visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park, near Alamosa, Colorado. Since I've already done a post about the sand dunes, I'll skip on to the next leg of the trip, which included traveling the Silver Thread Scenic Byway which runs between South Fork and Blue Mesa Reservoir.

The scenery was beautiful enough to make this a vacation destination in itself.

The mountain peak in the distance is the Rio Grande Pyramid. The mountain is nearly 14,000 feet high, and its north side forms the headwaters of the Rio Grande River.
A short drive down a side road led to North Clear Creek Falls.
North Clear Creek Falls
This handsome fellow was sunning himself on a rock near the waterfall.
Before we left the area of the falls, a sleet storm blew through.
This mountain bluebird was perched on a shrub as we were leaving the falls area.
The San Juan Mountains in the distance

Lake San Cristobal 

A little local history...a sign on the Alferd Packer Massacre Site tells this story:

"In February, 1874, Alferd Packer became lost in a severe snow storm while guiding five men from Salt Lake City to the Los Piños Indian Agency (south of Gunnison). In mid-April, Packer arrived at the Los Piños Agency - alone.

"Upon interrogation, he claimed that as each person died the other men ate the flesh of the dead. Packer said he killed only one person but only in self-defense.

"That summer, five bodies were discovered at this site. Each person's head had been crushed. Alferd Packer was arrested and accused of  murder and cannibalism. Before his trial, however, he fled Colorado.

"Nine years later, Packer was captured in Wyoming and was returned to Colorado. He was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to prison for forty years. After 15 years, he was paroled in 1901.

"Until his death in 1907, Packer maintained his innocence in one of the most notorious events in Colorado's history."

A plaque on a boulder within the memorial area bears this message:

This Tablet Erected in Memory of
Israel Swan
George Noon
Frank Miller
James Humphreys
Wilson Bell
Who were murdered on this spot early in the year 1874,
while pioneering the mineral resources of the San Juan Country


  1. Mysterious story. Guess no one will ever really know what happened to those men. I love all your scenery pictures, but I have to say I am a sucker for the critter pictures. What an adorable...wood chuck? groundhog? I don't know but he sure is cute!

  2. Elizabeth - The story about Packer does make one wonder what exactly went on there. It could be that five turned on one; then four turned on the next one, and so on until there were just two left and Packer won that battle.

    The critter you mentioned is a marmot. I'm not sure "adorable" is quite the word I would have chosen, though. :)

  3. Wow---what a gorgeous place, Linda. That waterfall is wonderful. I need to put that one on my 'list'..... ha

    Interesting story about Packer. Cannibalism, huh???? Maybe one would do what they had to do to stay alive---but not sure I could ever do that.... Yipes!!!!

    Have a great Tuesday.

  4. Betsy - This IS a beautiful waterfall and one worthy of being put on your list.

  5. What fabulous scenery and beautiful photography. You certainly have an eye for fine wonders. And that Packer story is unnerving.

  6. Hilary - Thank you for your kind comments. And "unnerving" is a good word for the Packer story.

  7. Great pictures and a gruesome story. But I LOVE the quote on the sign that is attributed to a friend of one of the dead men: You son of a ____! There was seven Democrats in Hinsdale County and you ate five of them!

  8. Sandra - I'm so glad you mentioned that quote on the sign. I had forgotten to point that out. See? All that enlarging and searching of my photos for animals that aren't there finally paid off with the discovery of that quote. :)

  9. Wow, some really amazing pictures to share. I am really impressed how you recorded this area.

  10. Thank you, Steve. It's a beautiful area and was fun to record.

  11. Wonderful eye candy, Linda! I could lose myself in those vistas. That bluebird looks like a feathered patch of sky that came down for a visit.

  12. Thanks so much, Frank. I just wish my photographic skills could have done the bluebird justice.

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