Round-trip to Redstone
With picnic baskets and coolers in tow, my husband and I and several neighbors headed to Redstone, Colorado, for our annual leaf-peeping expedition by way of McClure Pass. It had been years since we visited Marble, so we decided to stop there en route.
After a delightful lunch at a Forest Service campground along the way, we arrived at Marble just as the morning sun gave way to darkening clouds. We passed the yard where cut marble slabs await shipment, and headed toward the quarry, parking near the trail along Yule Creek. Because this is private land, there is a five-dollar fee (payable in a red metal box) to use the trail. Visitors may also remove marble samples for a small charge. Just past the marble rubble pile, a sign prohibiting the crossing of Yule Creek stopped us from going any further. However, we learned later that a trail along the eastern edge of the creek would have taken us to a quarry viewing area. (Forest Service Trail #2083-Yule Pass Trail–is also accessible from the quarry trail.) Later, we had barely begun the quarry approach via the 4WD route when the clouds gave way to rain and we were advised by a returning vehicle not to proceed. We collectively decided to wait until next summer and try again with ATVs.
We reached the historic village of Redstone around four o’clock and checked into the inn for our overnight stay. The Redstone Inn was built at the turn of the last century by John C. Osgood, president of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, to house the bachelor miners and workers at the coke ovens across the river. Married miners with families lived in the company cottages along Redstone’s main street. Osgood developed Redstone partly as a sociological experiment to see if men worked better under decent living conditions rather than those of most mining communities of the era. Osgood also built his own Redstone residence, nearby Cleveholm Manor, the 42-room mansion now known as Redstone Castle. We were scheduled for the 1:30 tour the next afternoon; however, we awoke to more rain and, since most of the cottage shops were already closed for the season, we decided to forego the castle tour until next summer and combine it with the Marble Quarry visit.
We returned partway home via McClure Pass, but turned south on Highway 92 near Hotchkiss toward Blue Mesa Reservoir. By then, the sun had returned in a blue sky and we were able to enjoy the fall color past farms and ranches (and one cattle drive) with almost no traffic. On a whim, we stopped for a late lunch at the Homestead Ranch on Black Mesa and, after reaching Highway 50 later, visited the Morrow Point Dam in Cimarron on the way back to Montrose–something else we had been meaning to do for the last twelve years! There was only one other car in the parking lot when we arrived and we were able to observe the dam and river in total quiet. We were surprised to learn that Morrow Point Dam was the first thin-arch, double-curvature concrete dam built in the United States, completed in 1968. Below the parking area, a footbridge across the Gunnison River leads to Mesa Creek Trail. But that, too, would have to wait for another time as well as a stop at the Cimarron Visitor Center.
Between the dam and the highway, the Cimarron Canyon outdoor railroad exhibit displays an authentic engine, tender, freight car and caboose from the historic Denver and Rio Grande Railroad that once operated along the river. There is also a nice picnic area and campground here as well. Our two days on the road might not have gone as expected, but serendipity played a hand, introducing us to experiences we might not have otherwise enjoyed.
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