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The Way We Really Were

Courtesy of Virginia McConnell Simmons Collection
Courtesy of Virginia McConnell Simmons Collection

By Virginia McConnell Simmons

Colorado’s mountains were filled with smoke above and with tunnels below, while diseases and accidents killed miners and smelter workers, children drank and splashed in polluted water, women scrubbed raggedy work clothes, and moguls built mansions in Denver, as long as the mines yielded ore and the price of silver and gold held up. These are the Amethyst and Last Chance as they looked in 1895, up West Willow Creek north of Creede, but they could have been anywhere – Leadville, Turret, Leavick, Cripple Creek. Most are now tidied-up or vanished from landscapes where we enjoy restored scenery, but remember their ghosts.