Little Red Tailed Hawk

I know it is hard to see, but this nest on Goodman Road had a baby Red Tailed Hawk peeking his head up over the brush.  The first picture near the top border shows him.  Hard to get a good picture, it is a pretty tall tree.

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The Tailings Pond at Climax

You couldn’t have lived in Climax long without making mention of the tailings pond, the mineral waste from the mine at Climax.  For a boy in the 1950’s, it was a great source of entertainment.  You could run and jump off the white cliffs and land in soft tailings.  You could pretty much get lost on the tailings pond and pretend you were on the Sahara desert for a few hours.  As fun as it was, it tasted like hell, kind of an acid taste to it.  

On my 17th birthday in 1960 I went to work for the Climax Molybdenum Company.  My first job was working on the tailings pond.   The pay was good, about $2.75 an hour if memory serves me.  I worked the entire summer of 1960 on the pond, and never missed a shift, until the last day before I had to go back to school.  It wss Labor Day and I was scheduled to work the swing shift.  It was a double-time shift due to the holiday.   I fully intended to work the shift.  I arrived at the tailings dam site, about a mile from Climax, just before day shift ended, I met with the day shift tailings operator for a turn over.  He was a young married man with kids.  To make a long story short, he offered me $25.00 not to go to work.  That put him in the position of working a double shift on a holiday, which paid him triple time for my shift.

How could I turn it down, it was the last day before I had to go back to school, and there were girls at the Rec Hall that could use the extra attention.  Ironically, when I went to the Rec Hall that night I ran into my shift boss.  His name was Sandy, those who have worked there probably know who he was.  At any rate the next day he relayed that information to my father, who in turn relayed it to me.  I think what troubled him most was how I could work all summer, never miss a shift and then dump the best paying shift of the summer.  I could offer no explanation.

The picture below shows the old tailing pond with an old wood stave pipeline used to deliver the waste to the head of the tailings dam.


This one shows the pipeline over the front of the dam.  The waste was released over the face of the dam and the water ran back into a man made chemical lake where it was drawn off into a riser in the center of the dam and recycled at Climax.  One man on our crew every day walked the pipeline from Climax to the tailing dam.  He generally carried a nap sack of wedges, a hammer, a putty knife and a bag of oakum.  It was a nice morning walk, generally on top of the pipeline, which was about 36″ in diameter and on stilts a good part of the way.

The pipeline was pretty high pressure, and the material it carried was a combination of water and a finely ground sand, waste refuse left over after the extraction of molybdenum.  Your job was to look for leaks, and when found, generally on the wood bands around the pipe you plugged them with wood wedges.  To plug small leaks, you used an Oakum Poker, to drive the oakum into the cracks.  To this day, I still refer to a putty knife as an Oakum Poker.

The only down side of that particular job as far as I was concerned was cosmetic.  I spent a good part of that summer getting a tan.   Anytime you wore a short sleeved shirt and plugged a hole with oakum, you could bet the pressurized sand would wipe it out in a few seconds, just like a sand blaster.


From this angle you can see the old Glory Hole at Climax with the town just below there.  There were a few old studs sticking out of the tailings pond and the rumor among my friends is that the town of Robinson was buried underneath it from tailings dumped years before.  I suspect it is true, as the town of Kokomo, Colorado, which was a few miles down the hill from Climax is buried under tailing today.

Kokomo was a neat old town in the 1950’s.  It boasted a post office, Masonic Lodge, and the Kokomo Bar and Grill, which made the best hamburgers this side of Leadville.  Our family celebrated my parents 25th wedding anniversary at the Kokomo Bar and Grill.

There were actually a few residents in Kokomo, although I would guess less than a dozen.  The hills around Kokomo had many old mine portals that were fun to explore as a kid.  Some still had the old railroad tracks coming out of the mines, and a few old ore cars.  It was great.



The Old Trestle

The old mine Trestle in Climax – The large tower had a whistle that blew three times a day.  Beginning of shift, lunch and quitting time.  You could set your clock by it.  You could hear the whistle all the way down to the Arkansas River.  When fishing the river as kids, the quitting time whistle at 4:00 P.M. generally meant it was time to head for home.

The ore train is being pulled by a 30 ton electric motor.  The trains made a loop over the trestle and dumped their ore into a crusher, then returned to the mine for another load.  This was on the Philipson Level mine at Climax.