Since May 12, 2011, I have been trying to track down a relatively detailed/accurate survey (paper or digital) of the Ute Ulay. I am a resourceful type, but this task has proved beyond my capabilities.

To say it is frustrating, is somewhat of an understatement! But, after many, many weeks of asking politely, researching, cobbling together and ‘making do’, I am approaching something that I am confident will be useful.

A few days ago, I took my latest (6th version) plans and sections up to the site and went back to using hand-brain-eye co-ordination to draw on top of what I had been able to produce through (mostly) desktop research.

The levels on site are very complex, but also important. The narrative of this site is about earth moving. The ground itself is made of hard work. The lumps and bumps, and rocky expanses are as much historical features as any of the buildings, though people tend not to notice. Landscape is the quiet sibling of architecture. But for all that – it has such depths! The information and multiple histories of the landform tell subtle stories, if you take the time to look. Their rich textures, and chemical makeup flow around you – directing your view or supporting your weight.

By contrast, the buildings sit as discrete entities within the landscape. As humans, I think it is natural for us to focus on the object and not on the background. But imagine if that background changed drastically… would not the whole scene be fundamentally different? Proposals for ‘reclamation’ of the site include re-grading some of the oldest parts of the landform, and obliterating them. In mining, the landscape is a systemic entity, and the rock (waste or otherwise) is part of that. Making the site safe for humans, is not incompatible with using the site to tell the story of it’s own past.

My task of recording the landform and conditions currently on site, is my way of paying homage to their importance. I am not opposed to change, but change should be undertaken for positive reasons, and with respect and sensitivity. My own flawed survey will form the basis for my proposals.

Itsy Bitsy

I was thinking about how you can almost drive forever from Lake City to get to any other town, and how you can drive the same distance from Manchester and be unable to count how many towns you drive through. American cars are bigger, the wilderness is bigger, the  food portions are bigger…. is everything bigger?

Well, when I compared the size of the entire United Kingdom (and don’t forget people, that is 4 countries!) to the size of Colorado (only 1 out of the lower 48 states!) it’s fair to say that I was somewhat bamboozled. Was I reading correctly? I checked – not just wikipedia – and checked again – and it seems that Colorado is bigger than the   e n t i r e   U K ! (!)

Click on this picture for more details.

Don’t get me wrong… size isn’t everything. I mean – small is beautiful. It makes sense of my 5.5 hour drive from Denver though.

So having a remote inactive silver mine site, out here in remote Colorado, is really very remote. In fact, Hinsdale County (home of the Ute Ulay mine site) is the county with the most ‘roadless space’ in the conterminous United States according to a paper in Science Magazine (full article). It’s the place to come if you want space to breathe, a little solitude, or a reminder of how itsy bitsy each human really is.