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Day 36 – Sun. May 17th: Tracking the Ore

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<– Day 35 – Sat. May 16th: The End of Texas | TRIP OVERVIEW | Day 37-40 – May 18th-21st: Research  –>


Three of the nine jeeps in Sagauche, Colorado. These are sitting at the edge of town. This is downtown!

Today was supposed to be about doing some family research, but I was in for a surprise!


Today I traveled from Alamosa to Pueblo.

I started the morning with a scraper in my right hand and my left plunged into my pocket. After weeks of warm weather, emerging into 32 degree temperatures shocked my being. With my window partially scraped, I could see just enough to drive myself to the local Campus Cafe, which served some good eggs and hash browns (a Yelp find).

My first stop of the trip was to see a very unique motel called Movie Manor. Run by Best Western, the motel plays movies on two drive-in screens. The speakers are hooked into the motel rooms. I priced it at $89, but figured I was too busy to watch the movies, so I found a cheaper place. Still, I wouldn’t mind returning with Ann sometime. They were playing two recently released movies, Avengers and Mad Max. Not bad!

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Following movie manor I expected an uneventful drive to Monarch Pass. Instead, as I was driving through the sleepy town of Saguache (not even sure how to pronounce it) that is nearly small enough to have “Welcome to Saguache” on both sides of the same sign, I spotted a flat fender. As I approached more closely, I spotted a second. Then I spotted a couple more. By this time my foot was on the brake and my hand was on a camera. I had find out why these jeeps were sitting in the Gillette’s Trading Post parking lot in a middle-of-a-nowhere town like Saguache.

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Then I looked across the street and spotted a 1960 Willys Truck (which I also forgot to photograph — see the trouble I get into without my wife around) on a trailer at a defunct gas station. I looked a little harder, and noticed what appeared to be a funky top for a jeep. So, across the street I went. Sure enough, I found these two flatties.


These two are for sale!

As I turned, I noticed a man inside the former gas station. He walked over to the truck on the trailer, so I followed him and introduced myself. He in turn introduced himself as Brian Miller. Brian and his friend Terry Gillette across the street had both moved from Iowa. Well, technically Terry has been in the process of moving for three years. However, he’s finally got everything completely moved to Sagauche. He told me he brought these two “1948 CJ-2As” from Iowa. He was planning to put the good body on the left onto the running chassis on the right.

However, fate intervened and Brian found himself a 1960 truck (his birth year). So, he wants to sell the two flat fenders as a package for $2500 (Update … now SOLD). The one on the left doesn’t run, but it does have a lot more parts. The one on the right has a very bad body, but still runs and drives (at least on and off a trailer).

The one thing I did notice was that the dash on the CJ-3A bodied CJ-2A jeep had an engine hour gauge. At first I suspected it was a CJ-V35U. However, the body has a CJ-3A tag. So, my guess is that the original 3A was used by the military and an engine hour gauge was installed at that point (just a guess … the jeep could have been an APU of some type, too).


Body tag for the 3A.


Engine hour gauge to the lower right of the parking brake.

Having my fill of jeeps, I told Brian I’d list his jeeps for sale. Then, I headed to the small village of Monarch near Monarch Pass. It is there in late 1882 that my great great grandfather Anton Eilers convinced the owners of the Madonna Mine that they could never smelt their low-grade silver-lead ore profitably at the mine; instead, they were better off shipping it to Pueblo where it could be mixed with other ores for smelting.

His argument worked, for in 1883 the owners of the mine joined forces with Anton and New York investors like Abram Hewitt to capitalize at $500,000 the Colorado Smelting Company in Pueblo. That event proved crucial to my family’s success within the industry. So, my goal was to go to Monarch and try to recreate a photograph from September 1884. Here’s the original photo.


The mine was located near the peak. A steep tram was used to carry the ore down the hillside to what I believe was either a stamp/crusher mill and/or a sampling works. The a specially built spur of the Denver & Rio Grand Railroad transported the ore to the smelter in Pueblo.


I don’t quite have the right angle on this. I need to find the original Madonna Mine and work downhill. I’ll have to wait for the snows to go.

I ended up taking a number of photos from different angles, but none were high enough to match the original. I’ll have to return when the snow is gone. So, I jumped back in the jeep and began my trek to Pueblo, tracing the hundred of tons of raw base ore that rolled down the tracks.

When I got to Salida, I drove past a very stock looking CJ-5. That was quickly followed up this CJ-2A. It is for sale for $4500. The body was pretty rough, the front frame wells were patched, wrong tailgate, and more. It is sitting in front of a small motorcycle museum.

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From Salida, I continued my downhill trek until I reached Canon City, where I made a detour for the Royal Gorge (note that none of the photos on Wikipedia show people — don’t trust Wikipedia!).  Innocent me, I though the gorge could be driven across. I had no idea that the place was a huge tourist destination. Well, I know now.

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After feeling like I got the royal ‘gouge’ for paying $18 to walk on the highest suspension bridge in the United States, I walked across the bridge. With that crossed off my bucket list, I made a quick exit passed a couple arguing about whether they feed their son enough food.

My final stop of the day was the Pueblo Public Library where I found a few items I didn’t have in my family database. Since I was at the end of my ‘ore’ run, it seems appropriate to show a photo of the Colorado Smelting Company:


My family had control of this very successful lead-silver smelter. It opened in 1883 and closed in 1908.

I plan to spend the next few days researching more for my upcoming book (ed. note: the book eventually became SLAG: The Golden Years of Lead-Silver Ore). 

<– Day 35 – Sat. May 16th: The End of Texas | TRIP OVERVIEW | Day 37-40 – May 18th-21st: Research  –>


5 Comments on “Day 36 – Sun. May 17th: Tracking the Ore

  1. Roberto Flores

    Fantastic find! Could this be a modified CJ6 or a M170? And the military truck at the background? A Dodge M37? The 2 flatties…a CJ2A and a CJ3A?

  2. Joe in Mesa

    Dave, I don’t understand that odd phrase you wrote, “Having my fill of jeeps”… ?

    And you CAN drive your car across the Royal Gorge, or at least it’s always been an option the times I’ve been there over the years (most recently in 2012)… for an additional fee, of course. Too bad Ann wasn’t with you: she’d have gotten the military discount.

  3. mmdeilers Post author

    Geez, i must have been tired when I wrote that! That was madness! “Having my fill of jeeps”?

    Here a large number of pics that also share the 2013 fire:

    I didn’t see anything obvious to indicate I could drive across it. I just checked online, but I couldn’t find any information either. Maybe they changed that after the fire and the opening of new exhibits? There are gondolas that cross and you can ride on a shuttle across.

  4. mmdeilers Post author

    When I dropped by in 2008 the owners thought it was named after the street. I explained a little more about the history of it. My picture might still be on the wall from that visit.

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