Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Road Trip ~ Phantom Canyon, pt. 1

When Hubby and I took our annual Autumn road trip to view the changing of the leaves, we took the road unexplored. We decided to head to the high country by way of the Phantom Canyon Road, an old railroad route which ran from Florence to Cripple Creek. This road is now part of the Gold Belt Tour - a scenic road tour to the Gold Belt area of Cripple Creek.

We drove south around the base of Cheyenne Mountain (remember, it's the home of the Stargate!) towards the town of Florence. Florence is located near the Arkansas River and began its life as a railroad depot. Later it was home to the mills that processed the gold ore which was brought down from the gold mines in the Cripple Creek/Victor area.

Not far from the edge of Colorado Springs, we saw a place that went on our "must see" bucket list. May Natural History Museum, one of the world's largest private displays of giant tropical insects and arachnids. Sounds interesting!

The terrain leading into the Arkansas River Valley was dry and populated with cactus and sage brush. It was also quite expansive. It never ceases to amaze me, the force with which water can move and sculpt a landscape. It is not far from here that the Royal Gorge resides. Another item on our Road Trip Bucket List.

Phantom Canyon Road is a fairly well maintained dirt road which runs for 30 miles and climbs almost 4000ft. in elevation. The roadbed, often only wide enough for one car, follows Eightmile Creek and was built by hand! Some of the original stonework which helped to build up the roadway, can still be seen. I am continually amazed at not only the ingenuity but the perseverance of the pioneers.

There are two tunnels along the route. Both hewn out of solid granite. Soot from the railroad's engine can still be seen on the tunnels' roof.

Tunnel #1
Tunnel #2
Soot on ceiling of tunnel 
I will conclude our trip up Phantom Canyon on Thursday, November 7th. 
So Don't Touch That Dial!
***ppsssstt.....this is my 1000th post!***


the dogs' mother said...

wow, those tunnels give me pause.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Congrats on Post # 1000 -- w00t!!! And those tunnels -- all I can say is YOWZA. I've never seen such rough looking tunnels before. I know they must be safe, but still . . . .

Birdie said...

Those tunnels are amazing!

on your 1000th post!

mrsduncanmahogany said...

Happy 1000!!! Those pictures are amazing!! Love the cacti!

Mickie said...

Congrats!!! Love the pics, just returned from my visit to Cripple Creek and ready to go back to CO!

Jeanne said...

Mickie, Cripple Creek is so unique...gorgeous views, rich history and fun, friendly locals!