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The Legend that is Poughkeepsie Gulch #2


I love Lake Como

Apparently there is a Lake in Italy called Como and I am not sure if this lake was named after it or not?  They really do not look anything alike but they do share a couple characteristics: they are both surrounded by mountains and are both very deep.  In fact there is no recorded depth for our Como, but Italy’s is 13,000 feet deep according to its Wiki listing.  I have always heard that this lake is a Volcanic Vent or such and as far as anyone knows it is bottomless. I would like to share a story from Roger Henn from his book, “Lies, Legends & Lore of the San Juans (and a few true tales)” :

As a teen back in 1936 Roger, his brother, and an older companion set out to set out to find out if this was true.  They built a raft of boards and beams.  They did not question where or how that lumber came to be there.  There were the remains of a lot of old mine buildings and mine structures in that high, high land back in the 1930s.

At that time the remains of power lines ran every which way. One set of lines led into Lake Como.

There was an old mine dump that emptied into the lake, and it was from that point that they launched their thoroughly unwieldy raft.  They appropriated the power line running to the mine at the edge of the lake, attached a large rock to the wire and set out to the middle of the lake.

Once there they rolled the rock off the raft (almost upsetting it in the process, and if they had been dumped into that freezing water I doubt they could have survived).  The rock pulled on the wire and wen down and down, and it just kept going.  They must have had at least 500 feet of wire attached, and when the end of the wire slid over the edge of the raft, it was still sinking at a high speed.

How deep is Lake Como? Lets just say it is DEEP.

Met some scuba divers here once preparing to dive into here. I gave them my email and asked them to let me know if they found the bottom, but never heard back.

The Mystery of the Copper Mining Tools

John M. Stuart, a Scotsman, had been sent from Great Britain to the exciting new mining fields in the San Juans.  Following reports of rich mining prospects in the Poughkeepsie vicinity, he began mining explorations on the banks of Lake Como.

After the settlement at Ouray began in 1875 the usual route for travel between Silverton and Ouray was via Cement Creek, by Lake Como and down Poughkeepsie Gulch.  The large veins and outcroppings in the Lake Como area attracted attention and soon claims criss-crossed the area.  It also attracted the attention of the likes of H.A.W. Tabor, of Leadville fame, who actually owned several claims in the area.

Stuart began exploration in 1878 on the west shore of the lake.  What led him to dig in this particular spot we will never know.  But soon his men uncovered an old tunnel.  Clearing out the tunnel they advanced into the mountain over 100 feet, and there they found old copper mining tools!  Considerable evidence exists that the Spanish were in the area.  Would they have copper mining tools? I think not, for Spain was famous for the production of fine steel.  The Ute Indians did not mine, could ot even understand it. Who then? The Aztecs? Mayans?  The Ouray times reported that Stuart promised to investigate the copper tool’s origin.  But our tale ends there, for there are no further reports as to what he discovered.  A good guess would be that he forwarded the tools to the British Museum (the widely traveled English sent to the museum all sorts of unusual items they found on their journeys).

What are their origins? The world may never know, but truly this is a most intriguing mystery!

The Adventure continues as we head down towards the legendary 4×4 obstacle called “The Wall”!


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