Paint Mines of Colorado
Located in the eastern plains of Colorado, one mile south of the small town of Calhan, the 750 acre Paint Mines Interpretive Park beckons visitors to take a step back in time.
Four miles of trails wind around spectacular white, ochre and maroon colored hoodoos, chasms, and spires formed by erosion of selenite clay. The clay provided paint for the pottery and ceremonies of American Indians of the area, and in the late 1800's was mined by a local homesteader who hauled the clay to Colorado Springs and Pueblo for making bricks. Several buildings in Colorado Springs are said to have been made from Paint Mines clay.
Evidence of human habitation in the Paint Mines dates back 9,000 years to the ancestors of the first humans to cross the Bering Strait land bridge. Archaeological finds include arrowheads and stone dart tips made from petrified wood and used to hunt wooly mammoth and giant bison.
But over the years, a different kind of human evidence, trash and beer cans, was left behind.
In 1997 El Paso County began buying the land and conducting archaeological surveys. With the help of volunteers, the area was cleaned up and trails were built. The park opened to the public in 2005 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
It had been a few years since I'd been here, and as always, I came away with the feeling I've just been walking among ghosts.
My only wish is that "whoever is in charge" would have consulted with photographers before putting up power lines, and more recently, massive wind turbines! Surely they could have been put somewhere else?
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