It was a Long Walk to the Bulkley?

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Named for Frank Bulkley, a wealthy mining engineer, and later, owner of the Smith Hill coal operations, the Bulkley mine was located straight across the highway from Riverbend. A sharp eye can still see the remains of the ghost town…the old gravity tramway shoot is still very visible.

A few cabins were built near the mine, but the majority of the crew trekked dailey from Crested Butte. During the winter months they traveled through the deep snow in single file. When the first man became tired, he stepped aside, letting the next man break the trail. By the time the line passed, he was rested enough to pull up the rear. Joe Saya once said, “Coming out all sweaty from a days work, walking all the way from the Bulkley Mine, your clothes would freeze and stand up by themselves.”

In March of 1912 an avalanche destroyed the head house of the mine and tore down the tramway where ten men were clearing the track of snow. Six of the men were carried 500 feet to the bottom and buried. The slide continued on another 500 feet destroying a loaded railroad car. All the men were dug out…thirty year old Frank Orazem died from his injuries that night.

Sources: “Mountains, Minerals, Miners & Moguls”, By Denis B. Hall and “The Gunnison Country”, by Duane Vandenbusehe

Rob Quint


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