Saturday, July 25, 2015

Royal Gorge

We have moved our home south and now we are parked in Colorado Springs.  Yesterday we continued our search for a family reunion site.  We started looking in the area around us, but then widened our search to the land southwest of Colorado Springs, which explains how we ended up at Royal Gorge.
My last posting was regarding a canyon, this time I am writing about a gorge.  Although the two different terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference.  A gorge is narrower at the bottom whereas a canyon is as wide at the bottom as it is at the top.  Royal Gorge is 50 feet wide at its base and wider at the top.  From top to bottom the granite walls are 1,250 feet tall.  The gorge was first viewed by Lt. Zebulon Peak in 1806.  In 1929 the world's highest suspension bridge spanning the Arkansas River was built over it, it is 1,260 feet in length.
About 30 years ago we took an an incline railway down to the Arkansas River.  It traveled 1500 feet at a 45 degree angle, the world's steepest railway.  Some of the the masterminds behind that project were engineers from the Otis elevator company.  Unfortunately that, as well as 50 other buildings, including a visitor's center, burned in 2013 because of a forest fire.  Today the various options for enjoying the gorge, besides the suspension bridge, include a train ride through the gorge, river rafting, and aerial gondolas.  In the picture below rafts can be seen on the Arkansas River, as well as a train wending its way through the gorge.  It can be boarded at Canon City.  In 1906 Congress ceded the land comprising the gorge to that city.  There have been various battles over the years between various railways over right-of-way through the gorge.
Oh, I failed to mention one other way to see the gorge, that is by zip line. John and I thought we would do that another time. 
We only walked the bridge, that was good enough for us.  While we were on it we felt a few sprinkles of rain.  We could see a larger rainfall coming down off in the distance.  A big part of the beauty of the gorge are the various plays of light on its granite walls.  The may lie in shadows or have bright shafts of light beaming on them.

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