Depending on the eyes of the beholder, the abandoned industrial relics of the past can either be environmental eyesores or scenic treasure troves. There are many old industrial sites in the Rocky Mountains that were abandoned shortly after the natural resources played out during key periods in history. Many of the abandoned sites are from the Colorado gold and silver rush of the mid to late 1800s, while others came from times of war, the industrial age and the years of westward expansion. In nearly every case, after the demand was met the industrial operations ceased and the structures were left behind. Cleaning up their own mess is not exactly what American industries are noted for, but at least some of the old industrial age structures have now become tourist attractions because they became successful environmental restoration projects.
The fat cats that turned a profit from industrial operations back in the 1800s rarely seemed to be concerned about cleaning up their own environmental disasters, so future generations got stuck with the consequences of the negligent behavior. Some of the decrepit old abandoned mines are too dangerous to visit, because of ore processing contaminants, heavy metals and coal ash. There are several Superfund Cleanup Sites in Colorado that have yet to be addressed, but overall, the reclamation projects have made some headway. Because the American culture values the historic past, the environmental cleanup projects usually include preserving the old structures for historical significance, which end up being tourist attractions.
The Cokedale Coke Ovens Historic Site is an example of how an old abandoned toxic industrial area can be preserved as a historic attraction by means of environmental restoration. Visitors that are interested in the history of the west are fascinated by these kinds of places, because these industrial sites enable visitors to relive an age when processing raw materials in a big hurry was necessary. The Cokedale Coke Ovens produced a lot of baked coal long ago, which is an interesting topic in itself. Coke is basically baked bituminous coal and this type of processed coal is necessary for making steel, because of its clean burning properties and the extremely high temperatures it yields. The steel mills in Pueblo, Colorado are famous for making the steel that built the west and Cokedale supplied much much of the coke that was used for fueling blast furnaces in the iron foundries. The Cokedale Coke Ovens supplied the heat that kept the molten steel flowing during an age when the railroads were spanning the west.
As part of the reclamation project, the Cokedale Coke Ovens were designated as a historic site. This site is open to the public and access is free of charge. The foot trails are easy to follow from the roadside, so it is easy to take a closer look at the old structures. This is a great place to wander around, while learning a little something about Colorado’s historic past!
The Cokedale Coke Ovens are just a short drive away from Trinidad, Colorado and this site is easy to get to from Interstate Highway 25. The little community of Cokedale is right next door to the coke ovens and this old historic town is also well worth checking out. The Cokedale Coke Ovens present good photo opportunities and children genuinely take interest in discovering old the old artifacts. If experiencing the 1800s industrial age of Colorado suits your fancy, then the Cokedale Coke Ovens is the place to go!
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