My mom and dad were the type of parents who believed that a historical marker was to be read and shared. With that said, I most likely can tell you the gist of almost every historical marker between Fort Worth, Texas and Lake City, Colorado. From famous settlements to trails blazed by Kit Carson, cattle trails and Indian raids, and any happenings that made an impact on early life as the movement west was in full swing, these are the historic events my family stopped to read and learn about as we traveled. Historical markers along the roads to Taos Pueblo, the Santa Fe area, and Los Alamos are some that specifically come to mind.

I believe once we even stopped to read about the oldest pecan tree in Texas. I’m sure Lady Bird Johnson would have been disappointed in the fact all I wanted to do was climb it—as a young boy, couldn’t have cared less how old it was…

Although I really didn’t like stopping to read ALL of the historical markers along our summer travels, there was one that I eagerly looked forward to every summer.  As the family camper headed north out of Santa Fe, we traveled toward Colorado and my favorite marker. As we came over Slumgullion Pass and headed down into Lake City, my folks would always stop at the Alfred Packer massacre site. To me history never had a more interesting marker. Mr. Packer and five other prospectors became lost, and snowed in just outside of Lake City Colorado.  By today’s standards it couldn’t be more than a few miles out, but in 1873 it might as well have been a thousand miles, under several feet of snow and temperatures that would freeze the skin in minutes if exposed. Survival for these over-confident souls would take some devious thinking.

History records that Mr. Packer did just that … to survive he consumed the other prospectors. At a young age of 8 to 11 years old, to me that was real history. And as I was told many times, historical markers are as factual as books in school…

As the years come and go, I recall many of the places I have been, but none remain as memorable as the Packer Massacre site. In next few weeks I will return to the Ouray, Lake City area of Colorado. You can bet if  time allows, the jeep will trek over Engineer’s Pass into Lake City and straight to the huge bolder with the bronze plaque on it to read once again…

Bon Appétit until next time –

Jamie

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