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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Colorado Masonic Lodge

This Lodge was chartered in 1895 and the building was erected in 1900. It was home to the local Freemasons and members of the Order of the Eastern Star while local chapters of the Odd Fellows, among other fraternal groups, also frequently met here. At its prime there were over 120 active Masons who belonged to this Lodge. As the population of the town dwindled throughout the 20th century, so did the membership here. Eventually there was no-one left to manage it and the various Masonic decorations made their way to the small local history museum and the Lodge now sits quiet and empty.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Ghost Town of Gilman Colorado and Eagle Mine

The town of Gilman Colorado was founded in 1886 during the "Colorado Silver Boom". It is situated at the top of a 600ft cliff, at the base of which lies the Eagle Mine. Eagle Mine was a silver mine originally but high concentrations of other metals such as Lead and Zinc were found to such an extent that they expanded their operations in order to capitalize on these unexpected assets. In the late 1870's, several mines had been constructed on the cliffs along Eagle River. Notable among them were such mines as Iron Mask and Ground Hog. In the 1880's, a judge and prospector from the nearby town of Red Cliff named John Clinton acquired several of these mines. Clinton developed the town in order to provide housing for the miners working there. Gilman eventually had its own theater, bowling alley, infirmary and even newspaper in addition to the school and numerous workshops.

In 1882, the Denver and Rio Grande railroad reached the mining camp at the base of the cliffs. In 1899, Gilman had a population of about 300 and by the 1930s, Eagle Mine was the largest producer of Silver in Colorado. In 1912, the New Jersey Zinc Company began buying up portions of the site before eventually controlling all of it for the next roughly 70 years. "By 1970, total production at the mines was 10 million tons of ore; 393,000 troy ounces (12,200 kg) of gold; 66,000,000 troy ounces (2,100,000 kg) of silver; 105,000 tons of copper; 148,000 tons of lead; and 858,000 tons of zinc."-Wikipedia.

In 1984, New Jersey Zinc decided to close Eagle mine due to unprofitably low zinc prices. The mine subsequently flooded which contaminated the groundwater and caused the EPA to step in and order the residents of Gilman to evacuate.

Eagle Mine:

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Gilman Colorado:

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Girl Scout Cookie Factory

The Girl Scout Cookie factory was constructed in the 1940s and was consistently upgraded over the years until its closure about 5 years ago.

From the earliest beginnings of the organization right up until 1973, under-performing Girl Scouts were sent to forced-labor camps. By around 1917, the most profitable labor program was the production of the new Girl Scout cookies. The highest producing laborers in the cookie camps could easily erase several years off of their sentence as long as they met the quality assurance guidelines for cookie production. The lowest producing Girl Laborers as they were called, however, were not so lucky. At the end of each shift when the numbers were counted, the lowest-producing 5% of the workforce was punished. The punishment was often so severe that many of the laborers, allegedly, chose to jump into the boiling vats instead of facing the harsh penalties. The facility managers, being under extremely tight scrutiny by the organization, didn't have the resources to stop production on account of unexpected additional "ingredients". Eventually they, allegedly, worked it into a new recipe and stopped issuing extraneous punishments altogether, in favor of streamlining the process by simply forcing the lowest 5% into the vats directly. The cookies produced from this modified recipe were known as "Soylent Green Mints" which were supposedly named after the primary ingredient which was "high-energy plankton" found in the ocean. The Soylent Green Mints were far and above their most popular cookie for decades.

In 1973, however, an escaped Girl Laborer (who was presumed dead after going missing during the third shift) turned up at a hospital with serious allegations against the organization. The most notable allegation was that Soylent Green Mints were not actually plankton but were instead a combination of flour, various artificial mint flavorings and human remains. The Girl Scouts naturally denied these allegations. But a disgruntled maintenance worker by the name of Frank Thorn stepped forward with promises of damning evidence. Unfortunately, Mr Thorn's body was found floating in the river days later and his apartment was burned to the ground. The case was brought to court but it was deemed a mistrial because none of the mint cookies were ever made available for testing. The criminal case was dropped and the civil case was settled out of court without the Girl Scouts ever publicly admitting the ingredients of Soylent Green Mints. Bad publicity, however, did force them to change the name of their most popular cookie to "Thin Mints".

Despite the controversy and the years-long legal battle, this facility continued producing cookies around the clock. It wasn't until the dwindling numbers of local Girl Laborers made it increasingly difficult to maintain production levels at this now outdated facility. A new factory was built at a non-disclosed location near a major urban metropolis and is now the world's sole producer of Thin Mints.

Click here for the video.

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