Capturing the Past in the Present- My Sojourn in Colorado

The Church of the Holy Ghost is wrapped by 1999 Broadway in Denver, Colo.

A homeless man leans against the wall on the steps leading to the Capitol Building from the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Colo.,

The last two days have been a wonderful sojourn into the past.

On Saturday, my girlfriend Heidi and I went into downtown Denver where we spent the night photographing my old stomping grounds- the 16th Street Mall. We walked up and down the mall photographing the buildings, people, and the general night life and vibrancy of the city.

Not only was it was an exercise in night photography, it was an exercise in patience. We were approached by a well-dressed drunken person who’s only words seemed to be “I just don’t even know, I just don’t even know.” It took the both of us all our strength not to laugh. It was funny, yet pathetic to see someone so inebriated they couldn’t walk nor talk straight.

A shuttle leaves a trail of lights as it passes along the 16th Street mall in downtown Denver, Colo.

All the while I kept shooting the mall and waiting for one of the mall shuttles to pass. One finally did and I got a shot I was looking for.

As we walked our way to the Colorado State capitol, it was overwhelming to see the homeless.

They were in doorways, on benches, and on the sidewalks. It was heart breaking. One homeless man was on the sidewalk in front of the Appaloosa Grill attempting to get his backpack together. As he struggled, several men just watched and one of them talked about the “encounter” with some random girl he just had in the bathroom.

It was sickening.

A homeless man struggles on the sidewalk in front of the Appaloosa Grill on the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Colo.

The next day we drove through the mountains to the old town of Cripple Creek. In contrast to the night before, it was beautiful. Although the fall colors were gone, there were still some trees left with leaves on them.

The twisted rusting remains of a pick-up truck as it lay in the bottom of a ravine.

After having to spend a half an hour changing a tire that went flat, we drove along and stopped on the side of the road. I noticed that down at the bottom of the ravine, a good 100 feet or so, there was a smashed car. And as curiosity would have it, I grabbed my camera and scrambled down to the site. What was once a pick-up truck is now a folded and twisted piece of rusting metal with rotting donuts that were once tires. Yellow police line tape was still wrapped around some trees.

The eerie silence was deafening. I could almost hear the screeching tires, shattering glass, and bending steel.

Cripple Creek was once a gold mining town. Many of the building were lost during a series of fires in late April 1896. Today, the town is mainly a tourist attraction boasting several large casinos.

Dale Sherfey of Penrose, Colo., basks in the afternoon sun while in Cripple Creek, Colo.,

While in Cripple Creek, the sun was shining and the sky dotted with the nice white puffy clouds. The crisp air and slight breeze kept the sky clean. Although I like shooting in conditions like that and like to photograph the raw beauty of nature, deep down I am a people photographer.

As I observed the people walking about and enjoying the wonderful day, I noticed an older gentleman with a cowboy hat sitting in the warm afternoon sun. As I photographed him, I became curious and after getting the shots I wanted, I approached him for a small interview in order to get his name and possible a colorful quote or two.

Dale Sherfey of Penrose, Colo., comes to Cripple Creek every Sunday so he can play poker and his wife Kate can play the slots. The two own a feed store called D & K Supply which they opened in 1978.

And that is one of the one reason I like photojournalism: you get to know your fellow man on a deeper level.

On our way back, we stopped along the road to photograph the sunset over the Sangre De Christo range. Beautiful.

Smoke helps accentuate the layers of the Sangre de Christo Range as the sun beds down for the night.

One comment

  1. Spooky. We have some interesting connections. I lived in Penrose for two years, 81-83. I know every crack in the sidewalk in Cripple Creek and Victor. I backpacked all over the Sangre de Christo Mountains.

    Love the article, btw.


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