A Missing Thursday Door

Yes, I know…Thursdays with Dan Antion at No Facilities is supposed to be about doors.

Well, I thought I’d throw a stick into the wheel of this event and only share a door frame. Considering I rarely get involved with Thursday doors, I’m throwing another stick into the wheel with this once-in-a-blue-moon post that has nothing to do with holidays.

I hope Dan isn’t wondering, “Who is this woman, really, and where is her door?”

Let me explain…

The doorless photo above was taken at the top of Pike’s Peak, Colorado, in late October. There’s a story behind it.

In July of 1873, U.S. Army Signal Service Sergeant George Boehmer and Private James H. Smith received orders to ascend Pikes Peak in an attempt to ascertain whether the summit was a suitable location for a weather observatory. The location would be the nation’s second mountain top locale and the highest. Shortly after their ascent, another trip was planned with Boehmer and Smith, as well as three others from the Signal Service, U.S. Coastal Service, and Denver & Rio Grande Railway.

Pikes Peak was chosen because it was an ideal location for research related to weather and forecasting, and it was also, at that time, removed from any major populated area; any eastward moving storm could be spotted from its tall peak; and it substantially surpassed the height of the then tallest weather station in the U.S. – New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington standing at 6,288 feet (1,917 meters).

Before winter of 1873, a Denver area contractor was hired to build the first signal station at the top of Pike’s Peak. Within four weeks, a team of thirteen men loaded supplies on horseback and donkey to make the difficult climb up the mountainside. These men constructed a two-room building, a rustic cabin with 18″ thick stone walls. Opened in October of 1873, the summit house was manned year around.

Nine years later, the original signal station was replaced with a larger station to accommodate more people and eventually, in 1888, the Army permanently closed this facility. It was determined that the constant downed telegraph wires and prolonged interruption of service was not worth the cost of maintaining the location.

The weather on top of Pike’s Peak was a constant issue, especially because the initial summit house was crudely and quickly built. The windows and doors were ill-fitting, allowing snow to accumulate through the cracks. Boulders were placed on top of the roof to keep it from flying off. The men at the station also had to deal with high altitude (I can vouch for the altitude issues and how cold it is at the top, even in October). Pike’s Peak is at 14,110 feet (4,301 meters). Cooking is far different at this altitude and it took the crew four hours to boil potatoes and ten hours to cook beans. Coffee would cool just minutes after it was brewed. Conditions were extremely harsh, so we should all give thanks for our insulated homes, heat and easier cooking conditions.

And our doors. Let us give thanks for today’s warm and well-fitting doors.

The gallery consists of stock photos of the original summit house and the updated station. Currently, there is a very modern summit (tourist) house, complete with a food court, gift shop, bathrooms and a little bit of history. The doors were boring, so no photos. The current paved roadway was completed in 2011, after ten years of construction. Prior to that time, the upper portion of the road was gravel.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Join in on the fun by creating a Thursday Doors post each week and sharing your link in the comments section at No Facilities, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

22 responses to A Missing Thursday Door

  1. quiall says:

    I am sure Dan will love this! He enjoys a little history to go with his doors or door frames.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I hope so, Pam. I actually enjoyed looking up the history, which is not always my thing. I suppose having recently been there made the difference.

  2. Dan Antion says:

    Thank you so much for joining us, Mary. Doors, door frames, ghost doors, it all counts. You know me an rules – pffffff – I enjoyed the history but I can’t imagine being asked to climb that scaffold like structure to observe an approaching storm. I’d rather warm up at the food court.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I’m glad you have a reasonable attitude toward rules, Dan. We are so spoiled with food courts and warm buildings. I can’t image what kind of a journey it was to climb Pike’s Peak, let alone live in what must have been a very cold building. Those guys either had a lot of resilience or didn’t know any better.

      • Dan Antion says:

        I can’t bother to be overly rigid with rules. Norm never was, so I’ll bring a Canadian attitude to this.

  3. John Hric says:

    Having stayed in a wood heated cabin in winter at lower altitudes I can imagine some of what it might be like to deal with Pike’s Peak. Hauling enough fire wood up during the summer to last the winter is only one of the challenges. I looked for the history of the of White Mountain weather observatory. It was founded a few years earlier. It did not get into the history of the first building. https://www.mountwashington.org/about-us/history/default.aspx
    A more current description of the operation gives a hint of what it is like. The observatory staff is switched once a week. It is a two hour trip under good conditions. They use a snow cat to make the trip during the winter season. They form a human chain from the snow cat to the observatory entrance. 87 mile per hour winds and higher occur. Weather equipment and ladders need to be cleared of ice. Fun stuff. Not for the faint hearted. https://newengland.com/today/travel/new-hampshire/white-mountains/the-mount-washington-observatory/
    I would say this doorway has been enlightening. Thanks Mary

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thank you for sharing the links for Mount Washington Observatory. Very interesting! The crews must be highly dedicated to the science of weather because I don’t think I would ever want to work there under the harsh conditions, although Marty the cat would definitely make life better. 🙂

  4. What a neat find! We were in the Denver area in early October but, didn’t head in this direction. We’ll have to go back! There’s so much to see and do in the area apparently in all 4 directions!!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      You can find a ton of things to do from Denver to Colorado Springs to the mountains in the west. Hiking, shopping or enjoying the views!

  5. dweezer19 says:

    What a cool history. Listen, if the rules about doors were strict, I would have been ousted long ago. Lol. I love these doors.👏🏻👏🏻

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I’ve appreciated Dan’s blogging friendship for many years and now his non-adherence to rules. 🙂

  6. murisopsis says:

    The photo makes me wonder – did they haul the wooden door frames up and scavenge the rocks from the top or did they cart the rocks to the top too?? 18″ thick walls makes me think it would be cooler in the summer but like an icebox in the winter… The first workmen probably all had altitude sickness and couldn’t see straight thus the crooked doors!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      That’s a good question, but from what I saw, there was plenty of rock at the top. As for the wood frames, not sure if they brought them with or chopped down a few pine trees along the way. Whatever the case, I wouldn’t have wanted to be part of that crew.

  7. JoAnna says:

    Great post and photo – I like how you can see blue sky through the door. I would not have thought about cooking being one of the challenges.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks JoAnna! I had always heard cooking at altitude was different, but I don’t know that I would wait ten hours for beans. That’s crazy.

  8. Ally Bean says:

    Interesting, both the history/cooking part and your Thursday Door frame. You’re a rebel! 😉

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