DRAGONMANS HISTORY MUSEUM

Dragonsmans has been a place I have wanted to go for two years. It is right here just outside Colorado Springs. A massive compound and history museum, where you have six shooting ranges, dirt track , paintball area, moto cross track, but most important, most likely the largest privately owned military museum in the country, just under 100,000 square feet in size. The Museum is divided into rooms, large rooms, he has rev war room, civil war room, WWI, WWII, divided into ,Russian, Nazi, Jap, British, American rooms, Korea, Vietnam, Irag, Afganistan room. Then there’s the Normandy beach head room, Battle of the Bulge room, radio room, nurses room. Vehicle room which has 152 operating vehicles from staff cars to jeeps to armored half tracks, bomb trucks to tanks. Every one of which is road worthy and plated. Medal of honor room has fifty two men with their picture, uniform and medal presented. The museum also has 1500 manikins dressed in uniforms, and period attire. 3000 American flags some of which are over 150 years old, 5000 helmets of all kinds, millions of rounds of live ammunition all over. Grenades, rockets, mortars, all live laying everywhere. Over 2000, firearms from pistols, rifle’s, light, and heavy machine guns all displayed as if ready to fight. Remember everything in the museum is authentic ,no fake stuff. Then after all that you go to the hot rod room, forty five hotrods are all over, all run and are street legal. There’s more, you then proceed to the 50’s and 60’s room, loaded with about 152 old gas pumps, juke boxes, coke machines, pedal cars, bikes, my banana seat bike was there. 500 lunch box’s, vintage shoes, it’s endless. And to top it off an Elvis room, loaded with everything and anything to do with Elvis, who is still alive. WOW I think that’s it. Tours are given three times a week, each tour is two hours long, and is $20.00 a person. We went Friday Morning and then decided to go back Sunday Morning, there were over 100 people in each tour. We hung back on Sunday to see things we did not see the first time, you could spend a week in here and not see everything.

WHO IS DRAGONMAN!!!!

He is 76 years old, born in Brooklyn area, served in Vietnam in 1965 and 66 guarding troop transports through the area. Opened a machine shop, and has spent millions, upon millions of dollars, over the last forty years building the museum. WHY is he called dragonman, because of the chopper he built in the early 1970’s, picture below.

As you drive up the driveway you really have no idea how big it is.

Enetering the Museum

Light and heavy duty machine guns

Sand from the D-Day beach’s

Baby gas masks from Belgium and France during WWII, the whole baby was put inside, these are the only two in any museum in the world. On the right is every gas mask the U. S. has made.

The canisters above are Zyklon B gas used in the death camps. Dragonman has 52 unopened and full canisters. After about 300 people took there showers, they went to the next room, where on top of the roofs, Germans would pour the crystals down the chute. Once exposed to air, they vaporize and within two minutes everyone was dead. in one day they could kill up to 16,000 people using this method. He had these shipped over regular mail in 1990 from another museum in Germany. Try that today. On the right are actual death camp uniforms brought home after the war by survivors. Then donated to the museum.

On the left Dragonman is holding a cyanide capsule for German officers. Housed in a small brass tube, a smaller glass tube slid out, was put in your mouth and bit into, two minutes later your dead. He has two of these. On the right is the Japanese family pack version, just small glass tubes, there always was enough for every soldier, as they would rather die than surrender.

The photos above are from the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Dragmans father’s best friend served aboard the USS Maryland as a photographer, and took 35 pictures that day. They were never published or are in any history books. Upon his death in 2012 Dragman received all 35 rare photos of the bombing.

WWI pack horse for the Calvary, tons of equipment. On the right is a WWI troop, munitions truck, notice the wood wheels and solid rubber tires. This is the only one in existence and runs great. Used extensively it had one drawback, every time it went up hill it had to be towed by a team of horses. WHY, no fuel pump, not invented yet, . It was gravity fed.

Melissa with her 8th great uncle, John Adams

Part of Saddoms car after it was blown up. Right is a typical suicide bomber.

IT GOES ON AND ON

Coffin car and dragster

I had a banana seat bike just like the one on the right, rode it till the wheels fell off.

ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

Thank you, Thank you, very much

PAINT MINES INTERPRETIVE PARK

Took a mosey over to Paint Mines interpretive park, it is a county park of about 800 acres, and is listed on the national register of historic places. It features a wash basin area about 200 feet deep with all kinds of shapes and colors. Shows what the power of water, time and erosion can do. It was way back in time a floodplain area, then as it eroded, a river formed and over eons created all the super cool hoodoos and colorful formations. The sandstone is soft and as the water cut through it, it left deposits of acidic minerals, and such all over. When you first enter it it is flat grassland no thought of what is coming, then you dwell deeper into the box canyon and there it is . Al lot of trails to explore and see up close all the formations and colors. It was a really neat place, and as it is a county PARK, it is free. It was a hot day and as usual we did not have enough water, but hiked a couple miles or so. Glad we went there.

Dave told about the history now here comes the pictures!

We were walking on a kind of desert, prairie setting and then we started to see rock formations in the distance.

We passed a few rock formations and continued walking . . .

And then we saw more and more Hoodoos!

Walking around in all of this gravel and sand with really neat rock formations, I felt like I was walking on the moon.

Each Hoodoo has variable thickness to the rocks and differently shaped mushrooms or “totem pole-shaped bodies.

Doesn’t this hoodoo look like it has a sore nose?

These pieces of earth were collected by the American Indians for different shades of paint for pottery and other items.

It truly felt like a moon walk, Incredible place!

We visited another great falls called

Near Colorado Springs is one of Colorado’s most captivating natural wonders. Seven Falls is the only waterfall in the state on National Geographic’s list of International Waterfalls, and often called “The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado.

We drove to where a shuttle picked us up and brought us into Seven Falls. You can take a shuttle from there or walk to the falls, we walked and we got to see some great scenery along the way.

The hike to the Falls is a paved canyon trail it’s about a mile to get to the tiered waterfall. Along the way we saw stunning views of the Cheyenne Canyon and it’s incredible rock formations, along with beautiful wild flowers along the way. In the last picture you can see that you can also take a zip-line across the park.

What you see is Seven Falls, a magnificent series of cascading waterfalls located in a 1,400-foot-wall box canyon. Each of the falls have names :Ramona Falls, Feather Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Shorty Falls, Hull Falls, Weimer Falls, and Hill Falls.

To get to the top of the falls you have to climb all these stairs, oh what the heck.

When we reached the top we put our hands in the falls.

There is also trails above the falls to take.

On the way back down

Seven Falls would pass through many more hands over the decades, but, fortunately, each owner saw the value in protecting the falls.   Before Seven Falls was officially known as Seven Falls, it was a simple chunk of land given to Nathan Colby in 1872 as part of the Homestead Act. His wife is in the picture above. While different owners would make new trails and add safety changes or other features to accommodate visitors to the waterfalls. One of the owner’s even added an elevator in the 1990s, It has been nature that has changed 7 falls. Floods had a huge impact on the falls and the visitor park. The first, in 1965, wiped the entire visitor park off the map and the second Seven Falls flood in 2013 re-shaped the park forever. Five days of powerful rain stuck area after two summers of tragic fires and long dry periods. The water running through Cheyenne Creek and surrounding streams was referred to as a “500-year flood” with water levels so catastrophic that it destroyed the visitor park and the road leading to Seven Falls. Trees were upended, pavement completely disappeared and mud covered the region. Despite the best efforts of the Walker family, who owned the land at the time, the park was forced to close for over two years until its ultimate sale to the Broadmoor Hotel just down the road. The Broadmoor are still the owner’s today, they own a beautiful resort just down the way.

We then went to a very unique restaurant for dinner.

The Airplane Restaurant, opened in 2002, is literally a diner inside the middle of a restored KC-97 tanker.

Forty-two passengers can actually eat in the plane so that’s where we went.   You also got a chance to fly the plane, as you can see below.

The rest of the restaurant that isn’t in the actual plane

Built in 1953, this airplane was used for refueling aircraft all over the world. It was used by the U.S. Air Force for cargo and troop transport, as well. Almost lost at sea, it was safely returned and ended its career in the Texas Air Guard. The plane was later purchased by a couple, and in 2002 it was converted into a restaurant open to the public.

Fun place to eat and the food was good too!

COLORADO SPRINGS

We are now at Falcon Meadows Rv campground in Colorado Springs Col. Drove 133 miles today from just above Denver in Fort Collins to just below Denver here in Colorado Springs. Traffic was HEAVY all the way. Elevation here is about 6000 feet, Here for two weeks.

OUR SPOT

VIEW OF PIKES PEAK OUT OUR WINDOW

ADVENTURE IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

The last few days we have been exploring the Rocky Mountains. Because of the distance from Loveland where we are staying to Estes Park, which is the gateway to the National park, we rented a room for a few nights at the Olympus Motel, it was nice, clean and cheap which is what I like. Wednesday our first day in the park we had a timed entry for 9 am, then drove the 46 mile park road, at high altitude, no guardrails, to Grand Lake, a small resort town on the western side of the Rockies. spent some time there then drove the park road back to Estes park. The second day we had a timed entry for noon, and spent the day exploring the Bear lake area. Friday, we explored Estes park some and returned to Loveland in the afternoon. What a trip. It was an amazing time.

You notice I have said timed entry, you cannot get into the park without a timed entry permit. You have to get them online, and know exactly what days you want to go. Sixty days before hand you can reserve the tickets from the parks web site, for the days you want, if they have not already all been taken by about five after eight in the morning. They have eight different times during the day, with about three hundred tickets per time slot, that you can reserve. Thus the reason we arrived at noon the second day.

That was Dave telling about our adventures in the park, now I get to add the pictures! One thing I love about walking through the park is the wonderful smell of the pine trees along with the fresh air.

Oh before I forget, Come on sing along with me . . . . .

As Dave mentioned we drove through the park to see Adams Falls, along the way, especially where there are no guard rails, the park has these poles in different places to help the snowplows stay on the road as the snow gets to high levels. I wouldn’t want that job.

There was a fire in the park in October 2020 and approximately 30,000 acres, or 10 percent of the park, was impacted by the fire, a couple years later and this is how it looks.  Based on evidence gathered at the fire’s origin, investigators have determined the fire to be human caused.

Drove through the park and arrived at Adams Falls

The hike to Adams Falls was fairly short and definitely worth it.

Stopped in the Visitor Center and off we went.

The trail meanders along the start of the mighty Colorado River, though it’s still little more than a mountain stream in the Kawuneeche Valley.    It has beautiful views of the Colorado River,  the Kawuneeche Valley meadows and the snow-capped Never Summer Mountain Range in the distance.

We both put our hands in The Mighty Colorado River. Since we were at the beginnings of the river it felt like the thing to do!

🎶You gotta keep singing with me. 🎵

Our next stop

 On the beginning of the trail is this miner’s cabin, one of the oldest buildings left standing in the Kawuneeche Valley. In 1902, Joseph Fleshuts homesteaded 160 acres here with the intent to live on the land for at least five years. Life must have been hard. In 1911 he abruptly he abandoned his cabin—and was not heard from again.

Further down the path is one of the Kawuneeche Valley’s first dude ranches once thrived here. In 1917, German immigrants Sophia and John G. Holzwarth built their homestead here, after wartime prohibition closed their saloon in Denver. Originally ranchers, they began hosting friends from the city at their “Holzwarth Trout Lodge” in the 1920s.

The Never Summer Ranch, as it was later known, offered fishing, hunting, and horseback rides. Guest stayed in rustic cabins or a lodge that once stood in the meadow before you. In 1975, Never Summer Ranch and Holzwarth Homestead became part of Rocky Mountain National Park. Although the newer buildings were removed to restore the meadow, this dirt road leads to the Holzwarth’s or original homestead buildings.

The Kawuneeche Valley is prime moose habitat. We didn’t see any, the closest we got to one is this picture.

 Vacationers driving wagons and Model T Ford’s rumbled up this road in the 1920s to spend a week or more at Sophie and John Holzswarth’s Trout Lodge. After each day’s fishing, guests strolled to the “Mama” Cabin-the largest building to the left where Sophie cooked meals that combined her native German cuisine with western recipes.

Besides the rustic cabins, this “dude ranch” had many outbuildings, including a taxidermy shop run by Johnny Sr. for a decade this was due to ranching as it originally existed-plain, primitive, and fun. In the 1920s the Holzwarths built the more modern Never Summer Ranch along the Colorado river and use these buildings for overflow.

Our next hike . . .

To see the valley we were just at and hike the Milner Pass.

At 10,759 feet, this mountain pass has exceptional views of Poudre Lake, and is located on the continental divide!

The divide traverses the Americas from Alaska to Cape Horn in Chile. As it rains on the divide, the future course of a drop of water depends on a matter of feet. All water east of this pass will flow towards the Atlantic Ocean while all water on the west side will flow towards the Pacific Ocean.