(SNOWIES)

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HISTORY

The core of the Snowy Range is a very ancient granitic upthrust, some 2.5 billion years old, that penetrates the earth's crust.  Geologic structures of this age are rare and are found in only a few other places on earth, most notably in the Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa.  The major mountain-forming event, the Laramide Orogeny, began about 100 million years ago and as a result, the Medicine Bow Mountain Range rose thousands of feet above the nearby basins.  Consequently, at higher altitudes, one finds an interesting mix of extremely hard quartzite granite filigreed with cracks and seams, sometimes jumbled together with much younger, darker Postcambrian sediment.  Then later, during the Pleistocene Era (1.6 million to just 10,000 years ago), glaciers formed and slowly wandered downwards from the higher elevations, leaving behind a highly carved up landscape in their wakes.  Rubble fields and moraines found at the base of the range are remnants of these "ice monsters", seen especially as one approaches the small town of Centennial from the east today.

To mention the Snowies in one breath is to mention the wild west, including early trappers, explorers and trail blazers in another.  While a relatively small place, the Snowies constituted one of the major barriers to the western migration of early Americans.  Because they were nearly impassable, especially during the extensive high country winters, the Overland Trail was forced further northward.  Indians, railroads and timbering also played major roles in the history of the area.  There were no less than five separate periods of feverish mining activity for precious metals here, culminating with the discovery of DIAMOND deposits in 1977.

More to come . . .

In the meantime, much of the history of Vedauwoo pertains to the Snowies as well.

 

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