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Documenting America’s Mining and Historic Past
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Capturing the Memories Held in Our Mountains

By Del Albright, BlueRibbon Ambassador

Something in the dark mine shaft told him it was time to get out.  There was an uneasy feeling hanging in the musty air.  The stink of old dust hung thick like the cob webs on the old shoring timbers.  No man wants to die alone, deep underground, in some old abandoned tunnel with only a camera to capture his last moments.    But David Showalter once again cheated death and stepped briskly into the light as behind him an old section of the roof shoring collapsed with a thunderous roar!

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David Showalter and Mountain Memories (con't)

Smiling to himself and waving the dust cloud from around his face, he peered back into the ancient shaft and tilted his cowboy hat in thanks.  He reflected: one more day; another dollar; and another video documenting another chunk of American history soon to be forgotten, except for his films.

David is President of Solid Rock Productions, Inc. (www.mountainmemoriesunlimited.com), out of Canon City, CO.  His well-known adventure documentaries capture the past, present and future of our western mountains.  He is also an avid four-wheeling explorer with 37 years of experience in the mountains, so he documents not only the mines and historical past, but also the SUV trails and roads many of us love to explore today.

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David spends his time wandering the mountains, documenting and filming our old roads and mining remnants.   He takes his job seriously.

He has filmed nearly every old mine and mining road in Colorado.  Other states are in the works.   In fact, as I write this article, the Utah video is hitting the press.  Called Central and Southeast Utah – Remote SUV Trails in Rugged and Scenic Utah, I can’t wait to get my copy of this one. 

The “Mountain Memories Unlimited” is a  set of two DVDs: North by Northwest and Over the San Juans.  On their web site, www.mountainmemoriesunlimited.com, they beckon to the adventurer in all of us by suggesting:  “Travel with our cameras over the highest mountain passes, on steep, winding trails barely wide enough for 4-wheel drive vehicles!  Take a tour of ghost towns while learning the history of how and when they were built as well as what they offered their residents who endured harsh weather and poor living conditions.”

These videos are well done and packed with adventure, history and wonderful scenes that many of us can only hope to see some day. You can view the remains of buildings which once housed tough and determined miners and still stand as a testament to man’s veracity and drive for a better life. Grab a bag of popcorn and enter and explore abandoned gold and silver mines whose operations were once part of this thriving mountain enterprise.

One thing David is most known for is his exclusive footage of the famous Alpine Tunnel.  “We feature exclusive footage inside the Alpine Tunnel, Colorado’s first railroad tunnel built in the 1880s,” David says.   With his DVD you will take a tour not available to the public inside the famous Marble quarry where the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Lincoln Monument originated. “It took me more than five years and 100,000 miles of travel to complete these DVDs,” David pointed out.

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Over the San Juans” brought many smiles to my face – and some sweat to the palm of my hands as David drove down “The Slide” on Black Bear Pass.  Wow, talk about views to die for! And literally, a few folks have perished on some of these steep and windy Colorado passes, so David cautions us several times to drive aware and with care.   “The Slide” is a long, rocky, steep and off-camber section of rocks that you negotiate downhill.  It looks like fun!

David’s films are not full of fancy graphics, but rather bring you on the ground in a simple, ride-along to the sight he is sharing.  The footage is good and the DVD’s are laid out historically accurate and very informative.

In “North By Northwest” he highlights the SUV trails and mines in central Colorado.  What also impressed me was the message delivered in these films – take only pictures and leave only footprints.  David often reminds viewers to preserve those relics we love to see, while four-wheeling responsibly.

David himself is a tall, lean cowboy-type with a friendly face.  He’s more than happy to share stories of his travels.  With over 4000 mines and tens of thousands of miles of roads under his belt, he has plenty to talk about.  

So if you ever run into him, grab a cup of coffee, and just ask a few questions.  You’ll be in for a treat! 

Now you can view all these exciting places in your own home. I even take my set with me in the Motorhome and I just don’t get tired of watching them. 

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Visit David’s web site, order the Mountain Memories collection of DVD’s for a little over $30, and who knows?  You may just discover a destination for your next mountain adventure!  Visit their web site at http://www.mountainmemoriesunlimited.com.

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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,100 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide.  Call 1-800-258-3742 and visit BRC online at  www.sharetrails.org. Article copyrighted ©2007 by Del Albright, www.delalbright.com, available for use by permission.

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