I'll bet a lot of you have been to a national park at some point in your life. Many of you have probably been to more than one. I've been to parks from coast to coast and I love visiting them. Of course we're sitting in a national park right now! All of us are sitting here by the river enjoying this peaceful setting that happens to be part of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. You've all seen national park brochures, right? They all look very much alike. I've always hoarded my brochures. I keep them as momentoes. Looking at them takes me back in my mind to when I was there in person. I've loved reading all of the details inside them. They're just pictures and words on paper - but to me they're so much more! Many of you might not think of them as something to classify as "treasure chest" material - but I've got a special one that definitely fits that description for me. (I have to add that not many people might have agreed with me that a vintage post card was worthy of being "Sentimental Sunday" material - but it was for me.) We're all different and we all view things through our own perspectives and experiences. As they (whoever "they" are) say, "One person's trash is another person's treasure". :)
This week I received copies of a national park brochure that's very dear to my heart. I've got some here to pass out to you. Could you take one and pass them on to the next person? Thanks!
Look what they did! They made a brochure that's just for where we're sitting right now! They made one that's separate from the main park brochure. WOW! This is a very special place with a very special history - one worthy of its own brochure. Isn't that awesome? I love this! There's more though. The brochure would mean a lot to me no matter what because I love this place so much. This brochure has something even more special to me though. I look at the cover and I see my great grandfather's face looking back at me! It's incredible! There he is! See him? He's third from the left behind the guy with the clipboard. There he is! My great grandfather John Patrick Mason is on the cover of a national park brochure! Pinch me, please! I'm so thrilled! What a treasure this is! :)
If you remember when we first sat down here on the riverbank I told you about the tunnel entrance picture and I told you about the amazing discovery I made of my great grandfather's connection to the building of the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel and how my family had lived here at River Portal. I wrote those stories down and included the pictures so if you've forgotten you can look back and refresh your memories. If you look back you'll see the picture that this image was taken from. You'll also see the picture of the family that was taken when they lived here at River Portal. Both of those pictures have been hanging on my wall for years prior to discovering their connection to River Portal. The whole discovery was sheer serendipity!
As much as I love words I still can't find the right ones to express how I feel about seeing my great grandfather's face on the cover of a national park brochure. I feel proud and honored and very deeply moved. I'm in awe that the park chose that particular picture from countless photos they had of the entrance. They chose it for this brochure long before they knew of me, my family's connection or the existence of any individual family having a copy of this photo. They were as drawn to the photo as I am.
The brochures were made at a time when the park was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the tunnel - 2009. It was also the 10th anniversary of Black Canyon of the Gunnison becoming a national park. This place is now referred to as "East Portal" because it was the east portal to the building of the tunnel. There was a west portal at a small town named Lujane. I've continued to refer to it as "River Portal" because of the listing of it by that name on the 1910 census.
I'm indebted to Supervisory Park Ranger Paul Zaenger for sharing these brochures and for all he and his many helpers did to commemorate the anniversary. I hope that one of these days we might get him to come and visit us here on the river bank and share some of his stories. Trust me - you'll love his storytelling!