Mitchem Hill- Ken Bailey

"MITCHEM HILL" in the old days ... and in the present.

As a kid, I tended to label landmarks (for which there either wasn't a name, or for which I didn't know of one) by people or familiarities nearby. There was the "Holloway" oil well long before I had my first oil map (that family lived nearby).

"Number 4" and "Well 12" were monikers for particular spots even though our oil field has dozens of 4's and 12's -- they were Mary Hefley #4 and FV Larson #12 for you purists, but "4" and "12" were sufficient in the old days.

Even so, if a person wanted to go sledding or tubing at a good place in days gone by, there was "Mitchem Hill".

    January, 1972: Here's the meter station and the winding (dirt under snow) rough access road up to it that constituted the informally-named "Mitchem Hill" to which we went to sled.

 

January, 1972: Here's the meter station and the winding (dirt under snow) rough access road up to it that constituted the informally-named "Mitchem Hill" to which we went to sled.

Schoolteachers Bill and Martha Mitchem lived nearby, and so their name became attached to this place in my where-to-go-sledding mind. The "Hill" was little more than a dirt access road up to Hospital Ridge, where it ended -- the "real" road made an abrupt turn to the east and ducked back toward town in a separate direction.

But the flat expanse that the snow-covered access road provided (it was just there to connect with a natural gas meter-house at the top of the hill, and service trucks were rare on snowy weekends) -- this was straight and smooth and ended at the slight upswing by the drainage ditch, should you overshoot the landing area at the bottom.

 January, 1972 -- I am en-route down "Mitchem Hill," crazy kid with a camera in my right hand (probably my old Tower Snappy "box" camera, in case of disaster), finger on the trigger.  Ahead is the landing zone -- drop both booted feet downward into snow at rear, to activate retro-brakes -- and a right-turn onto the "real" road with the rough area behind to act as a "runaway lane" if the braking didn't work.  To the left is the road dipping down into the drainage ditch and canal, and then back up the other side to where the "real" South Stanolind Avenue ended in those days, at the south end of the City Park parking lot, as I understood it.  Today, the road to the right has been decommissioned, abandoned, and taken out. Only the stub remains, as a private driveway, and then it ends -- the rest has been absorbed back into the environment.  (Photo taken by me, January, 1972).

January, 1972 -- I am en-route down "Mitchem Hill," crazy kid with a camera in my right hand (probably my old Tower Snappy "box" camera, in case of disaster), finger on the trigger.

Ahead is the landing zone -- drop both booted feet downward into snow at rear, to activate retro-brakes -- and a right-turn onto the "real" road with the rough area behind to act as a "runaway lane" if the braking didn't work.

To the left is the road dipping down into the drainage ditch and canal, and then back up the other side to where the "real" South Stanolind Avenue ended in those days, at the south end of the City Park parking lot, as I understood it.

Today, the road to the right has been decommissioned, abandoned, and taken out. Only the stub remains, as a private driveway, and then it ends -- the rest has been absorbed back into the environment.

(Photo taken by me, January, 1972).

We were there frequent

January, 1972: Here's the meter station and the winding (dirt under snow) rough access road up to it that constituted the informally-named "Mitchem Hill" to which we went to sled.ly when the snow permitted ... I even once attempted a photo from a moving tube rocketing downhill (see attached).

Forty-four years have passed. The roles of the access road and the "real" road have become reversed in that time.

The access road now goes somewhere, connecting with the Rangely town growth to the south. The "real" road, the one cutting off, no longer exists -- it was abandoned years ago; only the stub remains, now as a private driveway, and nature has reclaimed the remainder and folded it back into the scrub and brush of the deserts hills.

The former sledding hill is now very nicely paved and sidewalked, and I do not recommend sledding on it in the winter -- the chances of meeting a vehicle coming up or down the hill are now a very real possibility!

But, this past September, as the warm Rangely breezes were tossing my middle-aged hair around and I was feeling fat and happy after taking in the "Septemberfest" activities in Elk's Park ....

    Without standing in the middle of the street (there are limits to what I will give for my art!), here is the "going down Mitchem Hill" photo of 1972 recreated in 2017. Obviously there have been a few changes, and my much superior camera (to the box camera of 1972, purchased in 1964) has flattened out the road a bit.  But, it's the same hill -- perhaps a bit further up it to the south than the original view, although you can see the driveway cutting off to the right, if you look carefully.

 

Without standing in the middle of the street (there are limits to what I will give for my art!), here is the "going down Mitchem Hill" photo of 1972 recreated in 2017. Obviously there have been a few changes, and my much superior camera (to the box camera of 1972, purchased in 1964) has flattened out the road a bit.

But, it's the same hill -- perhaps a bit further up it to the south than the original view, although you can see the driveway cutting off to the right, if you look carefully.

...for old time's sake, I just had to take one last walk up "the hill".

it was a very pleasant 75-to-80 degrees, in all likelihood, and not a speck of snow was in sight. However, for a moment, just a moment...

The blacktop pavement disappeared, the modern bridge over the drainage ditch faded away....

... and I could feel the cold wind rushing against my face and hear the "swoosh" of an inner tube ... rushing down "Mitchem Hill."

NOTE: The "real" name for "Mitchem Hill" today is "South Stanolind Avenue". It tops the ridge and continues southward to connect with "West High Street," which I am pretty sure did not exist in that place, back in the days of Oil Geek.