Why Mount Emmons is Called The Red Lady…Really!

June 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

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Mount Emmons aka The Red Lady

The mountain immediately to the west of Crested Butte is officially called Mount Emmons but is nicknamed The Red Lady. Several colorful explanations have been offered about where the name came from. My favorite is that the glow from the brothels at the west end of town used to light up the mountain during the mining days. While it’s a great story it doesn’t seem too practical considering the distance involved but I like the story anyway. I have my own explanation.

The photo this week (click for a larger version) is another example of having to go back to work after arriving home after a full day in the photo lab. While waiting out the early December snowstorm all day, most of us gave up on making any new photos and headed for home just before sunset. Upon arriving at home the sky started to brighten and the snow came to a halt. Simple observation showed that the cloud cover was pretty thin and some color started showing to the east. This could be good…or it could be nothing at all. Better to stay home and just watch the sky. Just minutes later the sky started to turn yellow then orange then red. Time to go back to work!

While the light and color were amazing everywhere I looked, I needed a strong subject…and fast. I knew this wouldn’t last more than a few minutes. I also remembered that the bridge over the Slate River provided a nice leading line of sorts to the view west toward Mount Emmons and Paradise Divide. Just my luck that the river had not frozen over yet too! So I dashed back toward Crested Butte and the Slate River bridge. The scene actually lasted a lot longer than I had anticipated. I had maybe 10 to 15 minutes of bright red surreal light to make my photos. No filters were used but I have been accused of such behavior to create this image. I’m not really sure what filter might be able to produce this effect. The film I chose did help somewhat. Fujichrome Velvia has a habit of enhancing the red spectrum and increasing contrast. Thanks be to Velvia!

So, that’s my story of how The Red Lady got its name. I’m sticking to it since there haven’t been any brothels in Crested Butte for the 24 years I’ve lived here and Mount Emmons was definately a red lady. Until next week, please let me know your thoughts.

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