Pat Shingleton: "The Charter Oak and The Land of Cool Sunshine."
Dutch explorer, Adrian Block described in his journal an unusually large white oak tree growing in a clearing on what is now Hartford, Connecticut. In the 1630s, a delegation of Native Americans approached the property’s owner where the tree was located. Intending to remove the tree, Samuel Wyllys preserved it because it was planted ceremonially for the sake of peace when their tribe first settled the area. Local legend states that in 1687 the cavity of the tree was cored to hide the Constitution Charter from King James II. At that moment it was renamed the “Charter Oak.” August 19th marked the 163 year anniversary of the tree and on August 21, 1856 it was severely damaged by a fierce wind storm. In closing, located in the northeast corner of Colorado’s San Luis Valley is the Great Sand Dunes that rise into the Rocky Mountains from the base of the Sangre de Cristo range. The Valley is also referred to as the “Land of Cool Sunshine.” Weatherwise magazine reported that sunlight hits the valley floor more than 300 days per year. The valley’s altitude and physical layout find it to be one of the continent’s coldest areas. The high valley floor rises to an elevation of 14,000 feet as winter temperatures drop to minus 10 degrees. On January 28, 1948, the coldest temperature on record for the valley was -50 degrees at Alamosa. The sun heats the Great Sand Dunes to 85 degrees with land temperatures rising above 150 degrees.