Colorado ‘sandbox’ has real bulldozers
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” On this snow course, there is no down up and around, or put your weight on one ski. You try to get through a course of snow obstacles on a bulldozer or excavator.
It wasn’t exactly what Ed Mumm had in mind, but as mountain towns struggle to dig out from several feet of snow, Mumm has found the snow has given his customers plenty to play with.
Mumm, a New Zealander living in Steamboat Springs, opened up what he calls the nation’s first heavy equipment park last fall.
“People get to relive their sand box days, only with bulldozers and excavators,” said Mumm.
Because of the more than 6 feet of snow in his park, customers get to maneuver bulldozers and excavators through a course made up of snow obstacles instead of usual heavy equipment chores.
“We take people out of their comfort zone. Let them max out the equipment,” he said.
Meanwhile snowplow drivers who have to clear roads and sidewalks left their comfort zone long ago as storm after storm began pummeling the state.
In Vail, their snow dump holds 60,000 cubic yards ” or 20 Olympic size swimming pools ” when it is 15 feet higher than the adjacent road. This week it was 30 feet higher.
They have had to borrow equipment and a staffer from Vail Resorts to keep up with it. The town has 14 full-time and 3 seasonal snow plow positions. They also have six large Freightliner snowplows, six loaders, one holder and one bobcat, said Suzanne Silverthorn, town spokeswoman. As of Feb. 1, 210 inches of snow had fallen in town since October.
With some streets barely passable and frustrated residents reportedly throwing snow shovels at plows, Bayfield trustees peppered Town Manager Justin Clifton with questions about the adequacy of snow-removal efforts at Wednesday’s board meeting, the Durango Herald reported.
“People literally can’t get down the streets now. What are we going to do on the next one?” asked Trustee Daryl Yost.
Officials in some towns say the overtime is starting to wear thin.
Not for Mumm as people pony up $750 for a full day in his park to drive a bulldozer and an excavator, after some training. A half day ticket for either a bulldozer or an excavator costs $400.
“The power behind the machines is pretty intimidating. I would start digging these massive holes and the whole machine would shake and I would let go of everything,” said Karen Goedert, a Steamboat Springs resident who recently played at Mumm’s park. “I went in 45 minutes from being intimidated and scared to not wanting to leave. I was high from it for days.”