Hayden Ranch Today

Work continues on the ranch in the winter of 2011 under the watchful eye of Steve Harris, owner of Cloud City Builders and project manager for K.W. Construction and Restoration, Inc. in Leadville, the general contractor for Phases I, II and III. Phase I was completed in 2007, Phase II in 2010, and Phase III is currently in process. Crews are at the site working on the restoration all winter and into next spring.

A Master Plan for the Hayden Ranch project was completed earlier this year which includes the overall plan, the project background, existing condition of the land and the natural setting, a list of current contributing structures as well as evidence of past buildings, historic register designation and non-contributing structures, available infrastructure, land use restraints, and adaptive use: an Experiential Education Center.

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The Revival of the Hayden Ranch

By Michael Conlin

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Colorado Preservationist magazine and is reprinted by permission.

A Brief History of Leadville

In April of 1860, a small band of wizened prospectors, veterans of the 1849 California Gold Rush, stooped patiently over the bone chilling cold waters of a small tributary stream not far from the current day Hayden Ranch. Patiently they searched the swirling waters of their gold pans for the “color” that would surely bring them fortune.

The tedium was broken when one of the prospectors, Abe Lee, rose stiffly from the bed of the creek and exclaimed, “Boys, I just found all of California in this here pan!” With those words, the rush was on, and the legacy of one of Colorado’s richest and bawdiest mining camps was born.

Word of the rich strike spread like wildfire, and soon the sounds of picks and shovels striking the hard Rocky Mountain earth rang from every tributary in the basin. By July of 1860, over 8,000 miners and prospectors fanned out over the length and breadth of the Upper Arkansas River Valley, spilling over the mountain passes into the valleys of the Eagle, Gunnison, and Roaring Fork Rivers in search of precious metals.

Beginning as a crude assortment of mud-roofed cabins and tents, a community aptly named Oro City, Spanish for gold, sprang up seemingly overnight. Millions of dollars in placer gold were extracted from the glacial alluvium of gulches with names like California, Nugget and Stray Horse, but the color soon panned out, and many miners moved on to the next strike.

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The Raku pottery of Mark Zamantakis

By Ann Marie Swan

A unique chapter of South Park history is that for 27 years, Fairplay was home to a fire-breathing beast that belched smoke for days, luring artists, students and the curious to be near its flames.

Master potter Mark Zamantakis fired up his massive three-chambered, wood-burning Japanese kiln in June at an elevation of 10,880 feet to imprint his pottery with the subtle, ethereal variations of the flame’s life and moods. The pottery recorded the experience of the present moment, giving each piece richness, depth and uniqueness.

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Land Stewards – Conservation Easements Provide a Viable Alternative to Development

By Ron Sering

Area rancher Joe Cogan does not mince words about commercial land development. “I don’t think much of subdividers. They come up to you, shake your hand, and then try to get in your pocket.”

Since 1889, the Cogan family steadily built their area holdings through a combination of leases and purchase, to hundreds of acres. “I had three boys, but two of them decided to do something else for a living.” Cogan soon found himself with more land than he could work. “I divested myself of several leases,” Cogan said. “We kept the land we worked down to a minimum.”

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Soaking by the Dunes

By Maddie Mansheim

What was once an abandoned pool utilized to raise catfish has grown into a family-oriented swimming area that draws tens of thousands of visitors every year. The Sand Dunes Swimming Pool and RV Park, near Hooper, has revitalized itself into a place frequently visited by both locals and tourists alike. It offers an array of activities that appeal to all ages and provide fun as well as therapeutic treatment.

Originally built in the 1930s, the pool served as a public swimming spot. The hot water was discovered by drillers who were exploring for oil. With that discovery, a mile deep artesian well was drilled; one of the deepest in Colorado. Early visitors swam in a dirt-covered board pool. From that point basic renovations were made, including two cement floors and a small dressing room building.

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About the Cover Artist: Gloria Jean Countryman

I have to confess that one of my favorite parts of putting out this magazine is coming up with the monthly cover art. As the first impression, I always try to find cover art that is eye-catching and unpredictable.

This issue has several articles about ranches and ranching, so I began to mentally visualize what would might work well on the cover – a winter ranch scene, somewhere in the mountains, preferably at twilight.

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Honky Tonkin’ with The Frisco Canyon Ramblers

By Connie Vigil Platt

Cowboys have always been known as hard riding, hard working men. They are also known to be ready and willing to have a good time. Being accustomed to the rhythms of a horse, they are naturally good dancers. They also appreciate a lively foot-tapping tune.

Singing cowboys best describes the musical group once known as The Frisco Canyon Ramblers, as most of the band members also had day jobs as working cowboys.

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Random Thoughts

You don’t have to be a baseball fan, or even a Brad Pitt fan (I know you’re out there) to enjoy the movie Moneyball. It’s about the underdog 2002 Oakland As and their general manager’s unconventional methods of building a winning ball team. Apart from the high quality of the film, I was also struck by the two trailers leading up to it. One was for the upcoming One for the Money, based on mystery writer Janet Evanovich’s main protagonist, Stephanie Plum, the Trenton, N.J.-based bounty hunter. The other was for a film entitled Haywire, directed by Steven Soderbergh, about a female covert operative who had been set up and is out for revenge. It’s great to see women in the role of protagonists instead of just eye candy or props for leading men.

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Twenty Years of Making Music: The Alpine Orchestra

By Wendy Oliver

When I first moved to Buena Vista, I expected to gain a traffic-free life in the mountains while losing out on performing arts. Three months later, I attended the 1999 Alpine Orchestra’s Christmas concert and discovered a high caliber community orchestra right in the Upper Arkansas Valley. By January, I’d dusted off my oboe and joined both the Orchestra and the pit band for the local production of Brigadoon. More than a decade and a hundred performances later, I’m still impressed with the depth of talent in our small communities.

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Ghostly stories

By Hal Walter

Believe in ghosts? I suppose I’m inclined to, mainly because I’ve had a few spooky experiences that apparently defy logic. In the spirit of Halloween and Day of the Dead, here’s a recount of some these events, and lest you think I’m making this stuff up, rest assured I’m really just not this creative.

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Solar Leasing and PPAs

By Jim Williams and Curtis Scheib

Things are changing radically in the solar electric industry. Dramatic price decreases in the cost of solar electric panels within the last several years means solar is getting closer to grid parity in many parts of the country. Grid parity is when the costs of installing a solar electric system can compete with the utility electric rates that you pay over the life of the system without rebates or subsidies. Oddly, the other extreme change is the normalization of both the use and financing of residential and small business solar installations.

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Restaurant Review

Sugar and Spice Mountain Bakery
411 Main St.
Westcliffe, Colorado 719)783-4045

by Ann Marie Swan

Westcliffe has been blessed with Sugar and Spice Mountain Bakery, a Mennonite family-owned business with the redeeming quality of using sugar judiciously.

Naomi Yoder, who owns the Main Street bakery with her husband, Jason, says she only uses “real ingredients” and unbleached flour, just like her mother did. “We bake here like we would at home,” Yoder said.

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On the College Path: Mt. Yale

By Ladd Stevens

I grew up in the fifties and sixties. Back in those days, not everyone who graduated from high school went to college. Some of my classmates went into the trades: you know, became plumbers, carpenters, electricians. While it was important that you got a good education and learned your three R’s – reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic – there was no guarantee about going to college or even that going to college was necessarily better than apprenticing yourself to a master tradesman. People to build your houses and office buildings were as important as someone to teach your kids. Maybe it was the post World War mentality: Everyone pitched in and did what needed to be done to help America get back on its feet and prosper.

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Modern Mayberry in Downtown Buena Vista?

By Jennifer Dempsey

When John Grove and Shawn Woodrum took over the State Highway building at 402 Main Street in Buena Vista a year and a half ago, they weren’t exactly sure what the 5,000 square foot warehouse would become.

“We’ve just basically done it by the seat of our pants,” said Grove, 45. “If we had had a business plan it would have changed every other month. We knew we wanted a place that would cater to all walks of life. We wanted this to be a big umbrella that includes everybody in the community, like a modern Mayberry.”

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A Gift for the Future

By Susan Tweit

More than a decade ago, when Richard and I began restoring our “dream place,” the formerly blighted industrial property bounded by the thread of channelized creek where we live, we had no plan, no budget, and no real concept of how much work lay ahead. We did have a vision of healing the land and its degraded creek, reestablishing the community of the land right in town, and a comfortable sense of time in which to do the work.

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News from the San Luis Valley

By Patty LaTaille

Journalist Allegedly Attacked

A temporary protective order alleging physical and possible sexual assault was filed on a former Saguache County Commissioner and current Center school board candidate after an incident Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Saguache County Courthouse.

County Planning Commission Chairman and Center School Board candidate Bill McClure allegedly attacked Center Post-Dispatch reporter Teresa Benns in the Land Use Office.

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Regional News Roundup

Western May Seek University Designation

GUNNISON – Administrators at Western State College (WSC) in Gunnison are considering changing the title of the school to ‘university.’

The idea was discussed with WSC faculty and staff in late September. College president Jay Helman cited the establishment of a graduate program, capital improvement projects at the college in recent years, and success in private fundraising as several indicators towards the new title, according to the Gunnison Country Times.

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By Ed Quillen

One of the obscure pleasures of life in a little mountain town is the occasional dose of isolation. It snows all day with strong wind. The roads are closed, the phone and power lines go down. You have no idea what’s going on in the rest of the world, and you don’t really care because you couldn’t get there anyway. You’re just playing cribbage at home by lantern light while a wood fire cheers and warms.

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Dispatch from the Edge

By Peter Anderson

The Free box outgrew itself. Now it’s a shed on the edge of town, roof rimmed with windworn Tibetan prayer flags, old mattress leaning up against front wall spray painted with the words “No dumping.” The cardboard box from our garage contains some lightly used fairy wings – still the rage in preschool fashion – and bench seat covers from Autozone, which won’t add to the clutter for long. But I worry about the mini John Deere tractor/sprinkler taking up shelf space, since it’s November and a big winter front will soon bury the few lawns in town.

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Book Reviews

Mercury’s Rise
by Ann Parker
Published in 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN 978-1-69058-961-8

Reviewed by Ed Quillen

You could say that Ann Parker is an elemental writer, or maybe a metallic one, given her book titles. Mercury Rising is the fourth in a series that includes Silver Lies, Iron Ties, and Leaden Skies. All feature the adventures of Inez Stannert, a partner in the Silver Queen Saloon in the boomtown Leadville of 1880.

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Down on the Ground with Jobs and Life

By George Sibley

“Employer wanted.” We saw that sign in Missouri, along US 36 – a good “heartland” road: if you laid a ruler on the map with Denver at one end and Indianapolis at the other, you’d see a line already there, US 36. Interstate 80 runs above it, Interstate 70 below, if you want to zip past and avoid it all, but if you want to go through the so-called heartland, US 36 is a good transect. A lot of it is still two-lane blacktop through Kansas, but it’s a fast two-lane with very little traffic, so long as you keep watch for the occasional tractor the size of a dinosaur traveling 17 mph.

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Duncan, Colorado – The Story of a Short-Lived Town on the Edge of the Great Sand Dunes

Story and photos by Kenneth Jessen

There are well over 1,500 ghost towns in Colorado. Many are abandoned mining camps spread out over the western half of the state. Among the most obscure is Duncan, located along the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The history of Duncan started in 1874 when John Duncan followed an old trail over Medano Pass into the San Luis Valley. At the mouth of Pole Creek, he discovered some “float,” or gold-bearing ore, that had washed down from the mountains. He constructed a durable cabin made of hand-hewn logs locked tightly together with corner notches. As word got out other prospectors were attracted to the area, and in 1890 a town grew up around his cabin. Duncan then turned from prospector to town promoter, laid out the town of Duncan, and sold lots for $25 each.

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Eating may be more effective than voting

By Hal Walter
My summer job is winding down, and, wow, has it been interesting, maybe even meaningful. Perhaps even important.

I’ve working on a collection of articles, published in a series of three newsletters called “The Farm Beet,” about a group of independent farmers, all of them located on the banks of the Arkansas River or its tributaries, and the local restaurants, stores and food institutions that serve up their foods.

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Book Review

The Legend of Benjamin Ratcliff: From Family Tragedy to Legacy of Resilience
by Chris O. Andrew

Published in 2011 by the author
ISBN 078-193266786-8

Reviewed by Ed Quillen

It’s a safe bet that most family trees have some branches that nobody much wants to talk about, but few have a branch like this one. Benjamin Ratcliff, a Civil War veteran and rancher in South Park, shot and killed three members of his local school board on May 6, 1895.

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Dispatch from the Edge

By Peter Anderson

Eastbound clouds stall out over the high peaks of the Sangres. Others, low and gray, drape the big valley sky to the west. It is a restless season. I imagine the bears are on the move … such a fierce hunger before the big sleep, and the rose hips are ripe. A bull elk climbs slopes so thick with pinyon and juniper, it’s hard to guide his big rack through the branches. He is moving away from last night’s smoke, the hunter’s fire. And he is moving away from my wife Grace and I, who are walking and talking quietly on the trail below him, watching the white dog as he noses through a pile of old cow bones.

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Quillen’s Corner

by Martha Quillen

I’ve been reading about rational markets and the Efficient Markets Hypothesis recently. Well, actually I started reading about basic economics about fifteen years ago after I realized that there was something really crazy about small-town financial planning.

And my overwhelming conclusion after fifteen years? Fiscal policy is screwy at every level.

Community planning was the rage in the 1990s, especially comprehensive planning, which encouraged citizens to consider everything simultaneously: financial development, infrastructure, zoning, parks, recreation, industry, utilities, education, et al.

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Under the Truffula Tree – A look at Population Growth in the 21st Century

By Bill Hatcher

“And in no time at all, in the factory I built,
the whole Once-ler family was working full-tilt.
We were all knitting thneeds, just as busy as bees,
to the sound of the chopping of Truffula trees.” – Dr. Seuss

How many people can you fit under a Truffula tree? If your first response is to knot your eyebrows, scratch your head, and ask, “What the hell is a Truffula tree?” please let me explain.

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Not The Queen of Patience

By Susan Tweit

As anyone who knows me knows very well, I am NOT the Queen of Patience. So on days like today, when Richard’s brain is just not working well, I have to remind myself that his company in my life is a gift.

Which I do … As I turn out the lights behind him, and wipe up the water he spilled all over the floor as he carefully and precisely filled up his water bottle to exactly the rim – and then tipped it as he carried it across the kitchen, never noticing the water trailing behind.

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Water Update

 by John Orr

Summitville Clean Up

It’s been nearly 20 years since the Environmental Protection Agency started cleanup efforts at the Summitville Mine. Runoff from the former open pit gold mine and its cyanide leach field was blamed for killing all aquatic life in the Alamosa River.

In early September the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment held a dedication ceremony for a new water treatment plant at the site. CPDHE executive director Chris Urbina told those assembled, “This project provided more than a 100 construction jobs in this area, and significantly improved water quality, restoring fish and aquatic life to the Alamosa River and Terrace Reservoir,” according to The Pueblo Chieftain.

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Regional News Roundup

Subdivision on the Auction Block

BUENA VISTA – The Cottonwood Meadows Subdivision in Buena Vista is going on the auction block September 30.

The subdivision has been plagued with problems since its conception by developer John Cogswell. The proposed 274-acre project called for 715 new residences and 110 acres of open space. Annexation of the land to the town of Buena Vista was approved by town council but a petition drive was launched by members of the community to put the issue to a public vote and the annexation was narrowly defeated. The subdivision application was resubmitted and approved in November 2009 and opposition to the plan resurfaced (see the January 2010 Colorado Central).

In 2010 Cogswell filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy under Lonesome Pine Holdings, LLC. On Aug. 23, town trustees approved a motion to disconnect the development from the town.

The subdivision will be divided into parcels for the auction.

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Restorative Justice

Supporting Victims of Crime and Lowering Offender Recidivism

By Patty LaTaille

August 10, 2011 was an historic day for Restorative Justice in the state of Colorado. Restorative Justice House Bill 11-1032 went into effect, having been signed by Governor Hickenlooper earlier in July. This law requires that victims of crimes be informed of their right to use restorative processes, allowing for victim-initiated restorative justice only. Restorative Justice involves a fostering of dialogue betwfaction, true accountability by the oeen the offender and the victim, and has shown the highest rates of victim satisffender, and reduced recidivism.

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Just Say No? Opponents of ‘Over the River’ Speak Out

By Greg Felt and Ellen Bauder

In 1992, Christo Javacheff had a vision. In it, he saw translucent polypropylene fabric panels suspended above a river as it flowed through a spectacular Western landscape. Studying maps, he considered several potential locations before settling on the Bighorn Sheep Canyon of the Arkansas. There he found soaring canyon walls and a well-watered river, a corridor with highway access on one side and a railroad on the other, towns at both ends that embraced a future in the arts, and a proximity to population centers and airports. With the wide following and notoriety generated by his previous projects, Mr. Javacheff took his vision to the street, sharing it with politicians and bureaucrats, art world luminaries, local boosters … anyone who would listen. He painted a picture of a “whimsical” and “temporary” work of art, an exhibition that would connect people with nature. And when asked by the curious about impacts to the environment, he denied that there would be any. “We leave our sites in better condition than we found them” became the project’s mantra. For those who’ve only heard the vision, it sounds great. But where the vision ends and reality begins, it’s a whole different story.

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News from the San Luis Valley

by Patty LaTaille

Murderers Nabbed In Alamosa

On May 6, 2011, Jerry Roberts of Arlington County, Texas, was reported missing.

According to The Valley Courier, “Investigators found a bloody chair at Roberts’ home, and his refrigerator and truck were missing.”

On July 4, “a man and his son were out in a rural part of Ellis County, Texas, with metal detectors when they came across a taped up refrigerator. They removed the tape, opened the door and found a body, which has now been identified as Jerry Roberts.”

On June 7, a man driving the missing Roberts’ truck flagged down an Alamosa patrolman and asked for the location of the local parole office.

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All In

By John Mattingly
Back in December 1975, an earnest fellow named Birch – a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses – was kind enough to come to my farm to warn me of impending doom. He urged me to repent and prepare for the end of the world – The Rapture, on January 17, 1976.

I offered to bet Birch ten thousand dollars that The Rapture would not come on January 17, 1976. Birch was tempted but admitted he didn’t have that much money in the bank, nor was he sure if he could spend the money in a post-rapture world. In the end, he bet a hundred. We shook on it, and I became a little richer the following month.

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“We Do”

By Jennifer Dempsey


This summer I was walking up F Street in Salida when I ran into Missy and Heather. I knew the women only slightly, had never had a real conversation with either, but that day they were radiating such happiness, I had to stop and say hello.

“How are you gals?” I asked.

They were holding hands, beaming, grinning ear to ear.

“We’re great,” Missy said, smiling at Heather. “We got married yesterday!”

“Congratulations!” I said automatically, then paused and thought, “what does that mean?”

“What does that mean?” I asked dumbly.

The women smiled at each other again.

“Nothing to the state of Colorado,” Missy answered, “but everything to us.”

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Restaurant Review

Garlic Mike’s
2674 Hwy 135
Gunnison, Colorado

Reviewed by Elliot Jackson

I confess that since moving to the Gunnison Valley earlier this year, I haven’t taken as much advantage as I might like of the multiple opportunities to dine out that the area offers. Part of this is due to time crunch, as I spend a lot of time working at odd hours; part of it is financial – probably all Colorado Central readers can relate to that one. And, somewhat related to the money-and-time-crunch issues is another one, that I have only recently identified to myself, which basically boils down to this: if I’m going to spend the time and money to go out to eat, I want to feel reasonably assured that what I’m ordering is going to be a better specimen of meal – be it omelette, salad, burrito, or steak and potato dinner – than I can make myself at home.

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The Postal Blues

It’s hard to read a newspaper or watch the news these days without hearing about the supposed dire situation at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Although, like much information being disseminated by the powers that be in federal government, there is much to be skeptical about with the numbers and warnings being broadcast.

There is indeed a fiscal problem with the USPS. They’ve taken quite a hit the last few years, mostly with the advent of e-mail and our ability to send and pay bills online. The USPS supports itself primarily by the sale of stamps. Taxpayer dollars do not subsidize it. But, even with the decline of revenue the USPS, by implementing cost-cutting measures; downsizing its workforce and gaining concessions from its unions, still manages to break even. How many federal governmental agencies can claim that?

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Too Big to Succeed

By John Mattingly

I’ve always thought of farming, ranching, and mining as fundamentally related activities.

The mining museum in Leadville tells us that nothing happens until someone digs something, or pulls something, out of the ground. Though farmers aren’t usually thought of as digging things out of the ground, they dig spuds, sugar beets, carrots, and other root crops. Farming is a process by which minerals are mined from the topsoil through plants with a farmer’s guiding hand.

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