All That Remains of Bonanza is a Name

By Allen Best

When does a town cease to be a town? That’s been the question this year for Bonanza, a place that for most of its existence has failed to live up to its name.

It’s located in south-central Colorado, 13 miles of gravel road from the nearest highway, post office or business. This is in the forested fringe of the northern San Luis Valley, a broad triangle of high desert sandwiched by 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks.

The town was launched as a formal municipality in 1881. This was during Colorado’s mining boom. Bonanza had seven dance halls, four smelters, two hotels and one newspaper, along with 1,000 residents.

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Fooses Creek

By Ericka Kastner

Beloved by locals as one of the quickest routes to getting in a skinny ski fix, Fooses Creek Trail affords not only quick access from Salida (about a 15-minute drive by car or hitch by thumb) but also varied terrain and numerous route options, making it a trail with something for everyone in all seasons.

The trailhead approach begins about 9.5 miles west of the intersection of U.S. Hwys. 50 and 285 in Poncha Springs. Traveling west on 50, take a left turn onto C.R. 225 and drive a snowy, usually plowed road about .7 miles to the parking for Fooses.

Youngsters along for the adventure will appreciate seeing Fooses Lake at the start of the trail (elevation 8,920 feet) and likely will be curious as to whether it’s frozen enough to skate on during the colder months. It’s actually a small reservoir and the water flowing out of it to the east to a hydroelectric plant at lower elevations tends to keep the lake soft just beneath the surface all winter.

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Camels in Moffat are no Mirage

By Judith Reese

The late afternoon sun is just beginning to cast long shadows on the San Luis Valley floor. In pastureland renown for sheep and cattle, three vaguely Dr. Seussish fantastical creatures graze on the low brush of the high desert of Moffat. Camels, once thought exotic, now make their home in Colorado’s heartland.

Mudita Camel Dairy, a modest two-story combined home and milking barn, sits framed by the Sangre de Cristo Range to the east and the La Garita Wilderness to the west. Out front, a young couple loads milk into refrigerators in a pickup. They are Matt and Meghan Stalzer, and the camel dairy farm is their labor of love.

Matt moves inside, and nine-foot-tall Dora pokes her head into the barn, her 1,500-pound girth framed by the doorway with the Sangres supplying the backdrop. Inquisitive Dora just wants to be part of the welcoming. 

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Writing in the Age of LOL, BRB and WTF

By Hal Walter

When I spoke to my son’s 5th grade class back in September, I did a short reading from my book Wild Burro Tales. I had a little postscript in mind, and after the reading I asked how many of the kids want to be writers when they grow up.

I was expecting one or two to raise their hands, and I had some premeditated advice for them. What I was not expecting was to see a lot of little hands shoot enthusiastically into the air.

I was paralyzed briefly. I thought, really? This many kids want to be writers? What exactly will they write in this day and age of social media, online “news” feeds and Kindle Shorts? And who will pay them to do this writing? Should I warn them of the frustrations, the long odds of “success” … the pay?

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News From the San Luis Valley

by Gena Akers Wolf Creek Development Approved The Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF) has completed The Village at Wolf Creek Access Project analysis. The land exchange between the National Forest and Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture (LMJV) will provide the opportunity for LMJV to develop year-round access to their property. Approximately 177 acres of privately held land …

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Regional News Roundup

Election Results The yards signs are gone, the glossy mailers no longer clog our mailboxes, the robocalls have ceased (for now) and the results are in. In one of the most expensive races on record for a U.S. Senate seat, Republican Cory Gardner (with a leg up from The Denver Post) defeated Democratic incumbent Sen. …

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From the Editor: Year’s End

by Mike Rosso Here it is, our final issue of 2014. Looking back, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground – geographically, culturally and historically. Along the way, we’ve sadly lost a few of our readers as well as a valued contributor, but we’ve also gained new subscribers and some brand new voices to the …

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About the Cover Artist: Tim Brown

Since 1982 Tim Brown has been traveling the globe experiencing and photographing the people and places of various locations. His passion for adventure, humankind and good lighting has led him to embark on over 50 trips to Central and South America, Southeast Asia and Indonesia, as well as numerous travels throughout the United States and …

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Reviews – Edward Wynkoop, Soldier and Indian Agent

Edward Wynkoop, Soldier and Indian Agent By Nancy Oswald #7 in the “Now You Know” series for young scholars by Filter Press ISBN: 978-0-86541-184-5 Reviewed by Forrest Whitman Cotopaxi author Nancy Oswald does a nice job of presenting this historical Colorado figure. Some young scholars will recognize that Wynkoop Street down by Union Station in …

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Reviews – Plight of the Dam’d Rascals

Plight of the Dam’d Rascals By Tom Rollings 178 pages, Dog Ear Publishing 2014 ISBN: 978-1-4575-2950-4 Reviewed by Forrest Whitman Literally thousands of books and articles have been written about the Zebulon Pike Expedition of 1806-1807. The expedition is especially interesting to readers from Central Colorado, since many of the dramatic events on Pike’s long …

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A Farmer Far Afield – My Better Half

by John Mattingly I  recently acquired eight female jenny miniature donkeys and one miniature male jack, together with three youthful donkey offspring. This occurred in a complex trade involving 111 goats, a terracer blade, a jayhawker, an angular boring tool and a rusty Fresno. But I digress. Having donkeys around has reminded me of all …

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Quillen’s Corner – Fear and Loathing One Hundred Years After Sand Creek

by Martha Quillen In The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo illustrates how ordinary people can be incited into acts of almost unimaginable violence. “The process begins,” he warns, “with creating stereotyped conceptions of the other, dehumanized perception of the other, the other as worthless, the other as all-powerful, …

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The Real Deal Music Review – Kevin Danzig, Playground

by Brian Rill Kevin Danzig – Playground 2104 Bandanzig Music, Alma CO 2014 Alma resident Kevin Danzig just released his ninth solo album, Playground. It is a multi-instrumental and polyphonic collection including two dozen fully produced acoustic demo songs engineered in Leadville, Colorado by Grammy nominee Tim Stroth. Kevin Danzig is himself a six-time Billboard …

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Heading Home

by Maria Weber I have a fondness for fire, For stew pots with fragrant ingredients, Comfort food that wraps a blanket Around my heart in cold weather. My ancestors came from high frozen mountains With high frozen hearts that needed to thaw. On a beach under the heat of a dead volcano I find my …

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The Velhagen Clock: Crown Jewel of Downtown Alamosa

by Susan Foster The Velhagen Clock, located for over 50 years at 505 State Avenue in Alamosa, might be called a “horologe”: an obsolete term for a timepiece that is antiquated yet timeless. Alamosa’s historic, 18-foot-high, two-ton, Velhagen Clock is a five-foot diameter, two-faced structure with cast iron gingerbread ornamentation which was built by the …

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The Push Is on to “Take Back” Public Lands

by Brian Calvert Utah is ground zero this year for the attempt by some Western states to claim federal lands. In September, when Southern Utah University hosted a debate on the controversial proposal, close to 250 people packed the hall as two professors, Bob Keither and Dan McCool, argued that however messy its oversight, the …

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A Sister City for Salida

by Mike Rosso A recent decision by a town council 6,000 miles away has led to the first sister-city designation for Salida, Colorado. Lago, in the province of Cosenza in the Calabria region of southern Italy, is the ancestral home of many early settlers to Salida, many of whose names are very familiar to locals. A …

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