Quillen’s Corner: The Conflicts Within

By Martha Quillen

By October, I found myself thoroughly bewildered by conflicting viewpoints about Salida’s attorney, Ben Kahn. To hear local activists tell it, he is either terrific or incompetent, which put me in a wait and see mode. But then a candidate told me he thought getting rid of Kahn was an important objective, and I thought in that case I’d better re-evaluate some things before I vote.

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George Sibley: Down on the Ground with Chicago and L.A.

By George Sibley

A quarter-century ago, shortly before starting this magazine, Ed Quillen wrote a major essay for High Country News – preceded by a two-day conference in Denver Ed had instigated with HCN publisher Ed Marston and the Pacific Foundation, assembling a motley of regional journalists, environmentalists, educators and other western thinkers to explore the question (slightly subversive, given the location): “Is Denver necessary?”

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Farmer Far Afield: In Biology We Trust

By John Mattingly

Fall is a seductive time. The changing colors, rich afternoon light and impending curiosity about the approach of winter. The hot days of summer become a memory and life in the garden moves to preparation rather than anticipation. Regardless of how difficult the summer, the summer solstice and Halloween feel like a reward for enduring the worries of water, weather, weeds and varmints. And larger four-legged mammals.

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The Real Deal Music Review: Brian Rill – Waterfall

Reviewed by Michael Andre

To meet Brian Rill in person gives no clue of the talent and musicianship lying beneath his placid and easygoing exterior. He moves with decisiveness, but his languid way of speaking in a deep, rumbling baritone is more akin to the liquid flow of a river. Nowhere are these characteristics more evident than in his music. With dulcet tones reminiscent of Don Henley’s best work, Rill’s voice is both soothing and energizing. In fact, there’s a thread of virtuosity running deep through his latest ten-track CD release, Waterflow. While Waterflow is marketed as Country/Alt-Country, it manages to straddle several genres – country, folk, rock, honky-tonk, even rumba – each of them performed to perfection. This multi-faceted song writer and performer is a stellar addition to any discerning music aficionado’s collection. Yet he manages to come off as humble and unassuming at the same time.

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Dispatch From the Edge

By Peter Anderson

How long are you going to be around?” my 13-year-old daughter asked Hester who was ringing up our groceries at the Mercantile. Some years ago, Hester, left town for a while after her husband died. More recently she returned and now has her old job back. Though I don’t know for sure – we are really only acquaintances – I think she went back to Montana to get a little family support, while her son, who had been pals with my older daughter, was making his way through high school. He’s doing well now, I learned, as I ran my credit card through the machine that I have never quite mastered. Credit? Debit? Slide? Insert? Graduated from high school, Hester’s son is apprenticed to an auto mechanic in Missoula who works on Fords, Chevies and Subarus. All good news. But it was her reply to Caroline’s question – how long she would be around – that really caught my attention. “For the rest of my life,” she said.

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Museums of Central Colorado: The Fort Garland Museum

From the Civil War in the West exhibit at Fort Garland. Courtesy of the Fort Garland Museum.

By Anita McDaniel

Western expansion fueled the need for frontier forts. The primary purpose of these forts was to keep the peace between the settlers and the indigenous people.

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Book Review: Richard Sopris in Early Denver

Richard Sopris in Early Denver
by Linda Bjorklund
History Press 2016, 138 pages
ISBN 978.1 46713.593.1

Reviewed by Forrest Whitman

Richard Sopris is one of the least known of the early Colorado influential leaders. This book should help correct that. A “fifty-niner,” arriving during the 1859 gold rush, he was one of the earliest miners and explored many possible gold panning streams. He “discovered” Glenwood Springs and a mountain near there is named for him.

Sopris is best remembered as mayor of Denver from 1878 to 1881. During that time he worked to develop a park system and is best known for establishing City Park. He went on to be one of the founders of the Colorado Historical and Natural History Society (what today is History Colorado and the Natural History Museum). Wherever the action was, Sopris was in it or around it.

Particularly interesting are several accounts of early Denver. The “Bummers wars” were wild affairs. This group of ruffians fought with the vigilance committees during the so-called “turkey wars.” The bummers were quick to steal things, including a cartload of turkeys. This war led to Richard’s career in law enforcement. In 1865 he was elected sheriff of what was then Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory. Later he was put in charge of the Denver jail. He also worked for the new Denver Pacific Railroad that hooked Denver up to the rest of the nation.

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Off Trail: Finding My Way Home in the Colorado Rockies – EXCERPT

By Jane Parnell

The following is an excerpt from the new book, Off Trail: Finding My Home in the Colorado Rockies by Jane Parnell of Fairplay, Colorado, which will be released in January 2018. Jane is a freelance writer and independent scholar. She has taught journalism at Utah State University and writing at Colorado Mountain College, and her articles, editorials and essays with the byline Jane Koerner have been published in High Country News, Mountain Gazette, Colorado Central Magazine and Outdoor Adventure.

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Perfect Imperfection

By Jennifer Welch

My heifer has a penis. If you remember, it wasn’t too long ago that I was waiting for my dairy cow to calve. And I called heifer. So you can imagine my surprise when my heifer was born … with a penis. Damn. I guess it’s true that we can’t always get what we want. But I did get a bull calf, which I aptly christened Boy Named Sue. So it would appear that, if we try sometimes, we get what we need. This seems to be a recurring theme in my existence.

After last summer, I wasn’t sure where the food truck or the farm were heading – if anywhere. I had to ask myself some very hard questions. And what’s worse, I had to answer them. When we learned that we wouldn’t be offered another lease at the distillery, one of my employees mentioned that she might know of a good spot for the bus just up the street. A new couple, Rick and Katy, had purchased a building and lot on East Main and had moved to the valley from Chicago. I reluctantly reached out with an email and a hopeful heart. The rest, as they say, is history. The bus moved into a new location, we gained new friends, and the farm remained secure and stable. 

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Water Update

By John Orr


Several tributaries of the Colorado River get their start in the crags of the Central Colorado mountains. Storied rivers: Blue, Eagle, Roaring Fork and the powerhouse Gunnison. They’ve all faced the footstep of humankind. The mines dotting the slopes, hay fields, ranching, orchards and cornfields bear witness and are now part of the allure of the high country. Folks cast a line, shoot rapids and enjoy the scenery of those waterways.

On September 27, 2017, the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico inked Minute 323, the amendment to the 1944 United States-Mexico Treaty for Utilization of Water covering operations on the Colorado, Rio Grande and Tijuana rivers. (The Rio Grande is another of Central Colorado’s contributions to the Western U.S. economy.)

An important part of Minute 323 are environmental flows for the Colorado River Delta. Most everyone knows the river doesn’t reach the sea any longer. Environmental streamflow was initiated under Minute 319 signed by then Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar.

In March 2016 a diverse group of conservationists, biologists, irrigators and government officials effected a release of 100,000 acre-feet of water from Morelos Dam into the dry Colorado River Delta. There was a line of vehicles racing point to point along the river to witness the river’s front. At San Luis Rio Colorado, most of the residents went down to the river to celebrate the return of the river although many had no memory of running water in the sandy channel.

There was a great deal of success from channeling some of the streamflow to restoration sites in the Delta. Within weeks, new growth sprouted – cottonwoods and willows. Much of the diverted water served to replenish groundwater supplies. Wildlife immediately started using the habitat.

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Victor: The End of the Road

By Mike Rosso

Victor, Colorado, is not on the way to anywhere else. To get there requires dedicated purpose.

Those arriving for the first time will discover a time capsule of a town, a place that seems left behind from the modern world, yet still occupied by a hearty citizenry, who seem to prefer living at the proverbial end of the road.

The discovery of gold in the region in 1890 led to the creation of Victor in 1891, the “City of Mines,” along with neighboring Cripple Creek. At its peak around the turn of the century, there were nearly 18,000 residents in Victor and it was once the fourth-largest city in Colorado, but after World War I, the town saw a steep decline due to a labor war, depleted ore and the exodus of miners. The 2010 census has the town at around 397 souls.

In 1985, Victor was designated a national historic district, which led to the arrival of tourists. In 1991 Colorado voters allowed for legalized gambling to occur in certain towns in Colorado and nearby Cripple Creek became one of them, but the residents of Victor opted out, which is one of the reasons the town has maintained its charm and not become an old West facade for casinos like its neighbor to the northwest. Many employees of Cripple Creek’s casinos call Victor home. The Cripple Creek and Victor Mine still operates near town and is the largest current producer of gold in Colorado.

Walking the streets of the town, one is struck by the historic architecture, some of it crumbling, and some in the process of restoration. There is no Starbucks here, but evidence of its mining past is everywhere, in and on the outskirts of town. 

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About the Cover Artist: Beatris Burgoin

Beatris Burgoin was born and raised in southern Baja California, Mexico, as a member of an artistic family. She started painting when she was 19 and recuperating from a car accident. She’s been developing her style for over 17 years and has evolved into a modernistic oil painter utilizing only three primary colors and white. Residing in Crestone, Colorado, she has become a very prolific artist and finds that with Crestone’s big spaces, natural beauty and loud silence, she has room to grow and go deep into her artistic path. In Crestone she has explored different forms of art while continuing to develop technics in oil painting. Her artwork has been acquired by collectors around the globe, including Europe, Latin America, the Western Pacific and North America.

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The Perfect Season

By Hal Walter

It was one of those awkward encounters. A casual acquaintance threw out a random statement and it made me think.

In this case it was in a grocery store and the statement was essentially that there’s such a gap in this country, everything from homeless people “doing nothing” begging in the streets and living under bridges, all the way up to Bill Gates.

This seemed interesting to me because it is believed that a high percentage of homeless people may be autistic, and it’s also been speculated that Bill Gates may be on the spectrum.

My answer to this was that yes, we sure do have a gap and I’m not sure people at one end are doing more than people at the other. This brought a look of total surprise, and the response that “I think Bill Gates does a lot” and that he does so much philanthropy.

I said Bill Gates probably does appear to do a lot because he is wealthy enough to have people do a lot of things for him. In fact a close friend received her Masters in Library Science from Denver University through a scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, though I‘m fairly certain the benefactors did not personally sign the check.

But homeless people do a lot, too – they have to scrounge for food, and yes, often alcohol and drugs, find places to sleep, worry about their safety and try to stay warm in the winter.

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