Boomtown Blues is another good book about our changes

Letter by Clint Driscoll

Growth – December 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Boomtown Blues is another good book about our changes

Dear Ed,

Thanks for the review of Peter Decker’s Old Fences, New Neighbors. The book is a bit pricey, even with First Street’s discount, but worth it for the quotes which can be pulled from it. You are quite right, Decker has a sharp eye and a sympathetic view of the close-knit society which existed around Ridgway before the big land rush in the ’80s and ’90s destroyed it. The same situation exists throughout the state and his observations can apply as much to Custer or Chaffee County as to Ouray County.

I would like to suggest that readers who find Decker’s book on target get a copy of Andrew Gulliford’s Boomtown Blues: Colorado Oil Shale 1885-1985. The shale debacle radically altered New Castle, Rifle, Parachute, and the surrounding agricultural society of Garfield County in a much shorter time.

Gulliford’s work is more academic, has a more in-depth history of the affected area and relies on more documentation but both authors describe how important neighborliness and mutual support was in hard times (as opposed to the myth of the rugged individualist) and how that network was destroyed when a different economy took over.

I don’t believe newcomers to mountain areas will ever share (or even want to share) or earn the type of trust that comes from surviving hard times on the land through back-breaking labor and reliance on neighbors, but these two books best explain why oldtimers don’t welcome the new settlers with open arms and view many of the new changes with distrust.

Clint Driscoll Buena Vista