A well of questions

Column by Hal Walter

Mountain Life – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

THE CARCASS LAY at the bottom of the rock-walled well, undoubtedly hand-dug by an early settler. Our new neighbors had found the well and the carcass this summer after purchasing the land. They suspected the dead animal to be a deer.

At first look I could tell the animal was not a deer. The rib bones were round rather than flat. The rump had a shape different from that of a deer. It looked more like a dog.

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Just who should be giving us moral instruction?

Essay by Martha Quillen

Politics – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

AS THE 2000 election draws near, it’s business as usual in the U.S. Throughout the summer, the Denver media reported escalating problems with delays and cancellations at DIA, and by August the airport had earned the dubious distinction of being the first in the nation for late arrivals.

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Frozen Moments: Photographer Bill Gillette

Article by Rayna Bailey

Local Artists – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

GIVE AN AVERAGE PERSON a Nikon and a roll of film and they usually snap average pictures of family and friends that eventually end up in a photo album or shoe box on a closet shelf.

Put that camera in the hands of photographer Bill Gillette, and he creates masterpieces that are framed and hung on display in a home — eventually to become family heirlooms.

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Owed an apology, but will accept a check

Letter from Frank Smith

Land Trusts – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine


Dave Skinner’s comments on The Nature Conservancy [in the September edition] are so completely wrong I hardly know where to begin correcting him. It, like most land trusts, DOES “actually take direct physical or fiscal care of the land it supposedly preserves.” It does NOT “act as nothing more than a high-dollar real estate and lobbying firm that temporarily acquires land…”

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The origin of the account of paying the Utes for a treaty

Letter from Virginia M. Simmons

Otto Mears – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine –


In your September issue, Jeanne W. Englert, referring to my article in your May issue, raised a question about the validity of a story concerning Otto Mears and his bribery of Ute Indians in 1880. Here is my response, although Englert still may not be entirely satisfied.

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Vitriol and vinegar both serve a purpose

Letter from Slim Wolfe

Modern life – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

Dear Martha & Ed:

Seems like I must be one of the last skeptics in America. Everyone else seems convinced that cyberspace is the biggest thing since movable type. Human nature loves something it can manipulate, particularly when there’s a bit of a challenge, interaction, backtalk. The earliest public commercial venture may have been a game called “Fascination,” a primitive computer poker which hypnotized the masses at amusement arcades of the late 1950’s. Amazing how the science of extracting money from people while they’re mesmerized by screens has progressed since then. If only we could make that sort of progress in getting rid of inflation, murder, and disaster.

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Historical Reservations

Sidebar by Martha Quillen

Kit Carson – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

As for the question Allen Best asks in the main article, I think it’s fine to call a mountain Kit Carson.

But at the same time, I’m not scandalized by a mural depicting Carson killing a Navajo, either. On the contrary, I’d say it’s pretty naive to imply that Carson ran a major campaign to round up the Navajo, and didn’t kill anyone.

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The Navajo Campaign

Article by Martha Quillen

Kit Carson – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

SOME OF THE TRAGEDY of the Navajo story rests in its inevitability once peace treaties were signed. The Navajo were a widely scattered people living in small bands across northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Utah when the first peace agreements were negotiated at the end of the Mexican War.

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Kit Carson Sources

Sidebar by Allen Best

Reference – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine


Kit Carson Days, 1809 – 1856 by Edwin L. Sabin

“Dear Old Kit”: The Historical Christopher Carson by Harvey L. Carter

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Private 14ers

Sidebar by Ed Quillen

Kit Carson Mountain – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

When it comes to scenic real estate, few parcels can match having your very own 14,000-foot peak.

Thanks to old Mexican land grants, several of Colorado’s tallest summits are in private hands.

The best-known of these is 14,059-foot Culebra Peak, on La Sierra (or the Taylor Ranch, depending on your politics) a few miles east of the town of San Luis in Costilla County.

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Kit Carson: the Mountain and the Man

Article by Allen Best

History and Geography – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

“Blasted kids,” I gasped to myself as we cornered from the broad ledge called Kit Carson Avenue and headed up the couloir toward the 14,165-foot summit. The 30-year-old in our bunch was strolling up the jumbled rocks like they were the stairs at the county courthouse. I was panting furiously after every flight.

Just a few years ago I had also bounced up mountains such as this, and I was a smoker then. I no longer smoke, yet this beautiful mountain, among the finest profiles seen in the Sangre de Cristo Range, was thumping my butt. Is there justice in this world?

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The perspective from down on the ground

Column by George Sibley

Economic Development – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

I GOT INTO “local economic development” here in the Upper Gunnison region of Central Colorado by the back door. The stage door.

In 1988, we started doing an annual “Sonofagunn” drama here that was basically a spoof on whatever had or hadn’t been happening in the valley in recent years — or decades or centuries for that matter.

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The Stupid Zone Expands

Essay by Lynda La Rocca

Mountain Life – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

I knew it was just a matter of time before the “Stupid Zone” grew beyond the borders of our property to engulf our neighbors.

As regular Colorado Central readers know, a Stupid Zone (a description coined by the male half of this magazine’s publishing team) is an avalanche chute, a sandy beach, a plot of land within throwing distance of an international jetport, or any other place where the terminally muddled choose to live so that they can then whine ad infinitum about snowslides, hurricanes, the recurrent, earsplitting roar of jet engines — you get the idea.

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New Mexico eyes Closed Basin for more Rio Grande water

Brief by Central Staff

Closed Basin – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

It was a dry summer — so dry that the Rio Grande went dry in parts of central New Mexico on account of diversions by the Middle Rio Grande Water Conservancy District (MRGWCD).

A dry riverbed is pretty hard on fish, and among those fish is the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow.

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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

Relic No-Shows

What if they opened a time capsule and nothing was there? That’s what happened when crews began demolishing the 80-year-old Ortega Middle School on Main Street in Alamosa. Legend had it that there were timely treasures behind the double cornerstone of the building. When it was opened before onlookers, though, it was empty.

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The Lowest Point isn’t on the Arkansas, after all

Brief by Central Staff

Colorado Geography – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

Some of us who live along the Arkansas River have boasted that its drainage includes both the highest point in Colorado (14,433-foot Mt. Elbert in Lake County) and the lowest (3,350 feet, where the Arkansas crosses the Kansas line a few miles east of Lamar).

It turns out that we were wrong. We were in good company, since that’s what the U.S. Geological Survey has listed as Colorado’s lowest point for as long as anyone can remember.

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The Attack of the Killer Hummingbirds

Essay by Lou Bendrick

Wildlife – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

AH, SUMMER. In the Rockies it’s a season marked by many things, such as rodeo, camping, bing cherries, forest fires and wildflowers. But perhaps more than any other sound (even that of the backhoe), the shrill whir of the hummingbird marks summer in the West.

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Western Water Report: 16 October 2000


Water managers need crop consumptive use estimates to manage the competing demands of agriculture, population growth and wildlife. The widely-used Blaney-Criddle method estimates consumptive water use based on mean monthly temperature data, percentage of daylight hours during the period of interest, and a standard crop growth stage coefficient that describes changes in consumptive use as plants mature. Initial studies indicate the use of standard coefficients would have underestimated total consumptive use by 30 to 130% in high altitude, irrigated mountain meadows. Since consumptive use estimates will be needed to quantify irrigation depletions that would benefit from the Aspinall Unit subordination contract and to determine augmentation needs for down-stream senior calls, the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District has contracted with CSU Extension, with assistance from their Agricultural Experiment Station to get more accurate information within the Upper Gunnison Basin. Twelve lysimeters have been installed throughout the Upper Gunnison Basin to more accurately estimate consumptive use. Among the many variables in evapotransporation are crop height and ground cover density. It will be several years before reliable data will be available.

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