More About the 1962 National Christmas Tree from the San Juan National Forest

By Mike Rosso Last month’s issue contained an article about the National Christmas Tree, which was felled near Silver Creek in Chaffee County in 1962, and shipped to Washington D.C. to be displayed before thousands at a lighting ceremony outside the White House. Since publishing that article, more was learned about the tree and the …

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Alma: North America’s Highest Incorporated Town

Main Street, Alma, Feb. 2017. Photo by Laura Van Dusen.

By Laura Van Dusen

County: Park
Founded: 1873
Elevation: 10,578 ft.
Population: 270 (2010)

At just over two miles high, Alma is the highest incorporated town in North America. It was a gold mecca in 1859, later silver boomed, and, more recently, prospecting around Alma has focused on spectacular rhodochrosite crystals found at the Sweet Home Mine.

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The Natural World: The Greenback Cutthroat

By Tina Mitchell

As the Hayden Pass fire exploded in July,  people and their beloved animals had to evacuate. Another group of local residents faced relocation as well. A rare subspecies of cutthroat trout protected by the Endangered Species Act lives in a three-mile stretch of the south prong of Hayden Creek – and even as humans were fleeing, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) staff were scrambling to create a plan to protect these fish.greenback_cutthroat_web
Named for the slash of red below its jaw, the cutthroat trout’s historical distribution covered the broadest range of any stream-dwelling trout in the Western Hemisphere. The rugged topography of the species’ range isolated groups of cutthroats from each other, allowing the evolution of a whopping 14 distinct subspecies. Four closely related subspecies are native to Colorado: the Colorado River cutthroat, on the Western Slope; the Rio Grande cutthroat, in the San Luis Valley; the now-extinct yellowfin cutthroat; and the greenback cutthroat, the easternmost subspecies, found east of the Continental Divide.

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Down on the Ground with the Hotshots

By George Sibley I should probably be trying to write something wonky about American politics, but instead I’m writing this article from the near-wilds on the sunny side of Grand Mesa, at a rendezvous of an organization formerly known as the Crested Butte Hotshots. The Hotshots were a forest-fire crew based in Crested Butte who …

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Regional News Roundup

Election Results Salida residents chose Jim LiVecchi as their next mayor, replacing outgoing Mayor Jim Dickson. Chaffee County passed a half-percent sales tax increase to help fund county EMS services. Florence Mayor Keith Ore retained his seat. Leadville elected Greg Labbe as its new mayor. Lake County passed a mill levy to support the hospital …

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A Visit with Kerry Donovan

by Mike Rosso Colorado native, Highland cattle rancher, educator and ski race volunteer Kerry Donovan wants to be the next Colorado state senator for SD5. Running for the seat soon to be vacated by term-limited Gail Schwartz, the Vail resident claims no personal agenda going into the upcoming race. “The idea of representational government is …

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From the Editor

 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.

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By Annie Dawid

Despite having traveled abroad and lived in diverse places – London, Australia, and a 1951 yellow Jimmy schoolbus in Northern California – these days I don’t want to travel farther than I can see. From my tiny cabin, set in a bowl of the Wet Mountains with a head-on view of the Sangre de Cristos, I see far.

On a crystalline day like today, when the temperature’s zero and the light so bright on the snow I wear sunglasses inside, I glimpse the Huajatollas (Spanish Peaks) sixty miles to the south, and the Collegiates far to the north. No trees obscure my sightline. Mountains and me, my dogs, my son, the sun, and wind. Sky and clouds and nobody else. Here at 9,100 feet, we live at what feels like the top of the world. When I drive home up the steep rocky incline called “Little Bad Hill” – not to be confused with “Big Bad Hill” further south – I leave mundane troubles behind for the heights, where ideas emerge sharper, like the spires of the Crestone Needle due west, and emotions richer, like the plumed cumulonimbus roiling up and anvilling out in summer thunderstorms. Here, I can think, feel, and breathe, unencumbered.

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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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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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Recipe: Asian Duck Roast with Coconut Jasmine Rice

Courtesy of Michelle Gapp Place 5-6 lb. duck, breast up in roasting pan (no rack necessary). Season with honey, soy sauce, Chinese five-spice, coriander, garlic, curry powder, cilantro, basil. Add sweet potatoes, water chestnuts, baby carrots, green onions, mushrooms. Roast at 375 until duck begins to brown. Add 1/4 cup of sweet white wine to …

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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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Driving Nature Into the Ground?

By Bill Hatcher

“In Colorado, the outdoors is what’s for dinner!”

That’s Sherry Ellms, Professor of Environmental Studies at Naropa University in Boulder. I had asked her what motorized recreation says about American Culture. And while playful, her dining metaphor belies our tendency to “consume” nature.

In 1991, 11,700 OHVs (off-highway vehicles, such as dirt bikes, jeeps and all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs) were registered in Colorado. By 2012, that number had grown to over 160,000. 

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Poncha Springs Fire Station

The Poncha Springs Fire Station, located at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 50 and U.S. Hwy. 285, is the fourth property featured from the Chaffee County Historic Resources Survey. As stated by Virginia McConnell Simmons in The Upper Arkansas, A Mountain River Valley, Poncha Pass was part of a hub of trails leading in and out of the southern end of the San Luis Valley. The pass, at an altitude of 8,945 feet, is one of the lowest in the state. In 1779, Comanches retreated over Poncha Pass with stolen horses while being pursued by 600 Spanish dragoons. Arizona Governor Juan Bautista de Anza led the soldiers in a chase ending just south of Pueblo, where the Comnache leader, Cuerno Verde, and other high-ranking tribe members were killed. The hot springs area just a mile from the present town was a favorite campsite for the Ute tribe.

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George Wade Foott – Art, Artifacts … and Whitewater

Ever since we took over the reins of this magazine last March we’d been hoping to do a profile on George Foott. His wonderfully realistic historic paintings and his legendary boating skills — skills he was still developing well into his late 60s — were an inspiration to many in a variety of intersecting circles in Colorado.

Then suddenly, he was gone, a victim of the melanoma which had metastasized and quickly took George on December 17, 2009 at the age of 70.

Rather than write a tribute to the man ourselves we sought out some of his old friends, kayaking buddies and business associates and asked them to tell us about George in their own words. We thank them for their memories and contributions. — M. Rosso

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Reintroducing the Tabors: A Series

Part 4 –  The Divorce and Death of Augusta Tabor
by Francisco A. Rios

Since conjecture leads to supposition, we can suppose that the “old critter” in last month’s letter was Augusta Tabor. At the end of this month’s installment we shall read of her death in California. Meanwhile, it is enlightening to read a letter from Horace’s sister in Kansas and note the opinion that she has of Augusta and the justification that she offers to Horace for leaving Augusta. E.J. Moys wrote with family news from Lawrence, Kansas on April 25 1881:

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Quillen’s Corner

Whose History is It? Theirs or Ours?

By Martha Quillen

In the 1990s, an increasing number of New West historians tried to alter common ideas about Old West history. Their attempts to change people’s minds were met with vociferous derision, passionate support and hot debate.

And thus, American history experienced a renaissance, which thereby boosted the fame and fortune of a number of professors who had hitherto taught a subject viewed as fairly stodgy (especially when one considered its financial clout in comparison to medicine and MBAs).

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Chaffee County Geothermal Offers Promise, Raises Concerns

Graphic courtesy of Mt. Princeton Geothermal LLC

by Ron Sering

With the BLM’s announcement of a lease auction of nearly 800 acres in the vicinity of Mt. Princeton hot springs, the area could be the site of the state’s first geothermal power plant. Not everyone is happy about it.

Geothermal energy uses heat generated by volcanic activity beneath the earth. Applications include direct use, such as collecting hot water in a pool, or heating buildings such as homes or greehhouses, or, in a unique local case, for aquaculture to raise fish and reptiles. Colorado Gators in Mosca started as an aquaculture facility, later adding alligators which have generated tourism.

Geothermal generation of electricity began in the Lardarello region of Italy, where a power plant has been in steady use since 1913. The plant generates approximately 4.8 billion kilowatt hours per year and serves more than a million homes. The facility creates steam by pumping cold water onto hot rocks below the surface, which in turn drives turbines to generate electricity.

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Falling in Love Again

By Susan Tweit

A little over two weeks ago, I woke in La Paz, Baja California del Sur, Mexico, where clouds of neon-bright bougainvillea blossoms hang over courtyard walls, hooded orioles chatter at Anna’s hummingbirds, and the air smells like the aromatic desert and the salty Sea of Cortez.

It was the last morning in a trip that included a week spent teaching a creative writing workshop on Isla Espiritu Santo, “Island of the Holy Spirit,” a place I’ve longed to visit for more than three decades.

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Doc Holliday In Salida: Sightseeing Or Bloody Business? (Part One of Two)

by Charles F. Price

Was Salida the jumping-off point for the last killing in the West’s most famous vendetta, the one spawned by the so-called Gunfight at the OK Corral?

At least one recognized historian thinks so. Karen Holliday Tanner, whose collateral ancestor was the Georgia-born gambler/gunman/failed dentist Dr. John H. (“Doc”) Holliday, writes in a 1998 biography of her famed forebear that when he stepped off the train in Salida in the summer of 1882 he quickly met with Wyatt Earp and others west of town and in a roundabout trek by horseback and train slipped secretly into southeastern Arizona to slay John Peters Ringo, one of the last remaining members of the cowboy gang they had battled in Tombstone earlier that year.

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Housing Market

by Hal Walter

You see, it’s a little like this,” said my friend Peter. “It’s sort of like a roach motel. It’s easy to get in, but it’s hard to get out.”

Peter was talking about Custer County, specifically real-estate ownership here, where a quick look at the 81252 ZIP code on brings up a mind-numbing 227 homes for sale. That’s one home on the market for every 15 residents, and most of us already have homes.

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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

New VA Tele-Clinic Opens in Salida

SALIDA – The Veteran’s Administration (VA) has opened a new clinic in Salida, which will allow veterans to use special videoconferencing equipment to communicate with doctors at a VA outpatient clinic in Pueblo. There will also be medical personnel on hand to assist veterans at the clinic.

The clinic, one of 10 tele-health clinics the VA plans to open in Colorado, is located the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center campus. Clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It can be reached at 719-539-8666.

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A Farmer Far Afield – John Mattingly

Funny Farm

Farms aren’t usually thought of as wellsprings of humor, except for the clichés about farmers being dumber than a mud fence. Over the years, however, there have been a few memorable moments of comedy on the farm, ranging from camp to Kafka, the former arising from the partial gift of a jackass.

Oh Jerusalem! A clever friend of mine, George, bequeathed to me a half interest in a star-crossed jackass named Jerusalem — my half being the front half, which meant I got to feed him. The world has seldom seen a more dolorous and eternally patient jack than Jerusalem. It seemed he could stand motionless in the same place for days.

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Water Update

by John Orr

2010 Colorado legislative session

Gunnison County’s State Representative Kathleen Curry — who recently declared as an independent after winning her seat in the state house as a Democrat — plans to introduce a bill that would allow rafting companies and others to float through private property without being subject to trespassing charges from landowners. Her bill would clear up the current ambiguity in state statutes. According to the Colorado Independent the bill would “allow licensed outfitters to not only raft, kayak or fish on rivers and streams crossing private property, but also make contact with the riverbank without trespassing.” Outfitters would be limited to incidental contact and portaging necessary for safety reasons — say to portage around a bridge during high water. Meal stops or bathroom breaks would still be trespassing.

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Green Sweaters

by Conor Laing

Editor’s note: In an effort to encourage young writers, we’ve been soliciting area schoolteachers to submit student work they consider above average. The following story came from Laurel McHargue’s 10th Grade English class at Lake County High School in Leadville.

Dawn broke in brilliant shades of orange and red. Suddenly, like some mystic demon, the city came to life. Factories roared and growled in rage. Lights came on like a thousand monstrous eyes. The city creaked and moaned in pain as the steel mills opened.

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Financial Incentives for Renewable Energy

by Aaron Mandelkorn

One barrier that remains ever present in the renewable energy (RE) industry is consistent financial incentives. As the industry continues to evolve, we can hope that the price of this technology comes down to a point where tax credits and utility rebates are not needed to make an investment affordable; but that day is not yet here. Currently these incentives are one of the key forces driving this industry.

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Bring Me a Higher Love

mountain love

by Dawne Belloise

If you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain, If you’re not into yoga,
if you have half a brain,
If you’d like making love at midnight in the dunes on the Cape
Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for write to me and escape”
— Rupert Holmes

Up here at the end of the road in the mountains, relationships and affairs of the heart can get as sticky as a box of half-bitten Valentine chocolates. The incestuous nature of small town romances can liken local dating to sinking your teeth into every piece of confection in the box just to find out what’s inside the yummy coating. Historically, ski town populations are generally male-dominated — despite that it’s an over-used cliche, the fact remains — although the odds are good for the women, the goods are odd. Nevertheless, men find themselves in the love shuffle, and as one friend recited the mountain man mantra perched from his hunting site atop a bar stool while nursing his recent breakup, “You don’t lose your girl, you just lose your turn.”

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Quillen’s Corner – Facts About Colorado’s Deadliest Animal

When I heard that the theme of this month’s Central would be Colorado facts, I started scanning my bookshelves. There were tomes about Colorado wildlife, place names, trees, flowers, mountains, trails, festivals, people and history. I quickly narrowed my options by concentrating on the books that I could reach without using a ladder, which left …

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Finding Christmas Greens in the Grove

by Walter Perch

In a little gully at the base of the red rocks, a grove of spruce, fir and pine trees grow. A secret creek runs down from above – flash fed from storms and nurtured with multi-day drizzle.

Hundreds, if not thousands of years old, the grove has seen a variety of animal traffic and humans. With cougars, deer, avian species and insects, this grove is a bio-region of life. Birds dart through the summer sun from branch to branch. Still they sit, making their calls. In shallow pools water bugs gather near grass shoots, darting around on their tiny legs.

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Reintroducing the Tabors: A Series. Part 2 – A Circled Kiss

by Francisco A. Rios

(Editor’s note: Dr. Rios, a retired professor from the University of Colorado at Denver, spent 805 volunteer hours over a span of one year and seven months cataloging hundreds of letters from the Tabor Collection at the Colorado Historical Society (CHS) onto a computer database. We are reproducing some of these letters as a series with the generous permission of the CHS.)

In the Tabor correspondence, no one uses the name Baby Doe. Her family calls her Lizzie, and Horace, after opening his letters with “My Darling Wife,” calls her Babe. In the Tabor collection at the Historical Society, she appears, for brevity’s sake, as EBT, for Elizabeth Bonduel Tabor, which will come in handy for her later, as she plays off this name to create aliases for herself. This series will refer to her as EBT or Mrs. Tabor and reserve the name Baby Doe for her early years in Leadville.

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Core Cutting Dates: December 5-13, 2009

Permits: $10 each. One tree per permit. Limit 5 permits per person. All sales are final.

Area Entry Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. – For your safety, no entry is allowed before or after these hours.

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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

Ski Area Expansion Nixed

CRESTED BUTTE – Saying the project isn’t in the interest of the public, a local forest supervisor on Nov. 5 told Crested Butte Mountain Resort officials the agency will not enter an environmental review of proposed expansion to Snodgrass Mountain. The decision just about ends any possible expansion which has created a big rift among locals.

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