Los Penitentes del Valle

After the Veronicas and the Hermanos from the morada in San Antonio, Colorado meet at El Calvario (The large cross) where Jesus meets Mary, part of the congregation goes on to the morada and the others walk to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Conejos, Colorado which is several miles away. Photo by Ruben Archuleta.

Understanding the Penitente Church in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico

by Ruben E. Archuleta

Slowly and methodically the candles on the candelabrum are extinguished one by one as the Hermanos (Brothers) recite their prayers and sing the mournful alabados (Penitente hymns) until the last of the thirteen candles is out leaving the morada (meeting place) in total darkness. Suddenly the pandemonium that ensues with the sounds of rattling chains, the staccato of the matracas (wooden noise makers), banging on tins, and the wailing brings to mind the shaking of the earth, the lightning and thunder, the fear and wailing of the people gathered around the crucifixion … and then darkness as Jesus’ mortal body releases its soul. The Penitente rite known as the tinieblas (darkness), which represents the death of Jesus on the cross, has been practiced every Good Friday evening in the moradas throughout southern Colorado and northern New Mexico for over a century, and possibly longer.

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Is There a Right to Float?

by Forrest Whitman

Central Colorado is boating country. Boating on the Arkansas River is not only fun, it’s a huge business. 42% of the entire Colorado boating market uses the Arkansas. Several other big destinations such as the Taylor are in the region as well. Officials estimate that boaters put a whopping $62 mil into the economy of Central Colorado each year.

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The benefits of doing something stupid

by Ed Quillen

One way to meet good people in Central Colorado is to do something stupid. I learned that atop Kenosha Pass on the afternoon of February 5.

Martha and I were on our way from Salida to Longmont, where we were supposed to go out to dinner with my brothers and their wives, along with my parents, to celebrate my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary (in case you’re curious, I was born nine months and one week after their wedding).

Since driving at night has become something of a challenge for me, we left around noon to be sure of a daylight arrival. We took our dog Bodie with us, even though he’s not a good traveler. He’s a car-chasing idiot, and when he rides in the camper shell, he sees plenty of cars to “chase” by running around in circles and barking a lot.

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PENITENTE CANYON – Geology, Recreation and Legend

by Mike Rosso

A fascinating history, unique geology and extreme recreation can all be found in the recesses of Penitente Canyon, on the western edge of the San Luis Valley in Saguache County.

Located just outside the village of La Garita, the canyon was originally know as Cañon de Rajadero (Woodsplitter Canyon),  after a pit sawmill located there in the 1800s. (This involved a person standing in a pit operating one end of a two-handled saw with another standing above the log on the other handle.) Old wagon tracks can be also found embedded in the rocks within the colorful canyon — remnants of wood gathering activity from that time period. Lumber milled in the canyon was used to build the original Catholic church in La Garita which has since burned down.

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Down on the Ground with Getting Work

by George Sibley

In this year’s “Sonofagunn” show in Gunnison — our annual light “roast” of the Upper Gunnison valley as an Arts Center fundraiser — one of the things we are trying to address is what we consider our local dilemma. The dilemma being no-longer-so-young Western State College graduates, maybe a decade past graduation but still here, underemployed and overworked in the tourist economy. They are looking down the road for a real future. In other words, “I am twenty-some, going on forty,” sung to a vaguely familiar show tune.

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

by Charles F. Price

Editor’s note: In part one of this piece, which ran in the Feb. 2010 issue, the author documents a visit by the notorious gunman to Salida and attempts to determine whether it served as stopping off point for a secret trip to Arizona to “dispose” of John Peters Ringo.

In Denver during the extradition wrangle, a goofy con-man named Perry Mallon, pretending to be sheriff of Los Angeles County, California, briefly got the authorities to detain Doc on a trumped-up murder charge, but was soon discredited. While Doc was embroiled with Mallon, Bat Masterson, then marshal of Trinidad and a friend of Wyatt’s, slyly filed a bogus larceny complaint against Doc, hoping that case would give him legal dibs on Holliday over Mallon (this was a favor to Earp since Masterson actually despised Doc). The larceny case was slated for a hearing in Pueblo on July 11 — thus Doc’s trip through Salida.

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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

WSC Students Die in House Fire

GUNNISON – Two Western State College students perished in a house fire that occurred Jan. 30 in the 100 block of North Colorado Street in Gunnison.

Lucille Causley, 18, and Adam Lockard, 21, died in the blaze which was believed to have started in an unenclosed porch attached to the home that tenants of the home reportedly used for smoking.

Autopsies revealed the victims died from smoke inhalation. The college immediately set up a walk-in counseling center for those impacted by the fire.

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News from the San Luis Valley

by Marcia Darnell

Back to Work

The lockout at Harborlite Corp. is over, and 29 union workers are back on the job. The lockout began Oct. 8 when negotiations between the plant owners and the Teamsters broke down. Both sides say issues remain, but resolution is closer. Harborlite operates a perlite mine 20 miles southeast of Antonito and a mill in the town.

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State House Update

by Christopher Kolomitz

The 67th General Assembly

Colorado state senators and representatives convened for the 67th general assembly Jan. 13 in Denver. The session ends on May 12 and is likely to be dominated by efforts to find a balanced budget. Other hot topics include the medical marijuana debate, natural resources, and jobs.

Democrats control the senate 21-14 and the house 37-27. In the first quarter of the session more than 500 bills had been introduced and Democrats used their advantage to kill bills during committee hearings and ramrod a variety of bills to passage, most notably a series that dealt with the budget and increasing revenue.

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Sea Slugs Go Green

by Susan Tweit

One of the wonders of nature, as I see it, is all we don’t know about the world around us, the everyday relationships and behaviors of species large and small that fly, swim, run, crawl, slither, and root in earth and sea.

Take, for example, a recently published study that elicited this tongue-twisting headline in Science News, “Sea slug steals genes for greens.”

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Reintroducing the Tabors: A Series

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.)

The letterhead of the Santa Eduwiges mining company, near Jesús María in the state of Chihuahua, lists Horace Tabor as president during 1893-94. Don Juan Hart is one of the directors. Jesús María no longer appears on maps, but Horace mentions Guerrero, a town about 75 miles west of Chihuahua, the state capital. Horace writes to Lizzie on Sept 15 1893 with good news about the mine.

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photos and story by Mike Rosso

A prominent Pueblo-based architect with multiple buildings listed on the National Historic Register is responsible for the “Art Deco” style typified in the original Chaffee County Courthouse in Salida.

Walter DeMordaunt, who practiced architecture in Pueblo, Colorado from 1920 to 1962, was hired to design the courthouse in 1929 after a controversial 1928 election was held that moved the county seat from Buena Vista to Salida. But the controversy did not end there. Disputes over the use of contractors and local labor overshadowed the construction. Over DeMordaunt’s objections, county officials decided to brick over the stained glass windows he designed for the records vaults citing security issues, according to the book, Trails of the Columbine. “Private citizens” supposedly took matters into their own hands and removed the offending brickwork but it was later reinstalled where it remains to this day. The courthouse officially opened in its new Salida home in January of 1932.

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Centralized vs. Distributed Solar Energy

by  Aaron Mandelkorn

The solar electricity industry is currently embracing two distinctive approaches best described as centralized and distributed energy models. In recent years the shift from distributed, utility-owned solar electric systems to large private utility scale, and utility/ owner systems has become more prevalent. Each approach has its pros and cons and the truth is, we need renewable energy in any and every capacity we can get it. Education and understanding of renewable energy alternatives is necessary to make the best choices for our future energy needs.

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A Farmer Far Afield – A House is A House, Part 2

by John Mattingly

Editor’s Note: Part 1 of this series ran in the May 2008 Colorado Central Magazine.

Last month, Hal Walter described a rural-residential real estate situation in the greater Wet Mountain Valley that is mirrored to the west in the greater Moffat-Crestone region. The class of homes for sale ranges from a single-wide mobile home on a few acres to a super-sized custom home on a tastefully landscaped developed lot. There also are a lot of double-wides on 35 to 500 acres, few with any farmland or substantial water rights. Though different in appearance, the residences share the common element of being for sale in a market that is more like a morgue. A significant number of homes are simply abandoned and empty.

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Book Review – The Trail of Gold and Silver: Mining in Colorado

The Trail of Gold and Silver: Mining in Colorado, 1859-2009
By Duane A. Smith
Published in 2009 by University Press of Colorado
ISBN 978-0-87081-975-5
$26.95; vii+282 pages

Reviewed by Virginia McConnell Simmons

After chronicling nearly every facet of gold and silver mining in Colorado, from the Caribou camp to Horace Tabor and Baby Doe, Duane A. Smith has now concisely written the colorful story in The Trail of Gold and Silver. With this, his 50th published book, his friends might wonder whether The Trail of Gold and Silver is meant to be the swan song of our most prolific miner of Colorado’s mining history. Well, don’t bet the claim on it.

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The Geo-seasonal Vagaries of Custer County Business

by Hal Walter

It’s perhaps an irony that the Feed Barn and The Feed Store both recently closed their doors here in Custer County.

The Feed Barn was a 25-year-old livestock and pet feed business founded by a longtime ranching family. It has changed hands twice since it opened, and I am one of a handful of local residents who can remember buying feed from original owners Randy and Claricy Rusk at their location north of town.

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