Living in a Small Place in a Big Bad World

By Martha Quillen

I used to love the feeling of isolation you could get in the Colorado Rockies. Forty-one years ago, Ed and I went camping in the Gunnison Country with friends. We pitched our tents right next to the road near Pitkin, and for several days we didn’t see a single car and couldn’t tune in a radio station. One night our friend observed that the U.S. could have been nuked, and we wouldn’t know it.

In 1971, Ed and I went to Silverton to look at the newspaper. The town was small, remote, and occasionally got snowed in. It didn’t have television, and VCRs and home computers hadn’t been invented yet. Red Mountain Pass was icy and terrifying; several of the downtown buildings looked like they wouldn’t make it through the winter, and eggs at the local store cost $1 each.

Read more

Down on the Ground: Across the Great Divide

By George Sibley

Thirty-five water-user groups from both sides of the Continental Divide recently concluded a “Colorado River Cooperative Agreement” concerning the waters of the Upper Colorado River – both the water still in that river’s tributaries in Grand, Summit and Eagle Counties, and the water diverted out of those rivers into the South Platte basin.

This situation lies a little to the north of Central Colorado, but it is nonetheless worth watching down here in Central Colorado as this agreement unfolds. “Central Colorado” is, after all, a region of the state fiendishly created by this magazine’s founders Ed and Martha Quillen to include headwaters on both the East and West Slopes. (Not to mention on Colorado’s “South Slope,” the Upper Rio Grande – technically East Slope but recently treated like the West Slope by the rest of the East Slope: a place to go for more water.)

Read more

News from the San Luis Valley

by Patty LaTaille

When No Solar is a Good Thing

Tessera Solar withdrew its bid to construct a 1,525-acre industrial solar power plant in Saguache County. For two years, residents and ranchers have fought the massive installation of 8,000 forty-foot hydrogen-fueled dish Stirling SunCatchers.

According to the Pueblo Chieftain, “Tessera’s original proposal failed to meet state limits for noise and drew sharp criticism from county residents for its effects on neighboring property, wildlife and the environment.”

Read more


One Brave Bear

LEADVILLE – A 200-pound black bear wandered into a campground full of bow hunters and attacked a teenage boy in his tent on July 15.

Thirteen-year-old Rick Voss was asleep at the Quail Mountain Recreation Area near Leadville when he was grabbed and bitten by the bear. Voss was camping as part of the Colorado Bow Hunters Association Jamboree. He was treated for deep bite injuries at St. Vincent Hospital and then brought to Children’s Hospital in Aurora by his family. The bear was tracked down by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers and killed.

Read more

For the Love of Single-Speeds

By Mike Rosso

“One gear bikes have two speeds: riding and pushing.” – Anonymous

I remember clearly my first bike. It had one gear. If you needed to climb a hill or gain momentum you stood up and pumped hard. Downhill you wound it out to the maximum RPM, slamming back hard on the pedals to bring it to a screeching halt. No hand brakes, no derailleur, no multiple gears – very reliable except for the occasional flat tire or broken chain. But who could resist the lure of multiple gears? The decisive click of a three-speed grip shifter found on the typical English commuter bike? The sudden ease of climbing hills? I then became smitten with the five-speed in-line stick shift on the gold Schwinn Stingray I was astonished to find on Christmas morning one year (thanks again Mom and Dad). Sure, the Stingray was kind of a ridiculous contraption; the banana seat, sissy bar, high-rise handlebars – but that cool shifter! Man, you could do some serious climbing and get some great speed, all the while imagining myself another Mario Andretti.

Read more

The Colorado Midland Railroad

By Virginia McConnell Simmons

The economic potential of booming mining camps inspired the board of directors of Colorado Springs’ First National Bank to build a standard-gauge railroad through the Rockies. They believed they could provide the mountain region with better equipment and service than the region’s miniature railroads were already doing. The optimistic capitalists of “Little London” soon learned some hard lessons about pitting money and machinery against the high country.

Read more

Life in the Cancer Cloister

By Susan Tweit

A friend who survived cancer said the treatment was like “living in a black hole,” in the sense that while the world goes on around you, and people are helpful and kind, you’re really isolated by the intense and exhausting journey you’re on.

That’s how life feels right now. Even though we’re surrounded by people who love and care for us, and who help in so many ways; even though Salida in summer is a crazy busy place; even though life hurtles on at what seems like a breakneck pace; our intense focus on Richard’s health and well-being creates an oddly peaceful space around us.

Read more

A Blast from the Past: Leadville’s Hopemore Mine Tour

By Lynda LaRocca

If you really want to preserve the past, it helps to purchase part of it.

Just ask Bob Calder.

Calder owns the Hopemore Mine, which offers Leadville’s only guided walking tour of a hardrock or underground mine.

Located at an 11,560-foot elevation in the city’s historic mining district, the Hopemore began operations in 1908; it remained a working mine until about a decade ago.

Read more

Water Update

 by John Orr

New hydroelectric generation plant online near Creede

Humphreys family member Ruth Brown flipped the switch on the family’s new $1.3 million 310 kilowatt hydroelectric generation station on July 15. The new plant utilizes an existing 90 foot tall concrete arch dam and reservoir that Brown’s great grandfather built in 1923 below the confluence of Goose and Roaring Fork creeks for recreation and power for the ranch. The new plant should generate enough power for over 200 homes.

Read more

World Class – Central Colorado Serves as the Starting Point for a Historic Bicycle Race

By Maddie Mansheim

Sixteen teams totaling 128 professional bike riders will embark on a seven day feat of extraordinary physical ability, mental endurance and competitive ambition through a strenuous 518-mile trek traversing the demanding Coloradan terrain in the upcoming USA Pro Cycling Challenge (UPCC). This inaugural journey begins on Aug. 22 with the prologue in Colorado Springs, the start of the race in Salida on the 23rd, with the final destination being Denver on the 28th. The route entails a plethora of grueling climbs up challenging passes, mountains, and perhaps the most taxing of all obstacles, the elevation of over 12,000 feet.

Read more

Precious Metals

By Jennifer Dempsey

For Salida artist Tammy Grubisha, solving complicated engineering problems for custom orders was the easy part. Coming up with a name for her company was the hard part.

“It was difficult naming my business because of all the things I do,” said the 44-year-old furniture maker/sculptor/welder/muralist. “I gave up trying to label what I do long ago. There are people who wouldn’t call me an artist, and some who wouldn’t call me a welder. All I know is I love what I do, it’s my gift to this world, and I make myself and other people happy with my creations.”

Finally deciding on the trade name Mz. Allaneus, (pronounced ‘miscellaneous’) Grubisha creates furniture, railings, lighting, tile work, signage, hardware and sculpture using metal, clay, wood, glass and found objects. Describing herself as a “full-time functional fine artist,” her style ranges from eccentric to elegant, and her work includes everything from Halloween ‘Grubkins’ (gargoyle inspired pumpkin faces) to high-end chandeliers and furniture.

Read more


By John Mattingly
When my son graduated from high school, I shook his hand and attempted a parody from the 1967 Mike Nichols movie, The Graduate, in which Murray Hamilton takes Dustin Hoffman aside to say, “One word, Son … plastics.”

I took my son aside, and placed a hand upon his shoulder with a wise nod as I said, “One word, Son … fees.”

Read more

From the Editor

Pedallers and Hackers

This month’s cover art was provided by Nathrop-area photographer Taf McMurry. She made our job very difficult after providing dozens of great photos depicting all kinds of bicycles in a variety of artistic stylings. We decided we needed to run at least one more of her images in this issue so we did, on page fifteen.

Although we don’t consider this to be a “theme” issue, the fact of the big race scheduled for August in Central Colorado was enough to devote several pages of content to the velocipede.

If you haven’t been on a bike in a while we hope it inspires you to get back onto one or at least go out and ring a cow bell for the racers coming here from all over the planet this month.

Read more

The Maxwell Park School

– By Suzy Kelly, Buena Vista Heritage

The cement block Maxwell Park School sits three miles south of Buena Vista on County Road 321. It was also sometimes known as the Mt. Princeton School.

The school building was built of handmade cement blocks and you can see the hand and fingerprints in the blocks. The Centerville school, now gone, was also built of these blocks. The blocks are from 18-23 inches long and hollow; the cement is rough and full of rocks. The kitchen addition on the Kelly ranch house is also built of these same blocks. There are fish scale shingles on gables at the peak at front and back of the school. The building is 30’7” long and 26’ wide. There is a bell tower (minus the bell) on the front of the roof. The Maxwell School was started in 1889 and was used until 1933. Behind the school building was a barn for the kids to keep their horses in while they were in school for the day. Attached to the back of the school is a cement shed addition to store the coal for the big stove that heated the building. There were two outhouses in the back, one for girls and one for boys. The well for the school was across the road to the south. There were two coat closets on each side of the front door and hooks for coats and shelves. The interior was finished with lathe and plaster. There were wooden desks, the teacher’s desk, an Edna pump organ, maps in wall cases you could pull down, slate blackboards, and a bucket with a dipper for a drink.

Read more

Book Review

Vision of Photography Series, The Museum Collection,
William Meriwether
People’s Press, 52 pages $14.95
ISBN #0981781071

Reviewed by Mike Rosso

William Meriwether is not a well-known name in photo circles but the recently deceased Colorado-based photographer left behind a body of work that may someday bring his works the stature they deserve.

Meriwether, who spent part of his youth in the San Luis Valley, self-published a limited edition book of his work and essays in 2005 and it was formally published in 2010 by Peoples Press in Woody Creek, Colorado.

Read more

The ‘Wet’ Mountain Valley ain’t all that wet

By Hal Walter
Geographers seem to agree the definition of a desert is a region where annual precipitation amounts to less than 10 inches.

By that definition those of us in the Westcliffe area may be living in a desert this year, and for sure we lived in one last year when the total was 9.34 inches. The least ever recorded was in 2002 when we received 8.77 inches.

In fact, this place ironically called the “Wet” Mountain Valley has been a desert about a half-dozen years since records began being kept in 1948, and we’ve hovered at just about the desert mark several other times with precipitation just a tad over 10 inches, like in 1973 when 10.03 inches were recorded.

Read more