Pickin’ Sisters

Article and photos by Ericka Kastner

Early exposure to musical performance prompted two Salida teens, known on stage as The Powell Sisters, to enter the Colorado bluegrass music scene. Years later, they’re strumming their way into house parties and music festivals across the country.

Phoebe Powell, 16, says she was first inspired to learn the fiddle during a PBS broadcast performance of Celtic Woman. As she watched the band’s fiddler dance barefoot across the stage, then-9-year-old Phoebe told her parents she wanted to learn to play the fiddle. Six and a half years later, not only can Phoebe dance while she fiddles, she also sings harmonies beside her sister on stage and last year added plucking the banjo to her repertoire.

Read more

Kansas in the Mud

By Mark Kneeskern

A giant hand is pushing sideways against our truck, rocking her back and forth like a toy boat. We tack south on 385, then bear west on 96 through Chivington and Eads, Heath and Sugar City, gaining hard-fought ground, inch-by-inch.

Recently, I wrote an epic song in homage to the wind and its nebulous ways, attempting to salve some emotional wounds that had been inflicted upon the small desert community of Terlingua during a long, chilly, brutal winter in Far West Texas. Now, as my partner Shannon and I navigate our way toward Salida after visiting my family in Minnesota, the wind is making a genuine attempt to blast us off the road.

Read more

An Oasis in South Park: Buffalo Peaks Ranch Transforming Into Rocky Mountain Land Library

Article and photos by Laura Van Dusen

The Rocky Mountain Land Library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch is one of a kind. Located about nine miles southeast of Fairplay on Colorado Hwy. 9, it will soon be a nature research study center – a library with residential facilities where students, artists, writers, naturalists and scientists can study and stay for a few days, weeks or even months.

The project has been in the works for six years, since negotiations began in 2006 between co-directors Jeff Lee and his wife Ann Martin and ranch owner, the City of Aurora. On Sept. 25, 2013, a 95-year lease was signed, giving Jeff and Ann control of 60 acres at the heart of the ranch. It includes a 1906 home and several barns and outbuildings dating to the 1940s.

Read more

Colorado’s Original Adventure Sport

By Hal Walter

It’s July and the Colorado pack-burro racing season will soon be in full swing, with the sport’s Triple Crown taking place right here in Central Colorado in the towns of Fairplay, Leadville and Buena Vista.

I’m always surprised when people haven’t heard of our indigenous sport, recently designated Colorado’s Summer Heritage Sport by the state legislature. Sometimes when I’m out running with my burro and someone seems confused, or asks what I’m doing, I respond: “Oh, so you’re not from Colorado?” Often they actually are, and then I usually explain.

Read more

Update: Vision of a Salida-to-Leadville Trail Along the Old Stage Road and Midland Railroad

By Alan Robinson

Readers of this magazine may recall the September 2008 article on “The Stage Road from Canon City to Leadville.” There I summarized the history of that 1870s passenger, mail and freight route, and 1880 construction of the long-abandoned Colorado Midland Railroad (CMRR) through Chaffee and Lake Counties. I also asked rhetorically if in today’s environment, where preservation of our area’s cultural heritage is increasingly recognized as important for both social and economic reasons, there might be an opportunity to develop a long-distance public heritage trail along those routes. The initial vision was to connect Buena Vista and southern Lake County with a slow-speed pathway of about 30 miles – some sections for vehicle travel, some for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders – which would celebrate the stories of those two routes, stimulate preservation of their deteriorating physical features, interpret their history to strengthen the public’s appreciation of their value, and in some cases, make sections now inaccessible open to public use.

Read more

News from the San Luis Valley

More Solar for the Valley Xcel Energy has signed a power purchase agreement with SunPower Corp, of San Jose, California for the output of a 50-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant the company plans to build in the San Luis Valley. Permits, financing and interconnection rights are still needed by SunPower in order to begin the project,.They …

Read more

Quillen’s Corner – Changing Times Cause Conflict

I went to Aspen last weekend because Ed’s book, Deeper Into the Heart of the Rockies, which was compiled and edited by our daughter Abby, was a finalist in the Colorado Humanities 23rd annual book awards. We didn’t win, but it was nice to see the stunned joy other writers displayed upon winning. Perhaps more …

Read more

On the Ground – Are We Part of a City-State?

by George Sibley Badmouthing Denver and the Front Range metropolis that it has seeded is a pretty common sport in the nonmetropolitan parts of Colorado. But, we probably ought to all be asking ourselves if this isn’t a little disingenuous, and try to clarify our real water relationship with Denver. The water planning process the …

Read more

About Those Gay Loggers for Jesus and July 4th

By Brian Leland – Writers on the Range A town’s July 4th celebration says a lot about a community, and this holiday in Bozeman, Montana, promises to be relatively laid-back, with locals typically heading for nearby Livingston or Ennis to catch their parades, then back home for stirring music and fireworks at the fairgrounds. Just …

Read more

Beef – It’s What Eats the Rancher’s Lunch

by John Mattingly After my last month’s column that took a somewhat sanguine look at the cow-calf end of the beef business, suggesting that cow-calf ranchers are basically keeping large pets, I trust readers will have sold the 100 virtual cows I gifted them for exactly what they paid for them. Not because they didn’t …

Read more

Reviews – The Hash Knife Around Holbrook

By Jan MacKell Collins Arcadia Publishing ISBN 978-1-4671-3093-6 127 Pages, $21.99 Reviewed by Forrest Whitman The Hash Knife brand and the cowboys who were part of that legend have created a cottage industry around Holbrook, Arizona. Each year a well-funded trail ride, called the Hash Knife Pony Express ride, goes from Holbrook south to the …

Read more

A Love Affair with Model Trains

by Judith Reese, Photos by Mike Rosso “Fabulous! Colorado’s Best Secret Attraction,” declares an entry in the Buena Vista Model Railroad guestbook. It’s in the hand of well-known history professor Tom Noel, and now the secret is out. The delightful diorama, housed on the top floor of the BV Heritage Museum, depicts in miniature the …

Read more

Driving Nature Into the Ground? Motorized Recreation on Public Lands

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 …

Read more

From the Editor

by Mike Rosso Notes It’s late June as I write this, and the summer solstice has already come and gone. It’s hard to believe. Seems I was only just cleaning out ashes from the woodstove. Now we’re rushing headlong into the thick of summer, along with the accompanying festivals, tourists and RVs on the highway. …

Read more