Doyleville, Colorado: Jumping-off point into the Gunnison Country

By Duane Vandenbusche

The little ranching community on Tomichi Creek preceded the great mining boom in the Gunnison country. Doyleville, located near the mouth of both Hot Springs and Razor Creeks, began in 1876 when 52-year-old Henry Doyle of northern Michigan, his wife and two youngest sons, crossed Marshall Pass and entered the Tomichi Valley. He settled next to the S.W. Davidson family, who had a dairy farm, as did Doyle.

Taking advantage of the 1862 Homestead Act signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, Doyle acquired 160 acres for $1.25 an acre. He lived in a tent that first summer.

When the Gunnison country mining boom began in 1879, Doyleville became a stop for Barlow and Sanderson stages and for the many freighters en route to Gunnison and nearby silver camps.

Jesse and Frank James came to Doyleville in the 1870s and worked on the Coats ranch, where they hid from the law. Mrs. Coats was a relative of the James boys. Ike Thompson had known Jesse and Frank in Missouri. Jesse drew him aside. “Hello Ike, my name is Brown here. You understand?”

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Dispatch from the Edge

By Peter Anderson

1. One winter afternoon in 1974, I knew how good a hockey goalie’s life could be: skates sufficiently dull to slide around in the crease (but sharp enough for stability and precision), pads snug and riding well on legs, good light and clear vision though the eyeholes of a fiberglass mask, glove hands moving with speed and accuracy, kicks to right and left bouncing out shots along the ice. On a breakaway, the player I dreaded most hit the post after a risky cross-body lunge on my part. Good mojo held up until the third period clock ran down to all its lovely zeros. We came out on top. Just barely.

Before the rematch with our big rivals later that season, someone from their squad sent me an unsigned note (prophetic as it turned out) made up of letters cut and pasted from a newspaper. It said simply: “Anderson … Your ass is grass.” Soon that dreaded skater was back, drifting out toward the red line and receiving long breakaway passes from his defensemen. He beat me a few too many times that day – a gloomy denouement in an average, though occasionally transcendent, goalie career. Never again would I experience the adrenalin-infused task of guarding the net in such a big game, but the lure of a good day on the ice remained.

2. This mountain lake lives in shadow. The sun is a rounder … stays away longer each night, and sleeps it off behind the ridge during the day. The winds come down off the mountain, sweeping skiffs of snow across the ice. A father pulls on his skates, so much easier now with plastic and Velcro than it once was with leather and lace. He tests the freeze, first around the edges – a few feet thick – then out in the middle – clear and so deep, he can’t tell where the ice leaves off and the black water begins. He skates as fast as he can, grateful this sprint is his own – no whistles, no coach. He slides one blade in front of the other, leans into a wide rink turn, and carves two thin white lines that follow him out to the edge of the lake where his daughter, still wobbly in her new pink skates, glides toward him. He takes her hands in his and skates backwards, looking over his shoulder for stones frozen in the ice, then back at his daughter, steady now, who sees only what lies ahead. 

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Park County Mining Controversy Grinds On

By Daniel Smith

Mining was a big part of Fairplay’s past, but a recent mine expansion off Colo. Hwy. 9 has residents divided over its benefits versus concerns over environmental harm and change to the town’s character.

In addition, the fact that Discovery Channel’s “Gold Rush” reality TV series has been filming and aiding miners’ financing exacerbates the divisions.

A group of concerned residents, Save Park County (, alleges that Park County commissioners ignored citizens’ concerns, and questions whether proper procedures were followed in granting an expansion of the current mining operation by High Speed Mining, aided by the television show’s money from sponsors, including Volvo.

The group claims the county ignored the advice of its own planning commission when it approved rezoning an additional 28-acre, heavily wooded area zoned residential and dotted with homes for mining in August.

Save Park County’s co-chair, Fairplay businessman Trevor Messa, says the group filed a so-called 106 action, seeking an injunction to stop the mining and rezoning because of what they feel is an obvious incompatibility issue. The injunction was thrown out, due to procedural errors, Messa says, by a district judge who was formerly the county attorney.

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Quillen’s Corner: How About a Conflict Resolution for the New Year?

By Martha Quillen

‘Tis the season to look back at the past year and make resolutions for the next, but given the amount of violence and political discord in 2017, what sort of resolution is apropos? We could all promise to exercise, eat better, work harder and get more organized, and if we actually accomplish those things, it will be wonderful, not to mention astounding. But given the animosity that’s tearing our country into partisan pieces, is self-improvement enough? Or are we in need of far greater reforms?

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A Farmer Far Afield: Inner Old Man Year-End Wrap Up

By John Mattingly

In the late days of fall and early days of winter, we get long nights, we wrap ourselves, we resolve, and we make lists: the Top Tens of the prior year, acknowledging that at this time of year, the benign indifference of the universe is simply more precise.

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Places: Droney Gulch State Wildlife Area

Photos and article by Mike Rosso

Folks who drive U.S. Highway 285 from Poncha Springs to Buena Vista have passed by the interpretive sign on the west side of the highway titled “Christmas 1806.” It describes Zebulon Pike’s expedition as it passed through the Upper Arkansas Valley and how the hunting party shot eight buffalo and feasted on Christmas Day near the mouth of Squaw Creek, a half mile to the south. The following day the party camped at Big Bend along the Arkansas River.

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Museums of Central Colorado: The Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum

By Nel Burkett

The Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum (CBMHM) is located in the historic Crested Butte Hardware, affectionately known as “Tony’s Conoco,” on Elk Avenue and Fourth Street. The Crested Butte Hardware was the longest running business in Crested Butte, beginning as a blacksmith shop in 1883 and later becoming a garage, hardware store and gas station before closing in 1996. From 1939 until 1996, the building was known as Tony’s Conoco, and was owned and operated by A.J. Tony Mihelich and his family. During this time, the business became an accidental visitor’s center and community gathering place. Locals would hang around the pot-belly stove in the winter and on benches out front during the summer, sharing news and stories about the community. As a gas station and hardware store, Tony’s Conoco was often the first place visitors would stop in town, picking up fishing licenses and filling up the tank, often making Tony the first person in Crested Butte visitors would meet.

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Book Review – Belle Turnbull: On the Life & Work of an American Master

by David J Rothman, Jeffrey R Villines, eds.
ISBN: 978-0-9641454-9-8
Pleiades Press, 2017
$16.00; 201pp.

Reviewed by Eduardo Brummel

David J. Rothman is Director of the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Gunnison’s Western State Colorado University. He is also, as anyone who’s recently spent time with him already knows, a passionate advocate for Breckenridge-based poet, Belle Turnbull (1881-1970), whom he describes as, “one of the strongest poets yet to emerge in Colorado.”

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The Crowded Acre: The Good Sow

By Jennifer Welch

I remember the first day I saw her. She wasn’t a particularly impressive pig. I picked her and a few Durocs out of the litters available and came home with a menagerie of feeder pigs. Our original intention was to eat them all. I had visited several pig breeders and decided, ultimately, that breeding was not for me. Pigs are smelly. And loud. And they eat a lot. And they can gnaw through your femur in minutes flat, flesh included. There were too many reasons to count, as to why we would never become pig farmers, and count them we did. That is, until reason became meaningless and all counts flew out the door … and we decided to breed pigs. Naturally.

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Down on the Ground with Wildness

By George Sibley

Professor John Hausdoerffer is running wild at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison – but not with the conventional 20th-century “born-to-be-wild” wildness.

His is a disciplined, philosophically grounded wildness, most recently manifested in Western’s December announcement that the university (which 25 years ago barely had an Environmental Studies minor) now has a School of Environment and Sustainability, which Dr. Hausdoerffer – Dean of the new school – has worked with other faculty to create from a mix of existing and new Western programs. The new school assembles a place-based but globally-visioned smorgasbord of sustainability transition initiatives and public land initiatives ranging from Mountain Resilience to Environmental Diversity and Justice.

Western has already begun to show up on national surveys of top schools for environmentally oriented programs; under Dr. Hausdoerffer’s leadership the new programs will put Western ahead of many larger and wealthier universities – less fortuitously located and less creatively imagined. Western has finally ceased being embarrassed by the long-obvious fact that most students come here for the mountains and outdoor recreation, and has begun incorporating its advantageous locus into programs in a living laboratory for helping students re-create themselves for the 21st century.

At the heart of Hausdoerffer’s vision lies a concept of wildness, both really new and really old. Despite an obvious talent for negotiation and management in the cultural environment of academic politics, Dr. John (as students call him) is first a philosopher, in his academic preparation as well as by natural inclination, at home with other modern nature philosophers like Gary Snyder, Rod Nash, Vandana Shiva or Winona LaDuke, all of whom he has brought to Western’s autumn Headwaters Conferences.

California philosopher-poet Gary Snyder has long wrestled with the distinct concepts of “wilderness” and “wildness,” and he and Dr. John tag-teamed on it at a Headwaters conference several years ago, planting the concept of working wild

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Colorado’s Three Native Cats

By Ed Quillen

(Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the May 1999 issue of Colorado Central Magazine. Since that time, it has consistently been one of the top accessed posts on our website, We’re not sure what the reason is for that, but we thought we’d share the original article with our print readers.)

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A House, Some Hounds, and Property Rights

By Mike Rosso

By Jan Wondra

The fallout from Chaffee County inserting itself into a neighbor conflict isn’t just a property owner who found herself homeless for Christmas, although that is exactly what happened. At its worst, this may be an example of a government over-reaching its authority. At the least, it is a county Grinch, which first stole Christmas, and continues its attempt to remove most of Alison Brown’s American foxhounds from her 80-acre rural property located at 11600 Antelope Road.

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Long Time Coming

Mike Rust, pictured at the Colorado Cyclery in Salida before he moved to the San Luis Valley. Photo courtesy of the author.

The Mystery of Mike Rust Solved and A Killer Convicted

By Nathan Ward


The San Luis Valley locals knew who killed Mike Rust on the night of March 31, 2009, in Saguache County. They told us the killer’s name just days after we started making a film to celebrate Mike’s role as a pioneer in the sport of mountain biking, and to draw attention to the mystery of his disappearance. The locals knew who killed him, but as former Sheriff Mike Norris said “With no body, there is no crime. We just have to wait for someone to talk.” After eight years, someone finally talked.

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