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Life’s better where?

Brief by Central Staff

Phone service – January 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

Leadville, more than any other place in Central Colorado, is enduring a geographic transition. For generations, it was solidly in the Arkansas Valley. But now it’s becoming part of the Interstate 70 Sacrifice Zone as the economic and cultural domination of the ski resorts continues to grow.

This is reflected in controversies over telephone service there. Leadville is a local call from Salida and Buena Vista, and 20 years ago, that would have reflected its connections.

But it’s still a long-distance call to Summit and Eagle counties, where most Lake County residents now work. The current regulatory environment requires that, because they’re in different area codes: 719 for Leadville, and 970 for the resorts.

That could change with US West’s planned sale of the Leadville exchange, but at the moment, there’s a separate but related issue.

In the latest US West directory for the Sacrifice Zone, the white pages for Leadville, Summit County, and Vail were all consolidated, and there’s no indication that Leadville is a long-distance call to a different area code.

A call from Summit County without the area code produces a recorded message that the call could not be completed as dialed, and Leadville merchants fear this will cost them business — a tourist in Summit County who just dials the listed number will get the message and assume that the business has closed its doors.

Leadville numbers are also listed in the phone book that serves Salida, Saguache, Coaldale, Buena Vista, and Fairplay, where we’re all 719s. There are a couple of problems with that book, though.

One is that the “U.S. Government” listings for Saguache don’t list any Saguache offices, like the Forest Service or the Post Office (Coaldale, Cotopaxi, Howard, Westcliffe, but no Saguache or Villa Grove).

Another is the map of Salida — it has the police station on Fourth Street in Alpine Park, across the street from the library, when it’s actually a block north, on Third Street.