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Multiple Centers

Brief by Central Staff

Mountain West – April 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine

One reason we picked Colorado Central as a name is that we’re reasonably close to the center of Colorado. Salida’s not on top of it, though — Guffey is probably the closest post office to the center of the state, which is a few miles south of the summit of Wilkerson Pass. You get the idea that the prospectors of 1859 — the “Pike’s Peak or Bust” people — designed their new territory by drawing a big rectangle with Pike’s Peak at its center, more or less.

Our view of what’s central in Colorado is not the only one. The Colorado Central Railroad of yore, long since absorbed into the Burlington system, had a standard-gauge branch that extended from Denver north to Boulder, Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins and Cheyenne.

Its narrow-gauge segment went up Clear Creek from Golden to the fork. One branch used the Georgetown Loop to reach Silver Plume with the idea, never realized, of tunneling through the Divide to reach Summit County and then Leadville. The other took the south fork to reach Central City — a Central that might account for the railroad’s name.

According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the state’s “Central Region” is right around metro Denver, and the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District has its office in Greeley, only 45 miles from the Wyoming line. And of course, there’s the town of Center, in the San Luis Valley.

But if you think Colorado suffers from too many centers, consider the West. There’s the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, the Center for the New West in Denver, the Center for the American West at the University of New Mexico, and the American West Center at the University of Utah.

We just learned about another, the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana in Missoula. This last Center recently started a “free regional online news service” with commentary and news analysis, all aimed toward “an increase in regional awareness, identity, and self-determination, a long-term improvement in the region’s policy dialogue, and less stalemate and polarization among public decision-makers.”

Since we’re also in the business of increasing regional awareness and the like, we figure those are worthy goals, and the Center seemed to be working toward them, based on our quick examination of the web site (quick because we may just be too old to feel comfortable reading computer screens for any length of time).

The main difference we noticed between this regional effort and High County News is that HCN is more focused on environmental issues, while the Center looks at many other public issues, like education.

The new online publication, however, is called HeadwatersNews, and it’s at It should not be, but doubtless will be, confused with the Headwaters Project at Western State College in Gunnison, which involves the annual Headwaters Conference (tentatively set for Nov. 8-10 this year) and the occasional edition of the Headwaters Trib, edited by our columnist George Sibley, along with a web presence at

So, we’ve got lots of Centers, and now more Headwaters. Little wonder that the West often appears to be a divided and fractious place.