Notes and Commentary for June 1994

Brief by Central Staff

Various – June 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine

Hitting the Big Time

CITY DESKS EVERYWHERE — Central Colorado is attracting some national attention. The Bishop Castle, down by Rye on the edge of the Wet Mountain Valley, was featured on both National Public Radio and on the ABC Day One program.

Mountain Bob Leasure, known well to Westcliffe people, continues to draw coverage in his effort to set a world record for staying underground. He tried it once before at the Molly Kathleen Mine in Cripple Creek, and now he’s in the San Isabel Mine at Buckskin Joe near the Royal Gorge. The current record is 210 days, and if he stays until May 30, he’ll beat it. He plans to stay underground until June 15.

The Denver Post recently devoted a spread to the alligator farm near Moffat. The Post also detailed a day-care program in Leadville. And it had a story about a free weekly newspaper starting sometime soon in Salida.

One reason we started Colorado Central was that the region seemed almost invisible from the outside, and it’s easy for mainstream America to ignore what it can’t see.

Lately central Colorado appears quite visible — have we succeeded already?

From Deep in the Heart

WESTCLIFFE — Jim Little, publisher of the Wet Mountain Tribune, decided to take a break from the mud with a short trip to Texas last April. Upon his return, he wrote about it.

One observation: Until eight years ago, there weren’t any falls in Wichita Falls, so they built a 54-foot waterfall. Jim also noted that “there are some places where word hasn’t got out that the North won the Civil War,” but concluded that “the Lone Star State is a great place to visit.”

Though Jim was generally complimentary, apparently he wasn’t nice enough. One Dana Wood of Wichita Falls wrote back that “We board up our little towns to keep wandering, unemployed Coloradans from getting into them,” and that “most of the employed people in Colorado are directly or indirectly on a Texan’s payroll.”

The zingers continued: “Only God and Texans can create a waterfall…We also have the ability to construct an airport with a baggage system that neither eats the luggage nor loses it.”

So, no Texas jokes. We admire Texans for their sense of place and continuity of local culture — no matter what happens, Texas is always Texas.

Besides, when Colorado and Texas did fight in a real war — the Battle of La Glorieta Pass on March 27, 1862 in New Mexico — the Colorado Volunteers defeated the invading Confederates.

However, the hero of that battle, John Chivington, was later court-martialed for the atrocities he committed at the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. The territorial governor, John Gilpin, financed the militia to repel the Texans by issuing unauthorized federal warrants, and lost his job on that account.

Though many histories claim that the Battle of La Glorieta Pass saved Colorado’s gold from Confederate hands, military historians often argue that the battle was irrelevant. If the Texas army had continued to march north, the Yankess still could have dispatched an army west from St. Louis to keep the gold mines.

But even if it really didn’t matter, Colorado did win the battle.

Highest City Blues

LEADVILLE — Is the Cloud City a live-and-let-live sort of place, as its historic reputation suggests, or a narrow-minded bastion of intolerance or worse?

Doubtless it depends upon whom you ask, and the weekly Herald-Democrat of late has published letters arguing both sides.

One Becky Henning said the place always seemed pretty when they vacationed there from Kansas, and so they moved west.

“One of the neighborhood women screaming names like whore, bitch and slut at my 13-year-old daughter….Not everyone here was hateful, mean, judgmental, narrow-minded, stuck up…I must say our six weeks living here has been an experience I wish never to repeat and hope to forget.”

After that appeared, others sprang to the city’s defense. Kathy Vosberg wrote that “I have been treated with kindness and graciousness by folks of all nationalities and ethnic backgrounds….Leadville is a place where people like you just because you are you, not by what you wear, or how expensive your vehicle is…there are three roads leading out of town. Or, click your heels twice and go back to Kansas!”