Living on a Prayer: Shavano, Colorado

SEVEN MILES ABOVE MAYSVILLE lies a ghost town that is barely remembered but is worthy of mention. It was called Shavano, taking its name from the 14,231-foot mountain towering above it. Mount Shavano is home to the much heralded “Angel of Shavano,” the figure of an angel with outspread wings, which is visible with the …

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Gillett, Colorado: Not such a sharp idea

IN TELLER COUNTER, THE ABANDONED town site of Gillett lies just beyond Cripple Creek and Divide, near the intersection of County Roads 67 and 81 (Lazy S Ranch Road). It looks uninteresting, amounting to nothing more than a field with a couple of modern homes near the road. Gillett began as a simple log cabin. …

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Tarryall City & Hamilton: South Park’s First Gold Rush

FOR FOUR YEARS, 1859-62, the hotspot of mining activity in South Park was at Tarryall City and Hamilton, situated a half mile apart on opposite banks of Tarryall Creek, 2 miles north of present-day Como.  In the summer of 1859, a group of miners whose luck had run out at Gregory Diggings (Central City), including …

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Wild West Lore: Guerrilla Raids in South Park 1863-64

Colorado is chock full of legends and lore, from mysterious mining tales to haunted hotels. Some of the most intriguing stories include Wild West characters and buried treasure. Two of southern Colorado’s most famous legends involve the Espinosa brothers’ murderous swath through Park County in 1863 and the Reynolds Gang’s destructive path and alleged hidden …

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Water in the West: Jenkinson as Powell

CLAY JENKINSON, A HISTORIAN, AUTHOR and scholar with a heartfelt interest in the American West, will make a one-of-a-kind appearance at the Salida Steamplant Event Center June 25 as the incomparable John Wesley Powell. Well known for his various books and documentaries, Jenkinson is also a one-person interpreter of various historical figures. He shared that …

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Q&A with Dr. Duane Vandenbusche

Duane Vandenbusche is a Professor of History at Western Colorado University in Gunnison since 1962 and has just been named Colorado’s State Historian, the first to be based outside of the Front Range in its 96-year history. He is the author of 11 books including: “The Gunnison Country,” “Around Monarch Pass,” “Lake City” (with Grant …

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Cottonwood Pass: Yesterday and Today

By Duane Vandenbusche Dave Wood was tired. In 1877, the great freighter of Western Colorado and his 50-man crew had built the first rough road into Taylor Park and Gunnison County, one year after Colorado became a state. Trails existed from the Arkansas River on the Eastern Slope to Taylor Park on the Western Slope, but this was the first …

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Michael Haynes: At the Junction of History and Art

A 4×7-foot painting depicting the bustling St. Louis docks in 1850. Courtesy of Michael Haynes.

By Ann Marie Swan

Salida painter Michael Haynes’ vision of American history is seen by millions, and he’s determined to get it right. Every eagle feather, every pewter button, every coat worn in battle by a particular regiment on a particular day is grounded in fact. Haynes builds objects and illustrated actions into scenes, moments in time and culture, where every character has a backstory. But it may not look like the history you learned in school.

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Q&A with author, Virginia Simmons

CCM: Did you attend college? If so, where? VS: After attending school in New England, where regional history is pretty hard to escape, I headed west to Oberlin College, where I majored in history and discovered the fun of examining the often misleading minutiae that reveal what really happened. When I moved to Colorado in …

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Museums of Central Colorado: The San Luis Valley Museum

The Pioneer Schoolroom at the San Luis Valley Museum.

By Joyce Gunn

The San Luis Valley Museum is located in Alamosa, across the street from the fire department, at 401 Hunt Avenue. On the north side of the building is a mural depicting 96 or so images of various sites in the Valley as well as many of the people who had an impact on the Valley’s history. Stop by and we’ll be happy to give you an informational guide to the mural.

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Barnes City – A Scam on Hayden Creek

Barnes City, circa 1904, at the northern end of Hayden Creek Pass. Photo courtesy of the Coaldale Community Schoolhouse.
Barnes City, circa 1904, at the northern end of Hayden Creek Pass. Photo courtesy of the Coaldale Community Schoolhouse.

By Mike Rosso, with help from Barb Snyder and the late Bill Parks.

The small mining town of Barnes City, formerly located off Hayden Creek Road near Coaldale, was reportedly named for an Englishman named Noah E. Barnes who came to the U.S. to strike it rich. He brought with him his wife and three grown children, one of whom, S.F.E. Barnes, was married at the property in 1904 and served as treasurer for his father’s corporation.

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A Brief History of Forest Fires in Central Colorado

A U.S.F.S. ranger inspects the Rainbow Trail after the Duckett Fire near Hillside in June 2011. Courtesy of www.inciweb.nwcg.gov
A U.S.F.S. ranger inspects the Rainbow Trail after the Duckett Fire near Hillside in June 2011. Courtesy of www.inciweb.nwcg.gov

By Ron Sering

The journal Science reports that fossil records in northern New Mexico show evidence of wildfires as far back as 200 million years. It’s part of the deal with living in the mountains, and an important part of its history.

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The Vandaveer Ranch: A Brief History

A partial view of the Vandaveer Ranch, looking north. The old Waters cabin is in the foreground. Photo by Mike Rosso.
A partial view of the Vandaveer Ranch, looking north. The old Waters cabin is in the foreground. Photo by Mike Rosso.

By Mike Rosso

Some old-time Salidans still refer to it as the Clifton Ranch. It was Clarence Clifton who sold the vast ranch on the eastern end of Salida to Harold Vandaveer in 1957.

Chaffee County records indicate that Clifton had purchased some or all of the ranch from Theodore and May Driggers in 1948, but records before that grow cold. It was in 1947 that the new “interstate” highway, U.S. Hwy. 50, split the ranch in half in an effort to create a direct route from Maryland to California.

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Nothing Else Like It: Leadville Ski Joring

By Kathy Bedell

If truth be told, it all started at the old Ossman Ranch. That’s where Leadville Ski Joring officially got its humble beginnings in Lake County. For it was on that family ranch, just north of Leadville on Hwy. 91, where “Mugs” Ossman’s love of quarter horses met up with Tom Schroeder’s love of skiing really fast, and thus the sport of ski joring took hold in the highest city in North America.
It was 67 years ago, back in 1949, when the two good Leadville friends ventured over to Steamboat Springs’ Winter Carnival and witnessed for the first time the sport of ski joring: a horse-and-rider pulling a skier. It was like nothing they’d ever seen; the two couldn’t wait to bring the idea back to Leadville to be part of its annual winter celebration.

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Mine Spills Not That Rare

By Christopher Kolomitz

When the Gold King Mine blew out in southwestern Colorado above Silverton in early August, it sent millions of gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas River, turning the popular river orange and prompting closure of the waterway. 

The blowout reminded Central Colorado residents of two eerily similar incidents that fouled the Arkansas River in 1983 and 1985. The toxic discharges on the local river occurred in a period of time when the Environmental Protection Agency was beginning Superfund clean-up of old mines around Leadville. The culprit of both discharges was the Yak Tunnel, which was one of three constructed to drain mines in the district.

Leading up to Superfund designation, the years of inaction were becoming a public health emergency. Drainage ditches in Leadville neighborhoods were turned orange or red because of the heavy metals coming from the historical mines. Annual discharge from the Yak Tunnel was pumping 210 tons of heavy metals into California Gulch, which was then reaching the river, according to the EPA. 

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Flags Abound

By Mike Rosso

Several months back I decided to make a slight change in the design of the Colorado Central website, coloradocentralmagazine.com. On the top banner, I incorporated the theme of the Colorado flag to reflect our connection to, and pride in, this great state.

Since then, I’ve begun to see the flag – in various incarnations – just about everywhere; on hats, T-shirts, bumper stickers, product labeling and more. I don’t think this is just coincidence. There seems to be a lot of overall pride in this state lately. Folks are glad to live here and are not shy about advertising that fact. Having lived in Colorado for  nearly 35 years, I’ve never seen this level of interest in the simple yet elegant design that is our state flag.

Designed by Andrew Carlisle Johnson, the official Colorado state flag was adopted on June 5, 1911. 

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Walking in Ben’s Footsteps – Leadville’s Guggenheim Home

By Carolyn Coleman White

For nearly 30 years, the decaying building at 134 West 6th Street in Leadville, Colorado was a party place, its windows kicked out and graffiti sprayed on the walls. Neighborhood teens used to gather there, leaving beer cans, cigarette butts and other paraphernalia scattered on the once-glossy hardwood floors. During the 1950s and 60s, before it was abandoned, it was a boarding facility, with six apartments (outlines of the numbers can still be seen on certain doors) and two shared bathrooms, one upstairs and another down. “I made a baby in the bedroom right there,” claimed a frail, stooped great-grandmother named Lydia, who now lives across the street, as she pointed toward an upper left window. “My husband had a job at the Climax mine after we moved here from New Mexico. We liked the house, but when the baby came our rented space was just too small.”

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Hot Springs City, Colorado

By Christopher Kolomitz

Easing the car off the highway and into the dirt parking lot at Joyful Journey Hot Springs, visitors gaze east out across the landscape which is nearly free of obstruction.

Few trees, even fewer buildings and a steadily blowing breeze greet them as they hustle into the warmth of the now modern and popular hot springs facility just south of Villa Grove in Saguache County.

It’s hard to imagine that more than 100 years ago, a city once formed here with great hopes of becoming a tourist destination and prosperous site. However, the brutal climate, the Great Depression, a floundering agriculture economy with poor soil, and life’s hardships ended that hope.

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Book Review

Benediction By Kent Haruf

Alfred A Knopf, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-95988-1
$25.95, 258pp.

Reviewed by Eduardo Rey Brummel

With the 1984 publication of his first novel, The Ties That Bind, Kent Haruf introduced Holt, Colorado to the rest of the world. Haruf’s fifth novel, Benediction, arrived this past February – its initial paragraphs placing the main character into the trouble that will be the story:

Go on ahead, Dad Lewis said, say it.

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History

By John Mattingly
In 1965, on the last day of my matriculation year of high school in Australia, our history teacher, a bravely bearded Mr. Chambers, suggested to our class that one of the more interesting – perhaps even more important – things we could do in the next couple of decades was try to figure out our place in the “wide river of history.”

The suggestion didn’t strike me, or most of my mates, as something we had to worry about just then, as most of us were more concerned about the “wide river” of matriculation exams we had to take in a few days. In those days, Australia had only three universities, which meant only a small percentage of high school students qualified for higher learning. There was tremendous pressure to do well on the exam – the dreaded “matric” – a three day, eighteen hour, strictly proctored exam that covered the entire year’s study of English, Calculus, Pure Maths, Chemistry, and History.

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Central Colorado Gems: Chaffee County’s Heritage Area and Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway

by Alan Robinson- Chaffee County Heritage Area Advisory Board member

Concern for preserving “heritage resources” (the collective natural, cultural, historic and scenic features which define an area’s sense of place) in Chaffee County took a front seat in 2004 when its county commissioners ambitiously declared the whole county a heritage area. They also appointed an 11-member Advisory Board representing public land managers, historical societies, towns, ranchers, local nature associations and the general public, and charged us not only with identifying heritage, but with educating our fellow citizens about its value in social, ecological and economic terms, and with planning how heritage can be managed to preserve and perpetuate those values. Board members volunteer their services but, recognizing future administrative and technical services, the commissioners also appointed non-profit Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA, www.garna.org) and its director as the board’s executive arm.

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The Leadville Ice Palace – A Look Back

by Colorado Central Staff

The year was 1895 and the city of Leadville had fallen on hard times. Since 1881, production had declined at its largest and most profitable mines. The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893, first enacted to increase the amount of silver the government was required to purchase every month, had a crippling effect on the local economy. By 1895 the population had dwindled to 14,477 residents from nearly 40,000 only two years previous.

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The Story of Soft Salida Brick

by Jackie W. Powell
Photos courtesy of The Salida Library

People say “Soft Salida brick” as if it were one word. Many believe it was sun-dried, like adobe, and therefore not as hard as fired brick. The myth of sun drying is reinforced by photographs such as Figure 1 , showing thousands of bricks lying in the sun. But this was only one of the five steps needed to transform clay into fired bricks: mining, tempering, molding, drying, and firing.

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Table Walking at Nighthawk

By Carol Darnell Guerrero-Murphy
Published in 2007 by Ghost Road Press
ISBN 0-9796255-1-3

Reviewed by Elliot Jackson

Why, oh why, wonders the Inconstant Reader, do I routinely pass by poetry in my restless forays through my library’s shelves? Is it because I had a rigorous education in my youth, and read so much of it that I just OD’d? Or do I just forget about it? Maybe it’s simple intimidation: a good poem is such a richly-stuffed little nugget that getting through a whole book of poetry feels like downing a plate of baklava all by myself (maybe that’s why, when I do get around to reading poetry, that I love to read it aloud, or hear it read: just like that plate of baklava, a poem seems created to be shared – munched by multiple ears).

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From Redstone to Ludlow: John Cleveland Osgood’s Struggle against the United Mine Workers of America

By F. Darrell Munsell
Published in 2008 by University Press of Colorado
ISBN: 978-0-87081-934-6

Reviewed by Virginia McConnell Simmons

With its inclusion of Ludlow, the scene of southern Colorado’s most deadly labor fight, From Redstone to Ludlow will hardly be mistaken for a tourist’s guide to Pitkin County’s tiny village of Redstone on the Crystal River. Rather, as the subtitle indicates, the text is a hefty study in Colorado labor history, specifically relating to coal mining. But who is the subtitle’s John Cleveland Osgood, a name that seldom appears in Colorado histories, except in advertisements that might lure travelers to Redstone? As author F. Darrell Munsell shows, he was the stubborn, aggressive leader of mining men in Colorado’s coal and coking industries at the turn of the last century.

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Espinosas Scapegoating Goes Awry

The Strange Case of Capt. E. Wayne Eaton

Part Two

By Charles F. Price

Maj. Archibald H. Gillespie and Capt. Ethan Wayne Eaton seem to have openly clashed first in early February 1863, days before Carleton’s order for the re-arrest of the Espinosas arrived. The issue was relatively trivial—Gillespie felt the escort for his census of the Fort Garland area should be mounted, but Eaton contended the major’s orders from Carleton didn’t specify a mounted escort and assigned him dismounted men instead. The dispute may have been a minor one but it inspired in Gillespie a strong dislike for Eaton.

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Espinoas Scapegoating Goes Awry

The Strange Case of Capt. E. Wayne Eaton

Part One

By Charles F. Price

The first and surest consequence of any calamity is the laying of blame. Whatever the disaster, natural or human, someone must pay for letting it happen. The worse the event, the more urgent the need to find and punish a party who can plausibly be held responsible. And if an actual culprit can’t be exposed, and if those in power fear they may be seen as accountable, a scapegoat will always do.

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Executive Order 9066: Misdirected Exercise of War Powers

By Kenneth Jessen

They had committed no crime, yet 110,000 of them were forced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to leave their West Coast homes and move to concentration camps scattered throughout the West, including Colorado. There they would remain, held behind barbed wire, treated like criminals, and guarded by military police. They were singled out because of their physical characteristics, as well as their ancestry with America’s new enemy, the Japanese. One of the smallest of these camps was located in southeastern Colorado, officially called the Granada Relocation Center and locally known as Camp Amache.

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Another possible site for the death of Vivian Espinosa

Letter from Nelson Walker

History – January 2009 – Colorado Central Magazine

Editors:

I enjoyed the articles by Charles Price in the October and November issues of Colorado Central Magazine about the Espinosa brothers. Recently, I wrote Mr. Price to provide him with additional information about the location of the site near Cañon City where Vivian Espinosa was killed. Mr. Price identified the site as being at Grape Spring, which he based on information contained in the biography, Tom Tobin, Frontiersman, written by James Perkins. In my correspondence with Mr. Price I explained that I disagreed with Mr. Perkins assertion that Vivian was killed at Grape Spring, and I presented information that indicated that Espinosa was not killed at Grape Spring, but rather at a place a considerable distance from there, and possibly at a location known as Nash Spring.

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Crested Butte looks to save sheds and outhouses

Brief by Allen Best

History – January 2009 – Colorado Central Magazine

Part of the charm of Crested Butte is its gaily painted Victorian storefronts. But that’s the show-business part. To get a better sense of Crested Butte’s grimy past you need to walk the alleyways and visit the empty lots, where a great many coal bins, privies, and sheds, many of them graying and rotting, can be seen.

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The Rampage of the Espinosas, second of two parts

Article by Charles F. Price

History – November 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

ON APRIL 29, 1863, the bodies of five of the six men murdered by the Espinosas in South Park were buried in a little cemetery atop a windblown hill behind the town of Fairplay — where they still rest today. A few days later on May 3, a group of vigilantes, under the command of miner John McCannon, gathered there to pay respects to the slain before setting out to avenge them.

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Sources for the Espinosa articles

Sidebar by Charles F. Price

History – November 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

Books:

Dyer, J.L., The Snow-Shoe Itinerant, Cranston & Stowe, 1890 (Reprint).

Malkoski, Paul A., ed., This Soldier Life: The Diaries of Romine H. Ostrander, 1863 and 1865, Colorado Territory, Colorado Historical Society, 2006

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Creede line chronology

Sidebar by Central Staff

History – November 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

CREEDE LINE CHRONOLOGY

1878: Narrow-gauge Denver & Rio Grande reaches Alamosa.

1881: Alamosa to South Fork, narrow-gauge.

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Creede’s abandonment

Column by John Mattingly

History – November 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

In mid-September, the west side of downtown Creede was a jumble of railroad ties sticking up from gravel and dirt like randomly dropped pickup-sticks, the rail irons stacked off to the side.

It was a curious sight. At a time when rail transport offers significant economy for moving both people and cargo, why would anyone be tearing out a spur that led into the heart of downtown Creede?

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Remembering 3 pioneers of the ski industry

Article by Allen Best

History – November 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

THREE INDIVIDUALS, each in a different way seminal to the Colorado ski industry, have died this year. “They were a different breed,” some have said, which may be true. But the landscape was also different when D.R.C. Brown, Earl Eaton, and Merrill Hastings came of age after World War II, sowing their seeds and wild ambitions, helping make Colorado the center of North American skiing and the new amenity-based economy that now has such a grip on large portions of the West.

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If you go to the Bean Museum

Sidebar by Lynda La Rocca

History – October 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

The Luther Bean Museum at Adams State College is open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday – Friday (closed when the college is closed); donations accepted. Luther Bean Museum, Richardson Hall, 2nd Floor, Adams State College, 208 Edgemont Blvd., Alamosa, CO 81102; 719-587-7151; www.adams.edu/lutherbean.

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Alamosa’s Luther Bean Museum at Adams State College

Article by Lynda La Rocca

History – October 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

SMALL MUSEUMS in small communities are a must-see because they often house the wildest, weirdest, most eclectic displays.

Some focus on the history — natural and manmade — of the area where they are located. Others reflect an individual’s obsession with amassing thousands of examples of one type of collectible, be it mineral specimens or mounted butterflies.

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