This Sense of Place

By Hal Walter

Bumper stickers claim that no matter where you go, there you are. And mystics will tell you that you are exactly where you need to be. For me, the better part of 30 years has been spent in Custer County, with 23 of those years here in the Bear Basin Ranch area near Westcliffe. For 20 of those years now I’ve been writing for Colorado Central Magazine.

As I recall, Ed Quillen contacted me, having heard I was some sort of local hell-raiser, wanting some writing for his upstart magazine. I set about trying to prove him right, portraying the local development industry as a scam in my first essay. Looking back on it after 20 years, much of what I projected has proven to be correct and continues to this day. What started with a rail hub in the 1800s, then continued with a questionable ski resort and a faddish housing boom in the 1990s, has resulted in what a friend in the real estate profession recently told me is a 15-year supply of homes. That means it would take 15 years at current rates of sale to sell all the houses now on the market. And people are still building houses. Other than that, little else about the local economy has changed, including the prospects for employment and income. The price of real estate was so low when we bought this property that we could not even begin to think about living here at current prices, though we have paid the price in other ways, like gasoline, time and social isolation.

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