Across Marshall Pass

By Virginia Simmons The story of this mountain pass really begins a few hundred years before any Europeans entered North America. Until the U.S. Government and pioneers pushed the Ute Tribe onto the reservations on the Western Slope in 1868, the nomadic Ute Indian hunter-gatherers of the Tabeguache Band often used this route as they …

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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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Book Reviews

Topic of Capricorn
By John C. Mattingly
Illustrations by Judith Penrose Mattingly
Published in 2011 by Mirage Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9710430-4-6

Reviewed by Ed Quillen

There’s an old saying that “Goats can live on nothing and a man can live on goats.” Given that observation and the dismal income level of certain portions of Central Colorado, it’s kind of surprising that we don’t see more goats around these parts.

The critters do have remarkable appetites. A couple of years ago, the Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy in Buena Vista entered a float in Salida’s boat-race parade. It was a long flat-bed trailer with a corral full of goats. The corral was decorated with plastic flowers. The goats kept jumping to eat the polyethylene blooms.

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Whence some place names?

Letter from Virginia Simmons

Place Names – January 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine


You mentioned in your review of a new book, San Luis Valley Place Names by Ron Kessler, that you would like to know the source of the name for Mishak Lakes. A ranch family from Oklahoma and their descendants owned land around the lakes west of Moffat in the 1900s. Actually, the “lakes” are playas, comprising Colorado’s largest natural shallow-water wetland system, so “Mishak Playas” might have been a more appropriate name. These playas offer habitat for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl in the spring but normally dry up during the summer. Since The Nature Conservancy acquired the site in the 1990s, it has been designated the Mishak Lakes Preserve.

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Utes and Wildfire

Letter from Virginia Simmons

Wildfire – August 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine


Your July issue included a timely article by Allen Best, with a mix of facts and opinions about the history of wildfire in Colorado. Whereas some of the opinions seemed well supported, I wish to point out one which set off some sparks in my head.

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