Press "Enter" to skip to content

They weren’t exactly welcome …

Sidebar by Ed Quillen

Slaughterhouse commune – May 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

Slaughterhouse Creek wasn’t the only commune in Saguache County 25 years ago, and long-time county rancher Virginia Sutherland says she has no special recollections of Slaughterhouse Creek.

“There were also communes then around the hot springs, and perhaps some others,” she recalls, “and to be honest, they all looked alike to us ranchers. We’d see the kids around — we viewed them with a lot of suspicion and I doubt they felt very welcome here — but we didn’t keep track of which hippies lived in which commune.”

Sutherland ran cattle near Slaughterhouse Creek, and “Dutch and Helen Kempner [both now deceased] ranched right next to it. I remember them talking about it a little, and I was kind of surprised that they didn’t complain much about it. There were people around here who got quite upset by the communes.”

Sutherland doesn’t recall any violence from that culture clash, but the commune residents “were seen as rather evil creatures with their drugs and sex and who knows what else.”

Another reason for the residents’ disdain, Sutherland says, was that the commune residents “seemed so dependent on outside sources for their livings. Some kid with some money from home always seemed to be supporting all the others.”

Twenty-five years later, “a lot of them have moved on, of course, but others are pretty well integrated into the community — one former commune resident lives just below us, and they’re pretty good neighbors.”