Showing posts with label San Luis Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Luis Valley. Show all posts

October 09, 2009

The Siloam Stage Road and an Unbuilt Railroad

What we call "the old road" runs from our house to the national forest boundary. As far as I can tell, it is a piece of the 1870s Siloam Stage Road, which connected Pueblo with the Wet Mountain Valley before a new wagon road was built, more or less where Colorado 96 now goes.

(That is to say, Colorado 96 before the construction of Pueblo Dam, early 1970s, and the Jackson Hill realignment, late 1980s.)

This photo was taken this morning before the sun burned through to start melting yesterday's little snow.

But apparently, in some alternative steampunk universe, I can catch the train coming up from Pueblo and travel to the San Luis Valley, before transferring to a light-rail car to zip from Alamosa to Saguache, for instance.

One hundred years ago, the Wet Mountain Tribune reported,

Incorporation papers have been filed with the secretary of state for an $8,000,000 company which is to build a railroad from Pueblo across the Sangre de Christo mountains and down into Costilla County where an interurban electric system will be established connecting all the towns in the San Luis Valley. According to the plans, a line will be run from Pueblo southwest into the Wet Mountain Valley. Thence it will run southwest into Huerfano County until it reaches the Sangre de Christo range. It will cross the range into Saguache or Costilla counties at a point not yet decided and then proceed to Alamosa, Monte Vista or Del Norte. The electric railway system spreading up and down the San Luis Valley will run spur tracks into the mining regions, the timber areas, the agricultural districts and the quarries.

Yeah, what happened to that?

April 11, 2009

Another Wildlife-related Festival: Plover in Karval

Maybe "festival" is too strong a word. But you have to start somewhere.

The town of Karval will host its Third Annual Mountain Plover Festival, April 24-26. This year's event adds new bird watching sites, a photography contest, and an extra day of activities including a Friday night stargazing trip. Karval is a farming hamlet, population "about 35," in southern Lincoln County. Registration deadline is April 15.

Despite their name, mountain plovers do not breed in the mountains, instead, they prefer shortgrass prairies. The eastern plains of Colorado are the primary breeding grounds for the mountain plover and more than half of the world's population nests in the state. Mountain plovers, are a considered a species of "special concern" in Colorado because of declining numbers.

"The Mountain Plover Festival is a great way for people to experience the small town atmosphere of a rural community while watching birds and learning about the culture and history of Colorado's eastern plains," said John Koshak, a watchable wildlife coordinator with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

I once thought that some kind of corner in becoming rooted in place would be turned when we started having festivals more rooted in natural cycles.

And I don't care if someone at the Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea (see, for instance, Pueblo's Chile & Frijoles Festival) -- the message is bigger than that.

First came the Monte Vista Crane Festival, followed by Lamar's Goose Festival.

It's a trend, and a good one.

Mountain plover photo courtesy of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

January 07, 2009

As Medano Creek Flows, So Do Tourists

An article on 2008 visitation to Great Sand Dunes National Park contained this observation:

In keeping with the average number of visits, [park chief of interpretation and visitor services Carol] Sperling said an average flow year at Medano Creek, which streams past the southern face of the dunes and the visitor center, had an average year. "If the creek does not flow, that's when visitation really tanks," she said.

Incidentally, "Médano" is accented on the first syllable. It comes via Spanish from an Arabic word for ... sand dune.

June 12, 2007

Blog Stew

The ultimate zoom shot: Fall from the galaxy into an oak tree and from there to the subatomic realm. (Via Dr. Hypercube.)

¶ Earlier I mentioned an unpleasant experience at Black Canyon NP. Supt. Connie Rudd sent me a letter. Translated from bureaucratese into the vernacular, it says, "The race has always been done that way. We're not changing it, so you can take a running jump from the South Rim, buddy. We strive to provide a quality visitor experience for everyone who visits our National Parks."

5,000 acres of solar panels? Colorado's San Luis Valley will be visible from space. (Via SLV Dweller.)

¶ Ted Williams blogs the resignation of J. Dart, chief executive of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Colorado writer Dave Petersen shares thoughts in the comments. Tell us how you really feel, Dave. (More Dart and RMEF background info here.)

¶ I showed the documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill to the nature-writing class at the beginning of spring semester. Some students blogged about it, here and here.

But the story continues: Rebecca O'Connor asks for some less-emotional decision-making. Hah! This is San Francisco we are talking about. Seizing the moral high ground is the most important thing.

February 15, 2007

Back to the Stone Age! (Beginners welcome)

The Cottonwood Institute in Crestone, Colorado, offers a "Back to the Stone Age" week-long camp for high-school students.

We will experience first hand how we used to live, thrive, and survive in the natural world by learning and practicing stone age survival skills. We will focus on shelter, fire, cordage, and stone tools. We will discuss the environmental impact of these skills, look at the waste we produce, and contrast that to the way we live today.

The philosopher Paul Shepard, writing in his book The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game, suggested that all teenagers should have at least a one-time experience of hunting large game with primitive weapons. He regarded the experience as part of human maturation and development--much of his critique of our culture revolved around Americans being stuck in adolescence.

So is this "Stone Age" camp at least a start?

Quite a few nature writers and others say that Paul Shepard changed their lives.

Fur hat tip to SLV Dweller.

January 01, 2006

Over in the Valley

New West writer Ted Alvarez gushes over the San Luis Valley, an exotic locale to northern Coloradans like him, apparently. His three-part article hits the standard notes: alligators, UFOs, Penitentes ("shadowy religious cult") and the slightly over-rated Emma's Hacienda restaurant in the town of San Luis.

Not to knock Emma's, but I think this is a case of a restaurant's fame being proportional to the drive to get there. You could keep going across the state line and eat the same food, more rightly described as "New Mexican" than "Mexican," at Orlando's in El Prado or Roberto's in Taos.

Alvarez' piece, "Paradise without a PR Agent," is a three-parter: One, Two, Three.

To some extent, he's following in the footsteps of CSU-Pueblo students who wrote their own articles in the university's Southern Colorado web zine.

Try Randi Gonzales on the alien landing site tourist trap, Lydia Hunter on the Monte Vista Crane Festival, or Marc Boone on San Luis' tried-and-true approach to economic growth: creating a recession-proof religious pilgrimage site.

March 01, 2005

The cranes are coming

National Geographic provides a live Web camera for watching the cranes' spring migration on the Platte River in Nebraska. Dawn and dusk (Central Time) are the best times to check it.

On the San Luis Valley flyway here in Colorado, the town of Monte Vista is preparing for annual Crane Festival. You can also read about last year's crane festival in this article by a first-time visitor.