In the December issue of
Colorado Central Magazine

Randy and Claricy Rusk, pictured at their Hereford Ranch, were among the first families in the Wet Mountain Valley to put their land in easements, and have won wide recognition and numerous awards. See the article about the San Isabel Land Trust in our print edition. Photo by Hal Walter.

Places: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

By Daniel Smith

Nestled in the historically important San Luis Valley, the town of Conejos is the home of one of the early settlements in Colorado, dating back to the 1850s, and a religious treasure with a history appropriate to look back on at this Christmas season.

Folk legend tells of a stubborn burro which caused the first Catholic parish to be established along the Conejos River – yes, a burro.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is a picturesque edifice in Conejos, beloved by the community and well taken care of over the decades.

It was fairly recently the scene of a fire, and a sign left after the fire some of the faithful considered a miracle – more on that later.

First, some history, as outlined in local accounts and in booklets provided by the church.

The old legend says that as Spanish pioneers were making their way through the territory in the valley, they had trouble, not surprisingly, with one of the mules in their pack-train, who stopped, then was unwilling to move.

According to the story in one booklet, “persuasion, threats, beatings, all were of no avail to make the mule proceed.”

In the mule’s pack (perhaps they were taking the pack off) was found a small statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, it was reported.

The Spaniards, the booklet’s account claims, declared that this must be a sign that the Blessed Virgin must want a church built in her honor, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe – on that spot. The legend says when the Spanish vowed to build a church in that exact location – the mule, “balked no more and went jogging along with the rest of the mule train.” Read more


Dispatch From the Edge

As you head into the good cheer of the holidays, you run into an old friend on the corner downtown between the bank and the post office who happens to be hauling a hydraulic wood splitter. And you have several piñons, decimated by an influx of beetles, which have been downed and bucked up into some gnarly rounds that would take most of a winter to split by hand. And she says, sure, I can drop the splitter by and leave it for a while. And then you spend a weekend with a few buddies and that wondrous piece of machinery and end up with enough wood to feed the stove for the next two winters. And later, you remember you have some aged rounds of juniper that haven’t been split and you share them with your daughter who thinks it’s great fun to wield the maul, which opens up the burgundy innards of this tender wood so readily.  Read more


The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum

By Stephen L. Whittington

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum (NMHFM) was founded in Leadville in 1987 and occupies the former high school building, built in 1899. In 1988, the U.S. Congress granted the NMHFM a Federal charter, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan. The NMHFM is an independent non-profit organization and does not receive financial support from the Federal government. Its mission is to “tell the story of mining, its people and its importance to the American public.” The NMHFM is dedicated to presenting an accurate picture of the mining industry, its critical impact on everyday life and its place in the Nation’s future.

Each year, a class of four or five individuals who have had a significant impact on American mining and mineral extraction is inducted into the Hall of Fame. The annual Induction Banquet rotates among various cities across the country. Currently, 240 inductees have their photos and biographies displayed in the Hall of Fame and on the NMHFM’s website. Read more