One of the first things old West boom towns looked to establish was law and order.
After enduring (or enjoying, depending on your perspective) early days of “anything goes” debauchery, criminal activity and survival of the fittest, citizens of mining communities such as Leadville, Buena Vista and Salida pitched in to hire protection.
Unlike today, early lawmen were rarely professionals. Typically, those taking the job of marshal, sheriff or police officer only wanted a steady paycheck. It was common for a man to be a bartender or a ranch hand one week, and a deputy the next.
Peacekeeper’s hours were sporadic, the pay was meager, the conditions exceptionally hazardous, and the likelihood of long-term employment fell into the categories of “slim” and “none.” Most law enforcement officers quit the job after a few months (or weeks or days) or were killed in the line of duty.
Colorado gained admittance to the Union in 1876. One of the earliest “official” deaths of a lawman came on July 17, 1880, in Leadville. It was a doozy – two officers murdered by the same man. Read more
The late Ed Quillen once remarked that “every time Salida seems like it’s poised for growth, something happens to set it back.” Even into the early 2000s, Chaffee County had remained relatively undiscovered amidst the massive growth along the Front Range. But with a two-year growth rate of 5.6 percent, change is in the air. “Why are people coming here?” asked Cindy Williams, Board Chair of the Central Colorado Conservancy. “Just look out the window. We’re home to twelve of the state’s fourteeners, and the Arkansas River comprises sixty percent of the state’s Gold Medal waters.”
“Nobody wants growth to stop,” Williams said. “But how do we be smarter about it? How to embrace growth without losing what makes the area desirable to begin with?” Enter Envision Chaffee County. Williams co-chairs Envision Chaffee County along with County Commissioner Greg Felt, seeking ways to meet Chaffee’s phenomenal growth and keep it the same laid-back place it is now. “Chaffee County is still a place where people say hi to each other on the street, enjoy open space. And it’s still affordable, compared to a lot of places in the state.” Read more
Browns Canyon National Monument is a unique and rugged area which is also Colorado’s newest monument.
Its journey to become a monument began when it was determined by Congress that certain Bureau of Land Managment (BLM) lands had wilderness characteristics. After studying and performing inventories, the BLM concluded in 1980 that 6,614 acres in the Browns Canyon area did qualify for protection as a Wilderness Study Area (WSA). After the WSA was established, numerous efforts were made to protect approximately 22,000 acres as a designated wilderness area, due to the wild and undisturbed nature of the surrounding land. However, numerous efforts to get wilderness protection were unsuccessful in passing through Congress. It wasn’t until Senator Mark Udall introduced a bill to create Browns Canyon National Monument and President Barack Obama signed a proclamation via the Antiquities Act in February of 2015 that we now have Browns Canyon National Monument.
What makes this land so special that people over the years have fought for its protection? Most people experience the monument by rafting through its western border on the Arkansas River. Although this offers an initial introduction to its ruggedness and beauty, it requires heading into the interior to get a much broader scope of what is there. One of the first things you will notice is the solitude that is prevalent. It is removed from the hustle and bustle of the highway running the length of the valley, as well as the very popular river activities. It hasn’t changed much over the years, and is one of few places you can get a glimpse into how wild and remote the entire Upper Arkansas Valley used to be over a century ago. There are incredible rock formations and hoodoos, narrow canyons, beautiful plants and trees, and abundant wildlife. A bonus are the stunning views of the Sawatch Mountain Range towering over the valley. Read more