Friday, Sept 16, 2003  content presented by Telluride Today .com About The Watch

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Colorado PUC to Meet Thursday to Take Public Comment on Powerline Upgrade


By Seth Cagin


The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing in Telluride on Thursday to take public comment about a proposed powerline upgrade. But the hearing could prove to be anticlimactic to anyone expecting fireworks, because a number of the local citizens most strongly opposed to the upgrade of the line stretching between Nucla and Telluride will not be allowed to speak, nor will the PUC render any decisions. The PUC commissioners are unlikely even to hint at whether they will uphold a decision by the San Miguel County Commissioners to permit the powerline upgrade only if significant portions of it are constructed underground. 

It is that requirement by the county commissioners that the powerline be put underground where it traverses scenic Sunshine, Wilson and Specie mesas that has been appealed to the PUC by the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Assn. Arguing that the undergrounding requirement is cost-prohibitive and would set an unsustainable precedent for the construction of essential transmission lines, Tri-State’s appeal is the first under a statute enacted by the Colorado General Assembly in 2001. That law sets the rules for an appeal by a public utility of a local government’s land use decision.

The rules stipulate that the PUC must take public comment at a hearing in the affected jurisdiction. It is that hearing that is set for Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Sheridan Opera House.  Parties to the case will not be permitted to speak at Thursday’s hearing, however, because their testimony will be taken instead as part of an evidentiary hearing at the PUC offices in Denver starting on Oct. 20 and scheduled to last as long as four days.  Because the Coalition of Concerned San Miguel County Homeowners is a formal intervener in the case, members of the coalition will not be permitted to testify on Thursday.

“The way they are handling this is grossly unfair,” said Amy Conger, one of those coalition members. “They expect us to spend five days in Denver to present our testimony. Who can afford that?”

Conger said that she nonetheless hopes that “people who care about the economics of the region and the scenery and the future of Telluride come to the hearing, and indicate, hopefully, to the PUC, their support of county rule.”

The homeowners who have formally intervened in the case are not the only interested parties who may be seen but not heard on Thursday.  Neither representatives of the San Miguel County Commissioners, whose decision is being appealed; nor representatives of the appellant, Tri-State; nor PUC staff will address the PUC on Thursday, explained PUC spokesperson Barbara Fernandez. 

“Thursday’s hearing is for the public to speak,” she said. “This hearing is for people who don’t have legal rights at the evidentiary hearing. The homeowners association will be presenting their case at the evidentiary hearing.”

The evidentiary hearing in Denver could run for several days, Fernandez explained, because parties to the case have the right to present expert witnesses and to cross-examine each other’s witnesses. The case won’t be over even at the end of that hearing. Several weeks later, the three-member PUC will schedule a public hearing for their deliberations, based on the evidence presented to them. A written decision will follow that, possibly, Fernandez speculated, before the end of the year.

Even then, the case won’t necessarily be final because the parties have a right to file requests for a rehearing, for re-arguments or for reconsideration of the written order. After that, once the PUC decision does become final, a party who objects to all or a part of the PUC decision could file a court action.

“Transmission lines often create news,” Fernandez observed, and though this appeal to the PUC is the first under the new state statute, it has not yet generated more than the usual degree of interest, she said.

The proposed upgrade of an existing, fifty-year-old 69 kV power line from Tri-State’s coal-fired power plant at Nucla to a substation near Telluride has made local news since it was first proposed in 1998. The upgrade is needed, the utility testified before the San Miguel County Commissioners last year, because the existing line is nearing the end of its life, is vulnerable to frequent outages and costly to maintain, and could spark wildfires. Worse, they said, the 69 kV line cannot support the load in the Telluride region in the event that the region’s primary source of power, a 115 kV line from Hesperus over Ophir Pass, were to go out of service.

Tri-State – the region’s wholesale supplier of power – says it wants to meet an industry standard by providing redundant power to the Telluride region, and while the Ophir Pass line is new, it is the highest altitude transmission line in the U.S. and is vulnerable to avalanches and other geohazards, leaving Telluride highly vulnerable to possibly prolonged power shortages. Upgrading the Nucla-to-Telluride line is also necessary, Tri-State has argued, to improve the power grid in the southwestern United states; moreover, the existing line is the only source of power on the mesas west of Telluride, including Wright’s Mesa, and replacing it with a modern 69 kV line would cost nearly as much and have nearly the same environmental impacts as upgrading it would. But the $15 million cost of a 69 kV replacement would be borne not by Tri-State and all its member utilities, but by just one of those member utilities, the much smaller San Miguel Power Assn., at a high cost to SMPA ratepayers not just in San Miguel County, but also in Ouray and Silverton.

None of Tri-State’s arguments persuaded residents of the scenic mesas west of Telluride, however, who first argued that the region should pursue alternative sources of energy not tied to coal power. After hearing detailed analyses suggesting that a locally based gas-fired turbine would have environmental impacts of its own and would be prohibitively expensive, they argued that the powerline, if indeed there is no alternative to upgrading or replacing it, should be put underground.

The county’s scenic vistas are its economic lifeblood, they said. With County Commissioner Vern Ebert dissenting, commissioners Elaine Fischer and Art Goodtimes agreed with the affected property owners and they approved the powerline upgrade subject to its being installed underground at Tri-State’s cost – an estimated additional $30 million on top of the $16 million cost of the upgrade if it is built entirely above-ground.

That condition, Tri-State is arguing to the PUC, is tantamount to a denial.

The PUC’s role under the 2001 state statute is “to balance local government determinations with the broader statewide interest of meeting growing demands for electric service,” according to the PUC.

Interested persons may testify at Thursday’s public hearing. They will be sworn in and may be questioned by members of the PUC, Fernandez said.



Ritz Returns for DRB Consideration One Story Lower


By Seth Cagin


If the maximum height of the proposed Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Mountain Village is 96 feet, 6 inches, is that still too tall?

That is likely to be the key question taken up by the Mountain Village Design Review Board at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, when the board meets in the meeting room at the Mountain Village Fire Station to take up sketch plan review of the proposed hotel development.

Earlier plans for the hotel topped out at 109 feet, 8 inches. The requested height variance has been hotly controversial, with neighboring property owners arguing that the project’s public benefits do not justify what they have said would be an excessive variance.

Without a variance, the project could reach a maximum height of 65 feet. But height variances are permitted under the Mountain Village Land Use Ordinance, provided that a planned unit development provides compensating public benefits. The Ritz-Carlton is proposed for a lot owned by Mountain Village Metro Services, which is the master homeowner’s association for Mountain Village, and which stipulated a number of specific public benefits in its agreement with the hotel developer.

Those benefits include a hundred hotel rooms, a large underground parking garage that would be managed as a public garage, a new public plaza containing an ice rink, a central loading dock for the benefit of the entire Mountain Village Core, sites for a post office and for a headquarters for the adaptive ski program, and a new vehicular entrance to the Mountain Village Core.

Addressing persistent concerns from members of the public and town officials that despite the list of benefits, the structure was too tall, plans have been revised to eliminate an entire floor, and six condominiums. The project’s average height remains the same as before, however, at 56 feet, two inches.

The Mountain Village Town Council accepted a recommendation from the DRB and granted the project conceptual approval in April. Sketch plan approval is the third step in the five-step approvals process for a planned unit development in Mountain Village.

The remaining two steps are final plan approval by DRB followed by final approval by the Mountain Village Town Council.




As the Sunlight Shortens, Chances of Wildlife Interaction Rise


It’s bear season, as we all know, what with the nocturnal dribbling of garbage cans, as bears try to crack them open, as if the were holiday nuts.
But bears aren’t the only potentially dangerous wildlife. And while an encounter with a skunk isn’t likely to be much more than unpleasant, coyotes – especially those not terrified of dogs or humans – pose more and more of a problem, everywhere from the rural to the urban landscape, and points in between.

Adaptable coyotes can live in both rural areas and cities in close proximity to humans; the average neighborhood provides a comfortable life for the coyote with ready food sources, such as garbage, pet food, and fallen fruit. Seeing urban coyotes may frighten people who are surprised to learn this wild dog has always been present in yards, open space and alleys throughout cities and towns.
Most of a coyote's diet consists of small mammals (mice, voles, rabbits and rats) and the rest is a combination of fruits, vegetables, insects, garbage and other available items. Coyotes also prey on squirrels, raccoons, opossums, geese, ducks and domestic pets – especially cats and small dogs running at large.
“People have asked me why we don’t just capture these coyotes and move them somewhere else?” said Travis Harris, wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.  “But there isn’t some magical place where you can move the animals you don’t want to see. If a species is present – such as coyotes – we know it’s because they are finding everything they need to survive at that location. You can try to move a coyote out, but if the environment has everything a coyote needs – food, shelter, water and cover – another coyote will quickly take its place.”
Rather than trying to remove coyotes, Travis urged residents to think about precautions they can take to reduce potential conflicts. “If you have food sources in your yard, or in your neighbor’s yard, you will attract coyotes and other hungry wildlife. If you don’t want the coyotes near your pets, work with your neighbors to eliminate attractants. Coyotes will move along to another place where food is more readily available.”
Some people erroneously think that if food is provided for wildlife, the wildlife will leave their pets alone. But providing food only attracts more wildlife to an area. Never attempt to befriend any wildlife. Fed wildlife loses its natural fear and becomes dependent on people – keep them wild and wary instead. While coyotes won’t normally approach people, coyotes may become less fearful of humans if they don’t feel threatened by them. Attempting to “tame” a wild animal can have unfortunate consequences.
Coyotes can be active both day and night. If a coyote is in your yard, make the animal aware it is not welcome. Coyotes have been scared off by people waving sticks or brooms at them, by people throwing stones, balls or cans at them, or by people clanging pots and pans in their direction. Don’t stop at your property line: A coyote in your neighbor’s yard is the same thing as having one in your own.
The most common conflict between coyotes and pets is with cats or smaller dogs. Supervise pets at all times outside and make sure your pet is off leash only in enclosed areas. The only way of ensuring that a cat is safe from coyotes is to keep it indoors permanently, or allow it in the yard only when you are present. The more time your cat spends outdoors the greater number of risks it faces.
If you notice a coyote when walking your dog, pick up and hold your dog in your arms if small, or keep it as close to you as possible and move towards an active area. Coyotes are members of the canine family and can breed with domestic pets and wild dogs; alternately, coyotes may view dogs as intruders in their territory and may attack to defend it. “We had a recent report that a woman walking her dog in open space was approached by a group of coyotes,” Harris said. “If you know coyotes may be present, avoid walking your dog on that path – it’s not worth the risk to find out if coyotes consider your pet a threat to their territory.”
To avoid a conflict with coyotes, walk your dog (on leash) near relatively busy streets, jogging trails and park paths where help is nearby, or walk your dog with friends or family. The larger the group, the less likely you will be bothered. Choose walking areas with lots of activity and a clear view of the path, avoid solitary areas with dense vegetation, where you might not see a predator as you approach.
Urban coyotes, foxes and other omnivores can co-exist with humans in urban areas, often keeping rodent and small mammal populations in check. Children should be reminded regularly not to approach or feed any wildlife. If children feel threatened by the presence of coyotes or other wildlife, they should stay in a close group and walk slowly to an area where adults are present. Make sure your child understands that a coyote is a wild dog and should be treated with even greater caution than approaching a stray dog. But, coyotes are not your average dog -- they are smart, and they learn quickly. Coyotes that appear friendly may be mimicking behavior that has been rewarded with food in the past: remember that all wildlife is unpredictable and do not get close or encourage interaction with wild animals. When it becomes apparent that no food is forthcoming, the behavior can change abruptly.
Attacks on people are rare -- much more rare than domestic dog attacks on people -- and in almost all known cases the coyote had lost its fear of humans because humans had previously fed it. For more information on Colorado’s coyotes, visit the DOW Web site at and follow the links to “Education” and “Coexisting with wildlife.”


Hats Into the Ring


On the morning of the first day that nominating petitions for candidates for public officer in the Town of Telluride were made available, seven petitions were taken out. Town Clerk M.J. Schillaci reports that Linda Miller, Roberta Peterson Michael Doehrman, John Pryor, Andrea Benda and Yogi Kirst took out petitions.

Kirst, the current town moderator, whose term is up, took out two petitions. 

Persons taking out petitions need not declare what office the petition is for, nor do they necessarily need to take out a petition on their own behalf.  A person may take out a petition for somebody else’s candidacy.

Pryor announced last week that he is running for mayor. He will take on incumbent mayor John Steel, who has not taken out a petition but has declared his intention to run for reelection.

In addition to the mayor’s seat, there are three open council seats. Mark Buchsieb has indicated he will run for reelection; incumbents Dave Johnson and Dawn Ibis have indicated they will not.

Nominating petitions must be signed by 25 registered voters in the Town of Telluride and must be returned to the Telluride Town Clerk by 5 p.m. on Oct. 3.

‘I Have to Believe That There Are Gifts in Terrible Things.’


September 11, Two Years Later


By Martinique Davis


In New York City on September 11, 2003, thousands gathered at the World Trade Center site to commemorate the second anniversary of the largest terrorist attack ever to take place on American soil. The ceremony, which featured children reading the names of the victims, paused four times – twice to mark the times that each plane hit the towers and twice to mark the times that each tower fell. At 8:46 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the mourning crowd bowed their heads for the first moment of silence. Moments later, all the houses of worship in the city tolled their bells, resonating throughout the city in a long, echoing ringing that could be heard by almost every ear.

Here in Telluride, commemoration of the September 11 attacks was indeed observed on a smaller scale, but the essence of that commemoration was similar to those held in New York City and across the country. It was a day for residents of communities to get together, talk and reflect on the events of the last two years – and most importantly, to make stronger connections with friends and neighbors.

Chris Myers of This Republic Can organized the noon gathering at the San Miguel County Courthouse on main street, ringing in the day’s activities with speeches and song.

“I’m glad you’ve all made it out here today…. It’s important to think beyond the walls of this valley and get a global piece of what’s happening elsewhere,” Myers said to the crowd of nearly 100 gathered at the steps of the courthouse Thursday afternoon.

Behind him the well-traveled “Telluride, Colorado – 8750 feet, 2000 miles – For Peace” banner, which has criss-crossed the country bearing the names of hundreds of Telluride residents in support of peaceful resolutions, hung before a backdrop of snow-capped peaks and a bluebird sky.

Telluride Mayor John Steel also took to the stage, choosing to read his address from last year’s first 9/11 anniversary “because it’s even more moving now than it was a year ago,” he announced. He ended the heartfelt address with words that resonated throughout the diverse crowd: “We cannot eliminate violence with violence, terrorism with terrorism, or hate with hate. We have to find another way.”

But perhaps the most emotion-evoking moment of the gathering occurred when surprise guest Judy Collins, one of the strongest yet sweetest voices to come out of the 60s peace movement, stood before the citizens of Telluride and sang “Amazing Grace.”

Collins, visiting Telluride for the first time for a wedding, then followed the group as they marched down main street to Town Park, where the group gathered again, this time opening the floor to anyone wanting to express their feelings about the day’s significance.

When one woman commented on Collins’s touching songs, which resonate as much today as they did during the Vietnam War, Collins – still stunning in her halo of white hair and dark sunglasses – stepped before the circle of Telluride locals and visitors to speak her mind.

“I have to believe that there are gifts in terrible things. What is different about today than in 1970 is that the secrets are quickly diminishing – anything is possible, and the time is now,” her voice echoed above the crowd.

Then Telluride’s Ulli Sir Jesse gave the group her image of a peaceful world. “I’ve been searching for all of my 52 years,” she said, “for how to truly create peace in the world, and the only way I can see doing it is for me to be more peaceful in my own life, for me to not propagate hatred. We all must learn the language of compassion with each other,” she said.

Earnest Eich’s passionate words struck a chord with many of the group gathered at the park Thursday afternoon.

“Nobody knows why – why we’re at war, why people are dying in war – and our government isn’t going to listen to us asking why.  So this – getting together and talking about it, conversing about the issues out there with your friends and neighbors – seems to do a lot more than trying to get our government to listen to us,” he said.

Myers was one of the last to speak at the Town Park gathering.

“I became an activist September 12 of 2001, so this is not my bag, so to speak. But what keeps me coming back is the response I get from other people who come to our gatherings, who read our emails, and who talk about what’s going on. Let me tell you, the weather is old news. There are much more important things at stake right now, and dialog is the key,” he said.

The dialog picked up again later in the evening at the Conversation Café meeting at Between the Covers Coffee Shop following a candlelight vigil in Elks Park. A group of more than 15, seated at three tables, packed the snug room with words, thoughts and feelings, not just about 9/11, but about a plethora of other heartfelt issues as well.

From messages of hope to recommendations of alternative press sources, to ways each person can truly make a difference, the air at Between the Covers was heavy with an electricity and emotion that occur only when people with passion speak their mind in an open, welcoming environment.

Visitors, locals, young, old, friends and strangers – though perhaps with varying opinions and beliefs – all put aside the chit-chat and opened their hearts and mouths. The result was words circulating through the room that felt energized, sincere, and most of all, like they mattered.

A woman named Dale, who was visiting Telluride with her young son Tyler, admitted that she had never taken part in an “activist” gathering such as this.

“What I’m beginning to feel is that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can make a difference,” she said, after listening to some of the others’ small ways of making their words heard and feelings heeded in the chaos of other voices.

A woman named Marianne admitted it was difficult avoid becoming negative about the future, but that surrounding herself with conversation such as what evolved at the Conversation Café would help her to be more hopeful.

Betsy McKinney, one of the day’s organizers, infused the table with the message that connection is the key to change.

“Connect, connect, connect,” she said. “And if you’re not fulfilled with one connection, make another, and another. Keep looking for those connections, because that is where change can begin.”

Myers echoed McKinney’s words. 

“Lots of people ask ‘What’s the point of marching? Bush doesn’t listen.’ But I don’t march for him, I march for me. And when you gather with other people and march, or talk, you are building a pyramid. Thoughts and ideas are spread exponentially. Even if it’s a bumper sticker on your car or wearing a button on your shirt, you’re demonstrating on a daily basis that you care and are involved in something. And that really does make a difference.”

A group of peace-walkers organized by This Republic Can, Michael Saftler and Art Goodtimes gathers on the eleventh of every month to commemorate the events of September 11 and rally for peace. They meet on the courthouse steps at noon and then walk to Town Park. The event is open to the public. For more information on becoming a member of This Republic Can, visit their website at

 Ah Haa Workshop Captures the Essence of Photography


Fall Foliage Photo Workshop with Jenny Gummersall


There is no more essential and elusive component to stunning outdoor photography than light. Capturing its essence will enable a photograph to transcend both the seer and the seen. Durango photographer Jenny Gummersall teaches photographers how to harness this quality in Drawing with Light: A Fall Foliage Photo Workshop, Sept. 19 and 20, at the Ah Haa School for the Arts.

Using the piquant hues of golden aspen and crimson oak as subjects of inspiration, this class will explore composition, techniques and use of light in outdoor photography.

The way to elevate snapshots to photographs with more substance, Gummersall said, is by cultivating a more intimate relationship with your environment.

"It's about making choices, and that comes from deciding what you want the viewer to see, what needs to be in the picture and what doesn't," she said. "I try to locate myself in the picture, becoming both participant and observer. People will probably leave this class having learned to see a little differently."

So much of how we perceive things, Gummersall said, is connected to our regular environment. In photography, this may transfer to your images.

"If you come from the city, you have that whole hustle-bustle happening, and you can find that same activity in an aspen forest, with leaves moving or a creek rushing," she said. "Or you can quiet the setting down and just show one thing, like a red leaf with branches – very simple."

A photographer of more than 20 years, Gummersall will work with students on how to use light to explore the textures and colors that infuse a photograph with emotion and improve its ability to speak to the viewer. Gummersall's images, which have been displayed at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, speak volumes with a tension born of intention and impulse.

"What I like about her approach in photography is her light and composition, but also how well thought out the pictures are while giving glimpses of spontaneity," said the Telluride Gallery’s Bärbel Hacke. "Plus every one of her students will have a blast."

Gummersall's own path to professional photography started when she was three and became enamored with a photographer at a summer camp. She would follow him into the darkroom, even then fascinated with the magic of the shutter.

"I studied art in school, but photography was what I kept coming back to," Gummersall said. "A classmate saw my photos and encouraged me to enter a contest in Missouri, and I got best of show."

The awards and exhibits continued from there, including a show at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany. Gummersall received her degree from the University of New Mexico, and that move west acquainted her with the amazing light and unforgettable cultures that would soon appear in her work.

As the photographer for the Southern Ute Tribe for several years, Gummersall had many opportunities to capture a seldom-photographed world. More recently, her traveling exhibition of photos, Ranch Families: Culture of America, has captivated regional audiences. For these images, Gummersall immersed herself in the culture she desired to photograph, often taking pictures from horseback.

"My husband worked ranches and connecting with these families I saw a threat to this traditional lifestyle," she said. "I wanted to help preserve that with photos, so I just started hanging out with these families. I would help do round ups and shoot while I was working. They would forget about me and it facilitated these great images."

For more information about or to sign up for this special workshop, call the Ah Haa School at 728-3886.                        




In a Whole New-to-Telluride Sports Arena, Two Major Athletes Emerge

By Martinique Davis


In a town of ski competitors, mountain runners, and bike racers, two athletes stand apart.

They are Telluride High School Senior Sutton Schuler and her horse, I’m Genuine Sugar (or Goldie, as Schuler calls her), and they are the only duo representing Telluride in the Grand Junction Horse Show Association.  Though relatively new to the sport, Schuler has steadily risen in the competitive riding ranks and is currently placed second in the 14-18 year old age group for the region.

Goldie, a 14-year-old paint originally from the East Coast, currently holds the title of Reserve Western Horse for the GJHSA, and is ranked third in the English Horse division.

For a non-equestrian, these terms may hold little meaning.  But in the world of competitive horseback riding, Schuler and Goldie’s recent accomplishments are remarkable for a new rider and her new horse.

Schuler began riding “for fun” four years ago, when her family acquired a horse that was stabled at the Cedar Creek Stables in Montrose.  She explains that it wasn’t long before she was showing her horse, since everyone else at the barn was into the sport and “they sort of pushed me into it.”

Schuler sold that first horse and acquired Goldie almost a year ago, and has since stepped a level higher competitively since. 

“My biggest accomplishment so far has been that I have been able to move up into the most competitive age group in the horse show world, and I’ve been able to keep up,” she says. “I’ve only been showing for two years, and I’ve only been showing Goldie for eight months, and that I’m still able to hold my own at competitions is rewarding,” Schuler says.

Goldie, on the other hand, is the seasoned competitor of the two. Before coming to Schuler, she was shown extensively in Delaware and Georgia, and seems to have a competitive air about her.

“She’s amazing!” Schuler says of the horse.  “She has lots of competition experience, and she’s talented, so she can do anything I ask her to.  The connection I’ve made with her this year has been great – usually, horse and rider don’t click as quickly as we have.”

That connection evolved out of Schuler’s sustained dedication to the horse and the sport, no doubt.  During the summer, Schuler and her mother Shelley travel to the stable in Montrose five days a week to practice.  It is more difficult in the winter to devote as much time, with Schuler in school much of the time, but she still manages to make it to Montrose at least once a week.

Schuler says what keeps her motivated is her new-found love of the sport.

“Horse showing is like a little family – every competition you go to you see the same people, your friends that you wouldn’t see normally.  It’s a competitive sport also, so it’s easy to get hooked.  And once you have a horse, you become a horseaholic – there’s no stopping it,” she explains.

Competitive riding is about as multi-faceted as a sport can be, with 11 different “classes” or events that judges award points to based on a number of factors.  Some classes judge just the horse, and other classes judge just the rider.  The ranking a horse or rider receives during competitions dictates how many points they receive.  Points are then tallied throughout the year to determine the competitor’s overall standings.

Schuler and Goldie compete in eight different classes.  Halter, Schuler explains, is “confirmation of the horse,” where the horse it judged on how it walks and looks.

Showmanship is when the horseman (or woman) is judged on their grooming of the horse, their attire, and more.  “It’s the fanciest of the events,” she explains.

In the Hunter Under Saddle event, the horse is judged on their movement and cadence under an English saddle, while Western Pleasure is an event where the horse is judged on the same features but under a Western saddle.

In Hunt Seat Equitation a rider performs a pattern on an English saddle; the Western saddle counterpart is called Western Horsemanship.

Trail is perhaps the most challenging of the classes, where the horse is judged on its ability to work through a veritable obstacle course of bridges, gates, water boxes, and poles.

English Control is an event that showcases the most traditional form of English riding, a popular form in Telluride and Ridgway, Schuler says.

She admits that all the varied events she and Goldie compete in keep the duo extremely busy.

“Only a select few compete in all the classes.  Many of the youth competitors do many different events, but most specialize in just a few.  It’s more fun to do it all, in my opinion,” she says.

Since last February, Schuler and Goldie have traveled to 16 different shows.  Schuler is looking forward to a packed competition schedule again next year, traveling beyond the Grand Junction shows, and to bigger shows, in Utah.

“Our biggest goal is to go to the Paint World or the Paint Horse Congress competitions – but that’s a long-term goal, for when we’re really competitive,” she says.


Go Back a Century, on the D&S Narrow Gauge Railroad


By Martinique Davis


In the language of locomotives, four long whistles in a row is the signal that the train is leaving, so grab your seat.

At the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Station in the heart of Durango, those four whistles greet downtown business owners and nearby hotel guests every morning at 8:15 a.m. and again at 9 a.m., all summer long.

Those four whistles are quickly followed by the distinctive chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga (I think I can I think I can) of a coal-powered steam train jumping to life.

As a passenger on the historic Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train, one begins to feel almost like a celebrity as the rocking, rollicking train heads out of the station, its passengers waving to all the spectators standing along the track. 

One can’t help but wonder how many passengers have sat in this same seat, departing Durango and heading out for an adventure in Silverton, during this train’s colorful 120-year history.

The enthusiasm is all around, perhaps best voiced by the rotund grandfather whose wife explains he’s “fulfilling his life’s dream” by hollering the conductor’s “All aboard!” a few extra times as the train chugs out of the downtown station and through the hustle of Durango. 

Two long whistles, then a short whistle, followed by yet another long whistle signals that the train is approaching an intersection.  The four-whistle crossroad melody blasts frequently as the train winds along the Animas River in Durango, but as soon as the city’s buildings fade into the Animas Valley’s trees and grasslands, the only sound remaining is the jet black locomotive’s rhythmic din.

After passing the aged settlement of Rockwood, about 18 miles up the track from the Durango station, civilization is, for the most part, left behind.  Past here, there are no roads reaching into the Animas Canyon, leaving the area much like it looked when the rail line was built in 1881-82.

The Durango & Silverton Railroad was built as a leg of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad system, which was responsible for laying narrow gauge lines into almost all Colorado mining settlements that had only ten years earlier been described as “impenetrable wilderness.”

Burly rail crews battled the harsh winter conditions and even harsher mountain terrain between Durango and Silverton to complete the line in a mere 11 months – still considered a mighty feat even today. 

With the arrival of the railroad into Silverton in 1882 came the dawn of Silverton’s richest days, when miners, businessmen, and fortune seekers poured into the community in hopes of making it in the San Juans.  With reliable train transportation the population more than doubled, reaching its peak of 2000 people in 1885.

Though mining the San Juans faced an admittedly rocky history, with virtually all mining operations eventually coming to an end by the 1960s, in its 122-year history the Durango & Silverton Railroad never ceased operations.  Mining eventually took a backseat to tourism, which has to this day kept the train chugging year-round.

Today, yearly ridership on the D&SNG reaches peaks of 200,000.  As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region, the train ride draws visitors from around the world, year after year.

During the trip through the Animas Canyon between Durango and Silverton, the view of the steep canyon walls to one side, the surging Animas River below, and high mountain peaks above are indeed worthy of the Society of American Travel Writers’ “Top 10 Most Exciting Train Journeys in the World” designation.  The vista through the canyon is worth opening the window for – as is visiting the open-air cars, despite having to battle the falling coal ash emitted from the train’s smoke stack 

Stories of Butch Cassidy leaping into the river below to escape the gun-wielding police officers boarded on the train, of lethal snow slides and train wrecks succumbed to by D&SNG railroaders, and of miners and businessmen fulfilling their dreams of striking it rich in Silverton circulate through the car as the aged train shuffles down the same path its taken for more than a century.

Along the route, you’ll pass over the High Bridge, one of the line’s most photographed spots, as well as the Tacoma Power Plant, still a source of Silverton’s electricity. 

One of the most surprising locations along the line is the Tall Timbers luxury resort, veiled by dense forest and towering peaks in the true heart of the wilderness. Tall Timbers is accessible only by train or Tall Timber’s own helicopter service.  Besides a Mobile 4 Star rated hotel, there is also a small golf course (a part of the meadow grounds).

Past Tall Timbers is the Cascade Canyon Wye, built in 1981, which marks the termination of the train’s winter service.  Beyond the Wye is the backpacker’s gateway to the Weminuche Wilderness, home to such 14,000-foot Colorado giants as Mount Eolus, Windom Peak, and Sunlight Peak.  You can step off the train and into the Weminuche at either the Needleton flag stop or Elk Park and save quite a lot of time by following trails starting at these stops. The train will pick you up on your way out.

Just a few miles past the lovely Elk Creek meadow you reach Ten-Mile Creek, the last stretch of the ride.  Take in the last ten miles of the gorgeous ride before rounding the bend into the Silverton valley.

A long whistle followed by three short blasts is the conductor’s way of telling his riders that the three-and-a-half-hour journey to Silverton has reached its end.  But you already know that, because your railcar has passed the original, now unused Silverton Station and its troop of aged freight railcars and the bustle of summertime, railroad passenger-infused Silverton lies just ahead.

Forty-four miles from the starting point, the train’s nearly 200 passengers disembark to flood tiny Silverton’s ice cream stores, specialty gift shops and restaurants. 

Then, after a two-hour visit, the conductor again blasts the “All Aboard!” whistle for returning passengers not taking the bus option back to Durango or staying overnight in Silverton.

The D&SNG Railroad operates May 10 through October 31, with at least two rides per day.  The High Noon Cascade Canyon Winter Train leaves Durango once per day November 26 through May 7. There are a number of special events throughout the year, including a Mountains by Moonlight Evening Train, Santa Reception and New Year’s Eve Evening Train, and more.  For more information on the train log onto or call (970) 247-2733.



Hed - Bioneers Beam Into T’ride


Kicker - ‘Bioneers Is Central to the Re-Imagination of What It Means to Be Human’


Following the maxim of "practice what you preach," Telluride, with its steadily emerging green consciousness, has been selected to host a simulcast Bioneers Conference next month, Oct. 17-19, reports This Republic Can’s Chris Myers.

The Bioneers Conference offers a forum for some of the world's pre-eminent authors, scientists, and visionaries to come together and share information on the systems, technology, and knowledge already in existence, in hopes of stimulating practical change in the way we live with an eye to building a healthier, happier and more sustainable future.  

This year's list of speakers includes David Orr, Janine Benyus, Terry Tempest Williams, David Suzuki and his daughter Severn, Oren Lyons, Tom Hayden, Gloria Flora and many others.

According to Paul Hawken, the author of Natural Capitalism: "No conference on Earth celebrates more fully the possibilities of creating a world that is conducive to life. Bioneers is central to the re-imagination of what it means to be human."

With 15 plenary speeches over the course of three days, Bioneers offers new thinking and strategic planning in the areas of resource conservation, ecological design, eco-literacy, human rights, alternative ways of doing business, preservation of community and human health. It will equips participants with models, resources and networks with which to get to work, encouraging everyone to act as primary forces in the transformation toward a restorative future.

In conjunction with this event, Sheep Mountain Alliance will hold its "Green Carnival," a gathering of over 20 regional environmental groups. Because speaches from the Bioneers Conference will be broadcast primarily in the mornings, the afternoons offer a great chance to network, share information and to learn how to make changes in our world.

There will also be food (organic, of course) games, drink, a sense of community and a lot of laughter and great conversation.

The conference, in its second year, is expected to sell to capacity. Telluride is one of a dozen national sites that will receive the simulcast of the 14th Annual Bioneers Conference. This event is hosted by the Outloud Lecture Series and features a live satellite downlink of the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California. Visit the Bioneers website at for more information about the Bioneers Conference and our partnership.

For more information call Elisabeth Gick at 728-4689. Charge is $10 per day


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