Ru­ral Colorado is no mono­lith

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By The Den­ver Post

Along the Colorado Di­vide, the fis­sure be­tween ru­ral and ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties, con­ven­tional wis­dom holds that Den­ver is grow­ing faster than it can han­dle while the state’s fron­tier lands are at risk of fad­ing out. But that’s too sim­ple. Ru­ral Colorado is no mono­lith, no uni­form land with iden­ti­cal prob­lems or hopes for the fu­ture. Con­sider a dozen coun­ties in Colorado that now have less than half the pop­u­la­tion they had at their peak. Some topped out more than 100 years ago when min­ers blew holes in moun­tains search­ing for gold, sil­ver and lead. Oth­ers, in far south­east­ern Colorado, reached their height in 1930, pop­u­lated by farm­ers who stayed un­til the Dust Bowl forced many to leave. The hunt for gold is over, but now Colorado’s for­mer min­ing towns have other jew­els that at­tract hik­ers, hunters and tourists. Hun­dreds of miles east in Baca County, lo­cals have fewer op­tions to re­de­fine their com­mu­nity. Still, res­i­dents re­tain a time­less qual­ity: re­silience.

RJ San­gosti, The Den­ver Post

Vis­i­tors look up dur­ing a tour of the Old Hun­dred Gold Mine in Sil­ver­ton last month. In south­west­ern Colorado, many of the min­ing towns are try­ing to make new economies out of tourism af­ter the mines shut down.

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