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Learning from the past

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Perhaps a few old timers will remember this  incident from a reprint of a 1951 Rocky Mountain News article concerning the Crystal River Valley; and perhaps some newer residents will take heed of its implications.

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My deceased mother saved this article in one of her scrapbooks. Although a child, I remember the events recorded here when seventy strangers were forced  (but welcomed) to spend the night at our ranch which did not yet have electricity or indoor plumbing. The only thing my mother had to feed that many people was cornbread and beans. At that time, State Highway 133 was just a dirt country road, and it seemed like you’d get a flat every time you drove to town.

In light of the geological nature of the Crystal Valley, I am aghast at Pitkin County’s willingness — no, their desire — to spend 30-50 or more million dollars on a bike path through a valley prone to cloudbursts; and make no mistake, these events and similar ones are not restricted to just the Highway 133 side of the valley. The railroad grade side of the valley is also subject to cloudbursts, mudslides, and rock falls.

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I personally know of a rock as big as a small cabin which tumbled from a sandstone cliff not many years ago directly onto the railroad grade. Farther north, one passes Red Wind Point, a cliff projection which is also on the former railroad grade.

Prior to being a railroad grade, it was the wagon road up the Crystal, and it swung to the east as it rounded the point. Today that wagon road has been smothered by tons of rockfall over the years to the point of no longer being visible.

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Surely these millions of dollars could be put to a more practical use!

Paige Meredith shares this column with fellow conservative Stan Badgett.

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