Around the mountains: Quieter-than-usual May raises ghosts of the past |

Around the mountains: Quieter-than-usual May raises ghosts of the past

ALLEN BESTspecial to the dailySummit County, Colorado

TELLURIDE Its always quiet in Telluride during early May, but this year it was even quieter. In Vail, the report is the same. Its eerie, says one town official.People like Myles Rademan, once of Crested Butte and now of Park City, both former mining towns, have long pointed out that people caught up in the heyday of gold and silver booms couldnt fully grasp an ebbing of activity. Yet, by the 1950s, places like Kellogg, Idaho, and Breckenridge, were ghost towns not abandoned, but ghosts of their former selves.Telluride was also one of those towns. Mining there persisted into the 1970s, just when downhill skiing arrived. Still, the activity was a shadow of the boom years 80 and 90 years before, when the town supported several newspapers, had the worlds first electrified street lights, and in other ways distinguished itself as a warren of activity.Telluride resident Emily Brendler Shoff, writing in The Denver Post, wonders if spring provides a glimpse of what its like when a mining town is vacated.Its a desolate time, she writes of the shoulder season. The wind howls, the trees are bare, and the snow continues to fall. The trails are covered in snow and mud. And there is nothing to do, except stroll to the post office and pick up your mail and stroll back again. If youre lucky, you see someone.Shoff does not descend into despair, but she cant help but wonder what future historians, strolling amid a vacated Telluride, would think of the rows of skis outside of everyones homes, the cruiser bikes, and the drained hot tubs?And who hasnt paused beside some old mine adit in the forest, wondering about the use of this or that old piece of equipment, amazed at the lust for a mineral that drove people to haul such heavy machinery into remote places?

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS Real-estate numbers across several resort areas in Colorado looked somewhat similar. Sales volume in the first quarter of the year for the Steamboat and Vail/Eagle Valley markets were only 26.9 percent compared to the same period last year. It was somewhat better, 36 percent, in Summit County, while in Grand County it was worse, just 18 percent. The Steamboat Pilot & Today talked with Dennis Hanlon, a real-estate agent in Park City, Utah, and founder and president of the Rocky Mountain Resort Alliance, which tallies these figures.The resorts have been affected by the economy, but theyre not dead, Hanlon said. Things seem to be improving. He pointed to small gains in the stock market as evidence, which is what he said will start restoring consumer confidence.

GUNNISON Nolan Doesken wears the title of Colorado state climatologist. A meteorologist by training, he tends highs, lows, means and all the other records collected within the last 150 years with the utmost attention to detail.The massing of detail, he told a water group in Gunnison recently, now leaves him pretty close to a converted skeptic in the issue of global warming. Warming winters have outnumbered cooler ones by a whole lot, he said.But Doesken, reports the Crested Butte News, seemed to indicate that the theoretical causes arent iron-clad. With the global economic recession, emissions of carbon dioxide due to burning of fossil fuels might well be expected to be in decline, he noted. But C02 continues to increase this year. I just got the results and (C02) is going up at the same rate as it was before the global recession. Doesken pointed out that one major mystery remains the role of water vapor, which is a far more effective greenhouse gas than C02. The big question is what happens to water vapor? he said.If a warmer atmosphere leads to more evaporation and more water vapor in the atmosphere without increasing cloudiness then that magnifies the greenhouse effect, he explained.

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