Farewell to Warren Alloway, Silverthorne’s first mayor
January 4, 2015
For decades, Warren Alloway kept a small herd of pack mules at his 15-acre property on the north end of Silverthorne.
On weekdays, when Alloway was away as a surveyor for the Climax mine, the mules wandered between the small front yard and sprawling back yard, lazily munching at swaths of grass near their owner's 1930 Model A Ford pickup.
But on weekends, there were mountains to explore and fences to leave behind. Alloway would load the mules and wander along old prospector routes between Red Peak and Buffalo Mountain, searching for one thing or another. While they rarely found anything — say, the fabled tunnel through Red Peak — that was hardly the point.
"It's always really fun climbing around the mountains," Alloway said in a 2007 interview, just a few months after putting his property on the market. It never sold. "To me, it's heaven."
In the first few days of 2015, with Thule ski racks having long ago replaced pack animals, Alloway's mules remain a fond memory of the humble home and humble man at 914 Blue River Parkway. Longtime Silverthorne resident Peggy Long remembers the mules vividly — even if she was never quite sure where Alloway took them during his long, meditative sojourns.
"He'd pack his mules and he'd trek around to god knows where," said Long, a current Silverthorne councilwoman. "He just loved being active and loved being around here."
Early on Friday afternoon, a fire erupted in Alloway's home while he was still inside. The 81-year-old was rushed to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, where he died an hour after neighbors first reported smoke coming from the small, white-trimmed windows of his home.
"It's a big loss for our community," Long said. "All the old-timers knew him, knew Warren, but there aren't many of us left. People only last so long before they head to the next place."
The next place was on Alloway's mind in 2007, when he first tried to sell his property. His wife, Barbara, had returned to her husband's native Wyoming a few years prior to avoid the harsh mountain altitudes. He often traveled between Silverthorne and the small town of Torrington, Wyoming, not far from his hometown of Wheatland.
Yet the Colorado mountains have long run in Alloway's blood. He and his wife moved to Summit County in 1958. It was the same year the two were married, and the same year he worked as an engineer on the Roberts Tunnel, a demanding project to bring water from the then-new Dillon Dam to the Front Range.
Since then, Alloway had a hand in multiple Summit County projects: Dillon Dam from 1961 to 1963, and the Climax mine from 1963 to about 1995, nearly a full decade after the mine was more-or-less shut down.
"We knew and loved Warren very much," Long said. "He was such a fascinating character. He was one of those very mild-mannered guys, the sort who wasn't boastful about himself. But when he started talking, he had done so many incredible things."
For Long and her husband, former Summit County Commissioner Tom Long, Alloway was more than a quiet mountain man with pack mules and a humble, single-level home. He's more of a local legend, known for taking the reins as Silverthorne's first elected mayor, from 1968 to 1976, when the town was still little more than a trailer community for construction workers. He brought the first sewer lines to Silverthorne, along with a property and sales tax system to bring the town in step with neighbors like Breckenridge.
"This morning, my husband said, 'I really think Warren Alloway was the smartest man I ever knew,'" Long said. "And he was incredibly smart. Just because he was quiet and moved a little slow, that didn't mean he wasn't intelligent."
Alloway is survived by his wife and two children. His family is planning a local memorial service to be held in the next few weeks.
The Summit County Coroner's Office has not yet released the official cause of death, and local fire investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire.
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