Summit Daily letters: Does the Gore Range really need a name change?
October 20, 2017
I read with interest in the Summit Daily about the current misguided effort to change the name of the Gore Range to the Shining Mountains because some politically correct people have their feelings hurt from a hunting trip by the Irish baronet Lord St. George Gore to the present states of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana in the 1850s. This proposal backed by the Summit County Commissioners prompts me to take a closer look at some of the other name changes we might consider in our fair county today.
In the southern part of our county is the town of Breckenridge and the ski resort of Breckenridge. The town is named in honor after John C. Breckinridge, the 14th Vice President of the United States 1857-1861 in the hopes of gaining a post office for the fledgling town site. Breckinridge was a Kentuckian and an advocate of a states rights position against the interference with slavery.
When the vice president went south as a general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War the pro-Union citizens of the town covered their tracks with a slight of hand by substituting an "e" for the first "i" in the name as the new spelling became Breckenridge.
The name has been something of a secret for years among the locals in the hopes none of the tourists will ever find out the real origin. But there are a lot of college kids that come to recreate in Breckenridge from campuses where the rage today is to change any name that smacks of slavery or confederacy.
In the event some of these snooty kids find out this secret we have got to be prepared. So I am assigning Mayor Eric Mamula of the town and resort COO John Buhler to come together for possible damage control.
Outside of Breckenridge, we have Barney Ford Hill formerly known as the "N-word Hill." It was named for an early black resident of Breckenridge who was swindled out of his claim by the fair miners of the town. The "N-word" name was changed in 1964 but is a reminder of the past bigotry in the Kingdom. Since this name is settled I am not assigning anyone to look further into this case.
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Just west of the Eisenhower Tunnel we have a mountain in our county named Coon Hill. I have always wondered what sinister connotation that name represented. I have never had the time to research it myself so I am assigning that to Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier, whose feelings have been hurt by the Lord Gore name. And Karn, if your research leads you into some deep, dark hole of past Summit County history, don't worry, as I've got your back covered.
Further north in the county we have a tributary of the Blue River named Squaw Creek. This name has been on the maps for quite awhile, being undetected through the feminist era, equal rights and glass ceiling conversations such that I wonder why nobody has been enraged by this one. Since I have Ms. Stiegelmeier assigned to the Coon Hill project, I am assigning another Lord Gore detractor, Leon Joseph Littlebird, to check into this one. I have heard Leon play his hurt feelings on his flute so I think my choice is a good one for this.
And as to those other Lord Gore detractors for the mountain range name itself, what are we going to do about all those other Lord Gore names? There is Gore Pass, Gore Creek, Gore Lake, Gore Canyon, the climber's Gore Thumb in the range and a whole telephone book full of Gore Range businesses. This one will be a huge effort, so I am assigning that to Commissioner Thomas Davidson, who seems to be a regular go to guy for these kinds of projects.
And speaking of businesses, how did the establishment of Pug Ryan's in Dillon ever get a liquor license? Don't people know this eatery is named for Summit County's baddest boy of all, an all-around outlaw, bank robber, steal-your-money-in-a-minute, shoot-you-on-the-spot kind of guy? Commissioner Dan Gibbs, if you are listening, I am assigning you to clean up this mess.
I am also aware that back in the day Summit County once stretched to the Utah line. As our current Commander in Chief might say, "there are a whole lot of bad-dude names on the map in that area." One of the baddest is the name of our state's second governor, Frederick Pitkin, whose rallying cry during the Ute uprisings was "The Utes must Go" or "they must necessarily be exterminated."
Before I could assign somebody for this one, Commissioner Greg Poschman of Pitkin County has stepped up to the task and solved this problem himself before the Pitkin name really becomes a bigger issue. Poschman is quoted in an article in the Summit Daily that "there's a branding issue at play; from changing county letterheads to building titles, the list goes on." This is politician-ese for "we can pick and choose our name changes as long as it's not too much trouble and doesn't cost too much." We could use more problem solving commissioners like Mr. Poschman who doesn't have to be prompted by my assignments.
And finally, if we take these name changes to the state level we have a momentous problem with names associated with Colorado's second territorial governor John Evans, implicated in the Sand Creek Massacre. There's a ton of names associated with Governor Evans including the Fourteener, Mount Evans. This one is too tough for me to touch, so I am not assigning anyone less than Governor John Hickenlooper to tackle this one.
So to all those that I have made assignments for name changing let's get crack-in. In the meantime, I am going on a hike in the Gore Range. It's a name that suits me just fine.
Better trail etiquette is long over due
Most of us Summit County (and everywhere) trail users have experienced rudeness, inconsideration and aggressive riding — to the level of being dangerous — on designated trails which has been getting worse and worse over recent years. I am mostly a mountain biker, but recently I went for a hike on some local trails and in a short time period I had four encounters of mountain bikers going downhill who didn't yield and I had to jump out of the way. I rarely get angry — actually I suck at it — but I was furious and started motioning and yelling at riders to yield. I also tried to stop inconsiderate riders and explain proper trail etiquette, but no way. Coming to that emotional state, I decided that this is unacceptable and more has to be done.
Similar incidents have occurred every time that I have been on trails this year — whether on foot or bike. It's just not worth it. I will stick to bushwhacking like in the old days, and ride on trails that are not advertised and designated. It's less frustrating and safer to go through the woods and deal with a moose or bear encounter. I realize that "those people" are also on the slopes and highways and many people express their frustration with that, but for now this is about recreation trails.
This topic has been discussed in Summit Daily News letters many times with people expressing their disgust, but the situation continues to be ridiculous on popular, designated trails; i.e., those that are published and well-marked with posts and signs. Many users are targets of marketing, and of course want to enjoy the beautiful trail system of the county. But the trails have become a victim of their own success. Trail program directors are doing a great job; trails are well managed, constructed, marked, fun and scenic, with terrain for most abilities. Yes, it has become a mountain bike and hiking mecca. But what may be missing is a proportional amount of time and effort budgeted to promote etiquette, courtesy and safety! The cost of a world-class trail network should not be limited to construction and maintenance of the trails themselves, and obtaining right-of-ways, but should include education of trail users in etiquette.
Trail etiquette is discussed in places like the Explore Summit Bike Guide booklet which has a two-page "Crash Course on Mountain Biking Trail Etiquette," by Mike Zobbe. Mike has also hit the topic several times in his SDN column Big Fat Tire, and rules of the recpath article. That publicity and education has had some influence and some riders are trying to respect others (school aged children have been well-taught so there is hope), but the problem continues with the vast majority. It appears that many trail users may be ignorant to trail etiquette, and sadly, most are aware but don't care.
Perhaps, more should be done by local trail departments to teach and influence trail users on proper etiquette and make that a budget item. The rules need to be hammered-out over and over and over like TV and radio commercials that we hate. We get sick of the messages, but at some level, part of the message sticks — otherwise advertisers wouldn't be paying big bucks.
Some suggestions for educating trail users follow:
• Place an insert that explains trail etiquette into every Summit County trail map that is available for purchase.
• Post trail etiquette tips on trail signs at popular trails, or a mantra such as "Others matter" (open for suggestions on that).
• Posting trail etiquette on Breckenridge and Summit County trails websites with a disclaimer that has to be opened and checked before map access is allowed.
• Trail users can be taught to explain trail etiquette to others on the trail when the opportunity presents itself.
I am asking that local government get involved and approve budgets to empower trails departments to be more proactive. I also ask that the trail user community be more involved by expressing their concerns to trail managers, government officials, and explaining trail etiquette to users whenever possible. Trail etiquette will never be perfect, and many inconsiderate people will continue ruining it for others, but collective action will help. The time is now, and it's long overdue!
Dear Town Council
On Tuesday, October 31, the Breckenridge Town Council will again consider a resolution stating a goal of powering Breckenridge with 100% renewable energy sources by 2035.
We were pleased to see in the Town staff's resolution cover memo that Xcel Energy intends to undertake this transformation "at no additional cost to the customer." Xcel even predicts the cost of renewable-only power to be lower than the cost of fossil-fuel energy, though we are perplexed as to why Xcel needs a Town commitment to pursue this less-expensive and cleaner source of energy.
We respectfully ask, then, that the Town Council simply incorporate Xcel's intentions in the resolution. Maybe the following:
"The Town affirms it will make no new capital expenditure, including any commitment of Town land, to achieve this goal, and it further affirms that there will be no increase in cost to Breckenridge electricity consumers greater than increases to Colorado non-100% Renewable customers."
Robert and Gretchen Dudney
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