Freight cars symbol of less scenic past |

Freight cars symbol of less scenic past

Allen Best

DURANGO – Durango is known as one of those beautiful places in the West. Its history, though, is of less scenic industrialization. “The town emerged from the smoke of smelters, the dirt of the farms, and the danger and dust of the mines,” says Jonathan Thompson, writing in the Silverton Standard.Not much of all this remains, and the town’s railroad legacy is also threatening to disappear, he says, despite continued operation of the tourist steam locomotive. But it would be a mistake to let this smudged past be covered entirely, he argues. “What is sad is that so many vestiges of these older times have been erased so thoroughly,” he says. “Having a sense of what a place is requires knowing from whence that place came. “And such knowledge is boosted by physical reminders – symbols of what life once was. The freight cars that straddle the business district of Durango are some of the few such symbols remaining in that town.”Fund links second-home ownersCRESTED BUTTE – Now in its third year, the Crested Butte Community Foundation is becoming a potentially significant connection between second-home owners and local nonprofit organizations.Informally known as Friends of Paradise, the group was organized here years ago with the intent of raising money for open space preservation. But board members agreed the organization needed a broader vision. To that end, 19 local organizations ranging from a community school to a public radio station received more than $31,000. Groups contacted by the Crested Butte News says the foundation’s contributions were singularly not large, but still appreciated.The second-home group currently has an asset base of $300,000. Organizers hope to eventually get several million dollars, and then dispense $50,000 to $75,000 to community organizations each year. The idea, reports the Crested Butte News, is based on similar organizations in other communities, particularly Telluride and Aspen. One of the board members, Ann Kinder, a second-home owner, says the foundation is a device to educate second-home owners, among other potential donors, in the importance of giving back to the community.

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