Ready for the next 100 years
Minturn celebrated its 100th birthday this fall. In a place as new as Colorado, that’s an accomplishment.Need proof? Go find an 1894 map of the state, now published by the U.S. Geological Survey. That 100-year-old map lists hundreds of now-forgotten towns and settlements, many out on the plains, but many more in the High Country. To get one of those hardscrabble outposts to 100 years is a big deal, indeed. Remember, Aspen nearly dried up and blew away between about 1910 and 1946. Minturn may have had an even tougher time carving out a place in the world.Sitting at the base of Battle Mountain, Minturn and its residents have spent the last century battling the elements, trying to keep up with the vagaries of the mining, railroad and resort businesses and adapting to unimaginable changes of the last 100 years. When Minturn adopted its town charter, the Wright brothers had made the first powered flights at Kitty Hawk, N.C., just the year before. The age of gasoline was in its infancy when Minturn was new, and the most accessible major towns were Grand Junction and Pueblo. The best way to get to Eagle, or anywhere, for that matter, was by rail. Red Cliff was still the county seat, with the Eagle Valley Enterprise still located in the valley’s economic center. The town’s famed roundhouse crash was more than 30 years in the future.Over the years, Minturn and its people have worked through the challenges time and circumstance have dealt it, resulting in the distinctive place residents cherish today.There are plenty of challenges facing Minturn over the next few years, the main one being how the town will change while retaining what attracted people to it in the first place.As the last two elections in town showed, many residents are doggedly resistant to change while still living in an area that’s evolving faster than a carton of yogurt lost in the back of the refrigerator. If Minturn can remain a viable town while holding off the forces that hold sway in the rest of the valley, it will have accomplished the nearly impossible, and may become and even more remarkable place than it is today.But don’t bet against the little town. Residents have persevered over the decades, and the town remains solid, with a core of long-timers who may argue but have the best interests of the town at heart.That vital civic core will be crucial to the town’s future. S.M.Vail, Colorado
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