Z Blog: No gunfighters’ graves
Vail has no crumbling mine shafts, no decaying railroads, not even any gunfighters’ graves. Vail is so young that some of the photos from the early days are in color.
History in Vail isn’t the same thing as history in Breckenridge or Leadville, where some of the buildings are way more than 40 years old.
The Rolling Stones are older than Vail.
That’s OK. Not every little Western town can be Deadwood or Taos. Not every little Western town needs a sign that says Gen. Custer slept here. Not every little Western town needs crinkled, black-and-white photos of pot-bellied saloon owners with suspenders and handlebar mustaches hanging in town hall.
But some Vail residents seem to feel burdened by a long history that the manufactured ski town doesn’t have.
The current conflict in town is the renovation of a 30-year-old building that’s architecturally outdated but hardly “old.” No one thinks the unsightly Crossroads building is a treasure, but people are worked up about a developer’s design for the replacement.
Even the proposed bowling alley, ice rink and public plaza haven’t cooled their ire. The opponents of the so-called Solaris complex say it’s too tall, has too many condominiums and therefore doesn’t gel with Vail’s mountain-town “character.” But what exactly is Vail’s character?
Yeah, it’s an imitation Alpine ski resort, but it also has a modern American interstate roaring through it. It can be quaint at times ” mostly when the tourists aren’t mobbing Bridge Street ” but it’s also home to a money-hungry, publicly traded tourism and real estate empire.
Vail is about making money, not preserving the decrepit head frames of abandoned mines.
By no stretch of the imagination is Vail an authentic Rocky Mountain town, like Salida or Paonia, and the rabid addiction of some to a history that doesn’t exist can hold the town back when it’s trying to rejuvenate itself.
That’s not to say Vail should approve any obscene monstrosity some developer dreams up, but residents should be a little more open-minded ” a little more flexible about what they’ll allow to be built. They should feel liberated by the lack of history and should be willing to see the town reshaped.
Without such daring and open-mindedness from early “pioneers” like Earl Eaton and Pete Seibert, after all, Vail would still be a deserted sheep pasture.