February 13, 2015
“SO HOW LONG HAVE you been in Ridgway?” Whatever your answer, once you’ve been here long enough, you’re hooked.
People who choose to live here get to revel in natural beauty that begins at their doorstep and continues to the horizon. One day it’s the elk herd in the valley, another day it’s the deer making the rounds through town pruning our trees. Some mornings, it’s just fascinating tracks in the snow—bear, or mountain lion, or just quick little bunny feet making for safety. Maybe you get drawn in by a pair of eagles keeping watch over town.
My favorite story about Ridgway concerns the time the power went out one evening in the grocery store. As the staff broke out packages of flashlights and batteries, they found the electric cash registers didn’t work, so they started writing out bills by hand. If people had credit cards, they started making out IOUs. And if you think any of those bills went unpaid, then you haven’t been in Ridgway long enough.
Our “founding fathers” named the East-West streets after themselves and the North-South streets after their wives. It struck a nice balance, and Ridgway has been balancing ever since.
You wouldn’t think the rancher and the skier would have a lot to talk about; but standing together at the Farmer’s Market and mutually admiring a perfect bell pepper, you’ll see these two discussing rainfall in earnest, a conversation they’ll repeat later in the year when the rain turns to snow. And, and in the spring, they’ll be sharing the location of their secret mushroom-picking grounds.
People in Ridgway, as it turns out, have common ground from which to start any conversation&—they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. When the rodeo comes to town, try sitting in the stands and looking down. You might be surprised to see as many pairs of Birkenstocks as Tony Lamas. And when the local kid rolls off that horse, slides down the rope and ties up that calf, everyone jumps to their feet to cheer. If they don’t already know him, or his family, or his friends, then it’s just because they haven’t been in Ridgway long enough.
You might be surprised that local railroad buffs pitched in to recreate the 1926 Buick-turned-“Galloping Goose” at the Railroad Museum. You might be surprised that a local restaurateur knits the cutest baby hats you ever saw. You might be surprised that the person sitting next to you at the bar sells solar panels, or raises camels, or blows glass, or runs sled dogs, or teaches theater, or leads wildflower walks or wants to take you fly-fishing…. Well, stay for a bit. You just haven’t been in Ridgway long enough.
Story by Robb Magley. Photography Kathryn R. Burke, Laurie Casselberry
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