Ridgway—Across From the Park

[May 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Kathryn R. Burke]
Images, Kathryn R. Burke.

Hartwell Park is where the summer music happens, and the Ridgway Rendezvous on the second weekend in August. At dusk, you can also find free outdoor movies there all summer long. But these are just ‘happenings’, and you don’t have to wait for one to experience some summer excitement. Across the highway from Hartwell is a row of great shops where a lot is happening. And the best part is getting to know the folks you will meet there.

Step up the steps to the boardwalk. Start at the east end and visit Lupita’s Bizarre Bazaar. Susan Baker’s shop has been there the longest, and it has a long history of year-round visitors looking for the unique and unusual. She’s got everything in there from jewelry and clothing to furniture and kitchen gadgets. For kids, there are games and toys. Half the people in Western Colorado have one of her humorous magnets on their fridge. People come from miles around just to buy her clever greeting cards. Allow time to browse. You’ll need it.

A couple doors west is Ridgway Wrench. Nate Miller is the newest tenant on the boardwalk. He fixes, racesand rents bikes. “I’ve always been around bikes,” he said. “I grew up on Nantucket and started working in a shop there.” Since then, he has gone on to work in several other shops, and now, has his own here in Ridgway. His specialty is mountain bikes, but he works on everything from around-town road bikes to high-end tri-bikes. Nate also competes in single-speed world championships and Ridgway’s annual RAT Race. He invites you to join him. The race is June 8th—a 34-mile trail from town to CR 10, by Second Chance. Be warned, though. You’d better be ready. Nate won it two years in a row and he’s planning on winning it again this year.

Next stop is Art by the Park. This isn’t the first Ridgway gallery for owners, Suzzane Ulrich and her husband, Larry. When they first moved here from New York, they opened Sunrise Southwest, a gallery on the other side of the park, near True Grit. Suzanne has a flair for exhibiting southwestern art. Inside Art by the Park you will find paintings, clothing, jewelry, greeting cards, and art by regional and local artists.

Suzy Ulrich, Cafe Ridgway

Last stop, next door, is the ice cream shop, Café Ridgway Open year-round, it is run by Suzanne’s daughter, Suzy. She carries specialty ice creams in ‘small batches’, so they are always fresh, served in a bowl, sugar cone, or waffle cone. The shop offers an extensive menu of sundaes, shakes, Italian sodas, and floats. “You can do endless things with floats,” she says. Café Ridgway is open year-round, seven days a week, from mid-June into the fall (and shorter hours in winter).

Why did she open the shop, and how does she feel about it? “It’s delightful,” Suzy says. “I love being part of the community, seeing people come in, making them happy.”

Tracy Hill

Tracy Hill


Tracy Hill

National High School Hall of Famer


Story by Kathryn R. Burke

Tracy Hill[Nucla, Colo. October 16, 2012] Tracy Hill made Colorado basketball history while playing for Ridgway High School (where her father still coaches today) She was top scorer between 1980 and 1983, setting the record for career points scored She set 21 state marks; 17 still stand. Hill went on to play at university, then played professionally in Australia where she was named Tasmania Player of the Year. She returned to Nucla to coach, guiding her team to the 1998 team title. She lives in Nucla today with her husband, the school’s athletic director, and her seven-year old son. Hill is working on her PhD in Education.

Hill was inducted into the NHS Hall of Fame in July. “Though I may have been the one who was inducted,” she said, “I dedicate the recognition to Ridgway and the school community because “they” (parents, community members, school staff, students, and notably, teammates) were and still are “the heart of” what I value and stand for today.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations established its Hall of Fame in 1982, to honor athletes, coaches, officials, administrators and other school activity directors for their achievements at the high school level. Hill is one of 12 honorees this year.


Tracy Hill lives with her family in Nucla, Colorado.

The slideshow (PowerPoint) was designed by Kathryn R. Burke for Tracy’s presentation to the Women’s Club of Ouray County.


Tammy Stroup,Ridgway CO Marshall

Tammy Stroup

Tammy Stroup, Ridgway Marshal

Tammy Cares

Story by Kathryn R. Burke


Tammy Stroup,Ridgway CO Marshall

Marhsal Tammy Stroup, Ridgway, Colo., with her dog Marley.

[Ridgway, Colo. November 15. 2017] Tammy Cares—those two words sum up this unique woman and perfectly describe her personal and professional worldview. Marshall Stroup’s door, like her mind, is always open.  “If you come in here,” Tammy says, “you will be heard. And you will be treated with respect.”

Respect and compassion.  Those are this marshall’s watchwords. Tammy is a compassionate woman—which makes her particularly effective in law enforcement.

Tammy’s journey into compassion began as a child.  She grew up in Montrose, Colorado, where she spent a lot of time on her grandparents’ sheep farm.  Many of us who live here know her grandmother, LaVonne (Blondie) Campbell, a lifelong sheep rancher and still very active in the Wool Growers Association here.  From her grandmother, who she calls her ‘lifelong mentor,’ Tammy learned to love and respect animals—and people.

Tammy studied biology in college, planning to go into veterinary medicine, but an incident when she was a young mother, living with her law-enforcement husband in Glenwood, changed her course.  She witnessed a domestic incident where the (victim?) woman was disrespectfully and harshly treated by the responding officers, resulting in personal injury. “It didn’t have to be that way,” she said.  “It doesn’t matter what your cultural or economic background, it doesn’t matter if you are a victim or the victimizer, accused or accuser, you deserve to be treated with respect.”

She cited a recent experience demonstrating how that works.  She was working at the District Attorney’s Office and called out to contact a man who she suspected had a warrant. “I ran him before contacting him,” she said. “And he did have a felony warrant. I called in for help (since I didn’t have a cage in my car), but was told there was  ‘no one available to respond.’”  (Another example of the difficulty female law-enforcement personnel face in a male-dominated profession.)  Tammy approached the man, who had children in the house, and very respectfully asked for his cooperation, so as not to disturb his family.  He complied.  “He got in his own car and followed me to Montrose County Jail, where I was able to pat him down and book him.”  Much to the consternation of those who thought she couldn’t handle the situation without appropriate backup. “One thing I’ve learned, like many other women in my profession, is that we have to work a little harder to prove ourselves. Being female in this kind of work can be excruciating.”

But it can also be rewarding.  “I truly love law enforcement,” Tammy said.  “It gives me a chance to help people, and that’s who I am, what I’m about.  I love to help people.”  Along the way, she mastered compassion as part of  “learning not to be judgmental.  You need to reach out to people, let them know you are there to help.”

After a death in the family, Tammy returned to Montrose with her two daughters: Kelsey, now 18 and with Western Colorado Regional Dispatch Center (WESTCO), and Hailey, a budding businesswoman. Tammy worked as an investigator with the District Attorney’s office in the 7th Judicial District (San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose, Delta, Hinsdale, and Gunnison counties), where she was an investigator. “I worked all kinds of cases,” she said, “from homicide to domestic abuse to various other kinds of crime.” She was there just shy of 10 years, rapidly rising to the position of Chief Investigator.

Tammy also put in some time (after leaving the DA’s office) with the Dolphin House, that helps children in distress or compromise.  That, too, arose from compassion, and a desire “to do the right thing for people.” While working on the front range, she was involved in a child abuse case, where “a grandfather was given custody of an 18-month- old child after the divorced mother’s new husband beat the child causing brain injury.”  Sadly, the child was returned to his mother after she and her husband went through parenting counseling.  Within a few months, the child was back in the hospital with a fatal brain injury, caused by the stepdad.  Tammy sat with that grandpa through the subsequent trial, and cried with him, helping him understand and accept that it was not his fault that the boy died.  Compassion is a big part of police work, and Tammy takes that to heart.

She also takes her family to heart.  Her husband, Billie Stroup, is a Sergeant in the Montrose PD.  Both her daughters are doing well and living in Montrose.  Grandma Blondie Campbell is nearby, and as big an influence today on Tammy’s 7-year-old son, Gage, as she was when Tammy was that same age. “They are my life,” she says simply.  That life also includes two dogs, a German Shepherd named Marley and a lab called Koda.  What goes around…

So, Tammy’s  journey from a Montrose County sheep ranch to a marshall in Ridgway, Colorado is a natural progression.  She’s been heading there since she was her son’s age.  Tammy’s doing what she loves, and doing it with care and compassion.  The sign on her office wall says: “Do what is right; not what is easy.”  Tammy does it right.

Tammy Stroup lives and her family live in Montrose Colorado. Her husband and daughter are also in law enforcement.

This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke

Liana Schmidt

Liana Schmidt

Liana Schmidt, architect

Building for Success


Story by Kathryn R. Burke

Liana Schmidt

Liana Schmidt, Silver Mountain Design

[Ridgway, Colo.  April 15, 2014] Liana is an architect with a unique sense of design for high mountain country. She lives in —and works from— Ridgway, Colorado, ‘Gateway to the San Juans’ — soaring mountains, which offer some of the most photographed mountain scenery in the world.

Talk about creative inspiration!

Liana began her creative journey in Argentina. Native to that country, she studied architecture in Buenos Aires, the second largest metropolitan area in South America. With nearly 13 million people, the city, a vibrant mix of old and new architecture and myriad cultures, is a worldwide tourist destination.


Home in Log Hill, near Ridgway, Colo.

Downsizing considerably, Liana’s next stop was Park City Utah, home to a little over 8000 people and named by Forbes Traveler Magazine in 2011 as one of the 20 ‘prettiest towns’ in the United States. At 8300’ Park City is an old silver mining town transformed into a modern ski resort. Sixty-four Victorian buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, while resorts incorporate the latest architectural amenities.


And now. . . Ridgway, a tiny town at the top of the scenically magnificent San Juan Skyway and its multitude of historic silver mining towns. Less than 1000 permanent residents reside in pastoral Ridgway—once a marketing center for surrounding ranches and railroad shipping center for the mines. Like Liana, most who live here are avid outdoor enthusiasts. And many, like Liana, possess an indomitable creative sprit.

Liana Schmidt lives in Ridgway, Colorado.

Visit Liana’s website, Silver Mountain Design.

This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke

Susan Long

Susan Long

Susan Long, (former*) Ouray County Fairgrounds and Event Center Manager


Story by Kathryn R. Burke

Susan Long[Ridgway, Colo. October 15, 2013] Susan Lee Long is the current Manager of the Ouray County 4-H Event Center and Fairgrounds in Ridgway, Colorado. She has been in this position for almost eight years. She also resides in Ridgway.

As the manager of the 4-H Event Center and Fairgrounds, she has been fortunate to meet many of the citizens, organizational members, and business owners in Ouray County. She has been instrumental in developing existing events into larger venues, as well as, bringing many new venues to our county’s Event Center and Fairgrounds.

She understands the need for a ‘spirit of cooperation’ within the community. In 2012, a survey estimate of visitors to the 4-H Event Center and Fairgrounds for different types of meetings and events was over 16,000.

Susan’s background is very diverse. She has over 45 years in business, including her work here in Ridgway. Her experiences in marketing, publishing, communications, printing, advertising, political campaigns and consulting includes working for large corporations, small companies, and overseas work. She was instrumental in producing the first commercial yellow pages for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Some of her volunteer endeavors include her work with amputees, especially those returning home from the military.

Susan, now widowed, was married for 32 years. Robert and Susan had four children (two now deceased), four grandchildren, and seven great-children. She has lived in large cities and small towns, and on various family farms and ranches in New Mexico. She spent 4.5 years in Saudi Arabia in the 1980’s. Originally from the mid-west, she spent 25 of her adult years living in New Mexico. More recently, Susan spent six years in Scottsdale, Arizona before moving to Ridgway.


*Update: Susan Long has now retired. Her former assistant manager, Erin Stadleman, is now the Fairgrounds and Event center Manager.


This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke


Joan Chismire

Joan Chismire

Joan Chismire, Ouray County Ranch History Museum

Ouray County Ranch History Museum

Story by Kathryn R. Burke

Joan Chismire

Joan Chismire

[Ridgway Colo., January 20, 2015]With optimism that an opportunity would eventually present itself in finding a more permanent home for the Ouray County Ranch History Museum, Chismire and the board worked tirelessly toward that goal. It took ten years.  The museum started out in the historic old Colona School Building, where it had two rooms for exhibits, but she they always hoped for more space.  “We had been exhibiting our collection, or what we could of it, there from 2007-2017, over ten years,” Chismire explained.

And then it happened.  The museum was able, with the help of doner-secured financing, to purchase to help facilitate the purchase of the old 1893-railroad depot in Ridgway, Colorado.  The Mitchell family, which owned the building, offered to sell the building to the museum.  When the building became a private residence in the 1960s, it had been moved from it’s original location (where the Mountain Market stands today)on the west side of Railroad Street near the Town Park gazebo to it’s present location.  The musem’s purchase of the depot was completed in September, 2016.  Moving the museum’s collection began in January, took over four months, and was completed in  January May 2017.

“We started our quest for a new location in 2015,” Chismire said. “We had advertised in the local newspaper that we needed land, needed space, for showcasing some of the pieces we had acquired.”  The museum collection had long-since outgrown it’s space, and had been storing exhibits in various locations. Following the call for space, donors the Mitchell family contacted the museum, and Chismire was able to put the deal together. with help from donors, the building was purchased and became the ranch museum.

The museum now has 10 rooms instead of two and plenty of room for outdoor exhibits that had previously been stored at various locations.  Chismire and her all-volunteer staff The OCRHM board, all volunteers, worked through the winter to set up the exhibits and get the museum ready for its opening in July last June.  The results are outstanding.

The ranch museum is open from Memorial Day through mid-September, Friday & Saturday 10 am – 3 pm. Sunday noon – 3 pm. Monday 10 am – 3 pm,  and by appointment. Museum admission is $3 per person or $10 for family. “We have heat now, and ADA-compliant public restroom facilities, so we can open to visitors any time of the year for the first time since the museum opened,” Chismire said.  Please come visit our community’s historic beginnings and sign up for a membership so you can visit often and help support the museum.

Website:  (designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke)
This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke.