Kathryn R. Burke

Feature Articles & Cover Stories

FEATURE ARTICLES introduce you to a person, place, subject or topic. Usually, they provide some background and research (corroboration) and share interesting facts— some new, some provocative, some curious. A good article sparks your interest and leaves you wanting to know more.  Scroll down for some of my favorite examples, or click on one of the posted articles you see listed on the sidebar (which is below the examples if you’re viewing this with a hand-held device).

The Silverton Train & Red Mountain Mining District

[October 30, 2023 |  Montrose Mirror | By Kathryn R. Burke] This is the story of Otto Mears’ Silverton Railroad, constructed in 1887 which conquered nearly impassable steep terrain to serve the Red Mountain Mining District. At its peak, the 8-square mile territory spanning 11,111 ft Red Mountain Pass, had over 3000 people and 40 mines. Three engineering feats resolved how to complete the route: the Chattaooga Loop, Red Mountain Wye, and Corkscrew Turntable. (Learn more here).

Gold! And the gold mine that saved the town of Ouray

[September 4, 2023 |  Montrose Mirror | By Kathryn R. Burke] Gold! Just the sound of the word inspired (and still inspires) Gold Fever. Which inevitably led to a…Gold Rush. While we all know about the digging for gold in the San Juans, and the settlements that followed, we were neither the first nor the last place to attract hordes of hopeful gold hunters.The first significant gold rush in the United States was near Charlotte, North Carolina in 1799. Then came the California Gold Rush followed by diggings all over the west. But it was the gold mines above Ouray which saved the town when others, which depended on silver, not gold, fell victim to the Silver Panic of 1993. (Learn more here).

Wine & Art – a perfect paring. Part I & II.

[July & August, 2023 |  Montrose Mirror | By Kathryn R. Burke]
It’s long been a tradition to serve wine with art—in galleries, at art and music events, and gatherings. This series of articles takes a wine tour of ten perfect places to enjoy both art and wine.
[July 2023 | The Montrose Mirror | PartI ] Paonia. We visit three wineries, Azura Cellers and Gallery, Qutori Winery, and Alfred Eames Cellars, and the. Blue Sage Center for the Arts. [Story] [Play video for Qutori winery]
[August 2023 | The Montrose Mirror] Part II. We visit two places in Montrose, La Noue DuBois Winery, which makes wine and Mosaic Montrose, a boutique gallery and shop that serves it. We also visit the AppleShed, which does both.

WhooHoo! Ron gets his bike fixed and Sally signs him up for Time Bank.

[July 17, 2023. The Montrose Mirror. By Kathryn R. Burke] Sally and Ron are standing in front of Stan’s Bike Shop. Ron’s expensive road bike is broken, and he doesn’t have the money to repair it. He’s upset and angry. Sally, who is a member of the Time Bank, suggests his bike might be fixed with a Time Bank Exchange.

Sally signs him up, Ron gets his bike fixed, and the bike shop owner, also a member, earns time credits to spend on a gift for his wife. It’s a kid of round-robin. Everybody benefits! [story]

Chocolate – 5.5006 years of fascinating history
(3 stories)

Chocolate—Food of the Gods in Mesoamerica

[January 31, 2023. The Mirror. By Kathryn R. Burke] Did you know? The phrase, “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” was coined by the Spaniards in the 1500s when they saw cocoa beans used as currency by the Aztec, who considered it more valuable than gold. To the Spanish (who were after their gold. Montezuma II had more than 1 billion coffee beans in his treasury. Chocolate was also used in human sacrifice. [story]

Chocolate Travels to Europe

[February 6, 2023. The Mirror. By Kathryn R. Burke] Chocolate consumption in Europe was so popular, it inspired a “chocomania.” Cocoa also retained its reputation as an Aztec aphrodisiac and many people associated chocolate with exquisite pleasure, which is why is was considered a drink for adults only. [story]

Chocolate Comes to the Colonies

[February 13, 2023. The Mirror. By Kathryn R. Burke]. Did you know Ben Franklin recommended chocolate as a cure for Smallpox? Chocolate came to the colonies about the same time as it arrived in England. Colonial women were warned against it as because it was an “inflamer” that stimulated the libido. The same warnings made it increasingly popular across America as the chocolate craze spread from coast to coast, resulting today in a $127.9 billion industry. [story]

The Mesmerizing Digeridoo

Australian storyteller, Paul Taylor, demonstrates the digeridoo.

[April 2022, The Montrose Mirror] TERMITES EAT IT BEFORE YOU PLAY IT! If you know how, you can play it for 40 minutes (or longer) without taking a breath. Native to Australia, the didgeridoo is a totally unique musical instrument unlike any other, and possibly the oldest musical instrument in the world. It’s also associated with the Aboriginal concept of “Dreaming.”  An Aboriginal wind musical instrument, the didgeridoo is a long wooden flute, without finger holes, that produces a drone-like sound by blowing into it using a special breathing technique called circular breathing. [Story]

First Americans – Art and Artifacts Tell Their Stories

Sego Canyon, Utah, petroglyph, © Kathryn R. Burke

[November 2021, San Juan Silver Stage] Since we don’t have a time machine — yet—we can’t physically go back in time and see history in the making. But, we can still observe it, because those who made history left behind a wealth of art and artifacts for us to examine. Whether we find these items in situ, or visit them in museums and private collections, we can follow their owners’ past history in the present time. Scientific study and historical research suggest that the indigenous peoples were here long before the white man appeared, arriving more than 20,000-30,000 years ago!  [Story ]

Colorado’s Historic Opera Houses – a tale of Boom & Bust, and Boom again.

[September 2021, San Juan Silver Stage] When the opera houses were built, back in the late 1800s and early 1900s during Colorado’s hardrock mining days, it was an exciting time. Many of the small towns that we know now started out as rough mining camps and, within less than five years, grew to have populations larger than they do today. Before long, there was a demand for more ‘genteel’ entertainment to replace (or at least augment) the thriving red light district of bars, brothels, and gaming parlors. Opera houses, like the Sheridan in Telluride, Wright in Ouray, and Wheeler in Aspen. filled that need. [Story]

All You Ever Needed to Know About Halloween – story and video

[October 2021, San Juan Silver Stage] Halloween. Is it Christian or Pagan? Celtic or Catholic? Why do we put candles in pumpkins and call them “jack-o’-lanterns”? How come kids gorge on candy on October 31? Why costumes, bobbing for apples, and “trick or treating”? And what’s with ghosts and goblins, headless horsemen, and witches on broomsticks flying over the full moon? Like Christmas, the traditions relating to this holiday, which heralds the end of summer and the onset of winter, have a long history. And its worldwide customs have a lot of similarity. History: Celtic origins, Roman and Christian influences, Samhain stories, Halloween in North America, and the Headless Horseman. Customs: Trick or Treat, Jack O’lanterns, Headless Horseman, Dia del Muertos, Halloween today. [Play Video]

Education’s New True

[December 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage] I’m sitting here at the Stone House in Montrose, eating lunch alone and paging through news stories and background material on my phone while I wait for my food to be served. I look up information for this article, and immediately I am bombarded with a landslide of “facts.”  I miss the library. Only now, or at least here, I can eat lunch while I peruse reading material—or more accurately, peer at it through my “cheaters” on the tiny screen of my iPhone. The learning experience for all of us—student or writer, those disseminating information or those absorbing it—has irrevocably changed. Better? Not sure. Quicker? Definitely. Confusing? Absolutely. [Story]

Today’s Education, a Technical Enterprise

[January 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage] this is the second article in this education series. It explores hybrid learning – the positives and negatives of in-person vs. remote, or a blend of both. The article also reviews how locals school systems in Montrose, Delta, and Ouray Counties are managing these changes that have come about due to Covid.

If Alleys Could Talk
Hunting for old carriage houses

[July 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage] Montrose, Colo. Most of the larger historic homes standing today still have them.  They look a little like a garage…but not. Carriage houses are tall with a pointed roof and (originally) a single door. Back in the day, a carriage was the standard mode of transportation. To keep the conveyance clean, dry, and safe, families stored their carriages in these outbuildings behind the house. Horses? They were usually left outside to forage. Carriages cost a lot of money. Horses didn’t. Hence the house for the carriage and grass for the horse. You’ll find them in the residential areas along alleyways on both sides of Townsend—especially near the intersection with Main Street. The old part of town stretches several blocks in either direction.

(Less than a year after I wrote this story, i moved into one of the old neighborhoods, and the peek of a carriage house is visible from my kitchen window!)

The Big Five—Zion, Brice Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks—are the most visited National Parks, as is Glen Canyon in Arizona.

Utah’s National Parks & Monuments
History, Geology, and the Best Places to Visit

[March 2023 | Montrose Mirror] Each of the Parks and Monuments of Utah (and the surrounding 4-Corners area) has a distinct personality all its own. What they have in common is their geologic basis—some of it more than a billion years old! The area lies atop an underground salt bed responsible for the arches, spires, balanced rocks, fins, hoodoos, and monoliths.The sedimentary rock layers that lie on the Colorado Plateau, encompass parts of Utah, Colorado (the largest), Arizona, and New Mexico—an area with 5 national parks, 8 national monuments, 8 Scenic Byways, 2 National Recreation Areas, 1 National Historic site, and 2 Tribal Parks. [Story]

Uncompahgre River Trail, Ridgway CO. ©Kathryn R. Burke

Follow the Water
Resource-responsible development, from the “Outside In”

[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage] Two different men, actor Dennis Weaver and entrepreneur David Dragoo. Half a century apart, yet both with a common vision: benevolent use of our natural resources for building healthy communities. For Weaver, it was Ouray County. For Dragoo, 27 years later, it is Montrose County. For both, it was and is a successful exercise in preserving our land and water for recreation and enjoyment while creating community living spaces.

Montrose Community Connection
Buy Local, Shop Local, Support Your Business Community

[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage] Local business owners have taken a big gamble to follow a dream (or maintain a family enterprise) by owning and operating a business here. They depend on you—someone who lives and works here or in a nearby community—to support them and, thereby consequently, Montrose, with your patronage. [story]

Ridgway Farmers MarketFarm to Table

[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage] Healthy alternatives. No GMO. No MSG. No hormones. Gluten-free. Dairy-free. Sugar-free. Locally-sourced. Grass-fed. Organic. Colorado grown. Sound familiar? In SW Colorado—anywhere, really—healthy eating is becoming a popular pastime. Thank goodness. [Story]

Uncompahgre RiverWay Trail — Montrose to OurayUncompahgre RiverWay Trail — Montrose to Ouray

[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage] The Uncompahgre RiverWay Trail  will eventually link Delta with Ouray, creating a 65-mile route along the Uncompahgre River in southwestern Colorado, open to bikers, hikers, everyday walkers, and—in some places, dogs and horses. [Story]

Enchanted gardenEnchanted Gardens

[July 2019. San Juan Silver Stage] Three enchanted gardens in Ouray and Montrose counties provide relaxing time in quiet spaces and special places that offer peace and tranquility. Where you can just sit and listen to the quiet and smell the air. [Story]

Follow the Water. Resource-responsible Development, from the ‘outside-in”

[July 2019. San Juan Silver Stage.] Two different men, actor Dennis Weaver and entrepreneur David Dragoo, half a century apart, yet both with a common vision: benevolent use of our natural resources for building healthy communities.

Life Lessons from the Horse Lady

[June 2014, Montrose Monitor] In every community – especially the smaller ones like we have in western Colorado – there are usually a few individuals who are truly unique. Not peculiar, not eccentric, but extraordinary, an absolute one-of-a-kind. In our community, Alice Billings certainly fits that description. [Story]

Sandy Head and Sheree FredeLet’s go shopping NOW!

The battle cry is quintessential woman, and the activity itself a universal panacea that knows no geographical or economic boundaries. Doesn’t matter when or where. Doesn’t matter why. No excuses needed. (Just ask any husband!). [Story]

classic car Chevy1955Classic Cars

Eat your heart out, Peggy Sue! Today’s muscle car ride is as good as it ever gets…or got. And cruisin’ is still a favorite Friday night activity. Rolling along with the top down and the radio up, you may recognize some of your old friends behind the wheels of these well-loved and lovingly preserved (now) classic cars. [Story]

wine and food paringWine & Dine

It’s not rocket science—the pairing of food and wine. It’s more a matter of what tastes, smells, and looks good and what goes down well with it. If you like to eat it or drink it, go for it, and don’t worry about getting the combination right. [Story]

Tommy Jackson turquoise and silver braceletCowgirls and Indians
It’s all about jewlery

Whenever, wherever, and however you wear it, Indian jewelry is just so much fun! And, it’s so much a part of our geologic and cultural western heritage. After all, it’s the down-to-earth part of where we live: rock and metal. You can’t get much more basic than that. [Story]

MEDC Russell Stover Candies

“When Russell Stover Candies came to Montrose in 1976, it marked the dawning of a new era,” said MEDC Executive Director, Sandy Head. “Providing a second income for farm families, the successful establishment of the candy company proved to the community that Montrose could be home to a large manufacturer. [Story]

Update. Russell Stover no longer has a presence in Montrose. Like so many other businesses, Covid did them in, and they scaled back their operations.

MEDC Aerospace & Aviation

In 1993, Al Head, and David Leis came together along with two additional partners to create a piston aircraft engine shop—Western Skyways. They wound up knocking on MEDC’s door. . . and soon were the second tenant in the Aerospace Research Park. [Story]