We received a note from Bob Risch, president of the Ouray Trail Group, that offered some trail usage numbers.
The group recently counted all the signatures from 42 trail registers throughout the county and found that 56,829 hikers registered at trailheads in the county in 2018. The U.S. Forest Service, according to Risch, estimates that only one-third to one-half all trail users will register before hiking, so usage numbers could be as high as 150,000.
Ouray Perimeter Trail is the granddaddy of all trails, with 27,591 hikers signing in, which represents a 21 percent increase over 2017 and nearly double the number who signed in four years ago.
The next most popular hike in the county is the trail to Blue Lakes in the Sneffels Wilderness, where 7,693 visitors registered in 2018.
The trail group was founded in 1986 and works with others to preserve and maintain the use of Ouray County's trails and trails to the fragile remains of 19th century mining era sites. It publishes the definitive guides to area hiking, including the "Hiking Ouray With Kids and Everyone Else," and "Hiking Trails of Ouray County Map." Need a last minute Christmas gift? There you have it. Find them in local stores or in their online store at ouraytrails.org.
We send the paper to the Montrose Daily Press each week Wednesday afternoons. It's common practice for us to be wrapping up ads, stories, legal notices and late-breaking news on Wednesday.
We'll deviate from this for the Dec. 27 issue. We are publishing a "history" paper and sending it to press on Dec. 21. This will give our staff six straight days off, but we will still be covering the news.
What is a history paper? We are researching articles of interest — at least we find them interesting — from every decade since the Ouray Times, our oldest ancestor, first printed in June 16, 1877. These articles all come from the week of Christmas, and we'll print them on the 27th.
In addition to the 70 years of combined bound copies we have of The Ridgway Sun, the Ouray County Plaindealer, The Ouray County Plaindealer and Ouray Herald, and The Ouray Herald, we used microfilm copies from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s at the Ouray Public Library and early issues on the terrific coloradohistoricnewspapers.org.
This endeavor, which will just barely touch on the history of this county, reminded me of a file I have at the office.
In 1978, when former publisher Joyce Jorgensen chronicled the history of The Ouray County Plaindealer and Ouray Herald, she noted several gaps in the newspaper's records. I have her original typed notes, in which she said:
"Former publishers apparently left mad, and took the files of their 'tenure' with them, in the late 40s and early 50s. Some others left gaps for other reasons.
“One of the more interesting reasons was told to me when we first came here about 24 years ago. Two men owned the paper then. The partners were both addicted to the juice of the grape, and (were known) to throwing great fits of anger at each other on a fairly regular basis.
“During those outbursts, one or the other would walk out, usually tipping over the type cases en route or creating some other kind of hell for the remaining partner to deal with that week.
This went on for about two years, but it finally ended when one walked out and the remaining partner decided to make his own statement in a way we still have to deal with today. He set fire to the building, and fed it with the file copies of the newspaper. I was told they sold out directly after that episode."
The original publishers of the Times were brothers, William and Henry Ripley. They brought their country press and type to Ouray on a train of six wagons from Canon City. Their press at one time was the first press used in Colorado Territory and had been used to print the Cherry Creek Pioneer in Denver City, which lost out to The Rocky Mountain News as the first newspaper to hit the streets of the pioneer town, Denver, by a mere 20 minutes, back in 1859. At the time, Denver was still part of the Kansas Territory.
I almost have to draw a diagram to trace the lineage back to the Times, even when reading Jorgensen's research. Nevertheless, it goes like this:
The Ouray Times outlasted other papers in Ouray, including the San Juan Sentinel, until 1886 when it became The Budget, published both daily and weekly until 1888.
In 1888, The Budget was purchased and became The Plaindealer, and in 1892 it consolidated with the San Juan Silverite and became the Silverite-Plaindealer until it returned to the the name The Plaindealer in 1901.
In 1922, it was consolidated with the Ouray Herald, formerly a newspaper that was published as The Dallas Herald, near Ridgway. The paper published as The Ouray Herald and Plaindealer from 1922 to 1939 until the title was changed to The Ouray County Herald.
In 1967, Joyce Jorgensen and Preston Walker, then publisher of the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, purchased the newspaper and changed the name to The Ouray County Plaindealer and Ouray Herald.
In 1970, the name was shortened to The Ouray County Plaindealer. In 1980, Jorgensen revived The Ridgway Sun, which had last published in the late ‘20s. In 2011, we discontinued The Sun.
With all that said, it's been fun once again sifting through old volumes and getting sidetracked to neighboring papers such as the Silver World in Lake City and The Standard in Silverton.
We hope you enjoy next week's issue, as well.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the Plaindealer staff.