Loose Ends: Speck of truth in local legends

Dolly Viscardi
Weird Rio Blanco is a book just waiting to be written. “Weird Colorado: Your Travel Guide to Colorado’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets” by Charmaine Ortega Getz garnered quite a bit of attention when it was published earlier this year.
News clippings, bizarre facts, little known historical anecdotes and unusual one-time encounters were compiled for some interesting reading.
The introduction by the Weird USA authors notes that the original book was based on the question, “Is there any factual material sparked the telling of this wild and wacky local legend?” All of the material they used was required to have truth, a historical basis, some real-life characters, or an actual physical setting. They were surprised to find that often what they originally presumed to be nothing more than legend turned out to be real or at least had a grain of truth.
Our region merited a mention or two of particularly weird occurrences. The haunting of the historic Maybell Hotel, buried treasure (legends about Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, and Dinosaur National Monument’s rock art are mentioned). The Meeker Hotel isn’t mentioned, although local legend has it that ghosts can be found if someone looks closely. The author maintains that Colorado is a haven for the strange and bizarre. Some of our local stories fit the bill as they recount such events as the burning cabin built from oil shale, cattle mutilations that were supposedly performed by aliens, and old buildings that have a ghost or two. While most of them don’t seem particularly weird to the teller of these legends, it appears that they started from a grain of truth.
Divided into categories such as local legends, fabled people and places and unexplained phenomena, the book brings to mind all sorts of stories told by old-timers. There are often two or three versions of each story and the more often it is told, the weirder it gets.
What one person finds weird or unusual, another finds ordinary or mundane. That is probably why the really good stories often stay hidden for years. There has to be someone who knows most of the area’s half-baked history and could come up with a truly peculiar and far from ordinary rendition of local history. Any takers?
— dolly@theheraldtimes.com