Loose Ends: Another quiet season

Dolly Viscardi
As hunting season ends and the quiet season begins, picturing the White River Valley years ago seems to make one feel a lot better when that the old cabin fever feeling starts up again. Many of us love the long, cold, winters but quite a few residents never have gotten used to the feeling of being cut off from other places.
“If you think Meeker is dead now, you should have been here when we didn’t have the good roads we have now,” one elderly resident says. She had unlimited stories about “keeping to home” for months at a time after the snow started. Their one big trip to town each fall to stock up on supplies for the winter had to last them until spring. She went on to tell me that in her family her father and one or two of the children might go into town by horseback, but the rest of them had to make do with entertaining each other.
It brought to mind an old conversation with a friend and old-timer whose work with the U.S. Postal service led him to riding the 130-mile trip from Maybell to Ladore six days a week. He said that he didn’t move into the town of Meeker until he was in his 20s, as he was “batching it” in those days and didn’t get to the big city very often. He passed through quite a few old-time settlements such as Juniper, Lay, Sunbeam, and Greystone. He described the strict social boundaries that existed between the cattle and sheep ranchers and the “nesters” in Meeker and traced the hostility back to the days when the influx of homesteaders destroyed the open range, and fences eventually whittled away the grazing lands available for cattle. The uneasy relationship between sheep and cattlemen added some tension as well. He mentioned, though, that after he settled down and moved to Meeker, he found that some of the original boundaries had shifted, making for a closer community. The “social season” began when all the work was done on the ranches and the dances and get-togethers held throughout the area in the schoolhouses were always in winter.
Newcomers to Meeker comment on the peaceful atmosphere, as even the busiest times don’t feel as stressful. Maybe the white stuff piling up for the next few months helps. Like any community, there are always issues on the boil and underlying tensions, but generally things stay quiet … sh, sh!
— dolly@theheraldtimes.com