• It is difficult to believe that you can live in a community where a big bird with a 5 ½- to 6-foot wingspan is considered to be relatively abundant in summer without ever seeing one. Yet, that is exactly what happened recently to a friend who told me he had seen one perched on a fence post near his home. He had never seen one before but knew what it was immediately.

  • Georgetown recently opened its first firefighting museum, paying tribute to the area’s past and present at the 138-year-old Alpine Hose House No. 2.

    The historic structure and local architectural icon that towers above the town are the final result of 20 years worth of conservation efforts.

    The museum opened on July 4th and is operated by the nonprofit Historic Georgetown Inc. from noon to 5 p.m. every day through Labor Day.

    “It’s been a project in the making for many years,” said HGI president Sharon Rossino.

  •  People frequently ask me why they never seen pine grosbeaks at their feeders and where they can see one. They are a very beautiful western bird living in the Rocky Mountains just a bit higher than most people do.

    They rarely come down as low as Evergreen. Pine grosbeaks are gray, black and white birds. The males have a red head and upper body when they are adults, and the females and young are more yellowish. The immature males look much like the females, and the red on the males increases in amount every year as they mature.

  • Many people’s first reaction on seeing an orange-and-black bird is that it must be an oriole; this, however, is not the case. We have another orange-and-black bird in the foothills that is not an oriole. It’s short thick finch bill and dull burnt orange color will immediately rule out an oriole.

    Orioles have a brilliant yellow-orange color and a thin long beak like other members of the blackbird family. The black-headed grosbeak is dark burnt orange, black and white.

  • Location, location location.

    That’s Realtor-speak meaning that where a property is matters more than what it is. And in the case of a charming refurbished property just coming onto the Clear Creek County rental market, location really is everything. 

  • Our Lady of Perpetual Health stood like a precarious circus performer on stilts in Empire's Theobald Park on June 19.

  • On a typical sun-washed summer Saturday morning, Empire’s tidy Minton Park is a peaceful place inhabited mostly by wildflowers and hummingbirds and the fresh breezes that scamper softly down from the snow-capped majesties filling every horizon.

  • From wooden frogs to steaming hot dogs — all manner of colorful wares were on display during the Idaho Springs Farmers Market on June 14.

    The Idaho Springs chamber runs the market at Courtney-Riley-Cooper Park every Friday through September from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Chamber treasurer Deborah Lamberti said that with 25 vendors, the market is bigger than ever.

  • Like a bullet from a revolver, the bronco shot out of the chute, a cowboy dangling from his back.

    The horse charged the fence on the opposite side of the rodeo grounds at full speed. The rider, realizing his dangerous predicament, jumped off at the last second, hit the ground, slid through the dirt and rolled into the rail.

    A giant cloud of dust washed over the stunned spectators sitting in the stands. The cowboy was back to his feet, no worse for wear, and the Oh My Gawd Rodeo kicked off its summer season with a bang.

  • One of the most beautiful flowers in June is golden banner. It is in full bloom in my yard, but it starts blooming as early as April and May on the high plains. There are large yellow patches of golden banner now blooming throughout the foothills.

    Soon it will march even higher with its yellow banners sparkling until it is blooming at Echo Lake in July and occasionally a bit higher above timberline in August.

  • An early-morning chill on Saturday gave way to a spectacularly sunny sky for Idaho Springs’ official kickoff to the summer season during the annual parade and free barbecue on Miner Street.

  • With a leash-straining lurch and a cacophony of barking, more than 100 dogs and as many runners jerked forward to begin the Canine on the Creek 5K Run on Saturday morning.

    Several four-legged participants resorted to walking on hind legs in their enthusiasm to hurry along their slower owners.

    For the past two years, runners and walkers have gathered at Charlie’s Place, the Clear Creek/Gilpin County Animal Shelter in Dumont, to raise funds for the shelter and share their enthusiasm for all things canine.

  • Editor’s note: The Clear Creek Courant is celebrating its 40th anniversary of serving the residents of Clear Creek County. This year, the Courant will reprint portions of past articles from its four decades and will publish a series of stories about former employees.

    When Sue Lathrop interned for the Courant in 1991, founders Cary Stiff and Carol Wilcox Stiff had been operating the paper for nearly 20 years.

  •  It is so nice to have some warm spring days, and now we are promised summer temperatures this week. Just to go out in my yard and see green fields and robins looking for worms, and hear green-tailed towhees and house wrens singing is a tonic for my winter-shriveled soul.

    Winter has been far too long this year, partly because it started early and because spring is a good two weeks late. The aspen trees at the bend in the road usually have their furry catkins by April 15, but this year, they did not shed their bud scales and bring out their furry catkins until May 2.

  •  Once more we have snow in May. This is a bit disturbing because we have just had some fine spring weather in April, and this seems like we are going backward. We don’t really want to see winter return, but it is not unusual. 

    Several people reported hummingbirds during this period, and I received several requests to write an article about hummingbirds and how to feed them. Because of its importance and for the welfare of our hummingbirds, here is the information.

  •  April 10

    A community blood drive will he held from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, in the lunchroom at Clear Creek High School, 185 Beaver Creek Canyon Road. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Nancy Spletzer at 303-679-4621 or nancy.spletzer@ccsdre1

    April 12 

    Movie Night will begin at 5 p.m. at the Idaho Springs Library. “The Princess Bride” is the film.


  • For 36 years, Silver Plume residents have donned the guises of dashing heroes, heroines and mustachioed villains for the annual Silver Plume melodrama.

    A local institution, the event raises funds for the nonprofit People for Silver Plume that go to restoring the town’s historic buildings.

    For many of the volunteer actors, participation in the Plume Players is as much about having a good time as it is supporting a worthwhile cause.

  • Clear Creek Courant co-founder Carol Wilcox Stiff chronicled the lives and events of her adopted community for nearly 30 years.

    The longtime Idaho Springs resident recently died of natural causes, and her body was found in her home March 25 by a neighbor. 

    “As typical with a small town, everybody somewhat watches out for each other, and the neighbors had a key to the house,” said Idaho Springs Police Chief Dave Wohlers.

    Wilcox, 73, was born June 9, 1939, in Omaha, Neb., and was the mother of three and grandmother of eight.

  • Paying no heed to the chilly weather, more than 30 residents bared their heads in a show of hairless solidarity on March 20 to raise money for childhood cancer.
    For a third year, students from the Clear Creek Rite of Passage program at the Mt. Evans Qualifying House hosted a fund-raiser for St. Baldrick’s childhood cancer research at the Idaho Springs Elks Lodge.

  • We moved into this house on April 19, 1965. That’s nearly 48 years ago, but many of you may recall the article I wrote about trying to find a pygmy owl that we heard calling that first night.
    Unfortunately, I do not hear pygmy owls calling as much as I used to. Their call is much more often heard than the owls are seen, for these tiny owls can disappear in a clump of pine needles or other foliage, and they are ventriloquists. They are not where you think they are.