Our trip down the San Juan River started with a drive from Boulder to Bluff. Planned overnight stops in Salida and Alamosa Colorado and another a mile from the boat launch set a relaxed pace. Driving through and stopping in towns along the way was like visiting a series of tiny foreign countries. In one of them, Sangaushe, CO I understood absolutely nothing. During our brief visit to an empty shelved antiques store in this town decimated by economic failure I scoped the place for signs of the 21st century. There weren't any. The jewelry, the furniture, peeling wall board, dust caked windows and whistling proprietor were not of this century. Back in the East this might have been 'quaint' but here it most definitely was not. I walked through time as the romance often associated with the past was slowly and painfully ripped away. This town surrounded by American Reinvestment and Recovery Act road construction is a place forgotten by time. Beautiful and empty.
The Sauguache.org website describes the region as follows: Saguache is the northern gateway to the San Luis Valley in South Central Colorado. It sits at an elevation of 7800 feet, surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo mountain range on the east and the San Juan range on the west. Many of the peaks are 14000 feet, a great challenge to climbers.
Saguache is a Ute Indian name pronounced Sa-watch. It means “Water at the Blue Earth.” It was settled in 1867 by Otto Mears who started his fortune with the first toll road above Poncha Pass. Otto invested in railroads, mining, the Mack Truck Co. and is credited with the famous "Million Dollar Highway”.
Ranching is the main occupation in this part of the Valley. Both cattle and sheep are raised, cattle being predominant. Some logging is done on Forest Service land. More farming is done as you move down the Valley. Crops include potatoes, lettuce and barley.