Stoner Rico Telluride
Janice Rae Pariza
Photograph - Photography
My favorite roadside Americana sign on Colorado's Western Slope driving over Lizard Head Pass.
Stoner and Rico are much smaller towns then Telluride.
Frank McDonald is the self-proclaimed mayor of Stoner, Colorado, a town whose population numbers two -- with the other resident being, in his words, "an old lady named Mary Jane." But thanks to the community's name, and the passage of Amendment 64, he thinks the future for the tiny spot on the map is bright -- and smells pretty skunky.
Stoner, located in what McDonald describes as "a little valley in the middle of nowhere near Rico on your way to Telluride," consists of nine buildings, not counting Mary Jane's place ("She lives in a little hunter's shack up on Stoner Creek").
frank mcdonald stoner graphic.jpg
This mural of Frank can be found on the floor of Stoner's restaurant.
According to McDonald, the structures include an eatery, a general store, several cabins (well, three of them are trailers) that need to be remodeled or refurbished and 35 RV spots. But what the average observer may consider a ramshackle assemblage McDonald sees as a destination music venue: Mary Jane's at Stoner Grill, Bar and Events Center.
"The property is roughly six acres, and once a big stage is up, we could do events for about 4,000 people," he says. "Parking would be about a mile away, so we'd have to run a shuttle service, but we'd want to maximize capacity. And we could bring in all kinds of acts, like Shinedown -- I know some of the guys -- or L.A. Guns or, on the country side, Hank III. We'd get them at the beginning or end of tours -- get them for less money, because we'd be working with local not-for-profits. And who wouldn't want to play in Stoner, Colorado?"
McDonald isn't a Colorado native. Up until about two years ago, he lived in Liberty, Missouri, where he says he served as the CEO of a new product development company and took part in affiliated business ventures with his wife -- now his ex-wife.
Spanish for "rich," Rico's wealth lies in its mines and the accompanying history. Trappers first worked the valley in 1832-33, taking mainly beaver and other fur-bearing animals. The first gold was discovered in 1866 by Colonel Nash, a Texan who led a team of 18 prospectors. His work was cut short, and in 1869 Sheldon Shafer and Joseph Fearheiler, prospectors heading for Montana, uncovered Nash's beginnings.
Anna Engel panning for gold in the 1920's
The Utes drove away many initial miners, and the mining rush didn't truly begin until 1878 when the Utes signed the Brunot Agreement, thus surrendering their land claims in the San Juan Mountains.
The town of Telluride is the county seat and most populous town of San Miguel County in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Colorado. The town is a former silver mining camp on the San Miguel River in the western San Juan Mountains. The first gold mining claim was made in the mountains above Telluride in 1875 and early settlement of what is now Telluride followed. The town itself was founded in 1878 as "Columbia", but due to confusion with a California town of the same name, was renamed Telluride in 1887, for the gold telluride minerals found in other parts of Colorado. These telluride minerals were never located near Telluride, causing the town to be named for a mineral which never was mined there. However, the area's mines for some years provided zinc, lead, copper, silver, and other gold ores.
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June 30th, 2014
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