Those of us that live in the urban areas and bedroom communities of Colorado may be unaware of the ranchers and cowboys who work in rural areas producing meat, milk, fiber, and other animal by-products. While some are aware of mass-producing factory farms, these citizens may lose the opportunity to appreciate the ranching heritage of rural Colorado.
How many Coloradoans know that lambing and calving entail 24-hour watches in sub-zero temperatures in order to ensure the warming and survival of the new offspring? How many of us recognize the losses associated with auctioning off cattle when there is not enough water to grow the hay needed to feed them? The art of ranching and the way of life it entails is not commonly understood in the urbanized world of today. What threads of knowledge, tradition and meaning have kept ranching families rooted to their land and life style for generations despite the hardships? There is joy, harmony, relevance, and authenticity in this way of life and it is communicated in the arts and activities of our Valley residents.
At the turn of the century, between 1800-1900, the San Luis Valley began to grow. Located at its north end in Saguache County, were mining boom towns like Bonanza, Orient, Crestone and Liberty, and the shipping towns which serviced them, Moffat and Villa Grove. Ranching flourished trying to feed a growing young nation. Moffat, at the center of all this commerce, had a train station, huge stock yards, and narrow-gage lines from the mines of the Sangre de Cristos. Once recognized as the "queen city" of the valley, and considered for the site of Colorado's state capital, Moffat was home to 2,500 residents with passenger trains running twice a day. With the advent of the trucking industry, and experiencing a devastating fire, Moffat downsized and became an agricultural town producing cattle, hay and turning out young ranchers who attended the Moffat Consolidated Schools.
Today Moffat continues its agricultural heritage with many of the original families still ranching and farming. Moffat's central location in northern Saguache County houses the Moffat Family Health Clinic, and Moffat Consolidated Schools serving Crestone, the Baca, and northern Saguache County. Many businesses thrive in Moffat's small town atmosphere with a convenience store, coffee shop, an art gallery, trading post, excavation company, bed and breakfast and a self-storage facility.