DURANGO, Colo. — The story of North America is usually told as one of westward expansion. That's an incomplete telling, however, and a news story last week about the renaming of a ski area north of Durango serves as a reminder.
The Durango Mountain Resort was sold last week to James Coleman, who promptly announced he was renaming it Purgatory. The ski area had been called Purgatory for the first several decades of its existence and only within the last decade had taken on the name Durango.
Purgatory reflects the Spanish influence in the region. After Hernan Cortés subjugated the Aztec in Mexico from 1519 to 1521, conquistadors moved north. Soon, they had established Nuevo Mexico, or New Mexico, with Santa Fe as the provincial capital in 1610.
In 1765, Spanish explorer Juan Maria de Rivera set out from Santa Fe to explore the mountains to the north. In the San Juan Mountains, he found a river that he called the Rio de Las Animas, which in English means the River of Souls.
Some think the full name the explorer gave the river was Rio de las Animas Perdidas. In Roman Catholic doctrine, that's a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven. Hence, the name Purgatory for the ski area.
It would be a delicious synchronicity if the owner of Purgatory also owned Heavenly, the ski area at Lake Tahoe. But Vail Resorts owns Heavenly and Coleman's chain has a southwestern flavour: he owns Sipapu, a ski area near Taos, and is acquiring the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area in Los Alamos, both in New Mexico. He is also acquiring Snowbowl near Flagstaff, Ariz.
A stand-in for Mideast
SANTA FE, N.M. — Actress Tina Fey is in Santa Fe filming a movie based on the memoir of a journalist who spent years in the Middle East after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The Santa Fe New Mexican points out that New Mexico has frequently been a stand-in for other locations. Remember those sweeping views of Montana in the movie Lonesome Dove? Or the Mexican badlands in All the Pretty Horses?
In both cases, it was actually New Mexico. But in recent years, the New Mexican reports, the film industry has looked to New Mexico's rolling deserts and wide-blue skies as a stand-in for the sun- and blood-soaked conflict zones of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
Rebecca "Puck" Stair, film locations manager, said productions choose New Mexico for movies set in mideastern locations because of two primary reasons: the state's tax incentives and its similar topographies and climates.
"Any script with desert or aridity, New Mexico is the best choice," Stair said. "But if Arizona had incentives, they would be doing it all in Arizona."
The Hollywood blockbuster, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, was also filmed in New Mexico, with parts of it shot in the Taos Ski Valley. It's due out in theatres in 2016.
Moose knocks down walker
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — By the recent numbers, there's greater evidence that you should be more wary of moose in Colorado than either bears or mountain lions.
Yes, both bears and mountain lions have killed people in Colorado. But in this century, moose have proven themselves more than capable of inflicting harm. The latest story comes from the Steamboat Springs area, where a woman was trampled and injured by a bull moose.
Wildlife officials tell the Steamboat Pilot & Today that they suspect something other than the woman spooked the moose, causing it to run toward the woman and her dogs. The woman barely had time to react. She turned and was headbutted by the animal.
The 31-year-old woman had injuries sufficient that she was flown to Denver for treatment.
Local residents told state wildlife officers that the area where the woman was injured has had as many as 14 moose at one time, and they have sometimes acted aggressively.
The Pilot & Today says this is the fourth moose attack in the Steamboat Springs area in the last two years. In the other cases, the attacks are believed to have been provoked by dogs that moose perceived to be predators.
At Grand Lake, about 80 kilometres to the east of Steamboat, a woman was knocked down by a moose two years ago. Again, dogs were involved. But in 2006, a former mayor of the town suffered fatal injuries after being knocked down. He was without dogs.