Energy: Moffat County’s driving force
March 18, 2010
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For 100 years, it's been the driving force of Craig's economy, as well as its people.
Energy found in mineral form has long been a boon for Craig, which recently celebrated the centennial of its 1908 incorporation as an independent town. The surrounding Moffat County will celebrate its own centennial in 2011.
Before the development of railroads in the region in 1913, homesteaders were on the lookout for gold in the Yampa Valley. The area soon saw an abundance of an equally important substance as coalmines began to develop, tapping into 100 billion tons of marketable coal found in a 1926 geological survey of Moffat County.
Coal still provides financial stability for Craig and the surrounding areas. Likewise, the utilization of power plants in the 1960s provided more jobs and opportunities for further development, as well as oil and natural gas deposits. Decades later, the town is still going strong, but coal resources aren't the only commodity.
Moffat County is home to numerous cattle and sheep ranchers, some of whom are known on a national level. These agricultural specialists do their part in creating the energy that makes Craig what it is.
But the animals outside the fences also play a part in the schematic, providing yet another facet of Craig's economy: tourism.
Craig is known as a world-class hunting destination, which speaks to the draw that it features for people on a global stage. People come from states and countries away to take in the natural beauty of the area, whether just for the natural scenery that is among the best of Colorado or to hunt the abundant herds of indigenous species of antelope, deer and elk that stride across the land.
The hunting season provides Craig with its biggest financial boom of the year. Hunters stimulate the local economy by frequenting the dozens of retail outlets, eateries and entertainment venues that make up the town and its neighbors.
And the winter landscape is not limited to the hunting crowd.
Trading in the rifle for a pair of cross-country skis, snowshoes or a snowmobile for the day allows tourists and residents alike the opportunity to appreciate the pristine, snowy terrain in its entirety. Nearby Black Mountain offers a challenge to experienced snowmobilers while maintained trails make Moffat County accessible for inexperienced ones, as well.
But the scenic splendor that attracts tourists to the region also brings in new, permanent community members. As the hunting season ends and the snow melts away, Craig's energy is boundless in taking full advantage of the Great Outdoors. The entirety of this experience would span not only one person's lifetime, but throughout generations.
The spring sees residents young and old out and about day after day, exploring the natural wonders around them. Outdoor recreation is a stone's throw away in any direction whether you prefer picnicking and camping, hiking in the foothills or fishing and rafting in the area's bodies of water. Within the city limits, 55 total acres comprise seven parks, with every sports location imaginable with basketball and tennis courts; baseball, soccer and football fields; an indoor ice rink; and a public golf course, to name a few.
The sunny months also see an influx of out-of-towners for Grand Olde West Days, famous as "Colorado's annual kick-off to summer," a Memorial Day weekend event that will celebrate its 20th year in 2010. Other summer events include rodeos, the county fair and the chainsaw spectacle Whittle the Wood, in which wood workers hailing from near and far turn old tree stumps into works of art each June. Many of the resulting wooden masterpieces have remained local landmarks.
Once autumn comes around, Craig residents are already anticipating the return of hunters, but their energy is still steady with celebrations like the high school homecoming garnering their attention.
Here is where the energy is at its most rewarding, as parents and community members put their effort into the youth, so too do students inevitably go out into the world upon graduation to spread the energy that has been built by the town they call home.