Then and Now

Used to be $11/hour was a pretty good wage in the valley.

Used to be that a house selling for $190,000 was pretty expensive.

Used to be that the leaves started changing in September.

Used to be that the grass was green in August because of the afternoon monsoons.

Used to be people actually drove 15 mph in town and 58 mph on the highway.

Used to be scruffy kids wandered in tribes around town while the village adults kept a close eye on them.

Used to be big flower boxes in the middle of the streets that calmed traffic.

Used to be plenty of free time to ride, fish, linger and chat.

Used to be no radio station, high school, arts center or soccer field in Crested Butte.

Used to be a lot more empty lots where kids hung out around town.

Used to be the ice rink had a telephone pole in the middle of it and broomball was the draw.

Used to be restaurants would alternate who stayed open in the off-seasons.

Used to be real off-seasons in spring and fall.

Used to be you could rent a house in town for a couple hundred bucks a month and it was easy to find a place.

Used to be you’d almost always see someone with a book in their hand.

Used to be skinny dipping in Long Lake and naked skiing on the last day of ski season.

Used to be the movie theater (and Chinese food options) was in Gunnison.

Used to be everyone started out here driving a Subaru.

Used to be everyone had a (big) dog or could borrow one.

Used to be it wasn’t always easy to find work.

Used to be you could walk into a bar and know most people there.

Used to be you could get into the wilderness five minutes after you walked out the back door.

Used to be the Four-way was dirt, and mud season meant something.

Used to be a lot of lights on at night in the houses in Crested Butte. And a few hardy souls chose to live in Crested Butte South.

Used to be a dozen really good mountain bike trails near town.

Used to be the Lower Loop had one of the best views in the country.


These days, $11/hour is a decent wage—for a middle-school kid but not for an adult trying to live here.

These days, a house selling for $190,000 is cheap (okay, almost impossible) and will be sold within minutes.

These days, lots of free buses move people up and down the valley.

These days, kids in designer jackets can still wander around town with the pack of buds and feel safe. The village adults still keep a close eye on them.

These days, there are scores of really good mountain bike trails in every drainage between Crested Butte and Gunni.

These days, there’s a quality high school, fun radio station, regulation soccer field and expanding arts center in Crested Butte.

These days, the movie theater (and Asian food option) is in Crested Butte.

These days, there are more quality places than ever to get a drink or a meal in town.

These days there is still skinny dipping in Long Lake, but naked skiing—not so much.

These days, mud season is dusty asphalt season. So long-time residents fight to keep the alleys dirt (which I love).

These days, the ice rink has a roof and may soon have refrigeration.

These days you might happen on someone reading a book in the woods—but scrolling through the phone is more likely.

These days a SUV is what most people drive—or they take the bus.

These days the 15 mph signs are still there—but the flower boxes aren’t.

These days the “shoulder seasons” (I hate that term) are shorter. But there is still an off-season feel.

These days it costs an arm and a leg to rent most places in town and there aren’t many affordable places for workers.

These days, everyone has a (big or small) dog or can borrow one.

These days you can walk into a bar and know most people there.

These days if you want a job you can get one.

These days you can still walk, bike or drive to wilderness 10 minutes after leaving the post office. You just have to go by more houses to get there.

These days there are still lights on in the local neighborhoods but there are more lights in Crested Butte South.

These days, the Lower Loop has one of the best views in the country.

—Mark Reaman

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