The Silver Stage is Back on the Trail Again

[May 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Kathryn R. Burke]

Everybody has been asking, “Where have you been? Are you back? Are you going to start printing the Silver Stage again?” Absolutely! We have a lot of history and it’s time to get on the trail again.

The first issue of the Silver Stage came out in 1996. We were a monthly then, producing it in Ouray and printing in Cortez—a long wild ride after staying up two or three nights in a row to meet our deadline. I drove a souped-up Ford, a ‘muscle’ car from California, where I had lived with my children before moving to Colorado. That car was not a mountain car, especially in the winter. Eventually, I burned it up on Lizard Head and had to buy a Jeep. But in the interim, that Ford hauled a lot of newspapers around the San Juan Skyway.

At first, the sheriff and S&R guys in Ouray made me trade my Ford for one of their 4-wheel Jeeps before I headed south. “Otherwise, we’ll be digging you out of a snow bank someplace,” they said. Too true! My editor and sidekick then, Jane Bennett, would often accompany me, wearing yellow snow goggles so she could see the road better and call out perspective hazards. Back in the beginning, working mostly from home, we assembled several issues at Dennis Weaver’s house, ‘pasting up’ our layouts on his big solar windows, because our computer had crashed.

After we bought new computers and moved into our first of two offices in Ridgway, Trisha Moran (now with Weehawken Arts) stayed up all night ‘pasting up’ and stacking layout pages in ‘flats’. And off we went again. When we moved to the office in Laura Fike’s building, Laurie Casselberry came onboard as publication designer and production manager. While she was expecting her second child, requiring bedrest, we ran back and forth to her house, putting each issue together in slow, careful increments. My daughter worked at the salon next door, eventually owned by Judy Weaver. Between the salon and us, we had some great margarita parties up there. A lot of you stopped by to visit and suggest story ideas. Or just drink margaritas. Oh my, those were the days.

We had so much fun! The Silver Stage kept growing—in page count (we got to over 60 pages in three sections!) and geographic area covered (from Colorado to the entire Four Corners). After my husband retired from Tri-State, we began traveling throughout the region, taking photos, writing stories, selling ads, distributing the current issue. Secretly, we had both wished we’d been National Geographic contributors in another or earlier life. Didn’t happen, so this was as close as we could come. We explored fantastic places and had such a great time doing it.

As our market and readership grew, we started publishing location-specific magazines, the ‘glossy’ kind, called ‘slicks’ in our industry. That was so much fun and so well received, we began adding others and opening more offices. At various times, we were in Grand Junction, Montrose, Silverton, Durango, and Ridgway—our name is still on the door there. We published location-specific magazines for Silverton, Ouray, and Cottonwood/Sedona in Arizona (and had an office in Cottonwood). We also (briefly) did a magazine called Lifestyles—our first ‘slick’. We published a special anniversary edition for MEDC (Montrose Economic Development) and had an office there. We also published numerous special event pieces about food, art, and Native American trading posts. Because my husband was a well-known railroad photographer and historian, we started writing for the Grand Canyon Railroad’s magazine, and then began publishing All Aboard for the Durango & Silverton Railroad, and a magazine for the Royal Gorge Railroad on the front range.

That’s a lot of publications, and at our peak, six of them at the same time. So much history! Such adventures!

Nothing stays the same, though. My husband got sick, the economy took a nose dive, and with me, then being on the wrong side of 50, we had to cut back. One office, not three, and finally just a home office. Down to three, then two, and finally one magazine. The San Juan Silver Stage was the last one we printed before I took several years off to be a caregiver. During that time, I still worked with most of our advertisers, designing websites for them (something San Juan Publishing had already been doing for several years) and making their ads for other print publications.

We moved to Montrose to be closer to health care. I became involved in Region 10’s ADRC program, met some fantastic people, and received a lot of support through a difficult time. Understanding what caregivers feel and how they cope, I began giving talks about it, wrote two books on the subject, and began publishing others to help people facing similar situations.

But oh, how I missed print. There is nothing else like giving birth to a new publication—the smell of hot ink, the sound of a press run-up, and watching your newspapers (or magazines) spitting out of the press and stacking. I love it!

The time has come to do it again. My husband passed away two years ago in April, but I know, wherever he is, he’s saying, “Go for it!” I called our old crew together—look at our masthead, a lotta familiar names there. We contacted our advertisers and everybody got onboard. We rented an office in Montrose (inside the Montrose Center for the Arts), where we could visit with folks and learn more about what the 50+ crowd wants to know and read. We delegated topical and regional sections to ‘editors’ who suggest publication content and advertising. We’re all involved in various charitable organizations, too. I’m a big believer in teamwork and community involvement.

And now … our team is back on the trail again, older, hopefully wiser, and loving every minute of it. We invite you to come along for the ride.