“If you don’t know your own story, how can
you expect newcomers to get involved in your community?”
– Myles Rademan
When Myles Rademan accepted the job of
director of planning for Park City back in 1986, he had no idea what the next
few years would bring. “Up to that point,” recounts the gregarious 63 year old,
“my experience with mountain towns was fairly limited. I had spent the last 15
years as a planner in Crested Butte, true, but working there was a unique
He laughs. “Geography was our defining point
there. Attitude and a desire to do things differently was what motivated us.
But pure survival played a big role. It was such a small, isolated place that you
really had to work together if you wanted anything to happen.”
While Aspen — only a day’s mountain bike
away across the pass — was the place for sophisticated grown-ups, Crested
Butte was for rebellious youngsters. “It was a community-minded, egalitarian
kind of a town,” explains Rademan. A smile flits across his features. “This was
a place where the trappings of wealth were definitely not popular. Where
‘natural’ and ‘self-propelled’ and ‘environmentally-responsible’ became part of
the lexicon long before it did in other places. I guess you could say CB was
the anti-Aspen.” A long pause. “For my wife and I, it was like finding a lost
But then, before skiing arrived, Crested Butte
was a lost civilization. A remote, hard-scrabbling coal-mining town, the
original community consisted mostly of Serbians and Croatians who’d been
recruited to work the coal seams hidden deep in the local hills. And when those
dried up in the mid-1950s, the town had very little to fall back on.
“Great wealth was never made in Crested
Butte,” says Rademan. “The people who settled there originally were very poor.
When I’d ask some of the old-timers what life was like during the Great
Depression, they’d look at me blankly. Conditions were already so tough there
that the Depression had very little impact on their lives…”
Lest you think Rademan is just another
nostalgia-laden baby-boomer looking back at old times and waxing romantic,
think again. “I look back on my time in Crested Butte and realize that much of
my biggest fights were symbolic,” he says. And then he laughs, long and loud
and completely free of guilt. “One of my biggest battles, ironically enough,
was over a grant I got to pave the town’s mains streets — you know, get
the sidewalks done and plant some grass and get some street lights and stuff.”
He pauses. “People accused me of all sorts of things. I wasn’t being realistic.
I was betraying the community. It was a huge fight; it completely divided the
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