ORAL HISTORY STORY
BY STEVEN G. BAKER
Montrose/Dallas Creek Project
Based on an interview with Jack Rairden on 11/17/15
I started out back in about 1976 - I was working for the Ouray County Commissioners. I convinced them to get a little grant from the State under what they called the 1041 Program, which was Park Service money, to do an inventory of historic sites in Ouray County. The goal was to convince that whole bunch of miners out there that those ruins in Ouray County were worth their weight in gold for tourism.
So they reluctantly went ahead and we got the grant. I started recording sites and high grading some of the best sites that I knew of in Ouray County and getting forms on them. One of those sites was the Dallas Town Site.
In my research I found that the Bureau of Reclamation had inadvertently or perhaps intentionally, located the Dallas Town Site up on the bluff to the east of the highway which was totally wrong. I assumed they did it so they wouldn’t have to mess with it to build the dam and the reservoir.
So I took it upon myself to write a very undiplomatic letter to the Bureau of Reclamation, criticizing them for doing an incompetent job and trying to intentionally mislead on the location of the Dallas Town Site. It was a mistake on my part to be as bold as I was and to use the wrong words.
But Joyce Jorgensen (Publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer) who was very anti-dam, got a hold of that letter and published it. Some heads got in the ringer down in Grand Junction and all I remember was one of my former bosses back 50 years ago was responsible for the Bureau of Reclamation Archeology Programs. His comment was: “Steve, there were real people involved. Well intentioned people and you burned ‘em.”
So out of that came the first archeological inventory of the Dallas Project area. I got in there on a $10,000 contract with the Bureau of Reclamation. They could do $10,000 I think it was, without a competitive bid.
So they hired me probably to shut me up, and I did the first inventory that was rather cursory.
The boundaries of the project were constantly changing. But out of that they developed a bigger project to go in and salvage and do what we call mitigation data recovery on a number of sites in there that I initially recorded. I can’t remember if they did another project first, but they might have. No, I think they let one big contract and I was always waiting for that contract. I could almost see it out of my office window. My office used to be upstairs on the south end of this building. This was just a laboratory.
I was counting on that job. I could bid it cheaper than anybody because I was right here. And there were only two people - or only one guy capable of bidding that job in this region. That was me.
I’m mixing up some memories with the Dolores Project so I’m going to back up. I got the first contract for $10,000. Then another contract, maybe up to a million bucks, was due to come up and it went minority sole source. It went to a group called Eska Tech out of Alaska owned by a group of Eskimos. They hired Bill Buckles.
It was a minority set aside contract. Their corporate headquarter was in Alaska - they were part of Calista Corporation. But they were minority owned. The government was then setting aside a lot of contracts for minority businesses.