La Plata County geography can be so confusing. For example, there’s the Los Pinos Fire Protection District but also the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District. Are the Los Pinos and the Pine the same river? If so, where does it stop being named the Pine and become the Los Pinos? Who decided this? – Marie Roessler
The Pine or Los Pinos? Action Line will go out on a limb after being needled with this question.
First, we’ll confer (or is it “conifer?”) with expert sources.
Then spruce up the column with evergreen puns without bough-ing to the pressure of public o-piñon.
It’s a cedar-the-pants production. Yew get the picture. Fir-get about it.
Let’s return to the river, our “current” topic.
The Pine and the Los Pinos are one and the same.
“Los Pinos” is the original Spanish nom de plume (to use a French phrase), while “Pine” is the Anglophilic adaptation.
Having different names for the same thing is a proud tradition in La Plata County.
Think of East Animas for County Road 250, or Elmore’s Corner for a highway intersection.
But what about having the same name for completely different places? Yup, the county has that, too.
There are nine separate streets in La Plata County named “Aspen Drive.” Plus, there’s an Aspen Circle, an Aspen Court and an Aspen Place.
Talk about the “Aspenization” of Southwest Colorado!
Yet in Aspen and Pitkin County, there are no roads named Durango, Bayfield or Ignacio. What’s up with that?
Just to be fair, that county has a “Dump Road.”
Meanwhile, the Pine/Los Pinos River just goes with the flow.
A quick call to La Plata County’s GIS and Mapping Department confirmed that its software lists Los Pinos as the river’s official name.
But if you ask the reference desk in Bayfield, you’ll note that it’s located inside the Pine River Library.
Bayfield is pretty much the Pine/Pinos pinch point, at least for the fire districts.
The districts border each other with a stair-step boundary south of town.
The Los Pinos district covers 325 square miles of territory, including Ignacio, Oxford, Tiffany, Allison and Arboles, as well as state, Southern Ute tribal and federal lands.
The Upper Pine, meanwhile, is the emergency go-to for the 265-square-mile district encompassing Bayfield and Gem Village, then northward to Forest Lakes and Vallecito and Lemon reservoirs.
Action Line caught up with Bruce Evans, chief of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District, to get his perspective on where the Pine ends and the Los Pinos begins.
“Los Pinos honors the rich tribal and Hispanic histories and traditions of the area,” he said. Likewise with Pine, as a legacy of homesteaders of the late 19th century.
“On the old maps, there was an ‘Upper Pine River’ that was flooded when Vallecito was filled,” the chief pointed out.
Here’s an irony: when the original settlers arrived in the Pine River Valley, the 15-family village founded in 1871 was called “Los Pinos,” according to the town of Bayfield’s website.
About 26 years later, the Bay family donated 80 acres for a new municipality. The neighboring Schiller family also donated land.
A coin toss determined who would name the new town. Mr. Bay won. Thus Bayfield.
Had Mr. Schiller called heads rather than tails (or vice versa, as history doesn’t specify which), we’d be calling the town Schillerville.
All of this makes one pine for simpler times along the Los Pinos.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you can see the forest for the trees by contemplating a road along the Animas River. In other words, ponder Roosa.