Occupation in the boondocks


It started with "Occupy Wall Street" on Sept. 17, and the movement has since spread to more than 1,000 cities in 82 countries. So it didn't come as a major suprise that my town was home to an "Occupy Salida" protest early in the afternoon of Oct. 29.

About 50 people showed up at the F Street Bridge and marched five blocks to Alpine Park and back. "We are the 99 percent," they chanted before switching to "Wall Street stole our democracy" and "Banks got bailed out. We got sold out."  

Salida, population about 5,500, isn't the smallest place to hold an Occupy protest. That distinction may belong to Villa Grove, about 30 miles south of town; with a population of about 100, it's been hosting a weekly "Occupy Villa Grove" rally. 

In Salida, I din't see any cops. Nor did I see anyone preparing to camp. That wouldn't have been a big deal anyway, since people often camp on railroad property along the Arkansas River as it passes through town. I asked a local cop about that once, and he said that if the railroad had a problem with people camping there, the railroad could do something about it. He had plenty else to keep him busy. 
Along that line, though, the F Street Bridge was a good place to ponder how little towns get jerked around by Wall Street. The bridge, on Salida's main street, used to lead to the railroad depot, before the railroad tore it down.
The tracks are still there, but no train has passed for more than a dozen years. That's because Phil Anshutz, the billionaire who bought that line in 1984, found a way to come out $1.6 billion ahead in 1996 by selling it to the Union Pacific, which put the line out of service and many people out of work.
So in this town, anyway, you don't have to look very hard to find reasons why people might have problems developing much affection for Wall Street. I've yet to see the slightest shred of evidence that Wall Street cares about Salida's well-being, so there's no reason for Salidans to feel much affection for the one percent, aka "Masters of the Universe. "


Essays in the Range blog are not written by High Country News. The authors are solely responsible for the content.

Ed Quillen is a freelance writer in Salida, Colo.

Image of downtown Salida, Colo. -- a former railroad town -- by Flickr user Jeffrey Beall.