Fine whine: New name for Silt?
SILT – The name of the town isn’t mud, but some people don’t like the reference to dirt either. So for the second time in 14 years, some residents and town officials are looking at changing the name of the town of Silt.The subject was brought up again at Monday night’s town board meeting, spearheaded by town Trustee Doug Williams.”This has been discussed in the community for the past two years and at the last trustee retreat,” Williams said. “Silt is, from what I understand, a pretty dirty name – it’s not very marketable.”According to both Williams and Mayor Dave Moore, several citizens in the community have expressed dissatisfaction with the town’s name.”There are a lot of people who are unhappy with the name of Silt,” Moore said. “They don’t think Silt is an attractive name. And then there are the traditionalists and people who have lived here for a long time who don’t want it changed.”Suggested names for the town include “Ferguson” or “Ferguson’s Crossing,” “Cactus Valley,” “Grand View” and “Grand River.”
Second time aroundThe subject of changing Silt’s name was last brought up in a controversial debate back in 1992, according to Alice Boulton, longtime director of the Silt Historical Park.”It was quite a thing at that time,” Boulton said. “It was someone’s wild idea because they didn’t like the name – because it’s dirt.”The proposed name change made a splash in the media with newspapers and radio stations reporting it from Grand Junction to Denver, Boulton said.”It was controversial because some people wanted it and a lot of people were against it,” she said. “People were obsessed and let their feelings be known by making obscene gestures to the supporters. It threatened to divide the community.”One Denver radio station even advertised a contest to rename the small town.”Some people wanted it changed to something more positive, but the old-timers wanted Silt to be Silt,” Boulton said.History of Silt’s name
As far as Boulton can remember, the town of Silt has always been Silt.The name was first coined in 1889 when the train came through the town on the railroad, kicking up the fine silt dirt.”Apparently, there was a warning sign along the tracks that said, ‘Watch out for Silt,'” Boulton said.Whether that is true or not is unknown, but Williams said his research also indicated that the town name “Silt” was referred to by the railroad.A 1908 map shows a plat of the area for “Grand River,” but Boulton said she has never heard the town referred to by that name.”If it was, nobody ever heard about it,” she said.The town was incorporated in 1915, and in 1989 a Rocky Mountain News article ran an article when a bumper sticker appeared with the slogan, “Silt Happens.”Some felt the sticker, which is a takeoff of an off-colored phrase, was degrading to the town.
In 1999, the town held a contest to change the slogan of Silt, which was won by New Castle resident Karen Wentzel, with the entry, “Where the Sun Rises with a Smile and Sets in Your Heart.”Yet the “Silt Happens” stickers can still be seen on numerous trucks and vehicles throughout town.Next stepIf the town should change its name, it would need approval by 50 percent of the voters who voted in the last mayor’s election, according to Williams.If approved, the town would then look toward finding a new name.”This is going to require a lot of discussion,” Williams said. “There are strong advocates and people dead set against it. I’d like to see us get the children involved and get community involvement to make it our own.”Citizens are invited to give their input as to whether or not the town’s name should be changed at the next regular town board meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 8.To reach Williams, leave a message at Silt Town Hall at 876-2353.
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