David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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The Price of Propane [1990]


This winter will probably be remembered, at least partially, as The Winter Propane Prices Went Out of Sight.

In September the price was about 75¢ a gallon, and in January it went over $1.25. There were, according to the gas companies, plenty of good reasons: fires at refineries, cold snaps in the East and storms in Europe. Sounded good, but when you got your propane bill something smelled bad and it wasn’t leaking propane.

At our place we used wood for almost 50 years before we put in propane. My family was here only in the summers so it didn’t matter much, and all the wood you could use was lying on the ground. In 1948 we got electricity so we brought an old electric heater to take the chill off the bathroom but it wasn’t until 1967 that we decided to use at least one house year ‘round. We put in a gas stove and hot water heaters. Then came furnaces and a gas clothes dryer and a big, ugly 500 gallon propane tank. Ah, progress!

There are plenty of theories floating around about the best way to heat your house. Wood stoves have been much improved over the years. Inserts get more heat out of many of our fireplaces, including mine. Now you can get a 90% efficient wood pellet stove for about $2000. It burns little compressed sawdust pellets. Some folks have hot water heat, which is great unless it freezes for one reason or another. If you want to avoid propane altogether you can heat with wood and use electricity to cook, heat your water, and provide supplemental heat when it really gets cold.

Most of us, winter and summer, still burn some wood, use some electricity and some propane as well. When your propane bill nearly doubles, it’s memorable.

The companies that deliver propane have changed hands in recent years. The old Estes Park Gas Company and Graves Gas, run by Barney Graves and his father in competition, are gone. Ferrellgas replaced both of them. And Rowe has become Suburban Propane.

For almost 20 years we used Estes Park Gas, largely because I worked for Barney when I was a kid. So when he retired we stayed with the company. It wasn’t the same. The company isn’t locally owned and I don’t know a soul who works there. When Barney owned it he used to stop by and see how things were going and we’d have a cup of coffee and a chat. One winter not too many years ago we had another steep price rise and Barney made extra trips to give people just enough gas to keep them going until the price dropped in the spring. Now you have to take a minimum of 150 gallons if you’re on their regular route, which means you don’t have to call them -- they just keep it filled.

So now I’m no longer on the regular route. I’ll fill it in the summer and squeeze by in the winter, when they jack up the prices. I’m lucky. With a big, ugly tank I can make that strategy work. People who use bottles are in a real bind.

I’m on record as being in favor of progress, but when it comes to propane, I sure wish I could see Barney again.




© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI



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