Where to Go to See Fall Colors

"Leaf peeping season" has arrived. Where are the best places to go to view Colorado's colorful aspens?

For suggestions on Colorado's most colorful state parks, visit Colorado Parks & Wildlife's Fall Colors page. Here you can find suggestions not only for where to go, but how - whether you prefer a car trip, camping, hiking, biking, horseback, or a fall-themed outdoor event. Or view their publication Rush to the Gold: 8 Recommended Fall Trips in Colorado State Parks. Find the State Park nearest you with CPW's Park Finder map. And don't forget, you can check out a parks pass from your library.

Colorado scenic byways are another great way to view fall colors. The byways program highlights some of the most scenic drives in our state. See the Colorado Tourism Office's list of 5 Color-Drenched Colorado Scenic Byways. If you still need more ideas, check out these additional articles from the Colorado Tourism Office for suggestions:

When's the best time to go leaf peeping? See the Colorado State Forest Service's Planning Your Fall Foliage Experience website for viewing tips and how to pick the peak week to go.  


Time Machine Tuesday: The Colorado Traveling Library Commission

In 1903 the Colorado Legislature passed an act creating the Colorado Traveling Library Commission. Appointed by the governor, the commission consisted of five volunteers from Colorado women's clubs who oversaw the shipment of boxes of books to Colorado schools and towns. The program's goals were to create a "love and habit of reading good books" and "to have more good books read per capita than any other state."

The distribution of boxes of books was made to rural communities across the state. Each box contained fifty books of mixed collections of fiction and nonfiction. Anyone from a community could request the box, but they had to be responsible for its contents, to be returned to the commission after a period of six months. The program also sponsored a free magazine mailing to hospitals, train stations, and other public gathering places, as well as to prisons and reformatories.

During its first year, the program sponsored 122 boxes. Each box was purchased and assembled by a local club or charity; a few boxes were sponsored by individuals. Just five years later, they were up to 242 boxes! In 1912 the program's biennial report carried comments from readers who had benefited from the program. This one is my favorite:

"I must thank you for the books. We are thirty miles from a railroad, four miles from neighbors. We have a dry claim. The hail came and left us nothing, and my husband and one son had to go away to work. Not more than once in four or five weeks do we see anyone. I cannot think what we would have done without the books. We are not able to buy books or anything. Certainly, of all charities this is the greatest."

To learn more about the Traveling Library commission, see their biennial reports, which have been digitized by our library. Here you can find lists of the book boxes and who sponsored them; locations where the boxes were sent; and information on the commission members and other supporters. The 1910/12 report also contains a memorial tribute to Julia V. Welles, the founding leader of the program, who passed away in December 1912.

The years 1904 to 1912 were the apex of the program. After that time, the biennial reports were no longer required when the legislature changed how it appropriated funds to the program and these changes, alongside Welles' death, caused the program to fade somewhat. But the commission did continue along until 1929, when it was was combined with the Board of Library Commissioners to create the new Colorado Library Commission. This combined program continued until 1933 with the establishment of the State Library as we know it today.

One of the commission's traveling book boxes. Photo from the 1910/12 biennial report.


Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community

A recent news story discussed a new state audit report assessing the Fort Lyon residential facility - but the news report failed to actually link to the report. You can view the report here. The report provides a cost-benefit analysis of the facility and an assessment of success rates.

Fort Lyon, in Bent County, served as a U.S. Army fort from 1867 to 1897. In the twentieth century it was used as a veteran's hospital, and then as a minimum security prison from 2001-2011. In 2013 the site reopened as a rehab facility for homeless persons. The facility includes not only housing, but programs to help residents overcome substance abuse issues. It is not a correctional facility - residents live there by choice.

Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community is run by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. To learn more, visit the facility's website.

Residents of Fort Lyon get to live in the campus's historic buildings. Photo courtesy DOLA.


How Geology Helped Build the Moffat Road

Our library recently received a fascinating new document for our collection that will be of interest to historians researching Colorado's railroads as well as to those interested in our state's geology and mineral resources.

Exactly one hundred years ago, in 1918, a special committee of the Denver Civic and Commercial Association asked State Geologist Russell George to produce a report of the mineral resources that could be found in the Northwest Colorado region of the Denver and Salt Lake Railroad, known informally as the "Moffat Road." The committee, led by Denver Tramway Company president William Gray Evans, was interested in "the extent and location of the deposits of coal, oil shales, hydrocarbons, and other minerals of economic value...to be used by [the] Committee to make clear the public advantage and public necessity for the completion of the Denver and Salt Lake Railroad -- the "Moffat Road" -- and its main range tunnel." In other words, Evans -- one of the major promoters of the Moffat Tunnel after the 1911 death of its namesake, David Moffat -- wanted to use this report as justification for the railroad and tunnel through the mountains, construction of which would be no easy task.

George and the Colorado Geological Survey provided Evans and his colleagues with a thorough description of the area's resources, the most prominent being coal -- the mining of which was one of the state's major industries during this era. George's narrative is bound together with three large foldout maps. One map shows the Road's route and proposed tunnel location alongside existing (supposedly inadequate) rail lines. The second map details the area's coal resources, and the third map points out locations of other mineral resources, including copper, molybdenum, tungsten, carnotite, gold, and oil and gas.

Evans and his colleagues were likely very pleased with the report, because George concluded that "the industrial value of many million dollars' worth of useful mineral deposits depends largely upon the quick completion of the railroad enterprise, including the proposed tunnel through the main range." However, it would be nearly a decade before the Moffat Tunnel finally opened in 1927. Evans didn't live to see the tunnel's completion; he died in 1924.

This document is an incredible primary source for anyone researching Colorado's railroad history. Although it is not presently available online (the large size of the maps would make this difficult), anyone is welcome to come and view the document here in our library. Search our library's online catalog for many more resources on Colorado's history, geology, and transportation.

A D&SL train near Kremmling in 1928. Photo by Otto Perry courtesy of Denver Public Library Western History & Genealogy Department.


Time Machine Tuesday: Anniversary of the 2013 Floods

Five years ago today, the rain began to fall in what became one of the state's most significant flood disasters, impacting twenty-four counties and causing millions of dollars in damage. The Colorado communities affected by the September 2013 floods showed amazing resilience and are thriving once again.

Here are some State of Colorado resources that tell the story of the 2013 floods and subsequent recovery efforts:

Flood damage near Jamestown, Colorado, September 2013.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Building History Research

If you're the proud owner of a historic property, or if there's a particular building that speaks to you, you may be interested in finding more about its history. Who lived in your house and what were their stories? Or, what were the previous uses of your commercial or public building? If you're wondering how to go about researching the history of a historic structure, our library has resources that can help you.
  • Researching the History of Your House is a publication from History Colorado that outlines the steps involved in research, not only for houses but for other buildings as well. This publication includes a handy checklist for places to search and helpful documents to find.
  • Documenting the History of Your Home is a 1992 publication from the Colorado State University Extension. The advice in this publication is still very relevant, but check with your local library or historical society because many of the resources mentioned are now available online, making research easier than ever before.
  • Your building's architectural style can tell you a lot about its history, including the time period when it was built and for what purpose. See History Colorado's Field Guide to Colorado's Historic Architecture and Engineering for information on historic building styles, types, and materials. 
  • Who designed and/or built your house? If your research reveals the name of an architect or builder, check to see if they're featured in History Colorado's Architects of Colorado and Builders of Colorado biographical series. 
  • The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection is a great tool that you can use to search for historic news stories about your building or its previous owners.
No matter where in Colorado your building is located, be sure to visit your local library. Many libraries have local history and archival collections. The Denver Public Library's Western History and Geneaology Department, Boulder's Carnegie Library for Local History, and Pikes Peak Library District's Regional History and Geneaology are among the state's best local history collections, but many smaller and rural libraries have excellent local history collections as well.

If your research turns up some fascinating history, or if your building is architecturally significant, consider nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places or as a local landmark (check with your town or municipality for information and eligibility criteria). See this fact sheet from the Colorado State University Extension or visit the Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation's website for more information on the National Register.


September is National Honey Month

Beekeeping is growing in popularity, and many beekeepers sell honey at farmers markets and other local businesses. If you're interested in producing and selling honey, see the publication Colorado Cottage Foods Product Information: Honey. Here you can learn about product safety and the State of Colorado's rules for selling home-produced honey. You can find more information about selling "cottage foods" in Colorado at the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment's Cottage Foods Act webpage.


Is Your House on Shaky Ground?

Ground subsidence problems are very real in Colorado. Whether from naturally occurring elements in the soil or from the effects of Colorado's mining history, the ground in certain parts of Colorado is susceptible to settling, collapsing, expanding, heaving, or swelling, all of which can have potentially hazardous effects on structures. So how do you know if your area is affected by subsidence and swelling soils? And if it is, what should you do?

When the Ground Lets You Down, a title in the Colorado Geological Survey's popular Rock Talk series, provides an excellent introduction to these types of hazards. The geological processes are illustrated in simple diagrams and information is provided about insurance, emergency situations, and where to go for help.

Another helpful publication, produced especially for homeowners, is A Guide to Swelling Soils for Colorado Homebuyers and Homeowners. This helpful guidebook can be checked out from our library or through Prospector. 

Additional helpful resources available from our library include:
Also, search the term "geologic hazards" in our library's online catalog for additional resources.


Highway Work Zone Safety

Did you know that since 1929, sixty Colorado highway workers have lost their lives in the line of duty? The most recent fatality, that of Nolan Olson in southwestern Colorado, occurred just this year. Olson, like many of the other fatalities, was just doing his job when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

In 2010 the Colorado legislature passed HB10-1014, which requires CDOT and the State Patrol to prepare a joint annual legislative report regarding fatalities in work zones and what awareness and safety measures are being taken. You can view all of these  reports online from our library. Also, during the 2018 session, just following Olson's death, the General Assembly passed a resolution designating a section of Hwy 84 near Pagosa Springs as the "Nolan Olson Memorial Highway."

To help avoid accidents like Olson's, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reminds drivers to "slow for the cone zone." If you're driving through a construction area, go extra slowly and carefully, always obey flaggers, and make sure to give workers a wide breadth. Visit CDOT's website for more tips on safe driving in construction zones.


Time Machine Tuesday: 20th Century Fashions

Diagram of ladies' hats from Planning One's Clothes (1924)
In the early 20th century, keeping your family clothed wasn't nearly as easy as it is today. Now, online shopping and large retail stores give us access to thousands of clothing options, but a century ago, clothing items were more expensive and often were not mass-produced, and many people still sewed their own clothing. As a result, mothers and housewives spent a great deal of effort mending, repairing, and caring for their family's wardrobes. This is evidenced by publications from the Extension Service of the Colorado Agricultural College (today's Colorado State University).

The Extension produced - and still produces - hundreds of bulletins, pamphlets, and factsheets that offer simple advice on agriculture, gardening, and home economics. Among the bulletins produced in the 1920s include several on how to care for clothing. For anyone researching early 20th century fashion and domestic life, these bulletins are excellent primary sources. Some of the 1920s titles include Simple Articles for Clothing and Household Use (1923); Clothing Clubs (1923); Baby Bunting's Clothing Budget (1924); Blouses, Skirts and Dresses (1924); Planning One's Clothes (1924); and Care of Clothing (1925). Although published in the flush times of the '20s, their tips on caring for and prolonging the life of garments would become especially helpful to those affected by the Great Depression in the 1930s.

When WWII broke out, some clothing items were rationed while many clothing factories shifted from civilian consumer goods to the production of war materiel. Therefore, those on the homefront were encouraged to make do with what they had, or to remodel older garments into new uses. In 1942 the Extension produced Care of Clothing: Daily-Weekly-Seasonal; Care of Woolen Clothing; and Remodeling Clothing.

By the 1970s, clothing was becoming cheaper and more mass-produced, so the Extension began focusing on more on creative sewing, as well as how families, especially those on farms and in rural areas with less access to cheap consumer goods, could maximize their clothing budgets. 1970s titles included Rags to Riches: Recycle Your Clothes and Western Wear Wisdom.

Finally, in the 1990s, clothing became so mass-produced that many people had never learned the most basic mending techniques. The Extension came to the rescue with publications like Fixing a Torn Loose Pocket; Making a New Hem; Patching Knees in Pants; Replacing a Jacket Zipper; Replacing Elastic in Skirts or Pants; and Replacing Torn-Off Buttons.

In the 20th century, it wasn't just the fashions themselves that changed, but people's approach to buying and owning clothes changed as well. Check out these and other publications from the CSU Extension, available from our library, to learn more.

Popular Posts