Time Machine Tuesday: Wolf Creek Pass

August 21 marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Wolf Creek Pass road in Southwestern Colorado.  Proclaimed by the Durango Herald as "The State's No. 1 Dangerous Pass," the road is an adventure at 10,857 feet.  And as hair-raising as it is in today's modern vehicles, just imagine driving a Model T through Wolf Creek Pass! 

Decision to build the Wolf Creek Pass road was made due to the need for a replacement for the old Elwood Pass road, which had been destroyed by a 1911 flood.  Construction began in 1914; you can read about it in the Biennial Report of the State Highway Commission, which our library has digitized.  This is a bound volume that includes the biennial reports for 1910 through 1916.  Pages 106-107 of the 1914 report describe the road's construction, and pages 108 through 111 of the 1916 report detail the construction expenses.  After two years and $100,000 the pass road opened on August 21, 1916 with a huge celebration.  According to the Colorado Department of Transportation's Highways to the Sky, "on completion of the road in 1916, drivers by the hundreds took the chance to cross the new pass."  The road has been rebuilt several times, but it continues in its legacy as one of the state's most beautiful -- and dangerous -- mountain passes.

Tourists on the Wolf Creek Pass road in 1916.  Photo by O.T. Davis, courtesy CDOT.


Amending the Colorado Constitution

The presidential election may be getting all the attention, but this November is going to be a very significant ballot year in Colorado.  Already there are four initiatives approved for the ballot, and five others are pending approval from the Secretary of State, who tabulates the signatures received on petitions.

According to the Secretary of State's recent press release, one of the issues approved to appear on the ballot this year is Initiative #96, which would make it harder to amend the State Constitution.  It would require that "any petition for a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment be signed by at least 2 percent of the registered electors in each of the 35 state Senate districts. The percentage of votes to pass any proposed constitutional amendment would be increased from a majority to at least 55 percent of the votes cast, unless the proposed amendment only repeals any provision of the constitution."

The ease of amending the Colorado constitution has long been debated in political circles, and constitutional conventions have occasionally been proposed in recent years.  In our library you can find numerous resources regarding the amending of the state constitution, including some resources from earlier decades that still capture the issue as it stands today, and offer a history of Colorado's constitutional amendments and attempts.  Selected resources from our library include:

See also our library's Blue Book Finding Aid, which includes links to Colorado ballot proposal analysis booklets back to 1954.

To view the Colorado Constitution as it stands today, along with versions back to 2004, see the Colorado and United States Constitutions booklets from the Colorado Secretary of State. The following historical publications include copies of the state constitution as they stood in that respective year:
  • The Compiled Laws of Colorado, 1921
  • The Revised Statutes of Colorado, 1908
  • State of Colorado Legislative Manual 
Publications listed here that do not include URLs can be viewed in or checked out from our library.  As always, for more resources, search our library's online catalog.


Tips to Avoid Roofing Fraud

Recent hailstorms in the south metro area have brought out roofing scammers.  Before you hire a roofer to fix your hail damage, be sure to follow these tips from the Colorado Division of Insurance:

1.    Don’t hire a contractor who knocks on your door following a storm. Most legitimate roofing contractors do not conduct business this way.
2.    Additionally, be wary of public adjusters who knock on your door. A public adjuster is generally not needed for simple roof damage claims. If you choose to hire one, verify their license with the Colorado Division of Insurance, as well as check for references and review and understand all documents involved.
3.    Be sure to get estimates from more than one contractor. Look for well-established, licensed, insured and bonded roofing professionals with a federal tax identification number and a permanent address.
4.    Ask for a contractor’s license number and confirm with your city or county building department that the license number was issued by them and is current.
5.    Require references that specifically include other homes in your area, and check them.  Be sure to contact the Better Business Bureau to check for complaints filed against any company you are considering hiring.
6.    Contact the Colorado Roofing Association (CRA), which maintains a current list of licensed, properly insured, professional contractors who have committed to abiding by the CRA Code of Ethics, and have passed a nationally recognized exam that addresses roofing work on residential and/or commercial property.
7.    Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away. Never sign a contract with blanks or statements like “see insurance estimate” - fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
8.    Contractors CAN prepare an estimate for you, discuss that estimate with you, and answer the insurance company’s questions about that estimate. They CANNOT help you adjust or prepare the claim for the insurance company, nor negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.  
9.    Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier.
10. Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all the work is completed.

Check our library's web catalog or go to Colorado state websites www.askdora.colorado.gov and www.stopfraudcolorado.gov for more consumer and fraud prevention information.


Time Machine Tuesday: Rural Schools

Colorado's agricultural lands in the eastern part of the state and mountainous areas in the western regions may not have the population numbers that can be seen along today's I-25 corridor, but both regions were still home to many families and as a result, schools were needed.  We often associate one-room schoolhouses with the pioneer days, but in fact they persisted well into the 20th century.  Colorado still has many rural schools with far different needs than our urban schools (see the Colorado Department of Education's 2011 Rural Needs Study.  The State Publications Library's digital collections include several fascinating publications about the conditions, populations, and curriculum for Colorado's rural schools between the 1910s and 1970s:
Also be sure to view the reports of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, which we have digitized for 1872-1940.

The first schoolhouse in Steamboat Springs, 1886.  Photo courtesy History Colorado.


Back-to-School Toolkit

Back-to-school time is upon us, and this year the Colorado Department of Education has released a new Back-to-School Toolkit full of resources for schools and districts to help them communicate with parents, or for parents to access themselves. These resources cover basic information on assessments, accountability, and educator effectiveness.  Presented in the form of quick and easy-to-read fact sheets, the toolkit includes topics such as:
  • What to expect for the 2016-17 school year
  • Understanding assessment scores
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Academic standards
  • Graduation guidelines
  • Teacher evaluation information
and much more.  For more resources for parents, see the department's Parent and Family Resources webpage.