Time Machine Tuesday: The Birds of Colorado - 1897

Over the last century, as Colorado's population has grown and development has increased, wildlife has been affected.  Additionally, new scientific evidence on wildlife has been gathered.  Birds have long been among Colorado's most popular "watchable wildlife" and an 1897 publication available from our library highlights the birds that could be found in our state back in that era.

The Birds of Colorado was published by the Experiment Station of the State Agricultural College (now Colorado State University).  The publication "is designed to set forth our present knowledge of the distribution and migration of Colorado birds.  There is also included a bibliography of the subject and an historical review of the progress of ornithological investigation in this State."  Updates to the publication were done in 1898 and 1900.

According to the 1897 publication, there were 360 known species of birds in Colorado that year.  A description is given of each one.  Today the Colorado Field Ornithologists reports that there are 498 known species of birds in our state.  Notably absent from the 1897 list is the passenger pigeon, which became extinct in the wild in the United States in 1900 (the last one died in captivity in 1914), so apparently by this time it had already vanished from Colorado. 

Over the past century the State of Colorado has published many resources on Colorado birds.  Some of the documents you can find in our library include:

  • Cities and Birds (1975)
  • Birds of the Rocky Mountains (1986)
  • Colorado Bird Distribution Latilong Study (1978, 1982, 1989)
  • Wonders on the Wing (video, 1994)
  • Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas (1998)
  • Flight (2000)
  • Migratory Bird Policy (2007)
  • Wildlife Research Report:  Avian Research Program (serial)
...and many, many more resources on specific species, geographic locations, etc., so be sure and search our library's web catalog for additional resources.


History Colorado Collections Online

History Colorado recently launched a database of selected items in its collection, including artifacts, photographs, and archival materials.  The database launched with images of 80,000 items and is continuing to grow.  This database is an excellent resource for researchers to find primary sources on Colorado's history.  Of course this database represents only a small percentage of History Colorado's vast collections; if you do not find what you are looking for in the database, you can contact photos@state.co.us regarding photographs or curator@state.co.us regarding objects.  To find out more about the history and stories of Colorado, check out History Colorado's Colorado Heritage and its predecessor, Colorado Magazine, available from our library.  Also be sure to check our library's online catalog for further resources.

This 1880s-era chair from one of the private boxes in the demolished Tabor Grand Opera House is an example of the artifacts that are available for viewing on History Colorado's collections database. 


Colorado's Water Plan

The State of Colorado is currently engaged in the development of "Colorado's Water Plan."  The plan's official website, coloradowaterplan.com, offers the following explanation of the plan's goals and purposes:

This plan offers a strategic vision:  a productive economy that supports vibrant and sustainable cities, productive agriculture, a strong environment, and a robust recreation industry. How can we achieve this vision for Colorado water? This plan provides the strategies, policies, and actions by which Colorado can address its projected future needs in a manner consistent with this vision. This plan will be accomplished through collaboration with basin roundtables, local governments, water providers, and other stakeholders. It represents a set of collaboratively developed policies and actions that all Coloradans and their elected officials can support and to which they can adhere. 

On July 15 a new draft of the plan will be available for public comment.  Visit the website now to read the plan as it as has been drafted so far, and check back on the 15th for the next draft.  Information on submitting comments can be found on the website.  On the site you can also find a calendar of important dates, Twitter feeds, podcasts, river basin information, and other states' water plans.  For more resources on water in Colorado, search our library's online catalog.


Time Machine Tuesday: Ralph Carr Salutes Delph Carpenter

Ralph Carr
Colorado Governor Ralph L. Carr (served 1939-1943) is best known for standing up for Japanese Americans during WWII.  But Carr was also interested in water rights, working as an attorney for the Colorado Interstate River Commission.  This brought him into contact with Delph Carpenter, known by many as the "father of Colorado river treaties," and the two became close friends.  Delph Carpenter, a lawyer from Greeley, devoted his career to the development of interstate water treaties, particularly the Colorado River Compact, for which he received commendation from President Herbert Hoover.

Delph Carpenter

In October 1943, Governor Carr offered a tribute to Carpenter before the National Reclamation Association.  Carpenter could not attend the speech, as he had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease and was confined to bed.  However his son Donald, who followed in his father's footsteps with river compact negotiation, attended on his father's behalf.  Carr's speech, along with background information and a copy of the Colorado River Compact, was compiled by Colorado State University in 1991 and can be viewed here from our library.

Photos courtesy Colorado State Archives; Colorado State University


Sales Tax Information for Businesses

If you are selling goods in the State of Colorado your business is required to have a sales tax license (sometimes known as a vendor license).  This license, through the state Department of Revenue, is required for the collection and distribution of sales tax revenue.  The Department of Revenue has set up a helpful webpage with information about sales tax licenses/accounts.  Here you can find out:
  • Types of sales tax licenses
  • How to get a license
  • How to renew your license
  • How to close out a license
  • How to use Revenue Online to access account information
  • Verify whether another business is licensed in Colorado
  • Verify, add, correct, or make changes to your address, etc.
For more tax information visit the Department of Revenue's taxation homepage or search our library's online catalog.


Reviews of Colorado Books

The Center for Colorado and the West (CC&W) at the Auraria Library offers a website with lists and reviews of new books about Colorado.  While the primary focus is on Colorado history, some titles on politics, natural resources, arts and culture, etc. are also included.  So if you are interested in learning about life in our state, check out this website to get some great ideas for what to read next (and in some cases, what books to avoid). 

One of the books that has been recently reviewed on the site is Colorado Newspapers:  A History and Inventory, 1859-2000.  This brand-new guide to Colorado newspaper history has been published by CC&W and is available from our library.  This book is a great reference listing nearly all of the newspapers published in Colorado during its first 150 years.  To find actual Colorado newspaper articles, be sure to check out the Colorado State Library's Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection.


Time Machine Tuesday: The Vulcan Mine Explosion

This week we use our digitized historical documents to travel back to 1896 and one of the state's worst mining disasters.  On the morning of February 18 of that year, an explosion at the Vulcan coal mine near New Castle, Garfield County caused the death of forty-nine miners.  Among those killed were the mine's foreman, assistant foreman, and fire boss.  Two fourteen-year-old boys were also among the victims.  About half of the fatalities were Italian immigrants.

The mine was owned by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad to supply coal for the railway.  Just ten days before, the mine had been inspected by David Griffiths, the State Inspector of Coal Mines, who pronounced it in fine condition.  His report and justification can be accessed online from our library -- information on the Vulcan explosion starts on page 47.  "I did not visit all the working faces, but was satisfied from what I had seen that the local management was doing everything for the safety of life and property," he wrote.  He also noted that he had not received any complaints from miners about the condition of the mine.  However, later investigation revealed that miners had issued complaints.  Five days after the disaster, Governor Albert McIntire tasked the inspector with determining the cause of the explosion, particularly in light of his positive report of just days prior.  The inspector's "endeavors were fruitless," however, and the cause of the explosion remained a mystery.  He suggested that the accident may have been caused by a defective safety lamp igniting gas in the mine, or a miner's carelessness in exposing a lamp to gas and flammable coal dust.  Griffiths finally concluded, however, that the accident was caused by explosives used to open a blocked entryway, mixing with dust to form a flame that elongated and then exploded when it reached an area with an accumulation of gas.  However, a team of representatives of the mine had varying opinions on this potential cause and no consensus was reached.  "There are some peculiarities in connection with this explosion," Griffiths admitted.

The forty-nine deaths made the Vulcan disaster one of the deadliest mine disasters in Colorado history.  It was such as large explosion that "the town of New Castle was shaken as if by an earthquake," noted the Colorado Springs Gazette.  The explosion caused so much debris that the bodies could not be recovered until March 15, four weeks later.  The 1896 disaster would not be the Vulcan's last.  In December 1913, another explosion, also thought to be caused by gas and dust conditions in the mine, caused the deaths of thirty-seven men.  The report of the 1913 explosion can be found starting on page 46 of the 1913 coal mine inspector's report, also available from our library.  Following the second disaster the mine reopened on a smaller scale, later being operated by the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company and renamed the Garfield-Vulcan.  In 1919 a fatal explosion again rocked the mine, this time causing three deaths.  Following these disasters the mine ceased to operate, but coal seams still burn in the mountains around New Castle to this day.  In 2004, the town erected a memorial on the town's Main Street commemorating the victims of the mine explosions.

A memorial dedicated to the lost miners is in New Castle's Burning Mountain Park on Main Street.  Courtesy Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program/Colorado Tourism Office.


New Statistics on Marijuana Use

Today the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released new statistics on adult marijuana use in Colorado.  The data reveals that 13.6% of Colorado adults use marijuana.  Other data includes male vs. female use (men are more likely to use); education level and habitual use (use is lower among adults with a college education); use is highest among those with less than $25,000 annual household income; among racial groups, use by blacks is highest, followed by whites, then Hispanics, then others; and use by GLBT adults is higher than among heterosexuals, according to the findings.  Other results show that the average age for first trying marijuana is 18, but the number of adults 65+ at age of first try is higher than all other age groups; and, as the opposite of the use/education statistics above, the number of adults who have ever tried marijuana is actually higher among adults with a college education.  Finally, some alarming statistics are presented:  18% of users reported driving after using; and 3.9% of children live in homes where marijuana has been recently used inside.  For more of the health department's analysis, see this morning's press release.  For other resources on marijuana in Colorado, search our library's web catalog.


Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

June has been designated as Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month.  Alzheimer's and related dementias affect over 47 million people worldwide.  The disease has been found to be linked to genetics so if you have a family history of Alzheimer's, it is smart to be aware of the disease and how it could affect you or your loved ones.  Colorado issued a state Alzheimer's disease plan in 2010, which you can find in our library.  Our collection also includes several quick, easy-to-understand resources on Alzeheimer's from Colorado State University, such as Alzheimer's and Dementia from their Family and Youth Institute and Alzheimer's Disease from the University Cooperative Extension.


Insurance Tips for Storm Damage

Many of us received heavy rains and hail this weekend, potentially causing damage to roofs, cars, etc.  If you experienced damage to your property during the recent storms, the Colorado Division of Insurance has issued the following tips which you may find beneficial.

Consumer Alert:  Five insurance tips for storm damage
Division of Insurance can help with insurance and claims questions

DENVER - Many Coloradans woke up Friday morning to the aftermath of severe storms and damage to their homes and property.  These events were only the latest reminder of the damage severe storms can bring. 
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), encourages consumers to “Take 5 to Get Wise” when handling insurance, claims and repairs in the wake of storm damage.      
Five Tips for Dealing with Storm Damage and Insurance
  1. Start the claim process - Call your insurance company or agent and begin the claim process.  Contact DOI if you need the contact information for your company or agent. 
  2. Document / mitigate the damage - If the damage to your home is extensive, start taking photos of the property and documenting what was lost.  If the damage is repairable, mitigate further damage by placing tarps on roofs or boarding up windows. 
  3. Check contractors - Roofing contractors and other construction contractors will start door-to-door sales or phone solicitations.  As with other disasters, consumers need to be on the alert for predatory practices or promises that seem too good to be true.  Verify what your city or county requires concerning licensing or registration of contractors - make sure the contractor you work with is authorized to do business in your area. Do your homework, check references and preferably hire a local Colorado contractor. 
  4. Verify public adjusters - Public adjusters may also begin contacting you if you have suffered damage to your home.  You are not required to hire a public adjuster, but if you do, make sure he or she is licensed and reputable – check references.  If possible, hire a Colorado-based adjuster.  DOI licenses public adjusters and consumers can call the Division to verify a license.  Public adjusters work on behalf of a consumer and receive a negotiated commission based on the final payment of the claim.  They sign a contract with a consumer to assist in negotiating the consumer’s insurance claim.
  5. Contact DOI –While claims need to be filed with the insurance companies, DOI can assist consumers with questions about insurance and the claims process.  Call the Division at 303-894-7490 or 1-800-930-3745 (outside of the Denver metro area).
Flood Insurance
With heavy rains and other severe weather more likely in the warmer months, now is the time to consider flood insurance.  Many homeowners do not realize that their basic homeowners insurance does not include protection from flood damage.  Flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy. 
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federally subsidized program available to any property owner – homeowners, renters, condominium owners and associations - whether or not the property is in floodplain.  National Flood Insurance is sold through a private insurance agent selling it to a community that has joined NFIP.  Contact your insurance agent about buying flood insurance.  If you do not have an agent or your agent does not sell flood insurance, contact the NFIP at 1-888-379-9531 or go to www.floodsmart.gov to get the name of an agent in your area.
Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period, after applying and paying the first premium, for the insurance to become effective.
For more information, visit the Colorado Division of Insurance flood insurance webpage or the FEMA / NFIP website www.floodsmart.gov.
Home Inventories
Before any disaster strikes, consumers should recognize the value in creating a home inventory.  An inventory helps consumers in determining what’s been lost and in working with their insurance company.  DOI has developed a Home Inventory Checklist for download that is a good starting point.   
In addition, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has created a smartphone app to help homeowners and renters develop a Home Inventory Checklist.  Find information on the app at www.naic.org, under the “Consumer Resources” tab.  



Time Machine Tuesday: Dandelions

Dandelions everywhere!
They spring up along ditch banks,
crowd into open places in alfalfa fields,
or luxuriate in gardens and flower-beds.
They swarm over vacant city lots,
troop along the sidewalks,
and encroach upon lawns to the very door-stone
 of rich and poor alike.

This was written a century ago, but is just as true today!  The above quote is from the 1918 Colorado Experiment Station publication The Dandelion in ColoradoThis publication discussed experiments with the dandelion, including spraying with various forms of herbicide, good old-fashioned digging, and even applying gasoline!  Unfortunately, "it is evident from the foregoing that there is yet no easy, certain method known to the writer by which the dandelion may be exterminated and held in check for any considerable length of time."  As this has seemingly not changed in the past century, it seems that dandelions will continue to be the scourge of our lawns for some time to come. 


Threatened and Endangered Species

Colorado has many wildlife species on its threatened and endangered list, including several species each of amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, and mollusks.  You can find information on each of these species at the Colorado Parks & Wildlife's Species Profiles webpage.   You can also read about Colorado's endangered wildlife and their relationship with other resources by accessing any of a number of reports and documents available from our library, including:
We also have many reports on individual species, such as wolves, lynx, blackfooted ferret, plains sharp-tailed grouse, boreal toad, mountain plover, meadow jumping mice, Colorado River cutthroat trout, Rio Grande sucker, Rocky Mountain wood frog, and many others, so search our web catalog for resources.

The black-tailed prairie dog is among Colorado's species of concern.  Photo courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife.


Lifelong Learning

Did you know that Colorado senior citizens can audit classes, tuition-free, at many of Colorado's state universities?  These programs allow seniors the enjoyment of learning without tuition, grades, and exams; homework is optional.  These courses are not for credit; seniors seeking degrees will have to pay the regular tuition and fees for credit courses.
  • The University of Colorado has offered senior audit programs since the regents set up the program in 1973.  CU-Boulder's Senior Auditors program is for seniors 55 and older.  There is no tuition but registrants must pay a fee ($80 for CU-Boulder alums, $95 for non-alums) that covers registration and IT services.  Also, some classes are not eligible.  For registration information and to search for classes, click here.
  • CU-Denver's Senior Citizens Program is open to seniors age 60 and older.  No fees are required but students must pay for their own books and course materials.  For registration information and to search for classes, click here.
  • Seniors 55 and older can join CU-Colorado Springs' Listening In program.  There is a fee of $30 per credit hour and permission of the instructor must be obtained.  For registration information and to search for classes, click here.
  • Colorado State University also offers seniors the option to audit classes.  At CSU-Ft Collins, their Lifelong Learner program is available for ages 55 and older and includes both in-person and virtual classes.  For registration information and to search for classes, click here.  
  • CSU-Pueblo's Guest Student program is open to anyone age 65 and up, or retirees age 62 and older.  Students do not need to pay tuition or mandatory fees, but some course fees may be required depending on the department.  For information and to search for classes, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.
  • Finally, Metropolitan State University of Denver offers a lifelong learning program, Metro Meritus.  The program is offered at no charge for ages 60 plus.  For information and to search for classes, click here.
  • You can also contact your local community college to see if they offer seniors the option of auditing classes free of charge.
Happy Learning!


Time Machine Tuesday: Agriculture in Colorado, 1926

In 1926 the State Agricultural College (now Colorado State University) published a history of Colorado agriculture.  This tome, at over 600 pages, explores Colorado's agricultural industry beginning in 1858.  As was common for the day, the book has a rambling title:  History of Agriculture in Colorado:  A Chronological Record of Progress in the Development of General Farming, Livestock Production and Agricultural Education and Investigation, on the Western Border of the Great Plains and the Mountains of Colorado, 1858-1926, and was "Published in Honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Admission of Colorado to the Union."  Although much of Colorado's early economy was tied to mining and railroads, agriculture still contributed a significant portion of the state's economic resources.  The State Agricultural College was founded as an agricultural land grant school. 

The 1926 book, which can be viewed online via our library, starts with a discussion of the earliest pioneer farmers in Colorado territory and early statehood.  One chapter discusses "The Settler and the Indian."  Later chapters explore economic development, research and experimentation, and specific industries such as sugar beets.  Colorado State University continues to this day as Colorado's ag school, housing the Colorado Extension, the Agricultural Experiment Station, and several agricultural economics programs.

Photo courtesy Colorado State University Libraries

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