Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado's Bat Caves

Fifteen years ago the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the CSU Natural Heritage Program conducted a survey of bats living in Colorado caves.  According to the report of the study, which you can read online via our library, twelve of Colorado's eighteen species of bats use caves and abandoned mines at least part of the year in Colorado. Corynorhinus townsendii, or Townsend's Big-Eared Bat, were the most frequently encountered species, typically at elevations above 6,122 feet. Townsend's bats are officially on Colorado's Threatened and Endangered Species list, and other bat species are also threatened due to habitat loss and wind energy development, so it is quite likely that populations have dropped since the 2002 cave study.

If you're interested in viewing bats, the study contains a list of caves where bats were found (including some spookily named caves like Groaning Cave, Scorpion Cave, and Fixin-to-Die Cave).  Note that some of these caves may be on private property, so do your homework before setting out on any spelunking expeditions.

This is also National Bat Week.  Colorado Parks & Wildlife has put together a fun webpage with videos and facts about bats.

Happy Halloween!


Colorado's Rural School Districts

How does the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) define a rural school district?

A Colorado school district is determined to be rural giving consideration to the size of the district, the distance from the nearest large urban/urbanized area, and having a student enrollment of approximately 6,050 students or less. Small rural districts are those districts meeting these same criteria and having a student population of less than 1,000 students.

Rural schools and communities have very different needs than large, urbanized school districts, including funding disparities; transportation needs over long distances; access to technology; teacher recruitment; migrant families; and more.  Some of the CDE resources available from our library that discuss the unique challenges and opportunities found in rural school districts include:
You can find a current list of Colorado's rural and small rural districts here.

Search our library's online catalog for more resources, including historical reports on rural schools.


Colorado Governors: Samuel Elbert

Colorado's highest mountain bears the name of Samuel H. Elbert, territorial governor of Colorado from 1873-74.  Elbert County is also named for him.

Originally from Ohio, Elbert, a lawyer, moved to Nebraska in 1854 and became heavily involved in Republican politics.  He campaigned hard for Abraham Lincoln and through this campaign met John Evans, future territorial governor of Colorado.  When Evans became governor, Elbert came to Colorado as his territorial secretary, which you can read more about in the Colorado Magazine article "Colorado's Territorial Secretaries."  Elbert also married John Evans' daughter Josephine.  Elbert went on to serve in the territorial legislature.

President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Elbert as governor of the territory after the removal of Edward McCook by public petition.  Elbert was a popular governor, but McCook, a Civil War general, was a friend of Grant's, so the president reinstated him in office after just one year.

After statehood, Elbert went on to become Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court.  He died in 1899.

At 14,439', Mount Elbert is Colorado's highest peak.


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado's Poet Laureates

Was Colorado the first state to have a poet laureate?  It depends on who you ask.  Alice Polk Hill, Colorado's first poet laureate, was appointed by Governor Oliver Shoup on September 10, 1919.  However, California's Ina Donna Coolbrith had been appointed by her state's governor four years earlier, in 1915.  But the Library of Congress notes that California's poet laureate was an unofficial position until 2001.  So using this logic, it could be said that Colorado had the first official poet laureate.

This is the assertion that writer Ann Hafen made in her 1953 Colorado Magazine article about the history of Colorado's poet laureates.  She cites a national survey on poet laureates, to which, Hafen writes, "California reported a law for a poet laureate being considered, but not yet enacted."  Another source, the Colorado Encyclopedia, writes that Alice Polk Hill "was the prototype poet laureate for the rest of the nation as well as a newspaper reporter, music teacher, and the first female member of the Colorado Historical Society."

Alice Polk Hill, born in Kentucky in 1854, had come to Colorado as a young bride in 1873.  She developed an interest in writing, publishing the book Tales of the Colorado Pioneers in 1884.  (It was later revised as Colorado Pioneers in Pictures and Story.)  She was also one of the founders of the Denver Woman's Press Club, and "was the only woman among twenty-one delegates sent to the convention to draft a Charter for the City and County of Denver, when the city was given Home Rule in 1904," writes Hafen. In August 1919 Hill wrote to Governor Shoup suggesting the creation of a post of poet laureate, and she was appointed a month later.  She only served two years, however; she died in August 1921.

The next poet laureate was Nellie Burget Miller, serving nearly thirty years, from 1923 until her death in 1952.  You can read some of her poetry in the Colorado Magazine article referenced above.  She was followed by Margaret Clyde Robertson of Boulder, who wrote many Colorado-themed poems including "Mistress of the Matchless Mine," a poem about Baby Doe Tabor.  Colorado's next poet laureates were Milford E. Shields (1954-1975), Thomas Hornsby Ferril (1979-1988), Mary Crow (1996-2010), David Mason (2010-2014), and Joseph Hutchinson (2014-present).


Historic Preservation Tax Credits

This month's Colorado Heritage magazine contains a Q & A about historic preservation tax credits in Colorado. These credits, both state and federal, are designed to encourage property owners to repair, renovate, and preserve historic buildings by helping them save money on their taxes.  In our library we have a number of resources that explain the process and eligibility for preservation tax credits:


Vote for Colorado's Most Significant Artifact

Now through November 17, you can vote for your favorite historic Colorado artifact or document as part of the Colorado Collections Connection's campaign to highlight the importance of our state's historic and cultural heritage.  Artifacts were nominated by their owning institution and include items from museums and libraries large and small.  The nominees come from all over the state, including from the Denver Public Library, Fort Morgan Museum, Hayden Heritage Center, Littleton Museum, Montrose Historical Society/Museum, Monte Vista Historical Society, and others.  Nominees range from large items such as a stagecoach, to archival materials like the Longmont Museum's collection of teacher grade books from the early- and mid-twentieth century.  Other nominees include items belonging to famous Coloradans such as William Henry Jackson and Justina Ford.  Anyone can vote, so choose your favorite today!

The Colorado Collections Connection is a partnership between the Auraria Library, History Colorado, the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums, and the Colorado State Library.  It continues the work initially started by a grant program known as Connecting to Collections.  The Most Significant Artifact program is now in its fifth year, and you can read about the first two years in the report Colorado's Top Ten Most Significant Artifacts, 2013 and 2014, available for checkout from our library.  You can also find listings and photos of previous years' nominees here.

Miss Yokohama, Colorado's Japanese Friendship Doll from 1927, is among the nominees for the 2017 Colorado's Most Significant Artifact.


Time Machine Tuesday: Financing Public Schools in the Early 20th Century

In 1917, it cost a yearly average of $69.00 per pupil to educate Colorado's public school students.  A century later, that number is up to $9,363 per pupil, according to statistics from the Colorado Department of Education.

A wealth of statistics on the funding of Colorado public schools in the early decades of the twentieth century, such as the 1917 figure above, can be found in the 1930 publication Cost of Public Education from Viewpoint of Agriculture in Larimer County, ColoradoThis report, published by the Colorado Agricultural College (now CSU)'s Agricultural Experiment Station, is available online from our library.  Although the focus of the report is on Larimer County, and especially on how public school taxes affected farmers -- who in 1930 were already suffering the effects of the Depression and the Dust Bowl -- the report provides many statistical comparisons with the state as a whole, so this report can be very useful to researchers beyond just those looking at farm economics or at Larimer County.

For researchers studying Colorado education history, this report is also useful to compare against other state reports.  G. S. Klemmedson, the author of the 1930 report, notes that in his research he "found many errors in published records and even in the original records which were used as a basis of study.  This was especially true of bonded indebtedness and tax levy figures. Information obtained from the State Superintendent of Schools did not agree with figures obtained from the Colorado State Tax Commission or with those obtained from the State Board of Immigration." Therefore, this publication is helpful in reconciling the figures presented by the other agencies, whose reports you can also find in our library.  These include the Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; the Annual Report of the Colorado Tax Commission; and the State Board of Immigration's Year Book of the State of Colorado.

Examples of some of the statistical diagrams in the 1930 Cost of Education report.


Keeping Kids Safe on the Road

This week is both National Teen Driver Safety Week and National School Bus Safety Week.  Our library has many resources that can help you learn about and bring attention to both of these important causes.

Teen drivers:

School buses:

Search our library's web catalog for more resources.


Dial 511 for Road Conditions

Winter driving season has arrived!  The Colorado Department of Transportation offers several services to help you be prepared and aware of road closures and weather conditions.  Log on to cotrip.org, or simply dial 511 from anywhere in Colorado.  511 works with both cell phones and land lines.  You can also sign up for email or text alerts from CDOT, or download the CDOT mobile app.


Time Machine Tuesday: An Economic Profile of Denver in 1974

Recently the Denver metro area has been experiencing unprecedented economic activity and growth, with hundreds of people moving here each month, new businesses coming to the area, and housing prices skyrocketing.  How does this compare with the Denver of the 1970s?

In 1970, the Business School at the University of Colorado established the Denver Urban Observatory "to perform urban research." Four years later they issued a major study, The Economic Base of Denver: Implications for Denver's Fiscal Future and Administrative Policy.  "A primary purpose of this research," states the report, "is to provide the Denver Mayor with an appraisal of policy alternatives applicable to future regional development in the city and county."  Statistics and analysis on population growth, business and employment, taxation, land use, and housing prices  provide insight on the city's growth.  (In 1970, the Denver metropolitan area's median housing value was just $23,058!).  The report also examines the process of attracting and locating industry in Denver -- once again a hot topic.

The findings of the 1974 study can teach us some valuable lessons and provide perspective on the economic development of Denver in the past, today, and in the future.  The study authors conclude that "in the final analysis the city does have a choice, however. It can govern the city more or less passively letting private market forces largely determine its socio-economic and financial fate. Or it can govern actively, using the policy tools at its disposal to shape and form the economic base to conform to its view of what the city should be." This report is an excellent resource for policymakers, economists, and journalists to use in researching the history of Denver's growth and economic development.

Blocks and blocks of downtown Denver were demolished in the name of economic development in the 1970s as part of the Skyline Urban Renewal Project. This view shows construction at 18th and Arapahoe in 1979. Courtesy Denver Public Library Western History Department.


Educator Talent

The Colorado Department of Education recently reorganized all of its educator services into a new unit called Educator Talent.  This unit now has a website that contains a wealth of information on the teaching profession in Colorado, including resources on the educator shortage; licensing; performance management; educator preparation programs; resources for districts and BOCES; and much more.  Check out the Department's new Educator Talent webpage today.  For reports and publications, search our library's online catalog.


Protect Your Investments

Whether you are just getting started in the world of investing, or are looking to protect the investments you have, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) has established a website that provides a "wealth" of consumer information on how to manage and protect your investments.

Money: Safeguard Your Hard-Earned Assets includes many consumer tips on money management as well as how to protect yourself from fraud and scams.  The site provides a link to DORA's Investor Education site, where you can find consumer alerts, FAQs, and helpful links.  You can also learn about DORA's $ecure Colorado for Seniors initiative, a program designed "to help prevent financial fraud against senior citizens."  The webpage for this program includes printable brochures, powerpoints, and a link to request a live presentation from a DORA staff member at your senior center, library, or other community facility or group.

Be sure to check out the other Ask DORA webpages as well, providing consumer education on insurance, home repair, civil rights, utilities, and licensing.


Time Machine Tuesday: The Lost Town of Caribou, Colorado

It can't really be called a ghost town, because there's almost nothing left to mark the location of Caribou, Colorado, a silver mining town once located in Boulder County near Nederland.  Yet despite being nearly forgotten, the town of Caribou and its associated silver mines were a shining example of the boom-and-bust cycle of the mining West.

The silver mines at Caribou were established in 1869 and by the following year a townsite had been platted.  It was a cold, windy place to live, but nonetheless the miners and their families made it their home.  Historian Duane A. Smith, in his highly readable Silver Saga: The Story of Caribou, Colorado, points out that the people of Caribou were civil and law-abiding; this was no rowdy Leadville or Deadwood.  Many of Caribou's inhabitants were families, and the schoolhouse was one of the town's most prominent and recognizable buildings.  A significant number of Caribou residents were Cornish miners who brought their mining and cultural traditions from their native Cornwall in Britain.

The silver mines that gave rise to the town were initially very productive, but as time went on, the best ore was tapped out.  A host of well-known individuals were associated with the ownership of the Caribou mines, including Jerome Chaffee and David Moffat.  One longtime owner was New York financier R. G. Dun, best known today as the Dun of Dun & Bradstreet.  By the time Dun died in 1900, he had experienced major financial losses from the mine.  The mine had already been decreasing in production by the time of the Silver Crash in 1893, and several times over the years it had been closed and re-opened.  Financial problems, water issues, and low-grade ore all contributed to the mines' performing less than expected.

Caribou's population, at its height in the mid-1870s, steadily dwindled as the decades passed.  In the mid-1880s, several especially hard winters and even an earthquake challenged the residents' resolve.  After the 1893 panic, even more residents left.  Finally, in 1905, a major fire destroyed most of the town's buildings, and the few that remained were abandoned.  The high winds and heavy snows eventually toppled these few reminders that a thriving town had once been there.
Even though the town was gone, mining at Caribou wasn't completely dead.  The Biennial Report of the Bureau of Mines of the State of Colorado for 1917-18 reported that "in the Caribou mining district there has been a great revival in 1918."  Apparently this "revival" didn't last long, and there wouldn't be another one for several decades.  The 1952 report noted that "Boulder County's production of silver, the largest since 1917, came mostly from the Consolidated Caribou Mines, Incorporated."  The district saw a second, smaller revival in the 1970s when a gold mine was opened but, in keeping with its history, troubles still plague the mine today.

 Smith's Silver Saga, which can be checked out from our library, tells the whole story of the ups and downs of the mine and the town.  Ghost town enthusiasts should also read Waldo R. Wedel's "Visit to Caribou, 1963," in the Summer 1964 issue of Colorado Magazine.  In the 54 years that have since passed, very little of what Wedel describes can still be found.  And while human inhabitants may have long since left the area, Caribou is still home to a number of species of rare plants and animals, as detailed in a 1999 report from Colorado State University's Natural Heritage Program and Boulder Open Space.    

The town of Caribou, Colorado circa 1880s.  Courtesy Denver Public Library.


Online Career Help

Are you looking for a new job, or thinking of taking your career in a new direction?  The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment can assist.  Their Career Help webpage is a great resource that can help you find a job, training, or education.  You can use this site to link to a workforce center near you, where you can take a skills assessment and find information about the job market in your area.  Career Help also includes information specifically for youth and for veterans, links to labor market information, networking and job fairs, interviewing tips, and much more. 

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