Synopses & Reviews
Prospectors lured to the West in hopes of striking rich settled a thousand towns in the Colorado mountains. The cry of and#147;Gold!and#8221; or and#147;Silver!and#8221; or a few flecks of color in a tin cup sent them to remote, often inhospitable locations to search for the precious metals.
Close on the heels of the miners were the merchant, the gamblers, the prostitutes, the washerwomen, the capitalists, and the con men. Together they turned the mining camps into bustling towns where saloons never closed and the safest place for a man to walk after dark was down the middle of the street with a gun in each hand.
Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps is the first new book in more than twenty-five years to document these mountain communities. Most of the early settlers are gone, leaving few persons with any oral tradition to pass on to future generations. For many of the 147 towns and camps listed in this book, not much remains to be preserved beyond what Dallas and photographer Kendal Atchison have recorded.
The book is lavishly illustrated with 290 photographs. In addition to those by Atchison and early historical photographs, rare photographs from the 1920s and 1930s are included, many never published before. Some of Atchisonand#8217;s superb photographs evoke nostalgia with views of abandoned buildings deteriorating amid meadow wildflowers. Soon nothing will remain but the Colorado landscape, with the eternal mountains towering close by.
The town histories are traced from their beginning in strike-it-rich excitement and glittering boom years, through the declines, to the present day. Some of these hopeful towns, such as Lulu, were deserted as quickly as they were settled, lasting barely more than a season, while a few, including Aspen and Breckenridge, are as lively today as they were a century ago. But most of them, like Animas Forks, flourished until the gold or silver played out and were abandoned, leaving a few lonely cabins or picturesque ruins. Towns such as Aspen, Crested Butte, Cripple Creek, and Breckenridge have lived on to become popular ski resorts, and these places warrant additional vignettes that add color and to the text.
Written to inform and entertain the general reader, this book will be a delight for armchair adventurers as well as invaluable for vacationers interested in visiting the sites of these Colorado boomtowns. Most of the places are no longer shown on modern road maps, and special maps of the region have been prepared for this book.
"Dallas's book is very readable, beautfully illustrated, and a perfect guide for anyone wishing to visit Colorado's ghost towns and mining camps. Some of the historic photographs, gleaned from Colorado's excellent libraries, have not been published before and offer new insights into the mining camps, especially during the 1920s and 1930s." Colorado Heritage
"It is a handy reference for a sojourn through Colorado, as well as good reading for the vicarious adventurer unlikely to leave the confines of home....I'm not sure what demons Dallas might have unleased, but she sure can write an engaging story." The Bloomsbury Review
"An altogether fine work of several years' undertaking, it is a labor of love. Well written and informative, it is also an enjoyable and entertaining read." True West
"The author combines careful research and lively vignettes to provide an informative, often amusing, well-rounded view of life in the Colorado Rockies a century ago." The Denver Post
"Sandra Dallas, an active writer of Colorado history, brings her expertise and sense of humor to good use as she describes 147 of Colorado's more colorful communities that flourished at some time between early 1859 and 1899....Kendal Atchison's expertly executed photographs record the present appearance of most of the camps. Altogether, this mother-daughter joint effort is a well-turned out, brief introduction to these communities." Western Historical Quarterly
About the Author
a reporter for Business Week
for twenty-five years, is the author of Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps,No More Than Five in a Bed
(also published by the University of Oklahoma Press), Gaslights and Gingerbread,
many other books and articles on Colorado and the West, and several best-selling novels.
Kendal Atchison, a talented young photographer, is Sandra Dallas?s daughter. Indeed, these two may be the first mother-daughter team to produce a western history book.