As part of its educational mission, the Society sells books written by its members. To purchase a book, contact the Society by phone, mail or e-mail. A modest shipping fee will be added to the cost of the book.
Verna Sharp taught school in Montezuma where she met and married Leland Sharp, a member of a pioneer mining family living in Montezuma—a town nestled in a valley in eastern Summit County, above 10,000 feet, very near the continental divide. The author tells of the early residents in the towns and the mining activities that formed the basis for their survival. She includes information about the long-gone towns of Decatur (Rathbone, Argentine) and Chihuahua, as well as towns that were only dreams in the minds of real estate developers. The booklet includes numerous historic photographs.
Whiskey arrived in what would become Summit County, Colorado, during the reign of the mountain men (1820-1850). After a long, perhaps solitary, winter, the trappers brought their prepared pelts, called plew, to a pre-selected rendez-vous site during the last weeks of summer for days of trading, gambling, and drinking. The first saloon might have been a covered wagon with “whiskey” scrawled on the side or two barrels with a wooden board stretched across them. When prospectors arrived to search for gold, saloons and saloon keepers were not far behind. Readers learn about the important role these saloons and their proprietors played in the development of the towns of Summit County and how that role changed over the years.
Chasing the Dream, Part I, is the story of mining in French Gulch, where prospectors discovered gold in 1859, and especially of John and Catherine Sisler, who arrived in French Gulch as newlyweds in 1865. The Sisler holdings, sold by Catherine in 1900, became the property of the Mecca Gold Mining Company and later the Lincoln Gold Mines Company. Ben Stanley Revett, noticing the successful operations on these properties, began constructing a massive gold dredge boat that ultimately operated from 1905 until 1920 under the Reliance Gold Dredging Company and the Tonopah Placers Company. John Evans joined forces with Herman J. Reiling to form the French Gulch Dredging Company, which constructed the Reiling dredge that operated in French Gulch from 1909 until 1922. Numerous “then and now” photographs enhance the manuscript.
Chasing the Dream, Part II, tells the story of the first prospectors who found gold in the upper Swan River valley and in Illinois and Mayo gulches, and the mining districts they organized. Included is the story of Parkville, the first county seat of Summit County and almost the first capital of Colorado Territory. The book highlights Thomas H. Fuller, the first person to consolidate many of the original claims in those districts into a “mega” company. The book follows the sale of the Fuller Placer Mining Company to the Summit County Mining and smelting Company, which later became the Victoria Gold Mining Company. Pages from original mining district log books, documents from the Wapiti Mining Company, and numerous “then and now” photographs taken by the author make the book truly unique.
Chasing the Dream, Swandyke, Colorado, Boom to Bust to Dust, the fourth in the Chasing the dream series, tells the story of the birth and death of Swandyke, located almost at the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Swan River in Summit County Known as Middle Swan until 1897, the first part of the name refers to its location on the Middle Swan River. A dyke, the English spelling for the word “dike,” is a mineralized vein that cuts across pre-existing rock. Swandyke actually existed in three separate locations: the original site on the Middle Swan road; the second location along Bull Creek just across the Swan River, and the third site, referred to as Upper Swandyke, another mile farther up the moutain at tree line. Swandyke , with a lifespan of about ten years, typifies the many , short-lived boom-to-bust Colorado mining towns. Of special interest is information about Carl Fulton, one of the earliest to live and work in the town. The addition of archaeological information prepared by Eric Twitty gives the reader important details about what existed at the sites and the remains that can still be seen by visitors.
Chasing the Dream, Part III, introduces Ben Stanley Revett, who in 1898 brought the first dredge boats not only to Breckenridge but to all of Colorado. He proposed digging to bedrock and retrieving the placer gold that had settled there over the eons. A total of nine gold dredges scoured the streams of the county between 1898 and 1942, seven of them bearing the stamp of Revett. The first three were not successful at all; the fourth was moderately so. Three others were very successful and two extremely successful periodically. The book includes numerous maps and photographs previously unpublished that explain in detail the construction and operation of individual dredges, the intricate machinery involved in the gold-retrieval process, the areas worked by each dredge, and the living conditions of the men employed by Revett.
Frisco and The Mile Canyon tells the story of the once-thriving railroad town that served as the gateway to the towns and mines of the Ten Mile Canyon. Beginning in 1879, mines produced silver, gold, and other minerals while experiencing the usual boom and bust cycles. With the slow, painful death of mining and the curtailing of rail service, Frisco and nearby towns suffered. Filled with photographs from the Frisco Historic Park & Museum and private collections, chapters include The Utes: The First Inhabitants; Frisco: The Town and Its People; Towns of the Ten Mile Canyon: Gone but Not Forgotten; Mining in the Ten Mile Canyon: All that Glitters is Not Gold; Roads and Railroads: The Transportation Network; and Agriculture: A High-Altitude Enterprise.
This manuscript is intended for those who know little or nothing about the historical events that happened along the Boreas Pass High Line built by the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railway Company. The author focuses on four small alpine camps that developed along the tracks in the 1800s: Argentine, Farnham, Farnham Spur, and Dwyer. When the mining economy collapsed after the turn of the century, the railroad curtailed service and eventually died, sounding the death knell for these towns. Color photographs, numerous maps, diagrams, and charts tell the story of those who lived and struggled to make a living in these high-altitude camps.
“In 1900 the Gold Pan Mining Company transformed the undeveloped southern outskirts of Breckenridge. The 1859 gold boom town became an industrial hub.” The company’s mining efforts on the Fanny and Maggie placers proved unprofitable, but the company’s “world-class” machine shop transformed the town, bringing electricity to the town and nearby mines. The huge number of never-before-published photographs that accompany the text make this a valuable addition to anyone’s library. Photographs focus on the pit mining operation, the interior layout of the machine shops, the work completed by the employees, and the Gold Pan hydroelectric plants.
The Iowa Hill hiking trail north of Breckenridge along Airport Road has been a favorite for years. Golden Gulches tells the story of the mining that occurred in the gulch beginning in 1860. Miners used pan and shovel, sluicing, monitors, and booming to extract the gold in the gulch. Numerous photographs enhance the text. A trail guide shows the 17 stops along the trail that tell of the mining processes and the men who worked the gulch. The book concludes with additional information and photographs that further explain the text on the signs at each of the stops.
Intended for readers ages 8 through 12, Historic Footprints includes historic photographs and stories of interest to young readers. Chapters answer questions such as: Who lived here before the miners arrived? Who were the mountain men? Why did the prospectors come to Summit County? Where did the people live? What was life like for children and adults living in Summit County? How did people and supplies move around? Did people farm at this altitude? Were there saloons in mining towns and camps? What did people do for fun? and Who were some of the people who lived in Summit County? Each chapter concludes with a Learn More section. Readers use the photographs, do individual research, or visit the museums in the county to find the answers.
The book tells the story of the Myers family, which played a prominent role in the life of Summit County for many years. Col. James H. Myers, Sr., the first to arrive, invested in mines and encouraged many to support his mining adventures. His son, “Dimp,” also a leader in mining enterprises, married Lula Orsburn, a schoolmarm who taught in Frisco. They lived in Keystone on a 160-acre homestead now part of Keystone Resort. Their 1885 house stands behind the Summit Historical Society’s Schoolhouse Museum in Dillon. Readers will learn how this family filled such an important role in Summit County through the years.
Writers have been struck by the vivid contrasts of the mining landscape—the terrible destruction amid such exquisite natural beauty. The mining economy brought monumental changes to the human and natural landscapes of Summit County. Transportation and communication networks overcame isolation—merchants poured into the mining camps bringing needed supplies and equipment. Change was constant—small companies merged to become large conglomerates funded by investors—new techniques replaced the old. Readers will learn about mining terminology, techniques, tools and the life of those working at a mine. Of particular interest will be assaying processes and machinery used at mills and smelters.
Summit County has not always been the home of towering mountain peaks; once there were swampy lagoons and dinosaurs eating lush tropical vegetation growing on vast lowlands crossed by lazily flowing streams. As the reign of the dinosaurs came to a close, tremendous pressure deep within Earth began to raise the lofty Rockies. More than ten thousand years ago, huge rivers of ice carved distinctive features on the landscape. Readers will learn about the geologic processes that shaped the county through the centuries and still sculpt the landscape today. Plants on the geologic landscape adjust to high altitude, steep slopes, thin soils, drying winds, short growing season, cold temperatures, limited sunlight, snow cover, and frost heave. Six travelogues with maps and photographs identify the geologic and vegetative features along the county’s major roadways.
For centuries, Summit County provided the necessities of life for humans, beginning as long ago as 12,000 years while remnants of the ice age still filled alpine valleys. First migrating bands of Native Americans—then the fur trappers—and finally the miners, merchants, ranchers, and their families rearranged those resources to meet their needs and desires. Readers will learn about the Utes, mining towns, the variety of mining operations, high-altitude agriculture, and the transportation networks that crossed the county. Six travelogues introduce and explain the cultural features found along the county’s major highways. This is the companion book of Roadside Summit, Part I—The Geology & Vegetation of Summit County, Colorado.
Summit County, part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, tells the story of Summit County through more than 190 photographs and maps. A caption accompanies each image and map. A brief introduction identifies the theme of that chapter: The Utes, the Original Inhabitants; Mining the Precious Minerals; Mining Towns and Camps; Lifestyles in the Victorian Era; Transportation, Overcoming Isolation; Agriculture along the Lower Blue River; and Recreation, Fun, and Relaxation. The photographs came from the archives of the Summit Historical Society as well as from several private collections.
They weren’t all prostitutes or gamblers or dance hall girls. But who were these women who came to Summit County between 1859 and the turn of the century? Where did they come from? Did they want to come? Did they have a choice? What did they find when they arrived? What was their role in developing the cultural landscape of Summit County? This book attempts to answer these and other questions about the women. The book concludes with a chapter based on the diary of Anna Sadler Hamilton, wife of Breckenridge meat merchant, Robert Hamilton. She arrived as a young bride in 1885. Never quite able to stop looking longingly over her shoulder to the family she left in Grundy County, Illinois, Anna experienced many difficulties adjusting to life in a high-altitude climate with long winters and deep snow.
Summit County, Colorado, has all of the ingredients of an epic Hollywood movie or of a “great American novel.” From its earliest inhabitants—the proud Mountain Utes and their predecessors—to today’s seekers of outdoor adventure and natural beauty, our county has witnessed all of the human and natural drama seen anywhere in the development of the western US. Windows to the Past presents many short, in-depth snapshots or windows into all aspects of this history and heritage of Summit County. The book commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Summit Historical Society.