Rocky Mountain National Park
A History
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General Works

The history of Rocky Mountain National Park has always been linked to that of the adjacent communities of Estes Park and Grand Lake. One of the earliest histories of the region still available is Enos Mills's The Story of Estes Park (Privately printed, 1980). June E. Carothers's Estes Park, Past and Present (Denver, 1951) offers greater perspective. Edmin J. Foscue and Louis O. Quam's Estes Park, Resort in the Rockies (Dallas, 1949) is equally valuable. Brief historical introductions to the area include Ruth Stauffer's This Was Estes Park: Historical Vignettes of the Early Days Estes Park, 1976) and Lloyd K. Musselman's Rocky Mountain National Park, Its First Fifty Years, 1915-1965 (Estes Park, 1965). Caroline Bancroft's Trail Ridge Country: The Romantic History of Estes Park and Grand Lake (Boulder, 1968) and Dave Hicks's Estes Park, From the Beginning (Denver, 1976) note many historical highlights of the area. Offering personal insight are Harold Marion Dunning's History of Estes Park (Boulder, 1967), Over Hill and Vale (Boulder, 1956), and The History of Trail Ridge Road (Boulder, 1967). Especially valuable for its many details of early exploration and settlement as well as nomenclature is Louisa Ward Arps and Elinor Eppich Kingery's Rocky Mountain National Park, High Country Names (Boulder, 1972).

Mary Lyons Carins's Grand Lake in the Olden Days (Denver, 1971) and Nell Pauly's Ghosts of the Shootin' (Grand Lake, 1961) provide some pioneers' perspectives regarding events on the western slope. Of greater value is Robert C. Black III's Island in the Rockies (Boulder, 1969) with its definitive history of Grand County.

Equally important but less accessible are two National Park Service historic resource studies: F. Ross Holland, Jr.'s Rocky Mountain National Park: Historical Background Data (National Park Service, 1971) and Lloyd K. Musselman's Rocky Mountain National Park, Administrative History, 1915-1965 (National Park Service, 1971). Older but still of value are H. E. Rensch's Historical Background for Rocky Mountain National Park (National Park Service, 1935) and Florence Johnson Shoemaker's The Story of Estes-Rocky Mountain National Park Region (Master's thesis, Colorado State College, Greeley, 1940).

Placing the national park idea into a national perspective are Alfred Runte's National Parks: The American Experience (Lincoln, 1972) and Joseph L. Sax's Mountains Without Handrails: Reflections on the National Parks (Ann Arbor, 1980). And for an overview of Colorado history see Carl Abbott, Stephen J. Leonard, and David McComb's Colorado: A History of the Centennial State (Boulder, 1982), Marshall Sprague's Colorado, A Bicentennial History (New York, 1976), or Robert Athearn's The Coloradans (Albuquerque, 1976).

Chapter One: Tales, Trails, and Tribes

Native Americans of the prehistoric era of course left no written records of their visits to Rocky Mountain National Park. Here archeology and ethnology dominate our study. Two introductory studies, Bruce Estes Rippeteau's A Colorado Book of the Dead: The Prehistoric Era (Denver, 1979) and J. Donald Hughes's American Indians of Colorado (Boulder, c. 1977), trace Colorado's natives through time. Offering a broader perspective are George C. Frison's Prehistoric Hunters of the Great Plains (New York, 1978), Jesse D. Jennings's Prehistory of North America (New York, 1974), and H. M. Wormington's Ancient Man in North America (Denver, 1957). Also useful is Edwin N. Wilmsen's Lindenmeier: A Pliestocene Hunting Society (New York, 1974).

Two valuable studies center on archeology within the Park. An older work, Mary Elizabeth Yelm's Archeological Survey of Rocky Mountain National Park—Eastern Foothill District (Master's thesis, University of Denver, 1935) gave archeology a boost in the region. Wilfred Marsten Husted's A Proposed Archeological Chronology for Rocky Mountain National Park Based on Projectile Points and Pottery (Master's thesis, University of Colorado, 1962) has become essential for understanding the Park's prehistory. Equally important are James B. Benedict's The Fourth of July Valley: Glacial Geology and Archeology of the Timberline Ecotone (Ward, 1981) and (with Byron L. Olson) The Mount Albion Complex: A Study of Prehistoric Man and the Altithermal (Ward, 1978). Older speculative studies, such as Betty Yelm's and Ralph L. Beals's Indians of the Park Region Estes Park, 1934) are being replaced by numerous valuable articles such as Wilfred M. Husted's "Early Occupation of the Colorado Front Range," American Antiquity, 30-4 (April 1965): 494-98, and David A. Breternitz's "An Early Burial from Gordon Creek, Colorado," American Antiquity, 36-2 (April 1971): 170-82.

Indians associated with the Park region may be examined in broader scope in Virginia Cole Trenholm's The Arapahoes, Our People (Norman, 1970), Alfred L. Kroeber's The Arapaho (New York, 1902), and Wilson Rockwell's The Utes: A Forgotten People (Denver, 1956). Among the more recent scholarly studies, Anne M. Smith's Ethnography of the Northem Utes (Santa Fe, 1974) offers unique analysis of Ute lifeways. An early effort to connect Rocky Mountain National Park with its Native American heritage led to a 1914 expedition through the region with elderly Indians as detailed in Oliver W. Toll's Arapaho Names and Trails (Privately printed, 1962).

Chapter Two: Into the Domains of Silence and Loneliness

The exploration of Rocky Mountain National Park has to be considered in the context of Colorado history. Regarding the expedition of Stephen Harriman Long, see Dr. Edwin James's Account of an Expedition from Pittsburg to the Rocky Mountains (Ann Arbor, 1966) or Harlan M. Fuller and LeRoy R. Hafen's The Journal of Captain John R. Bell (Glendale, 1973). For an overview of the American fur trade, Hiram M. Chittenden's The American Fur Trade of the Far West (New York, 1902) is only one of numerous studies. Essential to the Park's earliest link with frontiersmen is LeRoy R. Hafen and Anne W. Hafen's Rufus B. Sage, His Letters and Papers, 1836-1847 (Glendale, 1956). For other visitors in the region see Donald Jackson and Mary Lee Spence's The Expeditions of John Charles Fremont (Urbana, 1970) and Francis Parkman's classic tale The Oregon Trail (New York, 1950). Jack Roberts's The Amazing Adventures of Lord Gore (Silverton, 1977) offers some insights into the way the Rockies were viewed by the 1850s.

Because gold brought such people as Joel Estes to Colorado, the search for mineral wealth ultimately affected Rocky Mountain National Park. For an overview of that era see George F. Willison's Here They Dug the Gold (New York, 1931) or LeRoy R. Hafen's Colorado Gold Rush, Contemporary Letters and Reports, 1858-1859 (Philadelphia, 1974). The experience of Joel Estes has been treated in almost every general history of Rocky Mountain National Park. The most reliable source of information regarding Joel Estes remains Milton Estes's "The Memoirs of Estes Park," The Colorado Magazine, 16(July 1939): 121-32. Longs Peak entered the realm of fiction for the first time in Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and A Trip Around It (Philadelphia, c. 1865).

Chapter Three: Searching for the Song of the Winds

Isabella Bird's travels continue to keep readers entertained. Two works put her Colorado visit in perspective: Robert G. Athearn's Westward the Briton (New York, 1953) and Marshall Sprague's A Gallery of Dudes (Boston, 1966). Dorothy Middleton's Victorian Lady Travellers (New York, 1965) describes the European context from which Bird came. Isabella Bird's own A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (Norman, 1979) has become a minor classic in the history of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Concerning the Earl of Dunraven, his own works offer a fine introduction. His Canadian Nights (New York, 1914), Past Times and Pastimes (London, 1922), and The Great Divide (London, 1876) are worth searching for, as is George Henry Kingsley and Mary H. Kingsley's Notes on Sport and Travel (London, 1900), since they shed light on some controversial aspects of the Earl's tenure in Estes Park. For an early settler's view of the Earl see E. J. Lamb's Memories of the Past and Thoughts of the Future (Denver?, 1901) and Miscellaneous Meditations (Denver?, c. 1913).

For the era of geological and geographical exploration, William H. Goetzmann's Exploration and Empire (New York, 1966) is the best place to start and Richard A. Bartlett's Great Surveys of the American West (Norman, 1962) will also prove helpful. The Longs Peak climb of John Wesley Powell and his many other adventures may be found in Dale White's John Wesley Powell, Geologist-Explorer (New York, 1958) or William Culp Darrah's Powell of the Colorado (Princeton, 1951). Worth searching for are William N. Byers's 1868 articles in the Rocky Mountain News detailing his climb with Powell that August. William N. Byers's "First Ascent of Longs Peak," in The Trail (October 1914) and L. W. Keplinger's "The First Ascent of Longs Peak," in The Trail (June 1919) afford interesting views of that event.

Numerous individuals and issues within this era have received attention. Albert Bierstadt's role has been elaborated in Gordon Hendricks's Albert Bierstadt Painter of the American West (New York, 1974). Geological surveys brought hangers-on and for examples see Henry Adams's The Education of Henry Adams (New York, 1918) or Anna E. Dickinson's A Ragged Register (of People, Places and Opinions) (New York, 1879). Whether Isabella Bird was really in love with Mountain Jim has been explored in Louisa Ward Arps "Letters from Isabella Bird," The Colorado Quarterly, 4(Summer 1955): 26-41, and Pat Barr's A Curious Life for a Lady (New York, 1972).

Chapter Four: Dreams with Silver Lining

Much of the information on the life of Abner Sprague can be gleaned from the numerous articles he contributed to the Estes Park Trail. Other details concerning that era of ranching may be found in Florence Johnson Shoemaker's The Story of Estes-Rocky Mountain National Park Region (Master's thesis, Colorado State College, Greeley, 1940) and Louisa Ward Arps and Elinor Eppich Kingery's High Country Names (Estes Park, 1977). Western slope settlement is best discussed in Robert C. Black III's Island in the Rockies (Boulder, 1969).

For an overview of mining during this era see Duane Smith's Rocky Mountain Mining Camps (Bloomington, 1967) or an older examination, J. S. Perky's Homes in and Near the Rocky Mountains (Fort Collins, 1880). A definitive examination of Rocky Mountain National Park's mining era is Susan B. Baldwin's Historic Resource Study, Dutchtown and Lulu City, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (Creative Land Use, 1980). Numerous articles appearing in the Georgetown Colorado Miner, the Fort Collins Express, and the Rocky Mountain News help reconstruct the rise and fall of mining along the North Fork. An interesting mix of geological exploration and promotion can be seen in F. V. Hayden's The Great West: Its Attractions and Resources (Bloomington, 1880). End results of such booms are described in Robert L. Brown's Ghost Towns in the Colorado Rockies Caldwell, 1969).

The view of ranches becoming resorts is evident in E. J. Lamb's Miscellaneous Meditations (Denver?, 1913?) and in Mary Lyons Carins's Grand Lake in the Olden Days (Denver, 1971). Joe Mills, brother of Enos Mills, offered A Mountain Boyhood (New York, 1926) which also provides details of that era. Travelers left their impressions and one of the most noteworthy is Carrie Adell Strahorn's Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage (New York, 1911). J. S. Flory's Thrilling Echoes From the Wild Frontier (Chicago, 1893) offers an interesting contrast.

The shooting at Grand Lake received definitive treatment in Robert C. Black III's Island in the Rockies (Boulder, 1969). Nell Pauly also described the event in Ghosts of the Shootin' (Grand Lake, 1961). It is still worthwhile to read the newspaper accounts detailing that incident, especially from the Georgetown Colorado Miner during July of 1883.

Chapter Five: For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People

Of those involved in the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park, none have exceeded the attention given Enos Mills. A sympathetic biography, Hildegarde Hawthorne and Esther Burnell Mills's Enos Mills of the Rockies (New York, 1935), still should be examined. Confronting the hero-naturalist image of Mills is Carl Abbott's "The Active Force: Enos A. Mills and the National Park Movement," The Colorado Magazine, 56 (Winter/Spring 1979): 56-73 and "'To Arouse Interest in the Outdoors': The Literary Career of Enos Mills," Montana: The Magazine of Western History, 31 (April 1981): 2-15. Putting Mills into perspective within the movement to create Rocky Mountain National Park was the task of Patricia M. Fazio in Cragged Crusade: The Fight for Rocky Mountain National Park, 1909-15 (Master's thesis, University of Wyoming, Laramie, 1982). Enos Mills's own works still attract readers, with The Adventures of a Nature Guide (New York, 1923), The Grizzly (Sausalito, 1976), The Rocky Mountain National Park (New York, 1924), The Rocky Mountain Wonderland (Boston, 1915), Wild Life on the Rockies (Boston, 1909), and The Spell of the Rockies (Boston, 1911) offering a sample of the books that made him popular.

The conservation movement preceded Mills and it is always helpful to explore some of its philosophic roots in Carl Bode's The Portable Thoreau (New York, 1979) or Lewis Mumford's Ralph Waldo Emerson: Essays and Journals (Garden City, 1968). The establishment of national forests may be seen in Arthur H. Carhart's The National Forests (New York, 1959), Michael Frome's Whose Woods These Are: The Story of the National Forests (New York, 1962), and Harold K. Steen's The U.S. Forest Service: A History (Seattle, 1976). National forests in Colorado received attention in Michael McCarthy's Hour of Trial (Norman, 1977) and Len Shoemaker's Saga of a Forest Ranger (Boulder, 1958). Rangers became romantic figures in Zane Grey's The Young Forester (New York, 1910) and Hamlin Garland's Cavanagh, Forest Ranger (New York, 1910).

Appreciating the mountains took many forms. Frederick H. Chapin's Mountaineering in Colorado (Boston, 1889) promoted mountain climbing. William Allen White's The Autobiography of William Allen White (New York, 1946) presents Moraine Park as a perfect resort. Peter Wild's Pioneer Conservationists of Western America (Missoula, 1979) described the varied avenues conservation could take.

Chapter Six: Paradise Founded

The story of Agnes Lowe, the Eve of Estes, was detailed in The Denver Post over the first two weeks of August, 1917. Several other documents relating to that event are in Rocky Mountain National Park files in the National Archives. Other highlights of the Park's early administration are described in the Annual Reports of the Director of the National Park Service and the Superintendent's Monthly Reports. Lloyd K. Musselman's Rocky Mountain National Park, Administrative History, 1915-1965 (National Park Service, 1971) offers the most comprehensive discussion of this era.

The origins of national park policy and philosophy are best found in Hans Huth's Nature and the American (Berkeley, 1957), Roderick Nash's Wilderness and the American Mind (New Haven, 1967), and Alfred Runte's National Parks: The American Experience (Lincoln, 1972). Robert Shankland's Steve Mather of the National Parks (New York, 1951) provides insight into the beginnings of the National Park Service as does William C. Everhart's The National Park Service (New York, 1972). A broader view of all the parks is given in John Ise's Our National Park Policy (Baltimore, 1961). A review of the national parks of the period is submitted in Robert Sterling Yard's The Book of the National Parks (New York, 1920) and Enos Mills's Your National Parks (Boston, 1917). Some insights into the administration of national parks during that period may be gained from Horace M. Albright and Frank J. Taylor's Oh, Ranger! (Stanford, 1928).

Superintendent Roger Toll wrote numerous letters, reports, newspaper and magazine articles, and memoranda that are scattered throughout Park files and archives. His Mountaineering in the Rocky Mountain National Park (Washington, 1921) affords a glance at his promotional efforts. Numerous issues of the Estes Park Trail display events and individuals significant to the Park. For a point of view from a Park visitor see John Willy's "A Motor Ride from St. Joseph, Mo., to Estes Park," Hotel Monthly, 24 (September 1916): 48-56 and "Five Days on Horseback in Rocky Mountain National Park," Hotel Monthly, 24 (October 1916): 40-53. William Sherman Bell explored the complexities of the Park's jurisdictional dispute in "The Legal Phases of Cession of Rocky Mountain National Park," Rocky Mountain Law Review, 1(1928): 35-46. The death of Agnes Vaille was described in Carl Blaurock's "Tragedy on Longs Peak," The Denver Westerners Roundup, 37(September-October 1981): 3-12.

Chapter Seven: Publicity Pays Off

Promotion of the Park continued during the early 1930s and Chief Naturalist Dorr Yeager's Bob Flame, Rocky Mountain Ranger (New York, 1963) affords a unique example of such efforts. Later, his Your Western National Parks (New York, 1947) broadened the scope and discarded the fiction. Somewhat more rustic and realistic was Jack C. Moomaw's Recollections of a Rocky Mountain Ranger (Longmont, 1963).

Aside from dozens of government reports on the subject, road building in Rocky Mountain National Park is best described in Glen Kaye's Trail Ridge (Estes Park, 1982) and Lloyd K. Musselman's Rocky Mountain National Park, Administrative History, 1915-1965 (National Park Service, 1971).

Origins of the Civilian Conservation Corps may be found in Paul Conkin's The New Deal (New York, 1967), David C. Coyle's Conservation (New Brunswick, 1957), and Edgar B. Nixon's Franklin D. Roosevelt and Conservation, 1911-1945 (Washington, 1957). A general overview of the CCC is provided in Perry H. Merrill's Roosevelt's Forest Army, A History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942 (Montpelier, 1981). Insight into the life of a CCC enrollee is provided by Battell Loomis's "With the Green Guard," Liberty (April 29, 1934): 52-53 and "The C.C.C. Digs In," Liberty (May 5, 1934): 46-47.

Building the Colorado-Big Thompson Project is best described in contemporary articles appearing in the Estes Park Trail. Edmin J. Foscue and Louis O. Quam offer a chapter on the subject in Estes Park, Resort in the Rockies (Dallas, 1949).

Chapter Eight: The Price of Popularity

Events of the most recent historical period, like the 1978 Ouzel Fire, are best described in numerous newspaper articles, especially in the Estes Park Trail-Gazette. Kent and Donna Dannen's brochure Fire! (Estes Park, c. 1980) describes the event within its ecological context. Official documents, such as the Board of Review Transcript of November 8, 1978, are most useful. Oral interviews with principal eyewitnesses, such as Superintendent Chester Brooks, Edgar Menning, and James Olson, helped reconstruct that event.

Numerous government documents provide details of the popularity of Rocky Mountain National Park and the need for Mission 66. William C. Everhart's The National Park Service (New York, 1972) put that program in its national context.

Casting a critical eye upon such efforts is F. Fraser Darling and Noel D. Eichhorn's Man and Nature in the National Parks (Washington, 1967).

Details of rescues must be reconstructed from sketchy newspaper accounts or from files of the Chief Ranger. The Hallett Peak rescue was described through oral interviews with Jerry Hammond and Frank Betts and from related documents supplied by Mr. Betts. Adventures on Longs Peak are described in Paul W. Nesbit's Longs Peak (Colorado Springs, 1969) and Glenn Randall's Longs Peak Tales (Denver, 1981). An oral interview with William Colony provided insight into the Rearick Kamps climb.

Discussions regarding wilderness preservation within the Park are best found in National Park Service Wilderness Hearing transcripts from 1974. Hundreds of letters on the issue may also be found in the Park archives. Helping create the mood for that discussion were Stewart L. Udall's The Quiet Crisis (New York, 1967), Roderick Nash's Wilderness and the American Mind (New Haven, 1967), and Raymond Frederick Dasmann's A Different Kind of Country (New York, 1968). More recent explorations of similar issues may be found in Joseph L. Sax's Mountains without Handrails: Reflections on the National Parks (Ann Arbor, 1980) and Eugenia Horstman Connally's National Parks in Crisis (Washington, 1982).

Numerous National Park Service reports and studies deal with administration of the Park. Ken R. White Company's Rocky Mountain National Park, Transportation Study, Phase I Final Report (1975) and Richard G. Trahan's Day-Use Limitation in National Parks: Visitor and Park Personnel Attitudes Toward Day-Use Limitation Systems for Rocky Mountain National Park (1977) are two of many such documents.


Rocky Mountain National Park: A History
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