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
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 ParkEastern 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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