word craft


Colorado, the Centennial State

I found the map in a port­fo­lio of old maps at the back of a used book­store in Boul­der Col­orado. It’s an 1876 map of the then-new state of Col­orado, pub­lished by the map-mak­ing com­pa­ny of Ash­er & Adams, as they styled them­selves. 1876 being the one-hun­dredth anniver­sary of the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence, the new state took on the nick­name “The Cen­ten­ni­al State.” 

The map now hangs on the wall of my log home in Clark, Col­orado.  If you look at the map and seek where I live, and its main and largest com­mu­ni­ty, Steam­boat Springs, the map informs me there is noth­ing there, save the Bear (or Yam­pa) Riv­er and the Elk Riv­er. The immense, emp­ty area is ref­er­enced as Grand Coun­ty, which still exists but with much-reduced bound­aries. These days the coun­ty in which I live is called Routt Coun­ty, larg­er than the State of Rhode Island.

Colorado The Centennial State
Although not the map on my wall, this is a good map drawn by Gre­go­ry Mitchell of The Cen­ten­ni­al State, avail­able from I Am Here.

The Ute, Ara­pa­ho, and Cheyenne Indi­ans were the orig­i­nal occu­pants of the area until they were forcibly removed. Over the years, Spain, Rus­sia, Mex­i­co, France, and the USA all claimed sov­er­eign rights. The French and Anglo fur trap­pers were active in the ter­ri­to­ry in the ear­ly 19th Cen­tu­ry. 1875 was the time when the first white set­tle­ments were record­ed. In time it would become a min­ing, ranch­ing, and ski resort area. In 2000 Steam­boat Springs record­ed a pop­u­la­tion of about six thou­sand. Today it’s about four­teen thousand. 

Steam­boat Springs is said to have earned its name when French trap­pers heard the gur­gling sounds of the area’s many nat­ur­al hot springs and thought they were hear­ing steamboats. 

The area is also the inspi­ra­tion for a num­ber of my books. 

Writ­ten for my skier/s­now-board­ing sons, it’s an adven­ture fan­ta­sy about the Mont­mers, rab­bit-like crea­tures with long feet that enable them to ski among the mountains. 

When a Routt Coun­ty 1925 one-room school­house los­es its teacher, the eight stu­dents choose 14-year-old Ida to run the school secret­ly so they can graduate. 

McKin­ley, an Alaskan Mala­mute, who lives in Steam­boat Springs, has to choose between join­ing a wolf pack and pro­tect­ing his dog com­mu­ni­ty as well as his human family. 

A tale of the Col­orado Gold Rush of 1859. 

Nasho­ba, an old wolf, the raven Mer­la, and Casey, a teen-age boy, strug­gle with life and death along the edges of Routt Nation­al For­est. Illus­trat­ed by Bri­an Floca. 

A sequel to The Secret School, Ida, hav­ing earned the right to go to Steam­boat High School, moves from a rur­al world to encounter the fast-chang­ing roar­ing twen­ties world of 1925, and strug­gles to become a mod­ern young woman. 

1 thought on “Colorado, the Centennial State”

  1. I was going through your “Sto­ry behind the Sto­ry” blog series again, and real­ized there is one more book that was left out. “Strange Hap­pen­ings: Five Tales of Trans­for­ma­tion”. Please write a blog post about that book and also what spe­cif­ic mes­sage and moral you were try­ing to con­vey in the sto­ry “Bored Tom” and “The Shoe­mak­er and old scratch”. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Recent Posts