For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
May 5, 2005 - A Photographic Journey
There are now four excellent introductions to the history of Douglas County. The first, pioneering title was Josephine Marr's "Douglas County : a Historical Journey." The second was Susie Appleby's wonderful and meticulous "Fading Past: the Story of Douglas County, Colorado." The third was the Douglas County Historical Society's collection of family histories: "Our Heritage: the People of Douglas County."
And now, there's "Douglas County, Colorado: A Photographic Journey," by the Castle Rock Writers.
The book was published by our very own Douglas County Libraries Foundation, and was partially underwritten by a grant from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation.
The book has 11 chapters:
* "Castle Rock: County Seat Takes Shape," by Derald Hoffman
* "Franktown: the Gardner Legacy," by Kathleen McCoy and Marjorie Meyerle
* "Greenland, Spring Valley, and Cherry Valley: Ranchers' Paradise," by Susan Koller
* "Highlands Ranch and Daniels Park: Reinventing Itself," by the Castle Rock Writers
* "Larkspur and Perry Park: a Place to Settle and Play," by Susan Koller
* "Lone Tree: From One Small Tree," by Kathleen McCoy
* "Louviers: From Rolling Hills to Du Pont Company Town," by Alice Aldridge-Dennis
* "Parker: the Twenty Mile Landmark," by Kathleen McCoy and Elizabeth Wallace
* "Roxborough Park: a Great Place to Drive Dull Cares Away," by Susan Trumble
* "Sedalia: Town at the Crossroads", by Laura Adema, and
* "Western Region: the Rugged and Beautiful South Platte," by Laura Adema.
The book is packed with pictures, usually two per page. The Castle Rock Writers group supplies a paragraph for each one, setting context, and telling tales.
For instance, as recently as 1870, there were Indians visiting Parker. "Mrs. Young, a homesteader, recalls a band begging for food one day. Since she was just about to discard a batch of biscuits in which she had used too much soda, she decided to offer those to them instead. They thought the biscuits were delicious and continued on their way."
Chief Washington (although we aren't told what he was the chief of, or how he came by the unlikely name of Washington) visited Parker annually -- and once tried to swap as many as 20 ponies for Elizabeth Tallman's 2 year old son. He was, said Mrs. Tallman, "very much disgusted when I would not accept such a good trade."
What I wonder about both these stories is to what extent there was some Native American humor going on here.
I was struck, reading through the book, by just how much we've lost. Gone are the cottonwoods of Castle Rock. Gone is the magnificent courthouse, torched in 1978. Gone is the Castlewood Canyon Dam, built to endure forever in 1890, burst in 1933. Gone is the Carlson Frink Creamery of Larkspur, and the Nanichant Inn of Perry Park. Gone the Manhart Grocery of Sedalia. Gone are churches and schools -- all swept away by fire or flood or what we earnestly assure ourselves must be progress.
Still with us of course is Tweet Kimball's Castle, the Old Stone Church, the Comasonry headquarters, St. Phillip in the Field, Bud's Bar, and much more.
This book, an outgrowth of meetings of local writers, is a wonderful gift for newcomers. (And finally, aren't all of us newcomers?) The book would also make for an excellent companion as you travel around Douglas County.
"Douglas County, Colorado: A Photographic Journey" can be purchased at our libraries and select area bookstores. The money comes straight back to our Foundation. If this is a success, we may be interested in other ventures that help people understand our history.
To the writers, our heartfelt thanks for telling us about our past.