Welcome to the Eagle County Local History blog: You Can’t Use it if You Don’t Preserve It! I will be sharing interesting bits of Eagle County history for your edification and enjoyment. Sign up, stay tuned!
May 18, 2013, was our most recent Armed Forces Day. President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank all our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. [Memorial Day (Decoration Day) had been designated a remembrance for those killed in defense of their country.]
On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days.
The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.
The couple seated at the top of this land form is not identified, but the pose is certainly entertaining. We might let our examination of this photo stop there but, if we did, a lot of local history would be lost. To begin with, where is it? [Don't forget to click on the photos to get larger images.]
Since we’ve entered April, Happy Tax Month! I know you’ve been asking yourself what happens to old government records. Governments at every level…municipal, county, state, federal…are great record generators. While they are being used, records are organized and stored for retrieval. At some point, each record is evaluated to determine how long it needs to be kept.
This record retention schedule determines the lifespan of a record…whether it will be kept indefinitely or whether it will eventually be destroyed. For the federal government, the National Archives only keeps permanently 1-3% of all records .
This same process happens at the County level and Eagle County has similar record retention schedules.
When I learned of June Simonton’s passing, I could only wish to thank her again for the legacy she left to Eagle County history.
June and her husband, Don, arrived in Vail in 1967, to build what was to become the Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church. They were also among those building the new community of Vail on the heritage of those who were first pioneers on Gore Creek. Their love for those pioneers and the early history of the area was evident in the research that they did, the people whose stories they recorded, and the written work they published. In 2004, they were presented the Nimon-Walker Award for their efforts.
Moving west of Vail, geographically, The Beaver Creek Historical Study that they undertook provided the Eagle County Historical Society with many historical photographs of the area and families that homesteaded there. In 1980, June published Beaver Creek: the First One Hundred Years. As she notes on p.33, “The histories of Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch are closely linked. In some of the earlier records there is no distinction made between the two.”
June also wrote Vail: Story of a Colorado Mountain Valley, published in 1987. To locals, it is well-known that Vail sits in the Gore Creek Valley, a long-time home to shepherds and lettuce growers. Now, when Vail seems to encompass the entire Eagle River Valley [witness the Eagle-Vail Airport in Gypsum], it is especially important to remember what was in Gore Creek before the return of the World War II veterans. The families that contributed to agricultural development have left their names on street names and ski runs throughout the valleys: Henry’s = Henry Antholz, Ruder’s Route = Leonard Ruder and family, Beano’s Trace = Frank Bienkowski.
The First Pioneers: a Squaw Creek History was published in 1991 to document the Squaw Creek [and part of Bellyache Mountain] history for the Cordillera development. Incorporating parts of Mary Fenno Thomas’ memoir, The Good Life: Growing Up On Squaw Creek, June’s obvious love for the people she met shows through: “They [the pioneers] lived on the satisfactions of building their own homes on their own land, the pleasures of family talk, first seeds sprouting in early summer, the hard work of harvest, dances at the schoolhouse, a picnic under the spruces—the gatherings of young and old over all those years to celebrate their life in a high, clean Colorado valley.” –p.32
A Glossary of Vail Valley Names was compiled by June in August 1990, and revised by Don in May 1997. This has been an invaluable reference for all those “How did that get its name?” questions that invariably arise.
The Simontons have done us a tremendous service by loving the Gore Creek and Eagle River valleys and recording those pioneer histories.
So, it’s true. I killed another computer at the end of January and have been left to my own devices here in local history, using a laptop. Not a problem really, as the backlog of cataloging is always there and people continue to bring in wonderful items to share. [Kathy Heicher, ECHS president, Angela Beck, Theodore Beck and Bob Riggle have all brought in treasures during the last three weeks.]
This break in routine has also given me time to go through files, eliminate duplicate photocopies, dust, whatever. Imagine my horror when I found an unlabeled envelope full of photographs from the first and second pilgrimages to the Mount of the Holy Cross in a folder labeled “Miscellaneous.” What a useful label. It was accompanied by the realization that all the photographs that accompanied Dr. Randall’s scrap book [see blog Mt. of the Holy Cross Scrapbook] had been separated from the scrapbook at some point in the past. So much for the concept of keeping collection parts together [not evening mentioning fonds: a fonds is the aggregation of documents that originate from the same source].
This does give me an opportunity to share some magnificent photos from 1924 to 1933, some captioned by Dr. Randall, that have now been reunited with the accompanying scrapbook. [Don't forget to click on the image to see it larger.]
Each year, the Eagle Valley Library District and the Walking Mountain Science Center present the High Country Speaker Series. H2Know Colorado, this year’s winter series, focuses on water, something we’re all interested in, especially given the current drought conditions.
As part of the EVLD focus, there is an exhibit of six topographic maps of the Eagle River printed in 1954 by the U.S. Geological Survey. With accompanying historical photographs from our collection, the exhibit begins at the western end of the Eagle River and goes upstream to the headwaters in six beautifully drawn contour sheets. The seventh sheet is a profile sheet showing the various elevations of the river as it drains Eagle County.
When I arrived at the Eagle Valley Library District in 2006, I found a beautiful legacy collection of historical photos collected by the Eagle County Historical Society. For the most part, they were photographs of photographs, enlarged and printed as 8×10 inch pictures. Each enlargement was in a plastic sleeve and they were stacked in a filing cabinet. There were paper indexes [indices for those of us who have been around a while] and photocopies for access.
With software and equipment support from the Library District, digitization began in the fall of 2006. The end result is an online presence for these wonderful images, searchable by keyword, subject and name.