Monthly Archives: August 2009

Boom Days Delivers

Nobody puts on a Western parade like Leadville, Colorado during Boom Days. This festival is a celebration of historic Leadville’s mining past as a boom town, at an elevation of 10,200 feet above sea level. The parade and festival, which take place during the first weekend in August, are the perfect excuse for the inner cowboy and cowgirl to come out and play in the cool, fresh mountain air. I was in town, with my traveling pard, Christie, not only for Boom Days, but also for a booksigning in the charming, independent Book Mine bookstore. I signed books along with another Women Writing the West member, Ann Parker, who writes mysteries set in Leadville. The whole day was splendid and a wonderful celebration of the Wild West. There seemed to be fewer horses and mules than usual in the parade, perhaps a nod to the tight economy. But it was fabulous in every other way.

It was a busy week for this western author. After traveling to Leadville on Saturday, Sunday found me at ParkerFest, at the Douglas County Library display, along with author Cynthia Becker. We had a great time, although the crowd was more interested in buying produce and crafts than biographies.

On Wednesday, I presented pioneer stories to the Longmont Genealogical Society. Talk about a wonderful group! We had a great time, and they were enthusiastic about my stories and books. I’ll return to Longmont any time.

Now, it is time for this cowgirl to stay closer to home and regroup, write some articles, do some research, and enjoy the rest of the summer. Bring on the good times, and some of those wonderful West Slope Colorado peaches!

Joyce Lohse, 8/15/09


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Posted by on August 15, 2009 in Western history


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A Colorado Castle

Last Monday, I had the good fortunate to visit Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs for a private tour. Our guide was Len Froisland, 25-year historian for the castle. Women Writing the West members Dianne Hartshorn, who portrays Queen Palmer around C. Springs, and publisher Doris Baker of Filter Press completed our group.

General William Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs and the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, originally built Glen Eyrie in 1872 when he married his wife, Mary Lincoln Mellon, known as “Queen”, a nickname since childhood. The house was restored in 1881, and again, beginning in 1902, when it took on the appearance of a stone castle. Palmer’s instruction to architects was to build a home that would endure for a thousand years. After one hundred years, the house has done very well. Currently, it is owned by the Navigators, a Christian organization, which maintains and utilizes the property as a retreat and conference center, with facilities open to the public for afternoon tea, bed and breakfast, and tours.

The house is remarkable. Inside, custom woodwork was used to decorate throughout. Special attention was given to fire prevention after Palmer’s Antlers Hotel burned in 1898. Palmer was extremely innovative in his attention to detail and his desire to create a self-sufficient compound for himself and his family. A power station, creamery, and greenhouses were built close at hand without disturbing the sprawling lawns, staggering vistas, and striking rock formations on the grounds tucked against the Rocky Mountain foothills. Scottish landscape artist, John Blair, designed the layout with beautiful landscape treatments, pathways and rock bridges. A school house was built in the early 1880’s to provide the children with private schooling, guarding them from possible kidnap during the raging railroad wars while rivals struggled to dominate transportation routes through the mountains.

During reconstruction of his home, William Palmer traveled throughout Europe with his daughters collecting artifacts and decorations to complete the mansion. Although most of those items are gone now, they have been replaced with similar furnishings. Many of his collected touches, such as Dutch tiles around fireplaces and fixtures, still exist. Queen died at the young age of 44 in 1894, before the castle was rebuilt, although the plan implemented some of her original ideas. William Palmer suffered a horseback riding accident in 1906 which left him paralyzed. He continued living life as best he could in the sprawling mansion until his death in 1909.

For more information, refer to:

General William Palmer: Railroad Pioneer
by Joyce B. Lohse
Filter Press, 2009, “A Now You Know Bio”


Posted by on August 4, 2009 in Western history


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