The saga of Silverton and its surrounding mines and settlements has taken another step in the second volume of "Many More Mountains." Volume 2—subtitled "Ruts into Silverton" carries this incredibly detailed historical series from the centennial year and the creation of San Juan County through the opening of the following decade and Silverton‘s preparations in 1880 for the arrival of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway. Building upon the exploration and earliest settlement documented in Volume 1, this new addition to the series is a comprehensive picture of Silverton’s progress from its formal incorporation in 1876 through its substantial improvements in preparation for the arrival of the narrow gauge railroad.
The new volume highlights the struggles with both isolation and the elements experienced by miners and settlers in the lofty, ruggedly beautiful San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. This mineral-rich, high altitude setting provided one challenge after another in this era when access to the upper reaches of the Animas River was still by horseback, crude wagon, or over the top of the snow. The second volume documents a variety of these experiences, including the earliest avalanche deaths and damage, mining progress and fatalities, early toll road efforts, and the route-finding endeavors of the Denver & Rio Grande in seeking a grade to its Silverton objective.
Also discussed in detail are the infamous Lime Creek Burn of 1879, the fleeting regional involvement of Horace Tabor, the colorful career of Silverton’s first resident clergyman, and Silverton’s first commercial masonry buildings.
The author is a Silverton resident, who has served as the community’s newspaper publisher, its county judge and its railroad station agent during a diversified career. His thorough approach to research and his readable writing style now characterize two volumes in this projected series on the history of the high San Juans, and provide the most detailed accounting and analysis of the subject yet in existence.
A specially conceived chapter covers the origins and earliest development of the small mining camps tributary to Silverton—today’s "ghost" towns of the high San Juans—addressing everything from the faltering early start of the town named for England’s prime minister and the true origins of the famous bay-window house at Animas Forks to the seemingly uninhabitable, wind-swept Mineral Point and the unfulfilled dreams of the little would-be kingdom at Niegoldstown.
This volume, like its predecessor, is profusely illustrated with rare early photographs and captivating color views. A selection of maps and tables is also incorporated, and the author has drafted maps of Silverton’s key structures in 1877 and 1880 as well as the likely layouts of both Eureka and Animas Forks in the early years of the 1880s. Detail is the hallmark of this historical panorama of the San Juan Mountains, and trivia buffs will find paydirt in such stories as those of the indestructible Big Dave Olson, or the region’s most obscure post office at Niccora, or the D&RG’s consideration of an approach to the Animas River country by way of the Pagosa Hot Spring. A wealth of genealogical information is also included on many of the Upper Animas River area pioneer families, in the context of following the growth and development of Silverton and its valuable mines in the era between year-round habitation of the San Juan Mountains and the approach of the railroad which would guarantee the region ‘s economic viability.
The book is copiously indexed for future reference, is hardbound for striking presentation and durability, and deals with the successes and the heartbreaks of early life in Colorado’s most rugged and extensive mountains as no other work has.