Privately published, 2011. vii + 403 pages. Four-color, black-and-white, and illustrated postcards. 14½” x 11½”. $80.00 hardcover.
Imagine a book filled with over one thousand historic images so compelling that is almost impossible to put down. Shared Moments consists of postcards from the extensive collection of Bobbie Heisterkamp. James H. Pickering, Estes Park Historian Laureate—an honorary position created by the Town of Estes Park—places each image in its historical context. This book covers Rocky Mountain National Park and the Estes Park area. There are also postcard images from the gateways, the Big Thompson Canyon, and the St. Vrain canyons.
This is a massive hard-bound book with over 400 extra large 14-inch by 11-inch pages, which are printed in four-color on heavy coated paper stock. The images are divided by into sections, called albums, by subject matter. Pickering starts by briefly describing the history of early postcards and their evolution, moving to hand-coloring, the white border era, and the linen era. The last type represented in this book is the four-color photochrome.
Album 1 shows the Big Thompson Canyon with the durable Stanley Steamers making their way up the enclosed rock walls along a rutted, single-lane road no more than a foot above the water level. The other main routes to Estes Park were the north and south branches of the St. Vrain River, and in Album 2 there is an abundant collection of these images. What makes this part of the book so compelling are the postcards of the lodges along the way to the Estes Park Valley, some obscure and others well known. Album 3 has historic images of the Estes Park Valley when it was relatively void of population and well before Lake Estes inundated much of the open land. Postcards of the Town of Estes Park show its evolution in chronological sequence. Album 4 follows with the many lodges and ranches that once populated this area both inside and outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. Early views of the park are covered in Album 5 that illustrate the primitive nature of its early roads. The authors have also included postcards of the Fall River and Trail Ridge Roads in Album 6, concluding with Album 7, the Grand Lake area.
Some of the postcards contain people who were pioneers in the development of the Estes Park area, such as Enos Mills, owner of the Longs Peak Inn and considered the father of Rocky Mountain National Park. Both exterior and interior views of his Stick style inn are mixed with postcard photographs taken by Mills himself to sell to his guests. These, like so many other images in this book, are from a bygone era and cannot be duplicated today. Also among those that became famous to the area are Charles Hewes and Dean Babcock. A card signed by mountaineer and naturalist Walter Kiener is among the rare items in this collection.
Pickering has judiciously added quotations found on these historic postcards. These provide insight into what tourists were thinking and seeing at the time of their visit. Early maps that once adorned some of the cards are included.
For the older generation, the section covering lodges within Rocky Mountain National Park may bring back fond memories. Others will be amazed at what once stood in the park and marvel at these extensive commercial complexes of cabins, lodges, fishing ponds, and swimming pools. Most of these structures were removed many years ago, but they live on in this book. A good example are the postcards of Steads, once located near where today’s tourists enter Moraine Park. Postcards also cover the Deer Ridge Chalet with its viewing tower. Located below Moraine Park along the Big Thompson River, and today very hard to find, is Jack Woods’ Place with its store and cottages. Even the remote Forest Inn, accessible only by a trail, is included in this vast collection.
Postcards of winter snowshoe trips, alpine lakes, various mountain peaks and waterfalls, and climbers on Longs Peak are a feast for the eyes. Hikers on the exposed Narrows, a stretch beyond the Keyhole, show the nature of the climb as well as the mountaineering clothing of the day. Rare views of the Boulder Field shelter cabin, now gone, add to this pictorial history.
This review just touches the surface of this well-written and well-illustrated work that is deserving of a fundamental part of a Colorado history library.
Kenneth Jessen is a full-time writer, lecturer, and tour guide. He works as a journalist for the Loveland Reporter-Herald with a weekly history column and a weekly column covering the arts. He also writes for Colorado Central Magazine and North-Forty News. Jessen has written twenty books covering a wide range of subjects that relate to Colorado history. He is best known for his extensive four volumes on Colorado’s ghost towns. His latest is Colorado’s Best Ghost Towns. Jessen is a member of History Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, and a life member of the Colorado Railroad Museum.