Between The Covers: “Telluride: A Silver Past, A Golden Future”

Same old story: came for a visit; put down roots.

But this particular Telluride tale has a uniquely artful twist: a gorgeous coffee-table book entitled “Telluride: A Silver Past, A Golden Future.”

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“Telluride: A Silver Past, A Golden Future,” conceived by Susan Dalton and executed under her direction, is indeed an opulent confection of words, antique prints, historical photographs, memorabilia and postcards, but also dense as Christmas cake with information about the history of the town and its people, covering the period from the era of the trappers, circa 1830, to the present. For example, did you know that in 1893, when the Sherman Silver Act was repealed, most Colorado mining towns went into a depression? Telluride prospered because the town was able to switch its production to gold from silver, so its mining operations continued many years longer than the competition, including Aspen.

“Telluride: A Silver Past, A Golden Future” is in a league of its own as a valentine to Telluride. It’s easy to read as a definitive reference book and eye candy in the very best sense of the words as a souvenir.

Thursday, July 31, 6:30 p.m., Between the Covers Bookstore hosts a book launch party for “Telluride: A Silver Past, A Golden Future.” The event takes place at Arroyo Wine Bar and includes a brief talk by the author as well as major contributor Dirk dePagter followed by a book signing.

The story of the book began with a Dalton family trip to town in the summer of 1986. The first stop was a dude ranch near Rocky Mountain National Park.

“We were only Susan, Mark, Erik, and Kurt at that time — so Erik was 5 and Kurt was 3 1/2,” explains Susan. “After the week at the ranch, we went to Telluride and then Aspen for a look-see, because Mark wanted to get us skiing as a family. Mark and I already knew how to ski, but we were only skiing blues because we learned in the East. I actually learned to ski in Michigan with my junior high school ski club….We went once a week by bus to Mt. Holly, outside of Detroit, and skied under lights at night! Only rope tows, and one small hill — icy conditions. Slightly different from here.”

The rapid purchase of a condo was a foregone conclusion. A summer vacation in town sealed the deal:

“You know the old trope: we came for the winter, but stayed for the summer. We had such a great time! Erik and Kurt had little bikes and rode all over town. I would send them for bread every evening, and I could stay in the condo with the napping baby without worrying about where they were or what they were doing. In fact, they used to play in the shallow water of Coronet Creek below our condo, and I could watch them from the balcony while baby Chris was sleeping. They played for hours, building mud dams and skipping rocks. I could wheel Chris in a stroller all over town while chasing the older boys. That began my love story with Telluride. As all my friends in New York area headed to beach houses, we came to the mountains each summer.”

“Telluride: A Silver Past, A Golden Future,” however, is actually a tale of two ski resorts: Telluride, natch, but also the French alpine resort of Megeve.

“The book came about as a consequence of my efforts to unite Telluride and the village of Megeve as ‘sister cities,” Susan explained. “The French publishing company, Editions du Signe, had produced a book about Megeve titled, ‘The History of Megeve as told through its postcards.’ a combination of postcards and historical photos.The commune of Megeve had been bequeathed a huge collection of antique postcards — maybe 3000? I thought the concept was GREAT and I began looking for old postcards from Telluride, thinking that I could do a similar book. I found out pretty quick that there are not a lot of postcards from Telluride…..”

The idea got put on hold until Susan received a call from the adjunct mayor of Megeve, Michele Lovigny, who passed on the message from the French publishing company that they wanted to do a similar book about Telluride and was there anyone she would recommend for the job.

“I appointed myself as the right person, but I told the publisher that we would have to use a combination of graphics…..antique prints, historical photos, memorabilia…..AND postcards. That is how the book was born.”

The project took a village to complete.

Susan wrote the text and sidebars and collected all the graphics, largely sourced from her own collection, Dirk’s treasure trove and the Telluride Historical Museum. The Denver Library on-line also contributed as did select Telluride photographers: Melissa Plantz, Gus Gusciora, and Ryan Bonneau. Artist Meredith Nemirov colored the most of the prints that appear in the book. “Telluride: A Silver Past, A Golden Future,” got started September 2013. The project was a wrap early April, 2014.

“An interesting fact: the publisher, Editions du Signe, puts out about 40 books a year in the U.S., but they are all histories of Catholic dioceses. My book was their first commercial venture in the U.S. market!”

 

 

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