As every Summit County resident knows, one can’t venture far without stumbling upon a tumbledown reminder of the pioneers who came before us. Over the past two centuries, they came in droves, laying the groundwork for the community we now call home. Often, though, as time ripples on, those reminders fade, even though they are around us every day, in a vista, a street honorific or a ski-slope name or in reclaimed timbers from some miner’s cabin, shiny with years and his sweat and tears ... or in a little cabin on a quiet street in Dillon, moved to its current home because it was too precious and too symbolic of the county’s roots to let fall to ruin.
That little cabin, now part of the Summit Historical Museum Park, was once home to Dimp and Lula Myers, as chronicled by local writer extraordinaire, Mary Ellen Gilliland, in the charming book “Lula: A Portrait in Pictures and Prose of a Keystone, Colorado Family.”
Of course, every place has a history, and some places, like the communities of Summit County, wear their histories a little closer to the surface because the relics greet us at every turn. So much of why we love living where we do is because we can’t help but acknowledge the fortitude and single-mindedness of those who came here first and set the course for the future of our mountain valleys.
of a county
Rarely a day goes by when I don’t think about the foundation upon which the county was built, for I literally gaze upon the remnants of the past every day, living as I do on the hillside below Peru Creek where the large Lenawee Mill once stood. Those layers of history that stack up like pastry dough, crumbling at the edges over the years, are evident to me every day, as I flip through photo albums of my grandparents, Max and Edna Dercum, Summit pioneers in their own right. I sit in their house, directly in front of the Lenawee Tunnel, and see the photos of their early years at Ski Tip with their dear friends, Dimp and Lula Myers.
As I read Gilliland’s “Lula,” I hear my grandmother’s voice, telling stories of meeting Lula and her husband, Dimp, both of whom helped my grandparents settle in the Keystone valley and pursue their own dreams of homesteading and ski area development. In my grandmother’s book, “It’s Easy Edna, It’s Downhill All The Way,” Edna chronicles the first meeting.
“Lula was long and lanky, as tall as her husband,” she writes. “Her abrupt movements and short brown hair belied the fact that she was in her 60s. In one arm, she took Rolf, and with the other gave me a big hug. ‘Come on in and stay for lunch. Then we’ll all go to a musical in Frisco.’”
There is barely a corner of the county untouched by the Myers, both Dimp and Lula, as well as Colonel Myers before them, who left a significant mining footprint — including the mill site upon which I sit to write this. From Chihauhau to Montezuma to Keystone, Dillon, Frisco and Breckenridge, the Myers impacted every corner, living, loving, partying and playing the host to people such as my grandparents.
Photos and memories
Gilliland’s book is graced with many photos, gathered from friends and family, including from my grandmother. A real sense of Lula and her husband, Dimp, emerges from the pages of the little book, which is well shy of 100 pages but rich in detail and first-hand accounts.
Upon arrival from the East, Edna and Max Dercum grew to be very close to the Myers, and my mother, Sunni, and my uncle, Rolf, were blessed to have known and been welcomed as family by the homesteading couple. The course of my family’s legacy in Summit County was made possible by the guidance and support of Dimp and Lula. I grew up hearing my “Nana” tell stories of the Myers’ cabin and the back door that was always open. This welcoming spirit was taken up by Max and Edna, as they opened and operated Ski Tip and decades later welcomed their many grandchildren and great-grandchildren with plates of cookies, just as Lula Myers was known to do. Anyone and everyone were welcome at the famous Myers cabin.
My Dad, Alf Tieze, recalls his own meeting with Lula in the early 1960s, on the occasion of being summoned to repair her barn door, which she had damaged while backing out her jeep at a healthy clip.
“She always would go to the mailbox, which was out on Montezuma Road, only in reverse gear. Reverse gear out and first gear back in,” he said. “That was the only way she ever drove that jeep. All the others gears must have been brand new.”
Gilliland also touches on Lula’s unique driving style, quoting Edna, “She would come flying in, turn into the yard, and drive right into the irrigation ditch.” Truth be told, as memory serves, my grandmother must have gotten her own lead foot from her dear friend, Mrs. Myers.
Clearly, Colonel Myers, Dimp and Lula Myers did more than just make friends with new arrivals. They led the county, from tip to tail, into the future, with ambitious mining ventures, education and mentoring, and they thoroughly embodied the pioneering spirit, passing that zeal along to those who followed, like my grandparents, whose own endeavors were shaped by the Myers.
So, as you drive, ride or hike around the county, think of lovely Lula and her high-spirited husband, Dimp, who in all likelihood walked the same paths and drove the same roads. Certainly, as you ski Schoolmarm at Keystone, think upon Lula, for whom it is named, and when you drive through Ten Mile Canyon or up Montezuma and Peru Creek valleys, know that Dimp and his father before him burrowed deep into those hillsides, searching for — and finding — the myriad of metals and ores that made Colorado famous.