‘Frisco and the Ten Mile Canyon’ depicts area’s colorful history
summit daily news
Staring into the camera, six children pose for a Victorian-era photo on what is now Frisco Main Street. The boys wear serious looks, suspenders and brimmed hats, while the girls, one only a toddler, don long-sleeved dresses and boots.
The scene is familiar, yet different. The Tenmile Range rises just beyond their heads, but the road below them is dirt. The lack of today’s recognizable buildings and businesses – the children stand with donkeys at roughly what is now the intersection of Third and Main – and cars for that matter, is somewhat striking. It stands as a reminder that before we were here, going about our normal, everyday lives, others did the same but in a very different manner.
The picture graces the cover of Sandra Mather’s and the Frisco Historic Park and Museum’s new book “Frisco and the Ten Mile Canyon,” which tells the colorful story of the town’s – and the surrounding area’s – beginnings through numerous archival pictures. It officially goes on sale Monday.
As Mather points out in her introduction, the area’s tale starts off long, long before humans walked the earth: with the forming of the Rocky Mountains, glaciers and tributaries. But, the book takes the reader on a trip through Frisco’s and the canyon’s human story, beginning with the Utes. Men and women with long braids, moccasins and decorated hides stare out from the book’s first chapter. One man, Colorow, pictured at roughly 300 pounds in 1887, is said to have been a common sight around the county.
And then come the beginnings of Frisco as we now know it: the tale of Henry Recen’s cabin, which first bore the sign, “Frisco City” in 1875; the word city was added to convey prosperity. Photographs around the town – the schoolhouse which now houses the historic park, the Frisco Hotel with Mayor Kitty Ecklund around the early 1900s, and Galena Street, speckled with homes – all bear those familiar peaks in the background.
Mather’s informational accounts accompany the many photos, only furthering the stories of the people and places pictured.
The hardships of mining in the Ten Mile Canyon are conveyed – some benefited during the initial gold rush in 1860, but afterwards, many did not. The silver rush began in 1879, but the same difficulties were faced: harsh winters, high altitude and isolation in the High Country.
The book also explores the area’s history around roads and railroads. Again, men worked hard in tough conditions. Laying the tracks, and then keeping them free of snow was difficult. Frisco was happy to have the railroads nearby: Town leaders actually donated land to one company for its right-of-way.
For Mather, who has written numerous books on Summit County’s history, the most interesting part of this one was learning more about the railroads in the Ten Mile Canyon. She also enjoyed delving into Frisco’s history.
“It gave me a chance to look in-depth,” she said. “It was a story that needed telling and hadn’t been told.”
For more information, go to http://www.arcadiapublishing.com.
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