Local creates Colorado fun fact calendar
November 24, 2011
Sometimes it takes a serious bonk on the head to start projects friends have been telling you to do for years.
Such was the case for Chad Zanca, who grew up in Summit County, earned his associates degree at Colorado Mountain College, then graduated from University of Colorado at Boulder in May 2007 with a bachelor’s in history. Saturday, he debuts his 2012 “365 Colorful Facts About Colorado” calendar at The Next Page Bookstore in Frisco.
For years, his friends “used to always joke about me producing a calendar like this, because all of the fun facts I knew about Colorado,” Zanca said. But he was too busy skiing and surfing to take on such a project – until he suffered a traumatic brain injury a year ago while traveling in New Zealand. After seven weeks in a New Zealand hospital, he returned to Colorado and had the idea – “almost an epiphany,” he said, to create the calendar.
“It was my rehab project, and I am very proud of it,” Zanca said. “There is no better way to cure the brain than doing research and creating something you love.”
As a history major, he took just over three months to research books and the internet to prepare his first prototype. He self-published the calendar, using a printer in Grand Junction to create the prototype, then mass producing the product in China.
Digging into Colorado’s quirks paid off in an entertaining way. For example, he discovered Billing Artworks has built every Grammy Award in the town of Ridgeway (north of Ouray) since the very beginning on May 4, 1959. And, even though many cities and towns claim the honor, Denver officially owns the cheeseburger. It was 1935 when Luis Ballast, the owner of Speer Boulevard’s Humpty Dumpty Drive-in, trademarked his new idea: “the cheeseburger.” In addition, the world’s first Hard Rock Cafe opened in 1934 in Empire, a way station for people traveling over Berthoud Pass, and it’s still alive today – just not with all the rock memorabilia found in the Hard Rocks from Bali to Vegas.
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Zanca, of course, includes local facts, as well as natural phenomenon. For example, Harriet’s Pool, a lake less than 100 yards long and wide, sits at 13,100 feet as the highest fish-bearing lake in the nation.
And if outsiders think you’re talking about San Francisco when you say you’re in Frisco, there’s a reason (besides San-Francisco-focused freaks assuming anything Frisco must mean the Bay Area). As Zanca found out, the St. Louis San Francisco Railroad Company wanted to build the “Frisco Line” from St. Louis to San Fran, passing through Ten Mile Canyon. The “FR” in Frisco is for Francisco, the “IS” stands for St. Louis, and the “CO” is for Company. The result: Frisco. The railroad ended up going south to Texas instead, but the name stuck.
And the project “stuck” with Zanca more than he ever could have imagined.
“It was the best rehab I could have ever used to get myself and brain back to normal,” he said. “From the writing, the pictures, learning how to be an importer, the art and science of the sales, to designing the website, this calendar has made me a better person.”