Co-Winner of the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities Publication Prize
"Pickering examines the environmental transformation of the Estes Park region, from its beginnings as a hunting reserve for the Front Range pioneer aristocracy, to its allure for intrepid mountaineers, to that of a central piece of the Rocky Mountain National Park, complete with lodges, civic boosters of all stripes, businesses, and ultimately a thriving tourist industry that allowed the area to flourish."
"'This Blue Hollow' is an exhaustive account of about fifty years in the history of Estes Park, one of the Rocky Mountains' most picturesque valleys. Pickering does a fine job of chronicling the lives and experiences of the pioneer folk that first homesteaded the area and the early pleasure-seekers that hunted its meadows and climbed the surrounding tall peaks. . . . As a traditional pioneer history of Estes Park this volume will likely never be surpassed."
—New Mexico Historical Review
"Co-winner of the 1999 Colorado Endowment for the Humanities Publication Prize, 'This Blue Hollow' is a well-researched, well-written revision of earlier and sketchier histories of Estes Park and the Estes Park area."
—Western Historical Quarterly
"Pickering demonstrates how the community of Estes Park evolved in tandem with the growing popularity of outdoor recreation, as isolated homesteaders hosting single travelers gave way to mountain resorts and luxury hotels . . . his affection for the Park gives 'This Blue Hollow' an intimate feel, and fits with how environmental history is being written: regional biography from the ground up . . . this is a worthwhile and enjoyable read."
—Journal of the West
"This Blue Hollow" is the first comprehensive account of the early history of Estes Park, Colorado, the "gem of the Rockies." In this enthralling narrative, James H. Pickering traces the development of Estes Park as a mountain resort community, from the time of its first recorded discovery by Joel Estes in 1859 to the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915. Though Estes and his family stayed only briefly, others quickly followed: hunters, homesteading settlers, lumbermen, mountaineers, artists, writers, and vacationers. They came for many reasons: first for settlement, exploration, and exploitation and later for escape, health, recreation, and renewal. Their collective experiences and accomplishments—their successes as well as their failures—are chronicled in this book.
Based on Pickering's extensive use of primary sources, This Blue Hollow details the lives of such characters as Joel Estes and Griffith J. Evans, the valley's first residents; the "notorious" James Nugent ("Rocky Mountain Jim") and his short but tempestuous relationship with the celebrated English traveler Isabella Lucy Bird; and the Earl of Dunraven, a wealthy Irishman who was successful in his (illegal) attempt to secure control of as much of the park as possible for his own uses. The book also explores such significant events as the coming of the first pioneer families and permanent settlers, as well as their development of Estes Park as a place to farm, ranch, and entertain tourists; the conquest of Longs Peak and the first explorations of other high and remote places; and the people and circumstances that led to the establishment of the town of Estes Park in 1905 and Rocky Mountain National Park a decade later.
This is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Colorado.