Book takes a thorough look at Colorado National Monument on its centennial
By Diana Tixier Herald
This stunning collection of photographs, history, art, news and essays celebrating the centennial of Colorado National Monument is a book to savor. Great for quick browsing with its lavish illustrations, “Monumental Majesty: 100 Years of Colorado National Monument” also features insightful text relating to almost everything connected to the monument penned by numerous contributors.
The four chapters — “Founders and Builders,” “Natural World,” “Grand Valley’s Backyard” and “Art and Culture” — portray some of the many facets of the national treasure called the monument.
The book starts with the prehistory of the monument’s indigenous residents and visitors followed by the story of John Otto, a unique character who made the recognition of the amazing wild canyon area as a national park land his mission while creating trails still popular today.
Historical photos make it easy to envision the difficulties faced by those who carved out the monument’s trails and roads. They also put faces to visitors and workers, from campers enjoying the trails in 1909 to the trail builders who improved access in 2010.
The second chapter starts with the geology and paleontology of the area, then moves to the flora and fauna with depictions of colorful wildflowers and the animal denizens, even including micro moths that live in purple-flowered plants.
The third chapter discusses the monument’s various attractions and some of the events that have taken place there including the Rim Rock Marathon, the Tour of the Moon Coors Bicycle Classic immortalized in the Kevin Costner film “American Flyers,” and weddings such as John Otto’s 1911 nuptials at the base of Independence Monument and 21st century weddings taking place in view of Wedding Canyon.
The photos are spectacular throughout the book with several two-page spreads of panoramic views.
Car aficionados will enjoy the photos of classic cars on Rim Rock Drive, the successor to the “crookedest road in the world” as the monument’s first road, the Trail of the Serpent, was described.
The section on arts and culture features not only visual arts including fiber art and paintings but a photograph of a dancer on the canyon rim and a poem written in 1938 by a visiting English poet inspired by the grandeur of the monument. There are also sections on photographers known for their works depicting the monument.
Readers will be drawn into this book by the interesting and beautiful illustrations, but will linger to browse the tidbits of information in the delightful variety of articles written by a diverse group of writers.
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Diana Tixier Herald, author of “Genreflecting” and “Teen Genreflecting 3,” is a frequent reviewer for Booklist magazine.