… with the SdCNHA in Mind

  • Sentinel in Sight by Michael C. Rael — 2013 January
    Said to be the largest “free-standing” mountain (not part of any mountain chain) in the continental United States, San Antonio Mountain rises dramatically near the Colorado/New Mexico border. Residents of the vast San Luis Valley in Colorado have exceptional views of San Antonio Mountain, and photographer Michael C. Rael documents the varied ways in which San Antonio Mountain can be seen. Presented over the course of four seasons, Rael’s photographs all have the mountain in the frame, not always as the main subject, but always as the overarching theme. See more at Amazon.
  • The Ute Indians of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico by Virginia McConnell Simmons — 2003
    Using government documents, archives, and local histories, Simmons has painstakingly separated the often repeated and often incorrect hearsay from more accurate accounts of the Ute Indians.
  • The San Luis Valley: Land of the Six-armed Cross, Second Edition by Virginia McConnell Simmons and David Fridtjof Halaas – 1999 June
    Virginia McConnell Simmons lays before the reader the stories and voices of this multicultural land. Ranging from prehistoric peoples and historic Indians to early Spanish settlers, trappers, American explorers, railroads, and Euro-American pioneers, this book is a comprehensive volume covering the geography and social history of Colorado’s San Luis Valley. See more at Amazon.
  • A Tortilla is Like Life: Food and Culture in the San Luis Valley of Colorado by By Carole M. Counihan – 2009
    An innovative portrait of a small Colorado town based on a decade’s worth of food-centered life histories from nineteen of its female residents. See more at University of Texas Press.
  • Grave Images: San Luis Valley by Kathy T. Hettinga — 2009
    Near the beginning, a brief geological history of the Valley is accompanied by landscape photographs such as fields at the base of Mount Blanca and sunlit feathery seeds of clematis vines growing on a fence row. The depth of narrative lifted this book out of the status of coffee table book into one of a valued resource on the San Luis Valley. Review by Dana EchoHawk.
  • San Luis Valley : Sand Dunes and Sandhill Cranes by Susan J. Tweit   and Glenn Oakley – 2004 September
    This huge landscape is humbling in its openness, a place defined by the rhythms of nature—and by the thrust and parry of male courting female in the ritual dance of sandhill cranes. These majestic birds arrive by the thousands twice a year to feed, rest, and socialize in the valley’s wetlands—invisible except from the air—and their cries temper the constant wind.
  • Fly Fishing Southern Colorado: An Angler’s Guideby Craig Martin, Tom Knopick, and John Flick
    From the majestic San Juan Mountains to the wide-open expanses of the San Luis Valley, few fishing areas rival the pristine beauty, diversity, and solitude of southern Colorado’s rivers and trout streams. This guide thoroughly explores the region’s watersheds.
  • Colorado’s Loneliest Railroad : The San Luis Southern by P. R. Griswold – 1980 January
    History of the San Luis Southern Railway, a 31 mile shortline between Jaroso and Blanca, Colorado. Built by engineer Louis Blauvelt of “Moffat Route” fame in 1909, the little railroad was intended to serve the farms and industries of the valley. Lack of rainfall crippled agriculture in the area and the railroad struggled for most of its life.
  • Brown-on-Brown: A Luis Montez Mystery by Manuel Ramos – 2003  September
    Brown-On-Brown marks the return of Manuel Ramos’s character, Luis M?ntez. A Denver defense attorney who is always just one step ahead of his creditors and not too particular about the cases he takes on, M?ntez’s next client is Dominic Santos. Santos has been charged with torching the property of a powerful Anglo San Luis Valley rancher and causing the death of a hired hand.The backdrop of Brown-On-Brown is the ever-present Chicano/Anglo disputes over water rights in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Ramos effectively provides the Chicano perspective on water and land disputes while guiding the reader through a maze of multiple murders. See more at
  • Ranches of Colorado by John Fielder and James Meadow – 2009 October
    For two years, acclaimed Colorado nature photographer John Fielder turned his large format camera in the direction of 50 of the state’s most beautiful working ranches. Proceeds from the sale of each copy benefit the Colorado Land Trust community, a group of non-profit organizations that work with ranchers to protect their ranches forever from development. See more at Amazon.
  • People of the Red Earth – American Indians of Colorado  by Sally Crum – 2009 February
    Through the centuries, Colorado has been home to a wide variety of Native American groups. Colorado archaeologist Crum here begins with the earliest occupants, the paleo-Indians, then discusses the succeeding Archaic, Anasazi, and Fremont cultures. She then examines the cultures of the Plains, the Mountain tribes, and the Athabascan-speaking groups from the North and follows these groups to where they reside today. Crum achieves an overview of the cultural elements and history of each group, which she complements with suggestions of relevant places to visit and pertinent further reading. See more at Amazon.
  • Messages in Stone: Colorado’s Colorful Geology: 2nd Editionby Vincent Matthews – 2009
    Introduction to the rocks, structures and geologic history of Colorado. Includes discussion of landforms and geologic hazards. Lavishly illustrated with photographs of Colorado sites and maps. Appropriate for geologists and non-geologists. The first edition garnered the 2004 Association of Earth Science Editors Outstanding Book Award, and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.
  • The Eastern San Juan Mountains: Their Geology, Ecology, and Human History by Rob Blair – 2011 September
    It details the physical environment, biological communities, human history, and points of interest in this rich and diverse mountain system. See more at Amazon.
  • Colorado Scenic Byways, Taking the Other Road  by Jim Steinberg and  Susan Tweit – 2008
    This two volume set was inspired by those blue highways and a quintessentially American love: the open road. It includes information in the area covered by the SdCNHA. See more at Amazon.
  • The Mormons: 100 Years in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, 1883-1983 by Carleton Q. Anderson, Betty Shawcroft, Robert Compton
  • The San Luis Valley of Colorado: A geographical sketch Paperback  by Thomas Patrick Huber – 1996 January  
    The constant contradiction and contrast of the physical and human geography of the Valley make the San Luis Valley of Colorado a land of notable geographic irony. The Valley is Colorado’s only true desert, yet sits atop billions of acre-feet of ground water. The Valley lies between two mountain systems, yet itself rises almost 8,000 feet above sea level. The Valley’s economy depends, in great part, on farming while the average annual precipitation rate is only about eight inches. For thousands of years the area served semi-nomadic Native American, yet holds the oldest continuously inhabited town in Colorado. And here what can only be described as boom and bust economics threaten farming practices that date back to Spanish land use codes which settlers originally brought from New Mexico. This book will explain and expand upon these geographic ironies. See more at Amazon.
  • Valley of the Cranes: Exploring Colorado’s San Luis Valley by Virginia McConnell Simmons ; photographs by Wendy Shattil and Robert Rozinski – 1998
  • Land of the Blue Sky People : a Story of the San Luis Valley by Luther E. Bean – c1975
  • The People of El Valle: A History of the Spanish Colonials in the San Luis Valley: 3rd edition by Olibama Lopez-Tushar — 1997
  • Centennial  by James A. Michener
    Written to commemorate the Bicentennial in 1976, James A. Michener’s magnificent saga of the Westis an enthralling celebration of the frontier. Brimming with the glory of America’s past, the story of Colorado—the Centennial State—is manifested through its people: Lame Beaver, the Arapaho chieftain and warrior, and his Comanche and Pawnee enemies; Levi Zendt, fleeing with his child bride from the Amish country; the cowboy, Jim Lloyd, who falls in love with a wealthy and cultured Englishwoman, Charlotte Seccombe. In Centennial, trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold seekers, ranchers, and hunters are brought together in the dramatic conflicts that shape the destiny of the legendary West—and the entire country. See more at Amazon.
  • Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
    Stories filled with wonder and the haunting beauty of his culture have helped make Rudolfo Anaya the father of Chicano literature in English, and his tales fairly shimmer with the lyric richness of his prose. Acclaimed in both Spanish and English, Anaya is perhaps best loved for his classic bestseller … Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will test the bonds that tie him to his people, and discover himself in the pagan past, in his father’s wisdom, and in his mother’s Catholicism. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world-and will nurture the birth of his soul. See more at Amazon.
  • San Luis Valley Illustrated by Pelton, A.R.
    “This book is a gem…..It has tons of old pics of old merchants…It was written as an “advertisement” of all that The San Luis Valley has to offer in 1891….First printed December 1, 1891 San Luis Valley Illustrated is one of the best sources of information on the early days in the San Luis Valley. Author A. R. Pelton was an eyewitness to much of the early mining, railroad construction and schools. He saw the beginning of mining in Creede, Colorado.” From review by Trent Rock. Amazon. See more at Amazon.
  • Valley of the Dunes by  Benedict, Rozinski, &  Shattil – 2010
    Colorado’s San Luis Valley is truly a land apart, a high desert landscape lying within the embrace of the towering wall of the Sangre de Cristos and the snowcapped massifs of the San Juan Mountains. This spectacular region is home to the tallest dunefield in North America preserved within Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Valley of the Dunes celebrates the fascinating geologic events, the wildlife, and human cultures that have shaped this magical place. Stunning images by award-winning nature photographers Bob Rozinski and Wendy Shattil and Audrey DeLella Benedict’s evocative text provides an unparalleled portrait of one of the West’s most unique landscapes. Amazon.
  • Tom Tobin Frontiersman by Perkins, James E.  – 2005
    “The story of Tom Tobin is an amazing story of frontier life at the time that Colorado’s San Luis Valley became part of the United States following the Spanish American War. South of the Arkansas River had been part of Mexico and it became the state of New Mexico actually including Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. The lines were later adjusted to create the states as we know them today.” Review by Roger Bower. Amazon.
  • Retracing the Old Spanish Trail North Branch by Kessler, Ron – 1995
    “As Monte Vista historian Ron Kessler points out near the start of this book, the Old Spanish Trail, though little known to mainstream American history, made possible the more famous trails. It connected New Mexico to California, source of horses and mules that were herded east to Santa Fé, then via the Santa Fé Trail to Missouri, where the livestock were pressed into service for the Oregon Trail.” Review by Ed Quillen. Cozine.
  • Drifting West by Virginia McConnell Simmons  — 2007
    During westward expansion in the nineteenth century, thousands of anonymous individuals drifted into the American West in search of opportunities in trapping and trading, prospecting and mining, military service, railroad construction, freighting, agriculture, town-building, and adventure. Few of these emigrants achieved sufficient notoriety for their names to be recalled today. Two exceptions are James White, who is said to have accidentally traversed the Grand Canyon on a makeshift raft two years prior to the first expedition of John Wesley Powell, and his erstwhile companion Charles Baker, who played a prominent role in prospecting in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains in the 1860s. Amazon.
  • Life in Los Sauces by Valdez de Pong, Dolores
    Olivama Salazar de Valdez, my mother, announced at the breakfast table one day during the Sixties that she would like to someday write a book about her recollection of life in Los Sauces, Colorado, a Spanish-speaking community and the place of her birth, as she remembered it in the Twenties and Thirties. It wasn’t until many years later when she was already in her eighties that she finally started writing her manuscript for the bilingual book.
  • Sand & Smoke by Osterwald, Doris & Becky — 2008
    A Mile by Mile Guide for the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad. Amazon.
  • La Vereda – A Trail Through Time by Colville, Ruth — 1996
    History of the San Luis Valley of Colorado and specifically the Old Spanish Trail. Detailed information on the geography, geology, Native American and Spanish cultures, and much more. Pictures and a map. Amazon.


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