Local history book wins state historical society award
DENVER — An Eagle County history book has earned a top award from History Colorado, the state historical society.
“The Bridges of Eagle County,” by local historian Kathy Heicher in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation, is the 2016 Caroline Bancroft History Project award winner. The award is made annually to individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to the advancement of Colorado History.
The unique project came about because of a federal law, the National Historic Preservation Act, requiring mitigation of adverse impacts on historically significant structures.
CDOT has been gradually replacing historic bridges in Eagle County with structures that meet current standards. Mitigation for the some of those structures involved the placement of interpretive signs. When preparing to replace the Dotsero Bridge in 2011, CDOT historian Lisa Schoch proposed that mitigation take the form of a book that would tell the stories not only of the Dotsero Bridge, but also a string of historic bridges throughout the Eagle Valley.
CDOT officials approached Heicher, a historical society activist and the author of several local history books, about the project.
The structures featured in “The Bridges of Eagle County” range from the first primitive timber structure spanning the Grand (Colorado) River in 1883 to the magnificent steel arch bridge at Red Cliff, constructed near the end of the Great Depression.
The book includes dozens of historic photos, maps, postcard images and anecdotes about the pioneers who built the bridges. Sales of the book benefit the Eagle County Historical Society.
“The committee was especially impressed by the creative approach to federally required mitigation and to the engaging design and content of the book itself,” said Elisa Phelps, director of the Collections and Library Division of History Colorado.
The book is available at eagle countyhistoricalsociety.com; at The Bookworm of Edwards; and at the Visitor Information Center and Batson’s Corner in Eagle.