Chronicler of Eagle County honored |

Chronicler of Eagle County honored

Kathy Heicher
Eagle County, CO Colorado
Edwards resident Shirley Welch is the author of "The Eagle River Valley"

EAGLE COUNTY ” During her 40 years in the Eagle Valley, Lake Creek resident Shirley Welch has prowled historic graveyards and hiked through old mining camps.

A few years ago, while volunteering for a hospice association, she started helping patients write their “living histories.” She has also done a bit of fiction writing.

When a national publishing company wanted to produce a local history book about the Eagle River Valley, it found Welch.

She spent last fall buried in the Eagle County Historical Society’s photo archives. Welch sorted through hundreds of images, seeking the right photos to reveal the history of the valley. The images she selected range from Camp Hale down to Dotsero.

The resulting book, “The Eagle River Valley,” is part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series. Available at local libraries and for purchase at various local outlets, the book is a little treasure for this valley where local history books tend to be scarce.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Welch was at first reluctant to take on the book project. The publishers had a short timeline, and she was concerned that gathering photos would involve a lot of knocking on doors.

“When I found out the historical society had over 1,000 photos, I knew I could go ahead,” she said.

(The photos can be accessed at the Eagle Library, or through the library district’s Web site,

Welch divided the selected images by geographic area. Detailed captions and Welch’s short narratives help tell the story.

The “Eagle River Valley Book” is just one of the reasons that Welch was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Nimon-Walker award.

The library shelves also contain a couple of manuscripts that Welch helped people complete. She worked with 92-year-old Robert Maloit on his memoir. Maloit’s father was the superintendent of the New Jersey Zinc mine at Gilman for 43 years.

“I offered to type it for him if it was not more than 200 pages. He sent 111 pages ” hand written,” she remembered, with a laugh.

She also worked closely with the late Frank Doll on his memoir. She visited Doll weekly for three months and taped their talks about his grandfather and father’s ranches in the Gypsum Creek Valley.

“Frank had an exceptionally sharp memory, and he knew how to tell a story,” Welch said.

Even as the “Eagle River Valley” book has sold 1,200 copies, Welch is continuing to document local history. Most recently, she’s been working with Squaw Creek residents Sam and Betty Carter to capture their stories. Locals can look forward to future works by Welch on local bookshelves.

Kathy Heicher is a freelance writer who is a long-time valley resident.

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