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Summit County author brings ‘The Ice Palace’ to The Bookworm

Daily Staff Report
Vail, CO, Colorado

The search did not extend too far for the next writer in The Bookworm’s ongoing visiting author series.

Margaret Bailey, a Summit County native, will visit the store Monday evening at 6 p.m. to discuss her novel “Diamond in the Sky,” which is set against the backdrop of Leadville during the Silver Panic of the 1890s. This event is free of charge.

The novel takes place in 1893 as the mining business hit hard times and outposts such as Leadville were heading toward economic ruin. To help stimulate the economy, the town of Leadville proposed a winter wonderland to generate tourism and much-needed capital. What resulted was the Ice Palace.



The Ice Palace covered roughly five acres and used more than 5,000 tons of ice and 307,000 feet of lumber. Intricately detailed, the Ice Palace featured massive sculptures within its walls and towers that stood more than 90 feet tall.

A restaurant, ballroom, carousel, theater and sledding hills were housed inside the Ice Palace. Much of the structure was heated and illuminated. The Ice Palace closed just three years later in 1896.



Using thorough research, Bailey sets a story of romance and rogues against the awe-inspiring Ice Palace. Thadeus McElwain and Noah Ralston are best friends until the vivacious Lettie Corcoran arrives in town. The pursuit of Lettie turns the friends into enemies.

Thad invests his life fortune into the Ice Palace in hopes of wooing Lettie, only later to be implicated in a murder on the site, which may have been masterminded by his former best friend.

Fans of Erik Larson’s smash hit “The Devil in the White City,” a true story of a serial killer during Chicago’s World fair, may enjoy Bailey’s “Diamond in the Sky.” Although fiction, Bailey’s novel employs the same keen research of the economic, political, and cultural happenings of the time with a strongly crafted mystery.


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