Rollins Pass: Through the Lens of Time

By Rollins Pass (other events)

Saturday, May 12 2018 11:30 AM 2:30 PM MDT

A special author-hosted event for history and railroad enthusiasts

Local authors, B. Travis and Kate Wright, invite you to this special one-day event in celebration of their new book, Rollins Pass. Here, you'll discover Rollins Pass as you've never seen it before through rare images and films shown on the big screen. With special opening remarks by archaeologist Jason M. LaBelle, PhD, the authors hope to leave you with a renewed appreciation for the pass and its place in our shared history.

Featuring two rare films on the big screen
"The White Desert" (1925) with live piano by Hank Troy
"Stone & Steel at the Top of the World"

Limited availability |  Single showing |  Early bird pricing now available

Inclusions — see TICKETS and MORE INFO for details
All ticket packages (except for the Windsor ticket tier) include:
[1+] Pre-release copy of the new book, "Rollins Pass"
[1] Pre-release copy of the new postcards book, "Rollins Pass"
[1+] Admission to the main event including: 
+"The White Desert" with live pianist accompaniment
+ "Stone and Steel" documentary with opening remarks by Dr. Jason LaBelle
+ Author's presentation featuring untold stories and rarely seen photographs
+ Complimentary (stationed and passed) appetizers and beverages (Mother's Day weekend mimosas, beer, wine, and soft drinks)

What to expect
Doors open at 11:30am. Upon check-in, you will receive your welcome bag including the signed "Rollins Pass" book(s), postcard pack, film admission, and drink tickets. Complimentary appetizers and beverages will be available in the Glass Half Full bar beginning at 11:30am and again during intermission at 1:00pm. Theater doors close at 12:00pm; please come early to save your seat and enjoy passed appetizers. The authors will have trivia as well as rare and historic images of Rollins Pass showing on the big screen!

To learn more about the films, or about Rollins Pass (the place, and the new book), continue reading below. Should you have any questions, please contact [email protected] 

About the films
"The White Desert" was produced by Reginald Barker and stars Claire Windsor as Robinette. Filmed on Rollins Pass and released on May 4, 1925, this silent film helped raise funds and awareness for the completion of the Moffat Tunnel. Windsor’s stardom in the film led her to be crowned “Queen of the Denver Auto Show” in 1928, the year the Moffat Tunnel was opened. This film has been converted from 35mm into a high-definition digital format and is on loan from the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

“Stone and Steel at the Top of the World” investigates the 19th century mystery of the stone walls used by ancient Native Americans to hunt game on Rollins Pass. It also tells the remarkable story of the construction and operation of the Moffat Road railroad over Rollins Pass from 1904-1928. The 20-minute documentary features rare photographs and film of trains and their passengers struggling to cross the summit. The film was produced by CSU professors Jason LaBelle in Anthropology and Pete Seel in Journalism and Technical Communication.

About Rollins Pass — the place
The ribbon of dusty road on Rollins Pass has a timeless and beloved history. First known as Boulder Pass, this comparatively low saddle on the Continental Divide in Colorado has been in continuous use for millennia. First utilized as an expansive Native American game drive complex, the pass subsequently functioned as a toll wagon road in the 1860s. At the turn of the 20th century, Rollins Pass became the highest standard-gauge adhesion railroad grade in North America--an achievement still standing today. However, this overmountain route, known as Corona Pass, was inefficient and dangerous: resolute men tasked with the impossible faced high elevations with even higher risks of injury or death. A safer, permanent route came in 1928 by way of the Moffat Tunnel. The rails of Rollins Pass were then removed, freeing the automobile to tour the historic road. No matter the epoch, the legacy of Rollins Pass abides: a preeminently scenic route to the top of the world.

About "Rollins Pass" — the book
It is the hope of the authors that "Rollins Pass" will deliver a lasting impact to help preserve 10,000 years of our shared cultural history on this remarkable mountain pass; lest it become trodden upon or disappear before the next generation can visit and appreciate this resplendent place.

To achieve this goal, unlike other published works on Rollins Pass, this is the only book to mention and dedicate a full-chapter to the 10,000 years of Native American history on the pass. The book includes a foreword written by archaeologist Jason M. LaBelle, PhD, who studies the Native American presence on the pass and who has concluded that it holds “one of the greatest concentrations of ancient hunting structures documented in North America.”

"Rollins Pass" contains many rare images – in pristine quality. Incredibly, this is the only book on Rollins Pass to feature an image of John Quincy Adams Rollins, after whom Rollins Pass was named. Also included are several 19th-century stereocard images documenting landscapes as they were before the railroad. The work includes dozens of incredible photographs from the personal collection of a railroad engineer, John T. Trezise, who worked on Rollins Pass. 

Throughout the pages of this book, the authors thoughtfully detail the many heroes and legends of Rollins Pass – from worker John Trezise, to David Moffat and his respect for his men, to how Rollins himself wrote about his initial journeys on what would become known as Rollins Pass. To take the reader back in time, the authors incorporate the text of many historical newspaper articles, giving an added dimension to the zeitgeist and arc of the Rollins Pass story.

Intrigued by the consistent inconsistencies regarding the elevation of Rollins Pass, the authors conducted primary research to get to the bottom of this mystery. As such, this is the only publication to date that explains, using the help of both the National Geodetic Survey and the US Geological Survey, what the exact elevation of Rollins Pass is and how older elevation values were derived.

Finally, this is the only book on Rollins Pass to document discoveries made on the pass within the last decade – including modern-day discoveries of settlements, a derailed railcar, and more. Through their organization, Preserve Rollins Pass, the authors provide modern-day hikers and visitors with the means to directly contact interested archaeologists about artifacts found on the pass – enabling more complete historical records to be created.

About the authors
B. Travis Wright and Kate Wright are the co-founders of Preserve Rollins Pass and are authors, photographers, apprentice archaeologists, discoverers, and technologists. With each published work, Travis and Kate assure proper preservation of materials and sources: while writing "Rollins Pass," nearly 2,000 historical photographs and documents were digitally safeguarded and shared with academia, museums, and historical societies. Travis and Kate were selected to participate in the US Forest Service Passport in Time project where artifacts and features on Rollins Pass were classified as National Heritage Sites and given trinomials to be included as part of the Smithsonian’s national collection. Travis and Kate are co-authors to other academic research publications, including those documenting archaeological discoveries they made or contributed to on Rollins Pass.

Travis is a two-time graduate of the University of Denver: after graduating summa cum laude, he received a master’s degree with concentrations in both alternative dispute resolution and web-enabled information systems. Kate is a dual-degree graduate from the University of Denver, Daniels College of Business with a Master of Business Administration.