Berthoud Pass history chronicled in new book, old photos
Ben Dugan has written the book “Berthoud Pass,” published this year by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images of America series.
The book includes never-before published photographs of Berthoud Pass and Empire from the author’s private collection.
“My dad was a history teacher in Leadville and worked on Berthoud Pass,” Dugan said during a recent phone interview.
Born in Leadville and then relocated to Empire when he was 2 years old, Dugan wanted to shared his photos and personal history of the area.
“It has been a lifelong dream to write this book,” he said. “I have been a fan of the history books from Images of America, and when I was sitting around one day looking at shoe boxes filled with photos, I contacted them with my idea of Berthoud Pass.”
For 30 years Dugan collected photographs of Empire and Berthoud Pass.
“Berthoud Pass history parallels the history of America’s switch from the horse and wagon to the automobile,” he said.
He also purchased photos from historical organizations and libraries. His favorite part about writing the book was analyzing photographs he collected.
“I used a magnifying glass to look at the details of the photos, and from there I would research what I found to understand the history,” he said. “I had to figure out what was happening in the photograph and then write the stories.”
Arcadia Publishing publishes many titles for local people, educating them about Colorado history, said Dugan. He chose photographs to illustrate the story of Berthoud Pass and to capture the uniqueness of the area. Many of the photos were taken by him.
“It was an all day project to climb the mountains around the pass to get unique views,” he said.
The book is divided into six sections: Route over the Divide, Stagecoach Days, Automobile Touring, The Lodges, Skiing Berthoud, and Summit Views. The book can be purchased at Ace Hardware in Fraser and the Idaho Springs Visitor Center.
Dugan now lives in Lakewood and spends time at his family home in Empire.
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