Rollins Pass (2018)
Rollins Pass (available in paperback and hardcover) by B. Travis Wright, MPS and Kate Wright, MBA with a foreword by professional archaeologist Jason M. LaBelle, PhD
As of Q4 2019, this title is now in its third printing!
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.
It is the hope of the authors that “Rollins Pass” will deliver a lasting impact to help preserve the more than 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.