Time Machine Tuesday: Avalanches

Avalanche danger is nothing new in Colorado.  Forty years ago, the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research issued their publication Century of Struggle Against Snow:  A History of Avalanche Hazard in San Juan County, ColoradoThe publication, which can be viewed online via our library, examines avalanches and avalanche disasters in the San Juan region of Colorado from 1875-1975.  “San Juan County was a booming gold- and silver-producing area, reaching its peak in population, mineral production, and, correspondingly, avalanche deaths and destruction of property during the period 1880 through World War I.”

According to the publication, major avalanche disasters occurred in March 1884, February 1891, and March 1906.  The latter avalanche took the lives of twelve men employed by the Shenandoah Mine.

Using weather data, photographs, newspaper stories, personal interviews, and other accounts, the publication tells a fascinating story about the danger of avalanches — their causes, geographic areas, case studies, and human stories.  Century of Struggle Against Snow gives the historical background on avalanches while the companion reports Avalanche Release and Snow Characteristics, San Juan Mountains, Colorado and Avalanche Atlas: San Juan County provide further data and technical information.

For more on avalanches yesterday and today, search our library’s web catalog.