Tough Men In Hard Places: A Photographic Collection by Esther GreenfieldTough Men In Hard Places: A Photographic Collection by Esther Greenfield

Tough Men In Hard Places: A Photographic Collection

byEsther GreenfieldForeword byJay Harrison

Paperback | October 15, 2014

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The mines in southwestern Colorado were in trouble and needed cheap, reliable electric power to keep running. This is the story of innovative solutions to solve the problem using alternating current electricity and the incredible effort, tenacity, and toughness of the men who overcame formidable obstacles to bring electrification to the mines, ranches, homes, and businesses in the remote and rugged areas of southwestern Colorado. Here is their story in over 80 intriguing historic photos from the Center of Southwest Studies. Tough men peer from the pages with attitude to spare next to gargantuan equipment in unforgiving terrain. Many of the photographs were taken by Philip "P. C." Schools, power plant superintendent with the Western Colorado Power Co., whose turn-of-the-century photographs documented the coming of electricity to Southwest Colorado and from which his legacy glows.
You can find Esther in one of two places. Either she will be searching the archives at the Center of Southwest Studies, or hiking in the Weminuche Wilderness as a volunteer for the San Juan Mountains Association looking for arborglyphs. A far cry from her life in Washington, DC, where she was born and worked for the Veterans Administra...
Title:Tough Men In Hard Places: A Photographic CollectionFormat:PaperbackDimensions:128 pages, 9.25 × 7.5 × 0.68 inPublished:October 15, 2014Publisher:Graphic Arts BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:194182112X

ISBN - 13:9781941821121


From the Author

"In the 21st century, readily available electricity is just so run-of-the-mill. In Esther Greenfield's TOUGH MEN IN HARD PLACES, through voices and pictures out of time, we learn about the early days of power, about conditions that, to the 21st century American, sound Third World-ish. Getting electricity to mines and rural areas was logistically challenging and physically dangerous. To be sure, at the end of the 19th century, the few mountain roads (then for horses and wagons, not yet automobiles) weren't plowed in the winter. Striking photos of the hard men and heavy machines that helped them forge a new era are both illuminating and humbling to those of us who, as mentally challenging as it can be, spend our work days staring at a computer screen. Esther takes the reader back to a day when people absolutely marveled at technology such as electricity, and struggled mightily to wrap their minds around its ability to travel at 186,000 miles per second. The beauty of this book is that it forces the reader to take the time to be similarly awed." -John Peel focuses on human-interest stories in his duties with the Durango Herald, has edited Esther Greenfield's stories as head of the Herald's Southwest Life section, and is a two-time trail guide author.

Read from the Book

After that "brilliant arc of electricity shot six feet into the air," power companies sprang up like wild mushrooms after a summer rain. The companies were eager to capitalize on this new opportunity, which they suspected would be more lucrative than all the gold and silver booms of the past. At one point there were about thirty separate power companies operating in Colorado to bring electricity, power, and conveniences to rural homesteads. One by one, however, they went out of business or merged. In March 1913, the remaining companies were consolidated into the Western Colorado Power Company (WCPC).From interviews recorded thirty or more years after they retired, what follows are firsthand descriptions of those early days, in the real voices of farmers, ranchers, and former employees of the power company as they remembered electricity coming to their homes and businesses. P. W. Wood, former WCPC employee:"I was the manager of the Hotchkiss Packing & Power Co. around 1909. Electric service in those days was very poor, the voltage was low and people in town were put to much inconvenience. Many people claimed the furnace was fired with dry apple peelings, which didn't give enough heat to keep up a full head of steam. When the lights would dim customers would call up the plant and say 'Throw on another shovel-full of apple peelings!'"In the fall of 1928 the company started twenty-four-hour service. Previous, service had been only until midnight and only began again at 10 A.M. on Mondays and noon on Tuesdays so housewives could do their laundry. Rate of service was fifteen cents per kilowatt." -Interview, October 1939J. A. Bullock, former supervisor at WCPC:"The Telluride offices were well equipped with rugs, desks, chairs, etc. and there were three bedrooms and a bath for use by employees not having a home of their own. There were usually three to five engineers there, most of whom were young engineering school graduates. We had a stable with good saddle horses. We billed customers on a strictly demand basis with rates varying from $4.50 per h.p. [horsepower] to $10 per h.p." -Letter dated October 1939

Table of Contents

Introduction The Western Colorado Power Company System of Power Stations Power Companies Emerge An Electrical Engineer with the Eye of an Artist: Philip (P. C.) Schools Tough Men in Hard Places Death and Disasters Gears, Bolts, and Marvelous Machines Sources Acknowledgments

Editorial Reviews

"As a sixth generation Durangoan, I great enjoyed seeing this wonderful collection of old photos and reading the firsthand accounts of the men who made our community's electrification possible. TOUGH MEN IN HARD PLACES belongs in your library." Roderick Barker, Owner, The Strater Hotel, Durango, CO