SILVIA PETTEM
THE BOOK LODE, LLC

Historical Research & Writing

ARTICLES

I have been writing for the Boulder Daily Camera since 1977, starting with historical features, as well as a food column. From 1984 to 1988, I wrote historical features for the Longmont Times-Call. From 1996-1998, I wrote a history column for the Boulder Planet. During this time, I also contributed to the Coloradan (the University of Colorado's alumni magazine) and have freelanced for a number of national and international publications from the California Mining Journal and Evidence Technology Magazine to the British magazine Cornish World.

In 1998, I returned to the Camera as history columnist. Compilations of some of my history columns are in my books Only in Boulder: The County’s Colorful Characters and Boulder: A Sense of Time and Place Revisited (see Books page). I still write a history column for the Camera, sharing the position with long-time friend and colleague Carol Taylor.

Below are links to a couple of my recent history columns.

The little building in the foreground dated from the Freel era and was called the Inhaling Room. The residence in the background is all that remains from 19th-century Springdale. Courtesy photo taken in June 2017 .

Little left of former spa near Jamestown

Camera, October 22, 2017

The late 1800s was the era of the spa, in which the leisure class would drink, bathe, and even breathe the vapors of water thought to heal everyone’s most obscure ailments, from cancer to hemorrhoids to indigestion. In Boulder County, one of these health resorts was located in the western Boulder County mountain town of Springdale. The town and spa were founded in 1875, two miles below Jamestown, in James Canyon..… Read more

Spa near Jamestown

This photo of the 1200 block of Pearl St. is the oldest-known photo of Boulder.

Detailed look at earliest-known photo of Boulder

Camera, August 27,, 2017
Lots of photos exist from Boulder's early days, including many taken by Joseph B. Sturtevant between 1884 and 1910. However, an 1866 photo of Pearl Street clearly bears his name, and it wasn't taken by him at all.

On March 20, 1889, the editor of the Boulder County Herald wrote, "In the rubbish, at a second-hand store, Joseph Sturtevant found an old photograph which he would not sell for $20. It was taken in Boulder in 1866.” Sturtevant re-photographed the image, then wrote his name on his own glass plate negative. Although his action confuses today's historians, the prolific photographer did us a service by allowing us to peer into the past. Read more

Boulder’s Oldest Photo

Rex Lee Douglas was a pastor in Lyons, Colorado.

Rex Lee Douglas –– Missing since 1984

Camera, August 16, 2017

On a Sunday morning in February 1984, a police officer attended the Old Stone Congregational Church in Lyons, in northern Boulder County, where he told the worshippers that their 61-year-old minister, the Rev. Rex Lee Douglas, had not returned as expected from a business trip to Missouri.

"We told them that we were doing everything we possibly could," the officer explained to a newspaper reporter. "They just sat there. Some started crying.” After 33 years, Douglas' whereabouts are still unknown, and his missing person's case is filled with unanswered questions.… Read more

Rex Lee Douglas –– missing

The “CU” on the third Flatiron was visible between 1949 and 1980.


Flatirons long have been used for messages

Camera, November 19, 2017

Words and images on Boulder's mountain backdrop are nothing new. Both the Third Flatiron (third crag south of Flagstaff Mountain) and Flagstaff Mountain itself have been used for nearly a century as gigantic billboards capable of projecting messages as far as the eye can see.

Most have been controversial, with the exception of the Flagstaff star, which has weathered the passage of time .…. Read more

Flatirons for Messages




Edward Baker’s grave has finally has been recognized, as documented in the Buffalo Soldier story. Below, in the first row, are a few photos from October 11, 2016 when members of the Buffalo Soldier Organization assisted Jack Box in setting the stone.

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

RESEARCH SPECIALTIES:
Long-term missing persons
Unidentified remains
Cold case homicides
Boulder County, Colorado, history