Colorado

By Limerick, Patricia Nelson | Sunset, May 1998 | Go to article overview

Colorado


Limerick, Patricia Nelson, Sunset


* When I was a child in Banning, California, I went wild for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. These books, as every reader knows, turn the predictable and familiar upside down, twisting logic into braids and pretzels and macrame.

For years, I read Wonderland and Looking Glass over and over again, wishing that I would discover a previously unknown volume three in this series. I never found volume three, but I did the next best thing. I became a Western American historian.

In its contradictions, paradoxes, ironies, and inverted logic, human behavior in the American West bears the clear stamp of Carroll's authorship.

Boosters glorify the West's open spaces. If successful in this, they attract multitudes of visitors and residents, who then fill in the open spaces that attracted them in the first place.

All along the Front Range of Colorado, from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, and in many of the state's mountain resort towns, residents build houses that take advantage of the West's beautiful views, and often, thereby, obstruct or compromise the views of already established residents. Those recent arrivals then respond with bitterness when the next round of settlers obstruct or compromise, in turn, their views. …

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