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Burro Days and Other Diversions

As summer progresses, opportunities abound with excuses to seek higher elevations and fun in the mountains. On July 26 and 27, I will join my pal, Christie Wright, author of South Park Perils: Short Ropes and True Tales, and All That Lies Beneath, at Burro Days in Fairplay. Our books will be on display in booth #63, for sale and signing, and we will be discussing western history with visitors.

Burro BuddyIn 1949, the burro races began as an endurance test for prospectors leading their burro (Spanish word for donkey) from Leadville to Fairplay over Mosquito Pass. This challenge takes remarkable fortitude and a solid rapport with a sometimes stubborn pack animal. Although I never traveled over Mosquito Pass, Christie and others assure me it is truly formidable, even without a burro in tow.

At an elevation of 13,185 ft., Mosquito Pass rises 3,000 feet from Fairplay. The unpaved road is only passable during summer months on foot, with experienced four-wheel drivers, and of course, with burros. Some years back, the Burro Race was split into two races. During the Boom Days festival in early August, racers leave from and return to Leadville, on the other side of the pass. Burro Days racers leave Fairplay and return from the top of the pass, a looping route of about thirty miles. This system works well for contestants, spectators and burros. The course takes about five hours with a record winning time of three hours and forty-four minutes won by Tom Sobal. If you come to Burro Days in Fairplay during July 26-27, stop by booth #63 and say “Howdy.

Update: The Pikes Peak Library District staff hosted another outstanding history symposium this year. My presentation, “The Penrose Legacy: Ventures, Vogue, and Vagary,” was well received and kept pace with the remarkably talented faculty. After the program on June 7, I have been editing and smoothing rough edges on the symposium paper submitted this week for further publication by PPLD. After catching up on other projects over mid-summer, I look forward to working with Filter Press to take the Penrose Legacy a step further for a biography, coming soon. To see my PPLD TV interview video about Penrose, go to: http://vimeo.com/96028423

For those who wish to learn more about the life and times of Spencer Penrose, visit the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum to see their new exhibit, “The Midas Touch: The Penrose and Tutt Partnership.” A new 4,000 square foot museum for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb automobile race will soon open. It is adjacent to the El Pomar Carriage Museum, across Lake Circle from the Broadmoor Hotel.

Enjoy your summer,
Joyce and Don

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