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Welcome to the companion history blog for the book, Beyond the Land of Gold: The Life & Times of Perry A. Burgess. The blog will include interesting facts and images relating to the Burgess story and publishing news. Perry's path in life crossed some of the most interesting characters of the American West. The Burgess family were pioneers of Missouri, Colorado, Utah and Montana, and played major roles in the early development of communities like Boulder and Steamboat Springs. Through a series of blog posts, we will profile several of Perry's early business partners found in his diaries and other writings. Look for the series Glimpses into Yampa Valley's Past by Routt County historian/story teller David Moran. CLICK on headings or 'more' to expand each entry.

The Crawfords of Steamboat: Lulita Crawford Pritchett

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The name James Crawford is synonymous with Steamboat Springs, but his granddaughter, Lulita Crawford Pritchett was a force to be reckoned with in her own right. Like Perry A. Burgess, diarist of Beyond the Land of Gold , Lulita grew up hearing pioneer stories of unparalleled adventure. Storytelling ran through her veins like lifeblood, and we are all the richer for it.

Lulita Crawford was born on March 7, 1906, in Denver, Colorado. Her mother was the daughter of James Crawford, founder of Steamboat Springs in Routt County. Her father, Carr Waller Pritchett Jr., was one of the most highly respected engineers in the country. Lulita had one older sister, Margaret.
The Pritchetts bought a ranch in Steamboat on what today is known as Emerald Mountain. In 1912, Carr expanded the ranch to 765 acres, and the family lived there from 1919-1922. Much to the chagrin of his wife and daughters, Carr sold the ranch in 1923 to return to Denver. Lulita, though, would consider Steamboat Springs her home for the rest of her life.
Neither Lulita or Margaret ever married, choosing instead to live life on their own terms and in such a way that they could care for their aging parents. Lulita took a job teaching at the Parks School of Business Administration after graduating from there in 1927. By 1930, she quit her job to take care of her parents. In 1940, she accepted a position as a file clerk or secretary with A.R. Wifley and Sons, Inc., and engineering firm. After working for the company for 34 years, Lulita retired in 1974.

Lulita Crawford Pritchett
Grand daughter of James H. Crawford, founder of Steamboat Springs


Lulita the Writer

As if caring for her parents, working, and traveling with her sister weren't enough to occupy Lulita's time, she managed to write more than 100 poems between 1915 and 1929. Only two were published before she shifted her focus to short stories in the 1930s. Throughout the decade, she published more than 50 pieces and her first novel, The Shining Mountains. The novel was a fictionalized account of how her grandparents left their lives in Missouri to build their home in Colorado. The story ends with James discovering the wilderness he would settle as Steamboat Springs.

In addition to the novel, Lulita penned western romances, children's fiction, and nature stories during the 1930s. In a journal she kept of her manuscript submissions, she indicated she made 100 submissions in the 1940s, 90 in the 1950s, and 20 in the 1970s. Though she wrote less, what she wrote had more success at finding an audience. About a dozen poems won prizes or were accepted for publication in nationally known magazines, and her novel The Cabin at Medicine Springs won the Franklin Watts Juvenile Novel Award in 1958, an honor worth $3,500. For an idea of just how prestigious that award was, $3,500 in 1958 had the same purchasing power as $26,000 in 2009.

It was during her retirement that Lulita donned the hat of historian. After publishing Maggie By My Side in 1976 (a nonfiction account of the story told in The Shining Mountains ), she began committing to paper the numerous pioneer stories she heard throughout her childhood. Steamboat Springs' Tread of Pioneers Museum encouraged Lulita to publish her works, and in doing so, assured a lively, accurate account of the settlement of one of Colorado's most beloved resort areas.

Lulita died on February 11, 1991, but she left a legacy that continues to educate, inform, and entertain thousands of readers even today. Without the talents and dedication of pioneers like Lulita and Perry Burgess, our knowledge of the American West would at best only scratch the surface.

For more information on Lulita's life and works, visit www.lulitacrawfordpritchett.com . Hosted by Jim Crawford, the great grandson of the founders of Steamboat Springs.




The Crawford family cabin known as 'Big Cabin'
Depicted in Lulita's book 'The Shining Mountain'



'The Cabin at Medicine Springs' by Lulita Crawford Pritchett
A colorful early history of Steamboat & life in the Yampa Valley .


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Image from 'The Cabin at Medicine Springs' by Lulita Crawford Pritchett.
Ute Indians at Steamboat Springs near the Crawford home .



- Rebecca Valentine

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