Trappers, Trains, and Mining Claims: Colorado History Stories for the Elementary Level

Trappers, Trains, and Mining Claims Colorado History


Book: Trappers, Trains, and Mining Claims: Colorado History Stories for the Elementary Level

Authors: Sam and Linda Simonetta

Publisher: Pruett Publishing Co., republished in 1981

ISBN-10: 0-87108-089-3 (hardback)

ISBN-10: 0-87108-194-6 (paperback)

Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)

Reading level: Grades 4-8

Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

For more information e-mail

     Simonetta, Sam and LindaTrappers, Trains, and Mining Claims: Colorado History Stories for the Elementary Level (published in 1976 by Pruett Publishing Company, 3235 Prairie Ave., Boulder, CO  80301).  This book, which I think came from our friends the Vilanders who used to live in Colorado, is a collection of 29 short stories based on historical fact and having to do with significant people, places, and events in Colorado history, especially from the early Spanish and American explorers, through the era of the mountain men and the Indians, to the settlement of the state.   Though not specifically designed as a textbook, it is intended to be “a valuable aid in supplementing regular classroom studies of Colorado.”

     Trappers, Trains, and Mining Claims is the kind of interesting book from which school students used to learn history before the invention of dull, dry, dreary textbooks with nothing but factoids that emphasize simply memorizing names and dates, often without any relevancy.  The sections into which it is divided are explorers, fur trappers, Indians, miners, railroaders, and early statesmen.  The cataloguing information gives the category “Colorado—History—Juvenile fiction” but the Dewey Decimal System number is 978.8 which is “social studies.”  It would appear that some fictionalizing has been done, but we are told, “All stories in the book are derived from actual historical events which took place in Colorado.” 

     The preface says, “It was the scarcity of historical material on Colorado, which could be read by the average ten-year old, that prompted the writing of this book.  However, its appeal is also to the older child and even to the adult.”   The only story that might raise any objections is the one about Alferd Packer, who was convicted of murder in a famous cannibalism case, although it is related simply as a well-known event in history without any sensationalism.  There is a resource guide at the end with historical significance, additional information, and a bibliography for each story.  We could wish that such a book existed and was available for every state in the Union.

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