Colorado has its share of authors, poets and other writers, and has plenty of presence in the literary canon, but when it comes to officially designated Literary Landmarks, the Centennial State is, well, let’s just say that Colorado literature landmarks are still a work in progress.
The American Library Association maintains a list of Literary Landmarks as a move to dedicate historic sites focusing on preserving sites tied to literature and the bookish zeitgeist. Maintained since 1986, the list includes clearly deserving sites (Willa Cather’s Prairie in Nebraska, a pair of William Faulkner’s homes) as well as ones that are, uh, literarily suspect: Iowa’s preservation of Herbert Hoover’s home seems like a better testament to shantytown-generating economic missteps than a place of letters. Colorado boasts a pair of sites on the ALA’s list.
Thomas Hornsby Ferril House
The home for the titular poet for nearly all of his 92-year life, the house was ground zero for Colorado’s first poet laureate, who served from 1979 until 1988. His family sold the spot to the Colorado Center for the Book in 1989 for $1, with the stipulation that it be used for literary purposes. The City of Denver named it a Literary Landmark in 1993, and it’s now home to the Lighthouse Writers Workshop.
Room 222, Strater Hotel, Durango
You’ll have to journey to the Four Corners to visit the other Colorado literature landmark, room 222 at the Strater Hotel in Durango. Fabled western author Louis L’Amour made a habit out of visiting the hotel each August, where he’d work on cowboy shoot-em-ups from a drop-leaf table in the room above the Diamond Belle Saloon. The site was named a Literary Landmark by the Friends of the Durango Public Library, Rod and Laurie Baker and the Strater Hotel in 2012. Guests can still stay in the room.
Better Colorado Literature Landmarks?
Hey, those places are fantastic, or something. But shouldn’t there be others on the list? Colorado has its share of literary roots. Want sci-fi? Robert Heinlein’s home in Colorado Springs and Philip K. Dick’s grave in Fort Morgan check two masters of the genre. Greeley, of all places, was home to James A. Michener and is currently home base for Hugo-winning author Connie Willis. Estes Park’s Stanley Hotel was famously the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining. And don’t even get us started on the On the Road ties to Colfax Avenue in Denver.