Estes Park Archives Program

Sanborn views of the various CCC camps scattered throughout the national park are essentially impossible to locate.

Photo courtesy Estes Park Archives

Harold Sanborn's series of over 1000 photographic postcard views of the Estes Park area, taken between 1933 and 1955, was never intended to be assembled as a set. In fact, most knowledgeable collectors admit it would be impossible for a single individual or institution to find a physical example of every single image, as many were printed in such low amounts (25 or less) they have little likelihood of surviving to the present day.

Still, it is important to have a goal, and the Estes Park Archives has been striving for the last decade to come as close as possible to locating one of every postcard consecutively numbered between R-751 and R-1785, Sanborn's designation for the postcards produced for Estes Park in this era.

After the recent acquisition of a large collection from the midwest, and using aggressive local and national advertising, the Archives is now only 43 postcards away from completion, something of an accomplishment considering the collection was short some 390 postcards two years ago.

Now, the goal doesn't seem quite so unobtainable, although these 43 remaining postcards may be either “one of a kind”, with the lone example trapped in a forgotten scrapbook in some institution or attic, or simply nonexistent, the number set aside but a corresponding photograph never taken.

Sanborn's inventory book provides some clues as to potential title or subject matter for these missing postcards, but no pictures are available to guide the search. The old Lewiston Hotel, which burned to the ground in 1941, and the various CCC camps in the national park, which disbanded around the same time, are two topics in particular that Sanborn produced (or intended to produce) multiple images of, but which prove elusive.

Is there any hope of tracking down these remaining missing postcards from the Sanborn R-series, or are they lost forever? Should high-dollar “rewards” be offered for these postcards, or does that just make owners believe they are worth even more? Join the Estes Park Archives this Saturday, July 25, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. at 240 Moraine Avenue, for a COVID-modified free program of repeating 15-minute presentations, open to family members of five or less, with everyone required to wear masks. Reservations are not necessary, with the outside wait on comfortable chairs minimal even if another group is occupying the room. Call 586-4889 for directions or more information.

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