Local author Duane A. Smith, who has written or collaborated on five books about Mesa Verde, has made the most of his expertise in a slim new book. In Mesa Verde National Park, Smith contributes eight pages of text and short captions for 183 photographs, prints and maps.
That's making the most of one's resources.
Smith briefly notes the occupation of Mesa Verde over 2,200 years, but historic artifacts become more plentiful in the 19th century. He takes the story from there to the present day.
The majority of the photographs he has chosen come from the Mesa Verde archives.
Clearly, the book is aimed at tourists rather than locals. We will have seen many of the pictures before, and a few are photo fillers such as shots of the guest shop and ticket sales counter, but there's still novelty here, as can be seen on this page.
There's also information that was new to me in the text.
I didn't realize, for instance, that Charles Kelly was the chief rival of the better-known Weatherill family in leading visitors into Mesa Verde. Kelly survived in the tourist business long after the Wetherills gave it up. And tourism started with paltry numbers. Only 23 visitors came the first year and 73 the next. Since that time, visitor numbers occasionally have topped 700,000 a year.
Perhaps the book's greatest use for those of us who are lucky enough to live close to Mesa Verde is to send it to friends in hopes that they will be intrigued enough to visit the site and us.