‘Gypsum Days’: Local Author Celebrates New Release at Bookworm

Kathy Heicher
Courtesy picture

Most believe Eagle Valley began with the opening of Vail Mountain, and some even call it Vail Valley. Author and President of the Eagle Historical Society, Kathy Heicher, reveals in her collection of local history books that our area has a rich history long before the ski mountains opened.

Come to Bookworm to celebrate the new historical release, Gypsum Days, by local author, Kathy Heicher, which reveals how the farming community of Gypsum became the mountain town it is today. As a recognized authority on local history, Heicher will give a presentation on the history of gypsum, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session and an autograph session.

Heicher has been a journalist in the Eagle Valley for over 40 years, which has inspired much of his research. “When I got my first job at an Eagle County newspaper in 1972, many longtime residents would stop by the office and share the county’s story,” Heicher recalled. “The stories were always fun; the rowdy Red Cliff mining camp, the war between sheep and cattle ranchers, women’s organizations. As a writer, I’ve always been aware of the need to write some of these stories before they’re gone forever.

Now as President of the Eagle Historical Society, Heicher has many opportunities to delve into the history of our valley, and specifically that of Gypsum. “I’m still researching archives, reading historical manuscripts, studying old photographs, and listening to people share memories of days gone by,” Heicher recalls. “Often I start researching one topic and another interesting topic pops up. Or maybe an artifact in the museum will catch my eye.

Cover of “Gypsum Days” by Kathy Heicher
Courtesy Image

One topic that intrigued Heicher was the story of cunning pioneer Ed Slaughter. “Ed operated on both sides of the law. He often flaunted the rules if it benefited him,” Heicher says. “He was illiterate but extremely intelligent and had influential friends like sheriffs, governors and senators. He was obnoxious enough that some people didn’t like him, but many also liked him because he was such a maverick and cared enough about the community to work hard to improve it.

Heicher thinks people can be inspired like Ed was to work towards bettering their community if they learn more about his story. “History helps people discover their place in their family, community, state and country,” says Heicher. “Knowing local history helps to understand how today’s communities were formed, giving people a sense of belonging and responsibility.

Come listen to Heicher discuss Gypsum Days and learn more about our region’s rich history and how it became the bustling mountain valley it is today. “Eagle County’s history did not begin with the development of the Vail ski resort. Rather, it is a rich history that has developed since the days when the Utes occupied these mountains,” says Hiecher. “This county was built through the efforts of faithful pioneers who were not afraid to pursue their dreams. This may be a good lesson for all of us.

Lola R. McClure