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The Carbondale Historical Society's Historic Women Series

Produced by Sue Gray, Kate Schwerin and Raleigh Burleigh.   

Men built the towns, railroads, and factories, but women built communities. They supported the schools, hospitals, and charities, and organized community dances and celebrations.

We think of women in the late 1800s and early 1900s as having limited roles in society, the few available careers being teachers and nurses. But they also filled unconventional roles: women were bankers, postmistresses, mine owners, ranchers, and more recently: mayors, town trustees and radio djs.

Women’s stories are a side of history we rarely hear. These five first-person stories show how women’s roles have changed in society and illustrate life in Carbondale from 150 years ago up to the present.

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Clara Rose

A composite sketch of a native Ute woman. The script was written and performed by Charlotte Graham, of Marble, Colorado, and fact-checked by Larry Cesspouch, of Neola, Utah. Flute music is performed by Ute elder Clifford Duncan.



Edna Denmark Sweet was one of Carbondale’s early pioneers. She lived here from the age of 13 in 1885 to her death at 82 in 1954. She published a book in 1947 called Carbondale Pioneers – 1879 to 1890, which is one of the Carbondale Historical Society’s most valuable research materials.

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Mary Ferguson was born in Spring Gulch in 1906, and was an elementary school teacher in Carbondale for 27 years. She lived from the horse and buggy era to the space age. She died in Carbondale in 1999 at the age of 92.



Sue Anschutz-Rodgers is the owner of the Crystal River Ranch in Carbondale, Colorado. Her passion for the American West is evident in her active conservation and preservation efforts in the Roaring Fork Valley. A lifelong philanthropist, Rodgers is president of the Anschutz Family Foundation, which funds nonprofits, and the Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Fund, which promotes women's self-sufficiency. She was the first woman recipient of the Citizen of the West award of the National Western Stock Show in 2006, and was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 2008.

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Laurie Loeb is the originator of Mountain Fair, a three day summer arts and music fair held annually in Carbondale, Colorado, that has around 15,000 attendees. She is still involved as the leader of the Rhythm of the Heart Community Drum Circle during the opening ceremony, which has more than 400 participants. Loeb also started Mountain Fair’s sponsoring organization, Carbondale Arts, a hugely successful non-profit that supports art, music and dance.

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