Glenwood booksellers have educated generations |

Glenwood booksellers have educated generations

Frontier Diary
Willa Kane
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyFor more than 10 years, Olie Thorson was Glenwood Springs' seller of books. An energetic merchant, civil servant, and real estate investor, the books in Thorson's store undoubtedly educated and entertained countless Glenwood Springs residents and visitors.

Money invested in good books will return with ample interest. A knowledge of good literature is perhaps the best legacy you can leave your children.

– Advertisement for Thorson’s Books, Glenwood Post, March 2, 1901

A well-read society is a progressive society. As Glenwood Springs grew from a village of tents to a town of permanence, reading for information or for enjoyment became paramount. Over the years several businesses have supplied the written word to the community.

In the late 1880s, Hartley C. Eaton succeeded Glenwood Springs book and stationery store owner F.J. Wood. A Republican heavily involved in community and political affairs, Eaton carried a reputation that included trustworthiness and vision. When the First National Bank completed its building at 802 Grand Ave. in 1887, Eaton was one of the first to rent space on the first floor of the building’s north side, moving his book store and stationery shop to the new location.

Eaton was appointed Glenwood Spring’s postmaster in July 1889. Because there was no federal building in Glenwood Springs at the time, Eaton could choose where the post office was to be located. Logically, he opened the post office in his book store’s retail space in the First National Bank building. Given that the store was small and overcrowded, it was a decision that took some time to gain community acceptance.

In about 1894, Hartley Eaton was replaced as postmaster by William T. Beans, and Eaton sold his book business to Glenwood Springs resident Olie Thorson. Beans retained Eaton’s store as the post office, so Thorson relocated. Realizing that a diverse business ensured greater success, Thorson expanded his merchandise line to include bicycles, cameras, Glenwood souvenirs, pictures, photographic material and fishing tackle. His book store became the hub of communication in 1898, when, with the first Strawberry Day, Thorson asked anyone having a spare room to rent to an out of town visitor to leave a message at his store. He would then arrange room accommodations for the visitors.

In 1901, Thorson relocated his book store back to the First National Bank building. “Knowledge is power – improve your spare moments and your mind by good reading. We have books and literature of all kinds: the popular romances of the day,” was the ad he placed in the June 20, 1901, edition of the Glenwood Post.

Olie Thorson resigned from the book selling business in 1906 when he was appointed Glenwood Springs’ postmaster. By 1910, two stores filled the reading needs of Glenwood Springs: Mayes Book and Stationery Co., owned by M.J. Mayes, and Vories Books and Stationery Co., owned by John Vories and his son, John Jr. Like Thorson, Vories had an expanded merchandise line that included sporting goods and taxidermy magazines. By 1919, Fred Korn owned Korn’s Book and Stationery Co. at 726 Grand Ave., additionally offering the services of a circulating library to fulfill the needs of the book lover on a budget.

Through their offering of the written word, the booksellers of Glenwood Springs have sparked imaginations and educated generations. Their tireless efforts make Glenwood Springs a better place to live.

Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary,” which appears the first Tuesday of every month, is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.

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