Sneak peak! Jennifer Goodland's Big Year Colorado photography gallery at Leela

Jennifer Goodland photos
While shooting in Lamar in April, Jennifer Goodland got caught in a storm that caused five tornadoes.

Jennifer Goodland teaches Colorado history at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and she truly loves this state. On an unpaid sabbatical from teaching, since April she's been trekking across Colorado with the goal of photographing every town in this state. After photographing close to 400 places, she's about halfway done with the actual pictures -- but her project is really just beginning.

She'll be sharing the photographs, and the stories behind them, at a show that opens tomorrow, and she says she's eager for ""people to come out to the photography show whether or not they want to buy something. I just want to talk to people about where they live, to be honest. For me, more than anything, this is sort of my love letter to the state. This is what I feel I can do even with my disability. I feel I can get people to take pride in where they come from. Even if they think they come from 'nowhere special,' what I tell my students is 'everywhere is somewhere special.' "

Goodland's gallery will be open starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 11, at Leela European Cafe. Keep reading to learn more about Goodland, and to see a sneak preview of some of her photos.

See also:
- Despite a tragic summer, Colorado is still the real sunshine state
- 50 reasons Colorado is the best state
- Five things to do at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
- How Denver native Matthew Batt turned a Salt Lake City crackhouse into his home

Kelly in Logan County. This tree and a few small features in the landscape were the only indicators that a town once stood here.
Westword: How did this idea to photograph every town in Colorado begin?

Jennifer Goodland: I teach Colorado history at Metro, and I always give my students an assignment where they have to research a Colorado town. They have to talk to somebody who lives in the town. Most students actually go to the town that they're doing a report on rather than going to the library and checking out a book. I thought of a really good way to extend that into my own life to learn from what my students have done with their assignments. I decided why not actually visit all of these places.

How do you choose the towns?

I'm doing every single town in Colorado. The census counts 195 places in Colorado. Legally there are 271 statutory towns or cities in Colorado, but I'm less selective. I believe I've visited about 400 towns so far and I'm about halfway done. I will visit anything that's legally a town or a city. I'll visit anything that the census designates as a town or a city or a place. But I will also go to places where there is still human settlement. I'll go to places that were ghost towns that were important to the region or to the county. And I'll just go to ghost towns that just look interesting. I am trying to basically get to every single town that I can physically get to.

What is involved in your research? How are you finding all of these towns?

I have a very large collection of antiquarian histories, and these are histories that are written usually by people that lived in these towns and are just interested in their town history. They're not trained historians, but what they write about is so interesting. I also have a very good network of people who work in museums and libraries and chambers of commerce that I've built up over the years, so I get a lot of tips from those people too. Some of the biggest sources are old maps. I will look at surveyor's maps or old road maps and if there was a town there in the 1960s or '70s or 1860s I'll take a drive there and see if there's anything.

This sounds like quite an expensive project. How are you being funded?

Well, by my husband. He's giving up all the money for this. I had to get a truck and a camper, not to mention all the photo equipment as well as everything else that goes into it. It's quite an expensive project. I know that I am eligible for a certain number of grants, but I decided if I have the money then I'd like to do that instead of taking away grant money that someone might need more.

Location Info

Leela European Cafe

820 15th St., Denver, CO

Category: General

Metropolitan State University of Denver

1201-5th St., Denver, CO

Category: General

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Thank you Natalie, this is such a great article!


I should say that the gas station in Lochbuie isn't "run down," but people sometimes compare it to the big travel plaza up the road in Hudson and they *think* that, incorrectly. It's actually a nice place.

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