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Identifier: WH1737


The collection comprises notes, correspondence, newspaper clippings, maps, reports and articles that Ellis assembled during the course of various research projects. The bulk of the material relates to Ellis' proposed history of the area around Pando, Colorado and the Army's ski training facility at Camp Hale. Additional materials document Ellis' efforts to locate various Colorado boundary markers. Map plates and page layout proofs from Ellis' limited-edition 1983 book, Colorado Mapology form a portion of the collection, and four short manuscripts written by Ellis are also included.


Ellis conducted extensive historical research into the area surrounding Pando, Colorado. This research included personal interviews, public document searches and extensive correspondence. The series includes Ellis' hand-written and typed notes as well as his correspondence. In 1942, Ellis served as an office manager for Pando Constructors, the contractor responsible for the construction of Camp Hale, Colorado. The collection includes notes, correspondence and ephemera related to Camp Hale during the construction period. A draft manuscript describing Camp Hale and limited photographic prints also form part of the series.

Ellis also conducted research into the original marker locations that delineated Colorado's boundaries. His research generated correspondence, notes, photographs and newspaper clippings, which form part of this series. Manuscripts written by Ellis and contained in the series include Pando and Camp Hale; Sacramento, Park County, Colorado: Camp or Town?; A partial Good-Bye to Mr. Clarke and His Spheroid and Colorado Boundaries and their Original Surveys.

Reference materials within the series include technical and scientific articles related to surveying and map coordinate systems.

SERIES 2 OVERSIZE [1881]-1983 OVFF1-6

The bulk of the series comprises one hundred thirty-three page proofs for map plates used in Erl Ellis' 1983 book Colorado Mapology. This work, essentially a primer on cartography, coupled with a history of the boundaries of Colorado, with emphasis on changes in those boundaries, is considered by many to be a definitive work dealing with Colorado state and county boundaries. Additional material includes copies of numerous Colorado and U.S. maps that Ellis collected during his research.


  • TBD


The collection is open for research.


Erl Ellis Papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library. Copyrights have been assigned to the Denver Public Library where appropriate.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


Erl Hubert Ellis (1888-1984) was born April 10 in Garden City, Kansas. His father, Daniel Buckley Ellis, a native of Clinton, Iowa, was a successful attorney. His mother, Laura Francis (Smith) Ellis, was the first white child born in Fargo, Dakota Territory (later North Dakota). The family moved to Denver, Colorado where Ellis attended East High School. In 1910, Ellis received his B.A. degree from the University of Colorado. He graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1912 and was admitted to the Colorado Bar the same year.

In 1937, Ellis gained notoriety when he entered a guilty plea to misdemeanor charges for planting a recording device in the office of then governor Teller Ammons. Ellis, acting in concert with Walden Sweet, a reporter for The Denver Post and Jack Gilmore, a private investigator, placed two microphones in ventilator shafts in the governor's office. He claimed that he sought to uncover evidence of malfeasance and bribery on the part of Governor Ammons. Previously, Ellis had tackled illegal slot machine operations, and helped put Colorado's Secretary of State in jail for graft. Although Governor Ammons was cleared of any charges in the affair, he lost his re-election bid to Ralph Carr in 1939. The Colorado Supreme Court suspended Ellis from practicing law for one year, and a grand jury indicted him as a public nuisance. However, within a year Ellis had been reinstated, and the entire episode had blown over.

During World War II, Ellis worked as an office manager during the construction of the 10th Mountain Division's training base at Camp Hale, Colorado in 1942. Later, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve as an ensign and an instructor in naval aviation.

During his legal career, Ellis served as Chair of the Colorado State Bar Association and was a member of the American Bar Association. He specialized in Colorado mining law for over fifty years. In addition to his expertise in mining law, numerous Colorado corporate and financial interests retained him as legal counsel through the law firm Ellis, Melville and Winner.

Ellis had an intense interest in western history. He became active in the Colorado Historical Society and in the Denver Posse of the Westerners, where he served as Sheriff. He published five books and numerous articles. An avid outdoorsman, Ellis joined many skiing and mountain-climbing clubs, including the Arlberg Club. He skied until he was well into his 80's.

Ellis married Elizabeth Swann on December 2, 1914, and the couple had one son. Elizabeth died in 1939 and Ellis married Carrie Scott in 1950. Ellis died on July 9, 1984 in Denver at the age of 96.


2 Boxes



This collection merges former collection WH1722 (Camp Hale Records) with collection -M237 (Sacramento, Park County, Colorado: Camp or Town? manuscript by Erl Ellis) and collection -M1064 (correspondence between Erl Ellis and Lynn Copely) into a single collection, WH1737 Erl H. Ellis Papers. Earl E. Clark donated Camp Hale records on April 12, 2002. Wesley Brown donated various Erl Ellis papers in August 2002. Kate O'Kami donated one German-language letter dealing with the World War II Pando, Colorado prisoner of war camp on June 28, 2004. The sources and donation dates for collections -M237 and -M1064 are unknown.


Colorado Mapology (1983). C912.788 E47co


Number of Boxes: 2 (.75 linear feet)

Oversize: 6 OVFF




Dennis Hagen

July 2008


Ellen Zazzarino

July 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States