Dottie Thomas found herself back in Omaha, Neb., in 1982, the town where she grew up. By then, Thomas was well entrenched in Idaho. From the 1950s on, she worked with The Community Library in Ketchum—first as a volunteer before rising to the rank of head librarian in 1978. She would hold that rank until her retirement in 1988.

Before that, though, she sat at the center of one of those happy accidents of time and place. Thomas, the librarian, visited the Omaha headquarters of the Union Pacific Railroad, the architects of the Sun Valley Resort. The Union Pacific was dumping its archives—including nearly 1,100 colorized photos taken by the company’s publicity department documenting, basically, Thomas’ backyard. She saved the images from the landfill, and donated the collection to The Community Library.

It’d take months of pages like this one to showcase them all. For a full look, talk the librarians at the Jeanne Rodger Lane Center for Regional History, or go to and search the catalog. These are just a smattering of the Thomas treasure trove, mostly from the 1950s. Together, they offer a rare look into how Sun Valley looked in a golden age—and how the resort saw itself.

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