I love the posts over the past week about setting. I encourage you to go back to Mysti's post on Monday and read forward into the week (plus, Mysti has an awesome photo on her post!).
When asked if I write real or fictional settings, I used to automatically reply "real." Most of the Colorado 1880 locations I use in my fiction existed then and even now: Leadville, Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods, the Upper Arkansas River Valley, State Street, and so on. However, the Silver Queen Saloon is fictional, as are any number of businesses and residences I merrily plunk down on my mental maps. So... hmmm. Not so simple to say one or the other (as Peggy points out on Friday).
And when writing about the past, how accurate can one be anyway? The writer tries to experience and create a setting, projecting through the senses of someone who lived "back when." Then, the writer puts this experience in words that will bring this imagined setting to life for the reader, who in turn has to absorb those words and create his or her own mental image of the setting...
Well, bah. I start to get all turned around and tangled if I think too long or hard about this. So, instead, let's relax and just enjoy a lovely trip down "history lane" courtesy of the Colorado Mountain History Collection of the Lake County Public Library in Leadville, Colorado. There's over 2,000 images in this collection, get comfy, set the way-back machine to late 19th century Rocky Mountains, and enjoy!