Poudre Canyon: The Glen Echo Resort

A few weeks ago, I did a post entitled “Poudre Canyon: The Rustic House and Resort.” The Rustic was one of the earliest hotels and resorts in the upper Poudre Canyon, opening in 1880. A neighbor, the Glen Echo Resort, moved in just to its west in 1921.

Glen Echo, on land which once belonged to pioneer settler Norman Fry, was for a time the headquarters for the Racine Mining, Milling and Power Company. The property, after the Racine headquarters building had burned down, was purchased by John and Carrie Cook and H.L and Edith Harris. By 1921, it housed a small store.

The first mention I could find of Glen Echo was a two paragraph article in the December 11, 1921, Fort Collins Courier:

“Glen Echo is just the beginning of a summer resort owned by Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Harris and Mr. and Mrs. John F. Cook. They are all making their homes at Glen Echo which joins the property of the Rustic. . . . In fact, people often think Glen Echo belongs to the Rustic, as it is so near the hotel.

“Messrs. Cook and Harris are building a barn, ice house and garage for four cars. They will serve meals and rent cottages in the coming summer and run a general store at Glen Echo. It will be a pleasant place to spend a few weeks during the warm months.”

Like the Rustic, the original store was located on the north side of the road and, like the Rustic; it was moved across the road to the south side. According to Stanley Case, the original store building was hauled across the road by two teams of horses, probably in 1924 or 1925. Once in position on the east side of the canyon road, the store was joined by four rental accommodations, initially wooden platforms with tents.

The Cooks and Harris lost the property during the depression and by early 1931 Glen Echo was sold to Herman Welter, who would own it for a number of years. Welter quickly added an addition on the back of the store as his living area and painted and generally fixed up the place. He also added five rental cabins. Below is an image of Glen Echo, from this period, along with a close-up of the store and cabins.

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Glen Echo, c. 1933. Photograph by Mark Miller.
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Glen Echo Close-Up, c. 1933, Photograph by Mark Miller.

Mark Miller was a long-time Fort Collins photographer who enjoyed working in the canyon. Many of the Poudre images we have were taken by Miller.

Below is a later Miller photograph of the resort.

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Glen Echo, 1937. Photograph by Mark Miller.

As you can see, Welter has refinished the building a darker color, added a front awning, and a much bigger Glen Echo sign. Also, in much smaller letters, it says “Herman Walter’s Place” over the Glen echo sign. He now also has a gasoline pump in front of the store.

The two cars on the south side of the road are believed to be 1936 Fords, while the nearer auto is probably a 1935 Pontiac. The image is so sharp that the license plate on the Pontiac is readable. It is a 1937 Colorado plate, giving us a solid date for the photograph.

Case tells a story in his book, The Poudre: A Photo History, that Welter guaranteed that every guest would catch their limit of fish, even if he had to occasionally help. Welter was an excellent fisherman and was nicknamed “the blue heron.”

Herman Welter sold the property to Earl and Elizabeth (Dolly) Stonemets in 1946. They built a new store that completely enveloped the old store. They also put on an extension to the east. Here’s what the Stonemets’ version of the Glen Echo store looked like circa 1950.

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Glen Echo, 1950. Photograph by Mark Miller.

The beautiful automobile parked at the store is a 1949 Buick Super. Below are two images of the interior, from this same period.

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Glen Echo Resort Store Interior, c. 1950. Photograph by Mark Miller.

Unfortunately, the people in the photograph aren’t identified. Forced to guess, I would pick Earl Stonemets as the man in the tie and Dolly as the lady behind the ice cream counter. If any of you know for sure, please contact me.

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Glen Echo Resort Dining Room, c. 1950. Photograph by Mark Miller.

The cabins, of course, were important to the success of the resort. Miller made a number of photographs of the cabins. I’ve picked two of them to share.

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Glen Echo Cabins, Postmarked 1946. Photograph by Mark Miller.
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Glen Echo Cabin #1, c. 1950. Photograph by Mark Miller.

When Miller took this photograph, circa 1950, it was the most important and historic cabin at the resort. Notice the outhouse to the right and rear of the cabin. Called Cabin # 1, it was the Cooks’ home when they started the resort back in 1921. Around 1931, when Herman Welter added a living quarters to the back of the store, the building became a rental cabin for large parties. It served guests until 1984 when it was taken down to make room for a laundry and a recreation center.

In April 2003 the main building burned down; it was replaced a few years later and still offers a restaurant, store, cabins and campsites.  Here’s a recent photograph I took of the Glen Echo store.

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Glen Echo Store, June 5, 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill.

Centrally located on Highway 14, at almost 100 years old, Glen Echo is still serving guests visiting the Poudre Canyon. I hope the current owners, Dean & Tami Mazzuca and Dan & Denice Anderson, are planning a big celebration for 2021.


Stephen H. Seckner and His Fort Collins Photographs

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The Hunting Party, c. 1891. Photographer “Seckner, Fort Collins, Colo.”

Stephen H. Seckner’s arrival in Fort Collins was mentioned in the July 15, 1880, Larimer County Express. He had arrived from Portland, Michigan, accompanied by his brother, H. D. Seckner. The July 15, 1880, Fort Collins Courier said the Seckner Brothers were inviting “one and all to step in and examine their stock of groceries, their prices, [and] their style of doing business.” Stephen Seckner ran the grocery for years, even after he became a photographer. But let’s back up a little.

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Stephen H. Seckner. Image from Ansel Watrous’ History of Larimer County.

Stephen H. Seckner was born January 27, 1847, in Lewis County, New York. His father, John, was a farmer. Seckner was 16 years old when he enlisted with Company K, New York 5th Heavy Artillery Regiment. He mustered out on in 1865 as a corporal. By 1870, Seckner was living in Michigan, where in 1873 he met and married Ida Ayres. They stayed together until Stephen Seckner’s death in 1923.

Seckner’s Fort Collins’ grocery business was quite successful and by 1883, he had his own building on Linden Street. How Seckner got into photography and exactly when he started taking photographs isn’t clear, but in the 1885 Fort Collins City Directory, Seckner is listed as both a grocer and a photographer, probably as a partner with Edward F. Bunn.

Bunn is one of my favorite Fort Collins photographers and I’ll do a post on him sometime in the future. For now, suffice it to say that Bunn arrived in Fort Collins in around 1885 and he and Seckner began working together immediately. Below is one of the Fort Collins’ images that they produced during their partnership.

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House on Eastside of South Mason Street, between Mountain and Oak Street, c. 1885. From the “Artist Studio of E. F. Bunn and S. H. Seckner, Fort Collins, Colo.”

Two of Fort Collins top historians, Rheba Massey and Wayne Sundberg, were nice enough to trace the location of this great, ivy-covered house. It was located off of South Mason Street on an unnamed alley, with part of the original Larimer County Courthouse shown in the background. The house shows up on some of the early Sanborn Fire Maps. Below is a portion of the 1891 Sanborn Map, with a red arrow pointing to the dwelling, courtesy of Lesley Struc and the Fort Collins Archive.

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Portion of the 1891 Sanborn Fire Map.

The house is gone now and, I think, a parking lot is in its place.

Seckner and Bunn mostly produced cabinet cards, thin photographs mounted on a hard card stock, usually 4 ¾ by 6 ½ inches. These cards frequently identified the name of the photography studio, either on the bottom of the card or on the reverse side. I’ve shown the complete studio identification in the captions of the photographs.

The larger size of cabinet cards made them more attractive to customers and by the 1880s; they were the preferred photographic format, especially for portraits. Here is another building the duo photographed, which, according to a handwritten caption on the back, is “Mrs. Robinson’s house.”

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Mrs. Robinson’s House, C. 1885. From the “Artist Studio of E. F. Bunn and S. H. Seckner, Fort Collins, Colo.”

During this period, having your house photographed was a big thing. Residents tended to showcase the things they prized most. Mrs. Robinson apparently loved her white horse and her lawn sprinkler. Here is a close up of the family group.

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Close-up of Mrs. Robinson’s House, C. 1885.

Hopefully, you can see that the young man, holding this horse, also has a rifle leaning against his leg and that the family cat is on the table in front of the woman in white.

Many local history buffs have tried unsuccessfully to identify the location of this house. Mrs. Robinson might be the wife of then Larimer County Judge Thomas M. Robinson. If that is correct, their home might have been at Remington and Olive Street. A society announcement from this period mentioned the intersection as a location for the Judge’s home. Of course, Robinson is a common name. If you have a thought on the location of Mrs. Robinson’s home, please let me know by commenting at the end of this post or emailing me at mcneil0115@comcast.net.

On July 24, 1890, the Fort Collins Courier ran a short article on the partners. Seckner and Bunn had purchased an existing photographic studio and were now in position “to take first class ‘shadows’ of persons and things animate and inanimate.” But by early 1891 the partnership had dissolved and the Seckner and Bunn were running competing photographic studios. By the end of May 1891, Seckner was advertising that the “best arranged gallery in the state north of Denver [was] open to the public.” It used the second floor of his grocery store at 216 Linden Street.

While buildings interest me much more than portraits, portraits were (and probably still are) the bread and butter of photographers. Seckner was no exception. Seckner’s early portraits were simplified by turning the backgrounds almost white and by putting a vignette around the subject. It certainly made the person the subject of the photograph. I have a number of Seckner’s portraits in this style. I’ve chosen the one shown below because I was able to find something about the subject, Adolph Anderson, in the Colorado Historic Newspapers.

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Portrait of Adolph Anderson, c. 1891. “S. H. Seckner, Red Front, Linden St. Fort Collins, Colorado.”

Adolph Anderson, a transplant from Sweden, is shown as a farmer in census records. His plot was small for a farm, only 15 acres. Anderson called it a garden but he ran it very efficiently. The July 26, 1894, Fort Collins Courier ran this article on our Swedish farmer.

“Six years ago Adolph Anderson came to Colorado fresh from the snow clad hillsides of Sweden. When he got off the train in Fort Collins his pocket contained ten double eagles which embraced the sum total of his worldly wealth. He secured employment right away as a farm hand and stuck to his job for two years.

“In the fall of 1890 he bought 15 acres of garden and grassland from W. F. Watrous for $1,000. With the money he had accumulated he purchased a team of horses, harness and wagon, an outfit of garden tools and a year’s supply of provisions. He went to work and fitted up ten acres of his land for gardening, keeping the other five for meadows and pastures.

“Every year since then he has harvested and sold from his ten acre patch, $1,200 to $1,500 worth of onions, cabbages and potatoes. . . .  He also has a small catch of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, besides a few fruit trees that will soon come into bearing. He is a worker from the word go and hires but little help. He has made and is making market gardening pay in Colorado.”

By 1898, Seckner was out of the grocery business and, in 1905, Seckner opened a new studio at 317 Walnut Street, in the rear of the Frank Miller block. Seckner’s photographs were used in a number of projects, including in articles H. A. Crafts in Harper’s Magazine and Scientific American in 1897 and 1899. I shared those images in a post entitled “Building the Skyline Ditch.” You can see that post by clicking here.

But Seckner was an artist as well as a photographer. One of the earliest mentions of him in the Fort Collins newspapers reported on his “nice pen drawings.” In 1880, he had a pen and ink drawing of James Garfield displayed in the post office. In 1891, Seckner’s crayon drawing of General Sherman was used in a local memorial service and the local newspaper even praised the blackboard drawings he made to “elucidate” his Sunday school lessons. Often, Seckner tried to raise his photography to art as you can see in the following portrait.

12 Josephine & Albert Covington B420
Portrait of Josephine (left) and Elbert Covington, c. 1893. “Seckner, Fort Collins, Colorado.”

Gone are the simplified portraits, replaced by involved studio settings. The parents of these children were H. C. and Josephine Covington. H. C. had numerous exploits reported in the local newspapers, including this one from the April 24, 1890, Fort Collins Courier.

“H. C. Covington successfully performed the daring feat of roping a wildcat while riding the range last week. The beast was discovered while hunting and finding that safety in retreat could not be depended on, assumed a defiant attitude and showed fight. A deft cast of the lariat caught the cat at a disadvantage and Covington then proceeded to secure his prize in a novel manner. Untying his overcoat from the saddle, he thrust a sleeve over the cat’s head and drew it over the animal as one would an arm. It was a tight fit, but after a chapter or two of angry growls the victim settled down in his incommodious quarters and gave up the balance of the day to a trip with Mr. Covington. At the ranch the menagerie attraction was emptied into a cage, apparently none the worse for wear.”

Seckner actively took photographs in Fort Collins at least until September, 1911. In the 25 or so years that Seckner worked as a photographer in Fort Collins, he must have taken thousands, if not tens of thousands, of photographs of Fort Collins and its people.

In 1920, Seckner and his wife moved to San Diego, California, and a year later to Spokane, Washington. On January 24, 1923, the Fort Collins Courier ran his obituary under the headline “Stephen E. Seckner Dies Suddenly at Spokane, Wash.” His body was coming back home to Fort Collins for the funeral and burial.

Vietnam Protesters and the Burning of Old Main

The spring of 1970 was a time of student unrest at Colorado State University and across the country. Student demonstrations, building sit-ins, and firebrand speakers were common. One of those speakers was Abbie Hoffman.

01 Abbie Hoffman April 1970 CO-6_206_05 B600
 Abbie Hoffman Speaking at CSU, April 7, 1970. Courtesy Fort Collins Archive.

Hoffman, one of the Chicago Seven who disrupted the 1968 Democrat National Convention, was a well-known activist speaker. A crowd of 2,000 awaited him as he entered the Student Center, stood on his head on the stage, blew his nose on an American flag handkerchief, and said that he believed “in the violation of every law including the law of gravity.” In a speech filled with obscenities, he predicted “a long hot summer and a burning fall and winter.” For CSU the “burning” would come sooner than predicted.

Within one month of Hoffman’s speech, two national events would incite strikes and violence across the country’s schools. The first event occurred on April 30, 1970, when President Richard Nixon announced that U. S. ground forces were going to enter Cambodia. The expansion of the hated war led to campus protests including a multiday protest at Kent State University, in Kent, OH. Demonstrations were held, the Kent State Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), a frequent target of war demonstrators, was burned down, and threats were made against town businesses. The Ohio National Guard was called in and on Tuesday, May 4, they fired into a crowd of 2,000 student protesters, killing four students and wounding nine more. Campuses around the country erupted, including CSU.

CSU students and some of the faculty immediately began a moratorium, boycotting classes and holding antiwar rallies. A highlight of the event was a speech by Ralph Abernathy, the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who gave an antiwar/antiracism address to 1,400 CSU students on Wednesday afternoon, May 6. He supported the students in their call for a class boycott and criticized the CSU administration for their involvement in Vietnam and in racism.

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Students at Demonstration Event, CSU. May 1970. Courtesy of the University Historic Photograph Collection, Colorado State University.

Rallies, like the one shown above, were held on the Student Center Plaza and a group of more than 2,000 persons marched to the Fort Collins City Hall to elicit anti-war support from local officials. Of course, not all the students supported the war protests and the disruption of classes and many Fort Collins residents thought the protesters had gone too far. Some counter-protests were held like this parade by the American Legion.

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American Legion Counter-Protest, May 1970. Courtesy of the University Historic Photograph Collection, Colorado State University.

This photograph was taken in front of the Campus Shop, which was located on the northwest corner of Laurel Street and College Avenue. Barbara Fleming wrote about the Campus Shop in the Coloradoan just a week or two ago. Below is a link to her article:


On the evening of May 8 the College Avenue Field House was the location of a debate and vote  on a possible student strike and the Gymnasium was given over to a special moratorium concert. These activities remained singularly free of violence until late Friday evening, when, with the concert in progress, one or more arsonists set fire to Old Main and unsuccessfully attempted to burn down the R.O.T.C. Firing Range Building as well.

Here is a series of five photographs of Old Main, from before the fire to the deconstruction of the burned building. Where available, I’ve included the captions that ran with the photographs.

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Old Main, June 24, 1966.

This beautiful portrait of Old Main ran in the June 28, 1966 Denver Post with this caption: “This is Old Main, built in 1878 and put into use in 1879, on the Colorado State campus. The building, the oldest structure there, opened with 19 students and just three teachers. The school was originally an agricultural and mechanical college.”

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Old Main “Devoured by Flames,” May 9, 1970.

This was an Associated Press Wirephoto. It carried this caption: “Devoured by Flames – Flames leap into the sky as they break through the roof of the ‘Old Main’ building on the Colorado State University campus just after midnight today. The general alarm fire went out of control moments after two explosions scattered fireman. The building, built in the late 1800s, was a total loss. Several other fires broke out on campus and it had not been determined if they were related to student antiwar protests.”

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 Fire Damages Historic Building, May 9, 1970.

Another AP Wirephoto: “Fire damages historic building at Colorado University. Officials in Fort Collins, Colo. are investigating causes of the blaze. Students rushed to the scene to help man fire hoses.”

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Fire Investigator and Fire Chief, May 9, 1970.

Denver Post: “Fire investigator, Lt. Jerry Harrison (left) talked with the Fire Chief of Fort Collins, Ed Yonker, at the [Old Main] fire scene.”

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 Knocking Down the Walls of Old Main, May 9, 1970.

Denver Post: “A crane knocks down walls of Old Main following the Friday night fire on the campus of Colorado State University. The fire was being investigated Saturday by the fire department of Fort Collins.”

The fire was almost certainly caused by one or more arsonists, whether by students or non-student activists was debated by the school and community. Some classes, mostly art classes, were still held in Old Main but mostly it was the symbolic heart of the campus, which probably made it the target of the arsonists. No one was hurt and no one was ever charged with the crime.

Talk of a strike, which had been approved on Friday night, quickly faded in the face of the fire. Students went back to class, took their final exams, and, when the returned after the summer break, the violent inclinations of early 1970 were gone. There were still protests but they were more focused and non-violent. Calm returned to the Colorado State campus but it came at a high price.

Here are links to two earlier posts on student demonstrators:

Protesters of the Vietnam War Period

Student Protesters and the Gasoline Engine

P. S. Thanks to the Fort Collins Archive and CSU for the use of some of their images to complete this story.

Protesters of the Vietnam War Period

The late 1960s and the early 1970s were a time of protest, especially in college towns and especially against the Vietnam War. The first Vietnam War protests started in 1965, with teach-ins led by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The North Vietnam Tet Offensive, launched on January 30, 1968, showed the country that the hated war was far from over and the number and size of the anti-war demonstrations grew. War protests erupted on many college campuses, including Colorado State University.

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Norman Lee Bernstein, CSU Student Center, November 22, 1968.

Norman Bernstein, 25 years old at the time of this photograph, was considered a leader of the CSU activists, even though he wasn’t enrolled at the school. This photograph was taken as he spoke to a group of 2,000 students in the Student Center. They were there to develop a way to unify the various CSU and Fort Collins war demonstrators and to plan future events. Bernstein and company had just completed an event, the takeover of the CSU Agriculture Building.

Fifteen demonstrators, including Bernstein, took over the Ag Building on November 18, 1968. They were protesting the presence of Dow Chemical Company on campus. Dow Chemical, the maker of Napalm, was an early student target. The University of California protested their presence on their campus as early as October 1966. Over time, the Dow protests morphed from a protest against a single company’s specific product to a protest against the entire “military industrial complex.”

The demonstrators, ten students and five non-student activists, entered the Ag Building around 4:00 a.m. They moved furniture to block the doors and drove nails into the door locks. Student sympathizers passed out leaflets protesting Dow Chemical interviewing on campus and declaring that the activists “will indefinitely hold the Ag Building . . . until the University agrees to stop acting as an agent for war mongers.”

I’m not sure “indefinitely” was the right word. The campus police arrived around 8:30 a.m. and demanded that they leave the building. The protestors wouldn’t leave on their own but told the police which door they had left open. The police entered and escorted the 15 activists from the building and into police cars. The 15 demonstrators were arrested and charged with second-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary. Bernstein made the national news in a UPI photograph that ran on November 25, 1968.

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Norman Bernstein Being Arrested, CSU, November18, 1968.

The caption on the photograph read, “Campus policeman Dan Bell (left), Sgt. William Graves (right), subdue Bernstein when he refused to enter a police car. He was also charged with resisting arrest.”

Bernstein in a later interview said, “People in society react to littering a building, and do not react to the mass-murdering in Vietnam and elsewhere.” When asked why they decided to break into a building rather than petitioning the school against the presence of Dow Chemical, he said, “It is ridiculous to ask the University not to allow representatives of the U. S. war machine on campus when in fact the University is part of that machine.”

In 1969, David Hawk and Sam Brown, who had worked on the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy, proposed a war moratorium and declared October 15, 1969 as Vietnam Moratorium Day. Large demonstrations were planned across the country and throughout the world. It was a huge success. Boston was the site of the largest turnout, where 100,000 people turned out to hear an anti-war speech by Senator George McGovern. It was the biggest demonstration ever in the United States, with an estimated two million people taking part across the country.

For CSU, the day started with a peace vigil and nine people playing guitars and singing folk songs. Many classes were cancelled and teach-ins, seminars, and discussions about the war were substituted. The 1968 film, Face of War, was shown. Roger Ebert called the movie “a heart-wrenching masterpiece.” CSU students also fanned out across the community collecting signatures on letters to local congressmen expressing their desire for peace. One of the day’s larger events adopted a tactic first used by the Quakers.

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Reading the Names of Colorado War Dead, CSU Moratorium Day. October 15, 1969.

In 1968, the Quakers were looking for a peaceful but impactful way to protest against the Vietnam War. They came up with the idea of personalizing the war’s impact by reading the names of the people killed in Vietnam each week on the Capital steps. The names were published in the Congressional Record. Their weekly protest received a lot of media attention, particularly after some Congressmen joined them. The idea spread across the country and was used by CSU as part of their Moratorium Day observance.

This photograph ran in the Denver Post with this slightly edited caption. “Names of the Colorado war dead in Vietnam are read during the observance in Fort Collins, Colo. The Vietnam moratorium observance on the Colorado State University campus was addressed by a University of California professor of philosophy.” The list was approximately 500 names long.

In 1967, a new group of anti-war protestors arrived on the scene. Some returning Vietnam veterans formed the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). They demonstrated all over the country and millions of TV viewers watched as the veterans threw their medals and combat ribbons away.

The veterans didn’t think that Middle America really understood the brutality of the war and the ugly tactics used by our military against Vietnamese citizens. In 1970, they decided to dramatize the army’s tactics through a practice called guerilla theater, a play or skit used for political purposes and usually performed on the street. They hired actors and planted activists in anti-war demonstrations and then performed mock “search and destroy” missions in the crowd. They hoped that the performances would bring to light military practices that had been largely hidden from the public. Members of VVAW performed mock “search and destroy” missions on the CSU campus in February 1972. This photograph also ran in the Denver Post.

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Vietnam Veterans Against the War Stage Search & Destroy Missions at CSU. February 10, 1972.

Protests during this period weren’t limited to Vietnam or to CSU. Groups were protesting everything from civil rights and diversity to the environment to food prices, as you can see in the last two photographs.

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Air Pollution Demonstration, Fort Collins, CO. February 12, 1970.

By 1970, colleges across the country were becoming concerned with the environment and were beginning to display their concerns by marching and demonstrating. Air pollution was the concern of these demonstrators. Here is the caption that was distributed with the photograph:

“Smoking, as we know, may be hazardous to your health, but the question is whether breathing itself may be a hazard. This young demonstrator in Fort Collins seems to think so, as he carries a sign warning against poison: the air. Cartoonists have suggested we all quit breathing, but in lieu of that groups around the country are coming to the defense of their environment.”

The first Earth Day celebration was celebrated on April 22, 1970, just two months after this protest.

The last photograph shows a very different set of protestors – housewives protesting against soaring beef prices.

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Beef Price Protesters, Fort Collins, CO. September 15, 1969.

In the mid- to late-1960s, food prices shot up. The farmers blamed the food processors who blamed the distributors and retailers. This protest seems to be aimed specifically at beef prices, with two of the front signs shooting “Boycott Beef” and the third sign (which is very hard to read) displaying a two line poem, “Down with meat, so we can eat.”

The Coloradoan reported on the protest this way: “Reporters and photographers nearly outnumbered marchers this morning when housewives staged a ‘beef boycott’ parade down College Avenue from Laporte Avenue to Mulberry Street.”

By the way, I did an earlier post on another 1970s protest, entitled “Student Protestors and the Gasoline Engine.” You can see that post by clicking here.

Next week, I’m going to go back to the Vietnam War protests and the protest that resulted in the burning of Old Main, one of the most iconic buildings on the CSU campus.

The Avery Building and a 1911 E-M-F Automobile: An Extra Post

In my last post, “The Avery Block, Golden Rule Store, and Electroliers in 1905 Fort Collins,” I mentioned that the Avery Block is a Fort Collins Landmark building. It is, but it is even more. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Old Town Fort Collins Historic District. The Fort Collins Historic Preservation Office was kind enough to send this map of the protected area.

Old Town District National Reg Map B420
Boundaries of the Old Town Fort Collins Historic District

The area, shown on the map, is roughly bordered by North College Avenue, Jefferson Street, and East Mountain Avenue. The historic district is all that remains of the original plat established along lines parallel to the Cache la Poudre River in 1867. The district is contains thirty-eight historic structures and encompasses three complete blocks and portions of two other blocks.

According to the National Register nomination form, “the area is like stepping into a by-gone era. There are no newly constructed buildings within the district. The only additions are some contemporary commercial fronts.

“The pioneer history of Fort Collins is no better illustrated than in the four blocks comprising Old Town Fort Collins. From the days of the old fort through the pioneer settlers and into the 20th Century, the area carries with it the history and the spirit of the town.”

The Avery Block is the southwest corner of the Historic District.

Since I’m sending out this extra post anyway, I thought I’d add one more image of the Avery Building, a slightly newer one. Here it is:

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The Avery Building, c. 1911.

It is pretty easy to broadly date photographs of Old Town. If the trolley has arrived, the image was taken in 1907 or later. If the streets aren’t paved, the image was taken earlier than 1917. So, this image, with a trolley but unpaved streets, was taken between 1907 and 1916. (Click here to see my earlier post on the Denver and Interurban Streetcars.)

Thanks to the automobile in the image and the experts at Antique Automobile Club of America, we can date this image more precisely. Here’s a close-up of the automobile, identified as a 1911 E-M-F.

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Close-up of 1911 E-M-F on North College Avenue, c. 1911.

The E-M-F was a short-lived automobile company that produced cars from 1909 to 1912 in Detroit, MI, outselling all but Ford in a couple of those years. E-M-F eventually became part of the Studebaker company. They did have some significant quality problems and the initials of their company name became known as “Every Morning Fix-it.

By 1911 it wouldn’t have been unusual to see a car downtown. By this time there were probably 200 or so cars registered in Fort Collins and shortly automobiles would replace horses in our town.

The Avery Block, Golden Rule Store, and Electroliers in 1905 Fort Collins

Vintage street images let us see what our town and life was like in the past. A flat bed scanner and a program like Photoshop can let us walk down the streets. Occasionally, I’ll take an early photograph of Fort Collins and share some of the details of the image with you. Today, I’m using a 1905 photograph of the College and Mountain Avenue intersection.

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College and Mountain Avenue, c. 1905. Photograph by L. C. McClure.

Louis C. McClure was an early Denver photographer. He was a student of William Henry Jackson. Jackson is considered one of the best photographers of the American West. McClure opened a gallery in Denver and from the 1890s through the 1920s made some of the best images of his city. He closed his studio in the 1940s and donated his entire negative collection to the Denver Public Library. It is the only Fort Collins image I have seen by McClure.

This is an image of the Mountain and College Avenue intersection and Linden Street, which at the time of this photograph, extended all the way to Mountain Avenue. Now, of course, the pedestrian mall has replaced this portion of Linden Street. McClure took the photograph from the southwest corner of Mountain and College Avenue, maybe from the top of a building. Two large buildings anchor the edges of the photograph; the Northern Hotel on North College Avenue on the left side and the Elks Building (I think) at Linden and Walnut Streets on the right side. In the center is the Avery Building, a key building in Fort Collins history and a Fort Collins Landmark building.

Below is a section of a 1906 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of this section of town.

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1906 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, College, Mountain, and Linden Area.

My copy of the image is an 8 x 10 inch print. The print has a handwritten caption on the back that identifies the image as a 1905 photograph of “the busy hub of another turn-of-the-century town scene.” What says “busy” more than horses drinking at a water tank in the middle of the busiest intersection in town?

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Horses at Water Tank, College and Mountain Avenues, c. 1905.

Below is an enlargement of the left side of the image. It isn’t very sharp but you can see the new Northern Hotel at the left end. I’ve shared images of the hotel in the past. You can see those posts by clicking this Northern Hotel link.

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College and Mountain Avenue – Left Side, c. 1905
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Close-up of Northern Hotel, c. 1905.

The Northern Hotel opened in the fall of 1905, which fits the date on this photograph. I wish that this part of the image were sharper. It is certainly an early image of the Northern Hotel. There isn’t a sign that I can see so maybe the hotel was still under construction. Also, what’s up with the strange narrow awning over the main door?

The person who captioned the photograph also said, “If one looks carefully, ‘1’ auto can be identified.” Certainly it’s possible that an automobile was parked along the curb. Fort Collins had a handful of cars in 1905 and certainly early adventurers were out and about in their vehicles. The person who captioned this photograph must have had a much better magnifying glass than me, if he is sure about the automobile. Below is a super enlargement of the only thing I could find that vaguely resembles a car. It is in the center of the left-side enlargement. You can decide if it is an early automobile.

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Close-up of Possible Automobile, c. 1905.

The center of the photograph is much sharper than the left or right sides. It is essentially a photograph of the Avery Building, which, as you can see on the top of the building, was built in 1897.

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College and Mountain Avenue – Center, c. 1905

Franklin C. Avery was a key figure in Fort Collins history. He platted our town, including the wide streets and the interesting triangular lots, like the one that the Avery Building fills. Avery also became the president of the First National Bank and built the Avery Building partly to house his bank. It was located on the southeast corner of the Avery Building. You can just see the door into the bank in this photograph. The Avery Building moved the Fort Collins’ shopping area south, providing a bridge between Old Town and the new business district at College and Mountain Avenues.

You might have noticed a circle with an “X” in the photograph. It seems that the thing that most interested the past owner of this photograph was the street lighting. Here’s what he said: “All these scenes were taken before the ‘Cluster Ball Electrolier’ era. Still only ‘Arc-Lights’ did the job.” Below are enlargements of the arc-light, in this photograph, and a Cluster Ball Electrolier that would replace the arc-lights in 1916.

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Close-up of Arc-Light Street Lamp, c. 1905
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Close-up of Cluster Ball Street Light, c. 1916

A little research uncovered a couple of interesting facts on the two lights. The arc-lights were apparently so bright that very few were needed to light a town. Usually one was enough to light a city block. On the other hand, they were so bright that they were almost uncomfortable to walk under.

The cluster ball street light made it to Fort Collins as part of street paving, which started in the fall of 1916. It was named by Thomas Edison, with “Electrolier” being a combination of “electrical” and “chandelier.” One selling point for the five lamp fixture was that they could be turned on in two stages. The top light could be turned on at dusk and the other four lights turned on when it was completely dark, reducing electricity usage for the town.

Owl Drugs takes up a big portion of the Avery Building in this photograph. I couldn’t find the date when Owl Drugs moved into the Avery but they were there from at least 1902 until they became Nash Drugs in 1919. An interesting sign can be seen with a magnifying glass in front of Owl Drugs. Here it is:

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Close-up of Bell Telephone Sign and Golden Rule Store, c. 1905.

It looks like a Bell Telephone sign, indicating that Owl Drugs had pay telephones for their customers. I’m always surprised by how early telephones made it to Fort Collins. The first telephones were in place in 1887. I did an earlier post on the telephone exchange. Below is a link to it:

The Telephone Exchange, 1911.

Just to the north of Owl Drugs is an interesting business, the Golden Rule Store, which you can see behind the telephone sign. The Golden Rule Store chain was owned by two Fort Collins entrepreneurs, Thomas Callahan and Guy Johnson. They believed that the golden rule, “do unto others . . .,” was the best business policy and they featured it in their store’s name. They had stores in Colorado and Wyoming, including stores in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Longmont, CO.

In 1898, they businessmen hired a young man, James C. Penny, to work in their Longmont store. The men loved Penny’s work ethic and in 1899 made him a partner in a new store in Kemmerer. WY. By 1907, Penny owned the whole chain and in 1913, with 34 stores, he changed the name to the J. C. Penny Company.

The Golden Rule Store, shown in this image, was one of the first businesses to move into the Avery Building, announcing its intent in the Fort Collins Courier in January 1897. The store ran the width of the Avery Building, from North College Avenue to Linden Street, much as Alpine Arts does today. According to an early advertisement, they sold “dry goods, clothing, suits, men’s furnishings and trunks.”

The Golden Rule Store was in place in the Avery Building until at least 1919.

Below is the Linden Street side of the image.

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College and Mountain Avenue – Right Side (Linden Street), c. 1905

I’m going to end this post with a close-up of a cute young girl in a horse drawn buggy. You may ooh and aah.

12 Mtn College 1905 8x10022

Fort Collins Historic Schools

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School Multi-View Postcard, c. 1907.

Fort Collins has been proud of its schools for a long time. The town opened a kindergarten in 1880, the first kindergarten west of St. Louis, MO. It also started a four-year high school program in 1889, long before other western towns of similar size. The pride also spread to the student body. The above multi-view postcard was mailed by a proud granddaughter, Florence, c. 1907, to her grandmother. Her message reads, “Grandma, this is my school house in the right hand corner, the Remington school. I will mark it X so you will know. Florence”

Below are photographs of the early historic schools in Fort Collins. The Fort Collins Archive kindly let me use a couple of their images so that you can see all the Fort Collins early schools from the Remington School, opened in 1879, through the second Fort Collins High School opened in 1925.

There are a lot of images so I’ve kept the text to a minimum. If you want to know more about the schools, here are links to a school post Meg Dunn wrote on Forgotten Fort Collins and to the premier document on the school system, In the Hallowed Halls of Learning: The History and Architecture of Poudre School District R-1, by Historitecture, L. L. C. It is available as a pdf and can tell you anything you want to know about the history of the Poudre School system. Most of the dates and other information I’ve used come from Chapter 5 of this document.



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The Yellow Schoolhouse, 115 Riverside Avenue. Photograph by M. E. McNeill, September 15, 2017.

The first building constructed for the Fort Collins School system was a simple home built at what is now 115 Riverside Avenue. It was a front-gabled, wood frame building and opened in September 1871, almost 150 years ago. It was known as the “yellow schoolhouse.” I’ve never seen an early image of the school but, fortunately, the building still exists and is shown to the left in a photograph I took this week. It is designated a local historic landmark.

As the town grew, the need for a bigger school became apparent. The answer was a sturdy, square, brick structure at 318 Remington Street. The Remington School opened in 1879 and featured gaslights, central heating, and three teachers. Below is an image of the school, courtesy of the Fort Collins Archives.

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Remington Street School, c. 1900. Fort Collins Archive, H02957.

The Remington School was razed in the late 1960s to make room for the DMA Plaza senior housing.

Only a few years after the Remington School was built, the need for another school became clear. The Benjamin Franklin School, on the southwest corner of Mountain Avenue and Howes Street, was completed in 1887, serving third- through eighth-grade students. Below are photographs of the school, from two different sides.

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Franklin School, c. 1890. Photograph by E. F. Bunn.
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Franklin School Detail, c. 1890. Photograph by E. F. Bunn.
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Franklin School, c. 1910.
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Franklin School Detail, c. 1910.

The Franklin School was a large, square, two-story structure. The large chimneys, projecting from the roof, helped communicate a sense of massiveness that wasn’t felt when looking at the Remington School. The completion of this building must have added to the growing civic pride of our small town.

The school boasted electric lighting and other modern conveniences. It was also the home to the district’s first high school – an experiment – that began in two classrooms. The high school graduated four girls and one boy in 1891. The building was torn down in 1959 to make room for Steele’s Market that itself was demolished in 2010.

High school enrollment soon justified a separate high school. The new school was designed by Fort Collins’ architect, Montezuma Fuller, and completed in 1903. It was located at 417 South Meldrum Street.

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Fort Collins High School, 417 South Meldrum Street, 1906.
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Fort Collins High School, 417 South Meldrum Street, c. 1910.
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Fort Collins High School Reception Hall, 1912.

There were staircases on both sides of the school. Boys entered the school on the south and girls used the north entrance, with each having a separate lunchroom. Below are two images of the school in 1912.

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Fort Collins High School 1912 Senior Boys.

The high school was expanded twice, to the south in 1916 and to the north in 1921. Below is a color postcard of the school after the 1916 addition.

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Fort Collins High School, 417 South Meldrum Street, with South Wing, c. 1916.

Upon completion of the new high school, this building became Lincoln Junior High School. In 1977, parts of the school were torn down and parts were incorporated into the new Lincoln Center.

Fort Collins student population continued to grow quickly and in 1906/1907 the school district made a decision to build a pair of twin schools – both built from the same set of plans. Architectural critics decried it as unimaginative but the practice provided fast growing school systems with efficiencies of time and money. Montezuma Fuller was again hired as the architect. In 1906, the Laurel Street School opened, followed in 1907 by the Laporte Avenue School. Below is an image of the Laporte Avenue School, circa 1910, along with a close-up of the students clustered at the main entrance, the most notable architectural feature of the building.

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Laporte Avenue School Postmarked 1910.
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Laporte Avenue School Close-up, Postmarked 1910.

The Laporte Avenue School was razed in 1975 but the Laurel Street School, located east of College Avenue, continues to serve the school district as Centennial High School, with a new addition that doubled the size of the school.

Another set of twin elementary schools followed in 1919 – The George Washington and Abraham Lincoln Schools. The two schools marked a departure from the earlier, box-shaped schools. The buildings reflected an era of reform in education, exemplifying a move from the school as a place for moral inspiration to the school as a place efficient learning. Below is a photograph of the George Washington School, circa 1919, courtesy of the Fort Collins Archive.

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George Washington School, c. 1919. Fort Collins Archive, H15893.

The schools are classified as “mutedly Craftsman” in architectural style. Architecturally, the buildings sported brackets and exposed rafter ends but the important design change was the interior, with smaller, more intimate classrooms arranged around a core of offices and a gymnasium/auditorium.

The George Washington School was located at 233 South Shields Street and is now the home of Colorado State University’s Early Childhood Center.

The Abraham Lincoln School, located at 501 East Elizabeth Street, changed names to Harris Elementary School in 1939 and is now the Harris Bilingual School.

By 1919, it was clear that Fort Collins needed a new high school but voters weren’t ready to support the construction of a new school. The north addition to the old high school was constructed as a compromise. The board kept pushing for a new high school and a committee was established to investigate the need for the school and possible sites. Voters slowly came around and in 1923, funding for the new school was approved.

Still, arguments persisted over the cost and the location of the proposed school. Finally, Louis Clark Moore, a prominent Fort Collins businessman and the treasurer of the school board, donated land to the district. The new high school would be built at 1400 Remington Street; a location many residents complained was too far out of town.

The Fort Collins High School opened in 1925. It was designed in the Colonial Revival style, with symmetrical wings extending from a central portico crowned by a white-painted cupola. Below is an image of the school shortly after completion.

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Fort Collins High School, 1400 Remington St., 1925.

The building featured a cafeteria, a full kitchen, a library, and a modern auditorium. The portico consisted of slender and extremely tall Doric columns. Here are a couple more images of the school:

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Fort Collins High School Portico, 1400 Remington St., 1925, Photograph by Mark Miller.
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Fort Collins High School, 1400 Remington St., 1935.

Used until the new Fort Collins High School on Timberline Road was built in 1995, it is now the Colorado State University Center for the Arts.

According to In the Hallowed Halls of Learning, the high school on Remington Street was the last Fort Collins’ school designed in a historically inspired style. Later schools were built in a modern or postmodern style.

Poudre Canyon: The Rustic House and Resort

Long before the lower canyon road was opened through the Big and Little Narrows, there was access to the upper canyon. Tie hacking, cutting and delivering railroad ties to keep up with 19th century expansion into the West, was the catalyst for development of roads through the upper canyon, but interest in the prospect of gold drove road-building as well. The road ran through Livermore and ended with a terrifying trip down Pingree Hill. The hill was so steep that teamsters would often cut a log to drag behind the wagon as a make-shift brake.

With a way to the upper canyon, Fort Collins businessmen started clamoring for an extension of the road to North Park, at the time part of Larimer County. A number of alternatives were proposed; the winner was the North Park Toll Road, incorporated in May 1879. Samuel B. Stewart was a member of the three-person board of directors, the man given the job of managing construction of a wagon road following the existing tie trails from the base of Pingree Hill past Chambers Lake, over Cameron Pass, and into North Park. By July 1880 the road was open for business, with connections to the new mining towns of Lulu City and Teller City.

Stewart was an entrepreneur. He believed travelers would flock to his toll road and realized the value of a hotel at the junction of Pingree Hill road and the canyon toll road. On March 4, 1880, the Fort Collins Courier announced that Stewart was putting the finishing touches on his hotel, complete with a large kitchen from which travelers could get something to eat, as well as beds for spending the night. Stables and sheds were also available so that stage lines could change out their tired horses. Stewart named the hotel the Rustic House, though most people shortened it to The Rustic, and the name carried over to the little town that sprang up around it. Quickly, Stewart was advertising both his toll road and his hotel, as shown in this advertisement from the November 25, 1882 Fort Collins Courier.

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North Park Stage Line & Rustic House Advertisement, Fort Collins Courier, November 25, 1882.

The hotel was 24 feet by 31 feet and advertised as one and a half stories high. It was finished with board and batten siding (closely spaced boards, with narrow wood strips over the joints). Below is a real photo postcard of the hotel, dated August 1909, along with a close-up of the group on the porch for those of you who like period clothing.

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Rustic House, August 1909.
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Rustic House Visitors, August 1909.

By August 1909, the Rustic had changed hands a few times and in 1909 it was owned by Nathan E. Moffit. If you are interested in a detailed history of the Rustic, make sure you see A Place in Time: The Legend of the Rustic Resort by Linda Arndt Leigh. Leigh tracks the ownership of the property from when Stewart opened the Rustic House until the devastating fire in 2008.

The reverse side of the postcard carries this message, “Here is a picture of some very interesting people we met at the Rustic. . . . Part of them said they were from Kansas.”

The Rustic House not only went through a number of changes in owners, but also in name and appearance. A big change occurred in the early 1930s when the new owners, Will and Alice Richardson, refaced the building with lodgepole pine slabs. They also added five rental cabins and changed the name to the Rustic Lodge. The building went through cycles of repair and disrepair until it was finally closed in 1969 and then torn down in 1978.

The Richardson’s also built and opened a small store and gas station on the south side of the road. It opened in 1932. Below is a photograph of the store and gas station after it was expanded in the late 1940s.

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Rustic Resort, Poudre Canyon, Postmarked 1954. Photograph by Mark Miller.

According to Leigh, Charles and Iva Frost bought the resort in 1947 and, over the next few years, made a number of improvements. One of the improvements was an expansion of the store, adding a café on the west side of the structure and living quarters on the back. The message on the back of the postcard is from Pink and Velma Davis, who bought the facility in 1951. They called it the Rustic Resort.

Below are three images of the resort from approximately the same period.

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Rustic Lodge, Poudre Canyon, c. 1954. Photograph by Mark Miller.

This is an unusual image of the resort, showing it from the river side.

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Rustic Lodge Interior, Poudre Canyon, c. 1954. Photograph by Mark Miller.
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Rustic Resort Cabins, Poudre Canyon, c. 1954. Photograph by Mark Miller.

The lodge continued to change over time. Below is a photograph of it circa 1956. As you can see, the appearance has been modified significantly.

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Rustic Resort, Poudre Canyon, c. 1956.

This is an advertising postcard, with the following information on the reverse side:

“Rustic Resort. 40 miles northwest of Fort Collins on Highway 14. Pink and Velma Davies, Bellvue, Colo.

“Altitude 7,200 feet. 13 housekeeping cabins on the bank of the Poudre River, where fishing is always good. Just the spot to enjoy a restful vacation or an exciting fishing trip. General Store, Souvenirs, Snack Bar and Dining Room.”

The resort’s final chapter closed in June 2008, when a fire destroyed the store, gas station and restaurant.

Fort Collins Images is One-Year Old!

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Multi-View of Fort Collins, c1910.

I began sharing Fort Collins images with you one-year ago today. I’ve written 75 posts and scanned around 450 images for the blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. I have more than enough images to complete a second year. I hope you’ll stick with me.

Here is a list of the ten posts that have received the most views during the first year, with clickable links to the originals. If you haven’t viewed them, here’s an easy way to see the posts your friends have liked best.




  1. Sugar Beet Demonstration Trains

01 Beet Train 1925 SignIn the first decades of the 20th century, sugar beets were the primary business of Northern Colorado. The railroads linked the process together, moving the raw vegetables to the processing plants and the finished products to the end users. Anything that made the process more efficient helped everyone, from the farmers to the sugar beet plants to the railroads. Sugar beet demonstration trains were a way to share best practices.

Sugar beet posts took three of the top ten spots. You can see all my sugar beet posts by going to the end of any post and clicking the sugar beet category.

  1. Ben Delatour Scout Ranch

02 Entrance Sign Blog 640In April 1958, the Longs Peak Council of the boy Scouts of America purchased the Pinecroft Ranch from George Weaver. The Scouts had used pancake breakfasts and other events to raise the $10,000 down payment for the 1,500 acre ranch. In November 1958, Ben Delatour donated $65,000 to allow the Scouts to buy the ranch that now bears his name.


  1. Sugar Beet Pilers

03 Beet Piler Truck Pile Loveland no date blog 640In the 1920s, trucks started to replace horse drawn wagons on the farms. The railroads began calling the local sidings “receiving stations” and started to mechanize them, both to reduce cost and to speed up the process. As early as January 1921, the Fort Collins Courier mentioned the introduction of “power dumps with scoop conveyors,” By the 1930s, mechanized “beet pilers” were taking the place of beet dumps. Click the sugar beet category to see all my sugar beet posts.

  1. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in Concert at Hughes Stadium May 23, 1976

04 Dylan Baez May 23 1976 Hughes Stadium Blog 640Many newcomers to Fort Collins, Colorado don’t know that Hughes Stadium used to be the site of some very large concerts, including concerts by The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan with Joan Baez.




  1. Images of Windsor, CO: Part 1

05 Windsor Mill No Date Blog 640In 1873, J. L. Hilton built a small house half-way between Greeley and Fort Collins, Colorado. It became known as the “half-way” house and was a landmark for travelers between the two bigger towns and county seats of Northern Colorado. Even today, Windsor, Colorado is still shared by Larimer and Weld Counties.

Unfortunately, the event that moved this post into the top ten was the destruction of the Windsor Milling and Elevator Co. by an arsonist in August 2017, which was covered in this post.

  1. Sugar Beet Dumps

06 Johnstown Beet Dump pm 1909 Blog 640When Northern Colorado began raising sugar beets, Carroll beet dumps were the rage. These beet dumps consisted of a ramp and a mechanism to tip the wagon load of beets into a rail car. Timothy Carroll had invented and patented the dump in California but, in 1901, he came to Northern Colorado to install his new dumps for the Loveland sugar beet factory. Click the sugar beet category to see all my sugar beet posts.

  1. The Poudre Canyon: Ted’s Place

07 Teds c1940 Night Scene Mid Blog 640When E. I. (Ted) and Nellie Herring opened the Poudre Canyon Filling Station on May 25, 1922, it was a small place by today’s standards. Almost immediately, it became known as Ted’s Place, becoming one of the few businesses to earn a place on Colorado maps.

This is the only Poudre Canyon post to make it into the top 10 posts. However, four other Poudre Canyon posts fill slots 11, 17, 18, and 19. To see all my Poudre Canyon posts, click the Poudre Canyon category.

  1. Johnston Creamery

08 Johnston Creamery Full Blog 640lThe creamery was started by W. C. Johnston in 1911. It is on a 1911 list of “new industries for Fort Collins,” along with the Electric Light Company and the Poudre Valley Elevator Company. It was located at 128 Laporte Avenue, on the north side of the road, in the Myron Akin building.


  1. The Cornucopia Restaurant

09 Cornucopia Restaurant 1880 B640“The [Cornucopia Restaurant] is the name given to the elegant ice cream parlor, opened last Friday, by our energetic townsman, Mr. A. B. Ogden. It is situated on College Avenue, opposite the Commercial [Hotel], in the tasty brick block just finished by the proprietor.”





  1. The Water Wagon at the Northern Hotel

10 Water Truck Blog 640This image is from a real photo postcard, postmarked 1912. We have a great image of the Northern Hotel, at the corner of College Avenue and Walnut Street, when it was three stories high. In 1924, a fourth floor was added. There is a horse drawn water wagon front and center in this image.


What have I learned? As expected, Fort Collins loves old buildings. The top four posts all prominently feature a vintage building. There is also a smaller but steady group of viewers who like to see images of the Poudre Canyon. But, the big surprise to me, were the sugar beet posts, claiming three of the top ten spots. I would never have thought that sugar beets would be so popular. Fortunately, I have many more images in all three areas.

Thank you for letting me share my images with you and I hope you stay with me to see many more posts.

Mac McNeill

Fort Collins Images


Sharing the Streets: Horses and Automobiles in Fort Collins

On January 1, 2017, Scientific American ran a short article on the transition of the country from the horse to the automobile. Below is an excerpt from it:

“In one decade, cars replaced horses (and bicycles) as the standard form of transport for people and goods in the United States.

“In 1907 there were 140,300 cars registered in the U.S. . . . People and goods still travelled long distances on land by railroad, and short distances by foot or horse-drawn carriage. Ten years later in 1917, there had been a 33-fold increase in the number of cars registered, to almost 5 million. Horses were now an imperiled minority on the roads.

“Cars became popular because the price of these machines had plummeted: a Ford Model T sold for $850 in 1908 but $260 in 1916, with a dramatic rise in reliability along the way.”

In the blink of an eye, automobiles replaced horses across the country and in Fort Collins. This real photo postcard captures that transitional period in Fort Collins.

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Fort Collins Motor Co. Postcard, 223 Pine Street, c. 1916.

This is an unusual post card. It is the only postcard I have with a black border. It is also an image of Pine Street, a street that wasn’t photographed very often. I have one other Pine Street image posted here.

Below is a closer look at the image itself.

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Fort Collins Motor Co. Image, 223 Pine Street, c. 1916.

The subject of this image was probably the man in the buggy and his horse. It was probably made by an amateur photographer. Today, what makes the image interesting are the background buildings that were located on the west side of Pine Street, probably closer to Jefferson Street than to Walnut Street.

You can see three buildings in the photograph. The building on the far left is the back of one of the many out-buildings of the Forest Lumber Company. Forest Lumber was a fixture in Fort Collins for years, taking up a lot of area between North College Avenue and Pine Street. During the period of this photograph, their address was 243 N. College Avenue.

Below is a close-up of the building to the right of the Forest Lumber Co. building.

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The Palace Horse Shoeing Co. Close-up, Pine Street, c. 1916.

The Palace Horse Shoeing Co. must have been very short-lived. It doesn’t show up in any of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, city directories, or in the local newspapers. Its owner, E. W. Chickering, is listed in city directories as a blacksmith, at one time working for the Great Western Sugar Company, but he doesn’t show up as a proprietor of a business.

To the left is the largest building in the image, the Fort Collins Motor Company. This business may have started before 1909 as the Fort Collins Motor Car Co., located at 202 W. Mountain Ave. One of the partners of that business was Rae Cowdin. Cowdin is also shown as the proprietor of the Fort Collins Motor Company when it first shows up at 223 Pine Street in the 1917 edition of the Larimer County Business Directory.

The two automobiles in the photograph can place a lower limit on the date of the photograph. According to the experts at the Antique Automobile Club of America, the car on the left side of the image is most likely a 1915 Studebaker. They also think that the buggy in the photograph might be a Studebaker buggy. Prior to the automobile revolution, Studebaker was one of the biggest manufacturers of buggies and wagons in the United States. Here is a close up of the car on the right side of the image.

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1913 Ford on Pine Street, c. 1916.

The AACA is quite sure that this car is a 1913 Ford Model T. The Model T was the car that made automobiles affordable to the middle class. The 1913 model year was the first year Ford used the moving assembly line, helping to make the car even more affordable.

Notice that the engine hood, and maybe the engine itself, is missing. Possibly the car was being worked on by the Fort Collins Motor Company. Assuming that the car on the left is a 1915 Studebaker, the image could not have been made earlier than 1915.

The Fort Collins Motor Company is on West Mountain in the 1910-1911 Fort Collins City Directory. It isn’t listed in the 1913-1914 Larimer County Directory and, as mentioned, is shown on Pine Street in the 1917 directory. It is gone in the 1919 directory. The 1919 directory indicates that Rae Cowdin now owned Excide Battery Service, on the east side of Pine Street. The Fort Collins Motor Co. must have been gone before 1919.

Finally, the end of 1916 was an important time in Fort Collins history. This is when the paving of the downtown streets began. Horses were pressured to stay off the paved streets and away from downtown. The Palace Horse Shoeing Co. would probably have closed or moved by late 1916 or early 1917.

All of this information leads me to believe that the photograph was taken between 1915 and 1916.

The photograph captures the transportation transition that was occurring. We have the two automobiles behind the horse and buggy, sharing the street for a limited amount of time. We also have the horse shoeing company next door to the company that will put them out of business. Horseshoeing and livery stables were early victims of the automobile revolution.

I love this period in Fort Collins history. At some point, I will do a post that just shows images when horses, automobiles, and the trolley all shared the streets of Fort Collins.

I also love old automobiles and, with the help of the Antique Automobile Club of America, try to identify the vintage cars in my photographs. Go to the bottom of this page and click the “Autos” tag to see more posts with vintage vehicles.