According to Ansel Watrous’ History of Larimer County, Colorado, the Commercial Bank & Trust Co. was established on May 23, 1906. Located at 146 North College Avenue, B. F. Clark was the first president. If we are to believe its 1914 letterhead, L. C. Moore was now the president and Munchkins were visiting our city. Below are scans of the full letterhead and an enlargement of their logo.
The Munchkins, the diminutive creatures in Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz were obviously in town for the day. If I’ve done the math correctly, the smartly dressed homunculi are approximately two-feet, three-inches tall, short even for normal Munchkins who were around four-feet tall in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie.
Why haven’t we heard of this visitation before? Was there a government cover-up?
Below is a Munchkin-less photograph I took of the Commercial Bank & Trust Co in 2009. At that time, the bar was called the Vault. Today, it is the High Point Bar.
The Commercial Bank & Trust Co. is a Fort Collins Landmark Building.
In 1912, the Colorado Agricultural School (now CSU) established a department of Rural and Industrial Education. Their mission was to study rural education in the state, a state still sparsely populated with many rural school districts, and to recommend changes for rural schools on a state-wide basis. It didn’t take long for them to identify the major problems; small, weak, and inefficient district school organizations, untrained and inexperienced teachers, and inadequate school buildings and equipment. The solution was also plainly obvious to them – consolidation – and one of their earliest experiments was Larimer County and what would become the Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, in Laporte, Colorado.
On July 4, 1913, the cornerstone was laid for the new school. According to the Fort Collins Weekly Courier, over 300 people witnessed the “imposing ceremony.” Many luminaries spoke at the ceremony that the newspaper called “one of the broadest steps in education ever made in Northern Colorado.
One of the speakers was Charles A. Lory, President of CAC. He reminded the audience of college’s long-time effort in rural education, thanked a number of people who were involved in the school’s planning, and closed by telling the audience that “the college’s telephone system [was] connected at all times with the Laporte district and that all they had to do was to call the college and anything that institution could do to help would be done promptly and cheerfully.”
In October 1913, the Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, consolidating six small rural schools, opened for business with 181 students, from first grade through high school.
In 1918, CAC released a report entitled, “Rural School Improvement in Colorado.” Around a dozen consolidated schools were reported on in detail, including the Cache La Poudre Consolidated School. According to the CAC report, the new school consolidated five rural school districts and parts of two adjoining districts. Six old buildings were abandoned and were replaced by “a beautiful structure of brick and stone, costing $30,000.” Here is how the school is described in the report:
“The basement story, all above ground, is made of Colorado red sandstone, quarried from the red cliffs within the district, while the two other stories of red pressed brick. There are about 15 rooms in the building. It is modern as to heating, lighting, and ventilation and has indoor toilets, and its drinking fountains are supplied with pure and cold mountain water. . . . Nine rooms are used for classroom work. The large school and community auditorium will seat 350 and the manual training teacher and his family live in five rooms on the ground floor.”
Below is the full-page image of the school, used in the report.
Transportation was obviously as important to the school consolidation effort as the new schools. The new Laporte school used six wagons to move students around the consolidated district. The wagons were purchased from the Delphi Wagon Company in Indiana. One local writer said the wagons “were not unlike the wagons used . . . for conveyance of prisoners from one jail to another.” The wagons were fitted with side curtains to protect the students from weather. When the snow was high, the wheels were replaced with bobsleds to make sure students could attend school.
The report also featured three other views of the school, which, along with their captions, are reproduced below:
As the county grew, so did the school system. Changes occurred to the consolidated school as reported in the history section of the Cache La Poudre Elementary School website. In 1949, the present day Cache La Poudre Middle School was built and called the Cache La Poudre High School. The consolidated school was then used for kindergarten through 9th grade. In 1964, Poudre High School was built and the old high school became the junior high school. Finally, in 1974, the original brick building was knocked down and the new Cache La Poudre Elementary School was built in its place.
This is my 100th post on Fort Collins Images. I decided that the best way to mark my milestone was by sharing parade images from one of the biggest Fort Collins celebrations, the Semi-Centennial of 1914.
In 1914, Fort Collins reached its 50th birthday. They celebrated with a three day party, from Thursday, July 2, through Saturday, July 4. The Fort Collins Courier reported that to celebrate Fort Collins’ fiftieth anniversary “no expense has been too great and no task to stupendous for those in charge of the arrangements for the celebration and for the thousands which are expected to throng to Fort Collins to help her celebrate.” Each day there was a parade. I believe all of these images come from the Friday parade advertised as the “Grand free street parade covering the business district.”
I hope you’ll enjoy these images of one of Fort Collins largest events and that you will continue to support the Fort Collins Images blog.
Ledru R. Rhodes came to Fort Collins in 1872 after being admitted to the bar in Iowa. He quickly gained a positive reputation as a lawyer, built a home, married a local girl, Elspeth “Eppie” Cowan, and in 1874, he was elected city attorney.
His home, built in 1873, was the third brick house built in Fort Collins, using bricks from a local kiln that had opened in 1870. It was located at 255 North College Avenue (probably where the parking lot just south of the Fort Collins building inspection offices are today). Below is a stereoview of the home taken by James Shipler and Milton Williamson, circa 1877.
I wrote more about James Shipler in one of my earliest posts. You can see it by clicking here.
Rhodes was an interesting man. He became a top water rights lawyer and even successfully defended an accused murderer in the first murder trial in Larimer County. Rhodes also participated on a number of Fort Collins boards and committees and served a term as a state senator. But, I’m going to ignore Rhodes and discuss his house.
Rhodes sold the house in 1875 to the Trimble family and it was part of their estate until 1920. During this period, two interesting things occurred. First, in 1910, the first two brick homes built in Fort Collins were torn down to make room for the tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad. The Rhodes’ house became the oldest existing brick house in Fort Collins. The second possible event concerns Harold Lloyd, a silent movie icon.
As I was researching this photograph, the Archive found a handwritten note from Evadine Swanson, an early Fort Collins historian. Swanson’s note said that Harold Lloyd’s family may have lived in the Rhodes’ house, when Lloyd was a child. Since Lloyd was born in 1893, they might have lived here in the early 1900s.
Swanson apparently couldn’t verify the story and never included it in any of her published materials. Of course, Swanson didn’t have Google. A quick Google search found a Lloyd biography confirming that Lloyd’s family did live in Fort Collins for awhile, though where and when wasn’t mentioned. Apparently, Lloyd’s father had trouble holding down a job and the family lived in five cities in a short amount of time, including Fort Collins. Barbara Fleming is going to research the possibility further and we may read more about it in her Coloradoan column.
In 1920, the Trimble family sold the building to a man who operated a junk business. He used the house until 1957 and then the building moved through a number of hands. As time went on, the building changed dramatically. Below are two images of the Rhodes’ house from the Fort Collins Archive, one undated and the other dated June 1964.
Many changes have been made in the building; the most obvious is that the left side of the structure is gone and a front porch has been added on the right side.
In 1990, a developer owned the building and was going to tear the house down. Carol Tunner, a local historic preservationist, tried to get the city to buy the property and restore the house. It was an uphill fight.
According to Tunner, the house didn’t look anything like the picture at the top of this post. She said that by 1990, the house was drastically altered, abandoned, and the property had become a junk yard. At the same time, the cost to buy the property and restore the house was high, according to a 1990 Coloradoan article, somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000.
The city decided not to restore the building and, much to the disappointment of preservationists, the Rhodes’ house was torn down.
John Zimmerman and his brother, Michael, arrived in the Poudre Canyon around 1881. When the Zimmermans arrived, they were searching for gold. It would take awhile, but in 1888 they opened their Elkhorn Mine, north of milepost 89 on Colorado Highway 14.
The Zimmerman brothers had a problem common to all the miners in the area–low-grade ore and expensive transportation. The brothers decided to build a stamp mill, a machine that breaks the ore up by pounding it with heavy steel plates called stamps. The gold was recovered by washing the slurry over a mercury-coated copper plate. The mill was in operation in 1890 but an 1891 flood destroyed it, leaving just the chimney. It never reopened and John Zimmerman moved on, eventually opening the Keystone Hotel.
John Zimmerman’s Keystone Hotel, at what is now milepost 84.5, was the premier resort in the canyon for decades. The hotel was started in the mid-1890s and was built with bricks made on site. The Fort Collins Courier announced its completion on July 22, 1897, calling the setting “one of the most picturesque locations imaginable . . . surrounded by some of the wildest and grandest of mountain views in the world.” The building itself was huge for the canyon, three-stories, 35 x 66 feet, with 16 bedrooms, a billiard hall, a barbershop, and other amenities. The covered front porch, shown in the first image, soon became the gathering place for guests.
The resort was an immediate success. Within one month of opening the resort, Zimmerman was running a twice-a-week stage from Fort Collins to the Keystone Hotel. By the summer of 1899 the stage ran daily, carrying passengers to the hotel and mail to the Home, Colorado, post office, now located at the resort. It took almost 12 hours to make the trip from Fort Collins to the Keystone and cost $3.
John Zimmerman’s son, Casper, supervised construction of this bridge across the Poudre River. It was completed circa 1890, allowing the Zimmermans to start construction on the future resort. Sturdier structures would take its place but certainly this was the most charming. Below is a Stanley Steamer on the bridge circa 1910.
I know very little about antique cars. Fortunately, the internet allows me to contact auto experts who are always willing to share their knowledge. Pat Farrell, a Stanley Steamer expert, sent this information on the automobile in the photograph.
“Using the same engine that set the land speed record at 127 MPH in 1906, this is a 1909 Stanley Model Z, nine passenger, 30 HP Mountain Wagon. It was developed in 1908 for hauling passengers from Colorado Springs and Fort Collins to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Because of its hill climbing ability, several transportation companies in the Rocky Mountain area quickly came into being while using the new Model Z Stanley Mountain Wagon. By 1912, the Stanley Mountain Wagon had become a 12 passenger Mountain.Wagon. The last year for the Mountain Wagon production was 1917.”
One of the interesting stories of the Keystone Hotel concerns the mountain lion shown below.
According to the March 20, 1907, edition of the Fort Collins Courier, this huge mountain lion had killed one of John Zimmerman’s colts. Setting a spring trap, Zimmerman found the beast with one foot secure in its jaws. After numerous attempts, he was able to drag the animal into a position where his daughter, Eda, could take this picture. Some skeptics believe the lion was killed and mounted before the photograph was taken.
After the Keystone Resort finally closed despite Agnes Zimmerman’s desperate attempts to keep it going, the land was acquired by the Colorado Department of Game and Fish, now the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The purchase included all of the resort buildings along with John Zimmerman’s reservoir and fish ponds. The hotel was razed in the summer of 1946.
Today, a fish-rearing operation provides stock for several Colorado waterways. Visitors are welcome at the ponds (Milepost 83.8)—without fishing poles, of course, and without the family dog. Hatchlings are delivered to the ponds to be fed a carefully controlled diet until fully grown and ready for transport to a lake or river—where fishing poles are welcome.
Next week, watch for a very old and interesting photograph of a landmark Fort Collins’ building and a possible tie to a silent film icon.
I’m in the middle of a family situation that is taking a lot of my time. I won’t be posting for three or four weeks. When I return, it will be with images of Zimmerman’s Keystone Hotel, the grandest resort to ever grace the Poudre Canyon.
The Elks are a fraternal and social organization that got its start in 1868 as a social club in New York City, but it took a long time for an Elks Lodge to open in Fort Collins, CO. The Elks had a rule that a town had to have a population of at least 5,000 residents before it could charter its own lodge. Fort Collins was struggling to get to there.
In 1900, Boulder, CO was able to start a lodge and a number of Fort Collins residents became members of the Boulder Lodge, inconveniently commuting to the meetings by train. By 1902, the Fort Collins Elks were beating the drum for their own lodge. While the 1900 census recorded just over 3,000 Fort Collins residents, the Fort Collins Elks believed that the recent growth of the town would show that its population now exceeded the target. To prove it, they asked for a “post office census” and in July 1902 the post office confirmed that over 5,000 residents received mail at the Fort Collins post office.
Though the exact date is a little fuzzy, the Fort Collins Lodge, #804, was quickly up and running and trying to find a building of their own. In November, 1902, the Elks purchased a single story building that was under construction on the northeast corner of Linden and Walnut Streets. They hired A. M. Garbutt as the architect and Hiram Pierce as the contractor and preceded with plans to expand the new building to a three-story structure, with retail space planned or the first floor and the basement and the Elks Lodge operating out of the second and third floors.
On April 27, 1904, the Weekly Courier newspaper announced the opening of the Lodge. Here is a photograph of the building from around that time and part of the newspaper announcement.
The Fort Collins Elks “occupied their new lodging club room for the first time . . . and a prouder and better satisfied fraternity of men would be hard to find. In less than one year, the lodge, on a membership of about 200, bought one of the best corners in the city and has erected and furnished one of the very best club houses of its kind in the country.”
Newspaper articles praised various aspects of the new building. Even the barbershop (see the pole at the front corner of the building in the above photograph) got its share of praise.
“Harry Schreck’s nice suite of rooms and baths [has been] fixed up for his tonsorial parlors in the basement of the Elks building.”
Here are two more early images of the building.
While the building is nice, it is a little plain but the interior was what really received praise. Below are four interiors views of the building all circa 1905.
“The lodge room, banquet hall and club room furniture is of quarter sawed golden oak. Divans and settees are richly upholstered in black leather. The station chairs in the lodge rooms are works of art. . . In the lodge room are placed 100 arm chairs for the members. Another hundred chairs of simpler make have been provided for use on extra occasions. . . The floor of the lodge room is covered with Moquette carpet of very pleasing design.”
Interior electric lighting was still pretty new and received the attention of the reviewer as well. He remarked that the lodge room contained “138 incandescent lights and 14 two-lamp fixtures on brackets on the wall,” resulting in “soft light, fair women and brave men.”
The Exalted Rulers platform also received its share of praise. Here is a close-up of it and then two images of the piano room.
The piano, in the lodge, was a Schomacker piano, from one of Philadelphia’s earliest and most successful piano companies. I think it was recently donated to the Discovery Museum and is now displayed near the museum’s coffee shop.
Elks, of course, were used throughout the building. Below is an image of the Elk that I think was in the entry to the meeting rooms.
Finally, here is a photograph of the billiard room at the Elks lodge. The newspaper description said, “The floor of the billiard room and the card rooms are covered in linoleum and provided with plain, but strong, well furnished chairs and card tables.”
The Elks used the building for over 30 years but, in 1939, they bought the YMCA building and moved to that building on East Oak Street. I covered that move in an earlier post on the YMCA building that you can see by clicking here.
The building at Walnut and Linden Streets still stands but it is now only a single floor high. It is currently the home of The Wright Life, which advertises as an alternate sports store.
During the first half of the 1900s, sugar beets were the big agricultural crop of Northern Colorado. The best sugar beet farmers received recognition and monetary awards from the sugar beet factories. Usually, a factory’s top ten farms were given awards at the annual end of season celebration, based on the tons of sugar beets they delivered per acre. The winners were the rock stars of the industry. In 1941, the Longmont, Colorado Junior Chamber of Commerce decided to sponsor their own sugar beet competition and the first world championship beet-shoveling contest was born.
Even in 1941, sugar beet farming was a very manual effort. The fields beets were manually planted and thinned. Adults and children used short handle hoes to weed around the young plants. When the plants were ready to harvest, the heavy beets were pulled from the ground and “topped” with a sharp knife called a hook. The leaves were thrown to one side and the topped beets piled between the rows. Below is a circa 1905 photograph of beet harvesting near Windsor, CO.
Horse-drawn wagons, and later trucks, followed the harvesters as men tossed the beets into the vehicles, using mostly pitch forks. This strength and skill was the one the Longmont, Colorado Junior Chamber of Commerce decided to recognize.
The championship test was as simple and strenuous as sugar beet harvesting. Each contestant had to move one and one-half tons of sugar beets (approximately 2,000 beets), from the ground into the bed of a truck. The winner of the first annual world championship beet-shoveling contest was Joe Fruhwirth, of Fort Collins, Colorado. Below is Joe’s photograph and the description of his performance that ran in local newspapers.
“WINS SUGAR BEET SHOVELING TITLE IN WHIRLWIND FINISH.
Longmont, Colo.: Add sugar beet shoveling to your list of championships! Joe Fruhwirth, of Fort Collins, Colo., brought spectators to their feet in the crowded Roosevelt Stadium, as he became the first national champ sugar beet shoveler by throwing one and a half tons into the truck in five minutes, thirteen seconds. The champ ended up throwing the stray beets into the truck by hand, as he crawled around cleaning up the ground.”
Joe beat the second place finisher by 11 seconds to claim first place and the $75 award.
Below is a scan of a photograph of two cowboys, probably in Fort Collins around 1891. This first scan shows the full photograph, reproduced as close as possible to what the image looks like if you held it in your hand.
This photograph is a cabinet card, popular in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Cabinet cards consisted of a thin photograph mounted on a larger piece of stiff cardstock. The most common cabinet cards were used for portraits and normally measured 4 ¼ by 6 ½ inches – just the right size to be displayed on or in a cabinet.
Larger sizes were often used for landscape or cityscape photographs. This card measures 4 ½ by 8 inches, though as you can see in the image, it has been trimmed on the top and bottom, probably to fit into a photo album.
Here are two scans of the card after building up the contrast in Photoshop. The second scan shows a close up of the building on the right side of the photograph. Notice the missing boards in the porch roof.
The buildings in the photograph are probably long gone. The one on the right side has great trim but it looks like it was deteriorating. The only real clue to the location of the photograph is a label on the reverse side. Here is the label.
Most cabinet cards showed the name of the photographer. Unfortunately, the trimming of this card probably cut off the photographer’s name, though it is easy to read “Fort Collins, Colo, on the right side and what looks like “Linden St.,” on the left side. There were very few photographers in Fort Collins in the late 1800s and the only one who I know had a studio on Linden Street was Stephen Seckner. I did a post on Seckner a few months ago. You can see it by clicking here. That post included this image of Seckner.
As you can see, the image matches very closely to the one on this cabinet card. Seckner took this photograph. Seckner may have taken the photograph outside of Fort Collins but, usually, early photographers stayed pretty close to home. In fact, if forced to bet, I’d bet this image was taken right on Linden Street, though we’ll probably never know.
While the location is impossible to know, we can date the image using what we know of Seckner and from the trim used on the cabinet card. Seckner advertised in the local newspapers and in May, 1891 he mentioned that he had moved his studio to 216 Linden Street. He was there until he moved to Walnut Street in 1905. At the same time, the gold trim used on the edges of this cabinet card was used for a fairly limited time, from around the mid 1880s to just after 1890. All of this would seem to indicate that this image was probably taken just as Seckner moved to Linden Street, circa 1891.
Finally, let me mention the two names shown on the front of the card – Ed Howard (probably the older man on the left) and Billie Allen (probably the younger man on the right). Searching the local newspapers of the time, I can find both names showing up in articles from as early as 1888 to as late as 1901. Unfortunately, the names are so common that I’m not sure they refer to the men shown in this photograph. In my dreams, I would have found a long article about Seckner taking the photograph of these two men, including a great back story, but no such luck.
If you have any information on this photograph or the men, I’d love to hear from you. You can respond by using the Comment box below or emailing me at email@example.com.
I’m sure Christmas has always been a big holiday in Fort Collins but it doesn’t seem to translate to a lot of images. I have very few Christmas related images in my collection. In fact, I only have four of them and three of them come from Mark Miller’s family photo album. I’ve written about Miller and his family album before. You can find the first post here and the second post here.
Mark Miller was a long time photographer in Fort Collins, with a studio from 1914 to 1970. Apparently, Miller and his wife, Effie, an artist in her own right, often made their own Christmas cards. Here are three of them that they included in their family album. Unfortunately, none of them are dated.
My only other Christmas image also comes from a family album of sorts. Some years ago, I bought a photo album put together by Rudolph Booraem. Booraem was the general manager of the Fort Collins sugar beet factory. He apparently loved his big home, which I believe was on East Elizabeth Street, and captured the home and the property in a series of photographs. I’ll do a post on the home in the future but, for now, here is his family Christmas tree in its 1901 glory.
This image also celebrates his daughter’s first Christmas. Here is a close-up of Elsa.
I’m going to take the next two weeks off from posting. I’ll return on Sunday, January 14, 2018 with an image I hope you will love. It is a photograph of two cowboys on the streets of Fort Collins, circa 1890.
I hope you have a great holiday season and thanks for visiting Fort Collins Images.