Below is a circa 1915 photograph probably of a July 4th automobile parade.
It isn’t a great image, in fact, it is probably a snapshot by an amateur photographer. There is part of a person on the left side and part of an automobile on the right side. But I like this photograph a great deal.
First, I love pictures of old automobiles and it is hard to get better than an auto parade. Almost as soon as there were automobiles, people were polishing, decorating, and driving them in parades.
In Fort Collins, Larimer County Judge J. Mack Mills brought the first automobile into town in 1902. It was a 1902 Curved-Dash Oldsmobile. Five years later, on July 4, 1907, twenty-four cars decorated with flags lined up for the first auto parade.
Freda Mills Hubbell was the daughter of Judge Mills. In an oral history, she tells of another auto parade she took part in when she was in her early twenties, probably riding in the Stanley Steamer that her father owned at that time:
“In 1910, there were 40 cars in Fort Collins and owners decided to stage a parade. The cars were all shined and polished and the occupants were dressed in their Sunday best – the men in dusters, visored caps and goggles – the women with wide sun hats tied down with chiffon scarves. When those 40 cars started rolling down College Avenue, they were soon completely obscured by the dust billowing in clouds from the road. One by one, the cars dropped out of the parade. We screamed with laughter when we got home and looked at ourselves in the mirror. Our eyebrows and noses were literally mounds of dust.”
The parade in this picture seems to have been more successful, with cars coming up Pine Street towards College Avenue. Here’s a tighter view of the center automobile and the buildings in the background.
The car is probably a 1914 Studebaker. You can see the flags and umbrellas that must have been part of the decorating scheme for the parade. Also notice the old motorcycle on the side of the road.
The second reason I like this card is for the Pine Street buildings that are seldom seen in vintage images of Fort Collins. A number of the buildings can be identified, using the 1913-1914 Larimer County City Directory.
Behind the man on the motorcycle is a barber’s pole. It is probably the Arthur Crocker Barber Shop at 216 Pine Street. The building to the left of the barbershop was empty, according to the City Directory. Then we have Pfeffer Wallpaper and Paints at 226 Pine Street and across the alley from it is the big building in the photograph, The Farmers Hotel.
In Fort Collins: Then and Now, Barbara Fleming and I wrote about this great old hotel and thanks to two private collectors, we were able to show images of it in 1912 and in 1936.
The hotel, at 232 Pine Street, changed names repeatedly. In this case, a name change helps to date the photograph. The 1913-1914 Directory lists the hotel as The Farmers Hotel. However, the 1917 Directory lists it as the Arlington Hotel setting an upper limit on the date of the image. Assuming the car is correctly identified as a 1914 Studebaker, the photograph was probably taken between 1914 and 1917, or circa 1915.
The Blaine Hotel is the shorter building hidden by the automobiles. It contained ten guest rooms. The last building in the row faces Jefferson Street and was part of the Jefferson Block. And finally, the building we can see across Jefferson Street is the Union Pacific Railroad Passenger Terminal.
Here is one more image, a “now” image of Pine Street.
A nice thing about this side of Pine Street is that most of the early buildings remain, obviously with new tenants. The only big change is at the end of Pine Street. There is an empty lot where the northwest section of the large Jefferson Block once stood. You can see from the 1915 image how well that big building completed Pine Street. Maybe someday Fort Collins will again have something interesting at that site.
Watch Sunday for a post on some early wooden structures on the Skyline Ditch.
Scroll down to the bottom of this post and click the “autos” tag to see other posts featuring vintage cars.