As I was looking through my images of the Baldwin Tunnel last week for the Lower Poudre Canyon post, I realized I had a lantern slide of it and a print of the original photograph from which it was made.

Baldwin Tunnel Lantern Slide, c. 1920

Lantern slides were among the earliest photographic techniques, arriving around 1849, about ten years after the invention of photography. The slides were made by exposing a piece of light sensitive glass through a negative. The glass image was covered with a piece of protective glass, sandwiched together with tape, and usually a descriptive label affixed.

The images were projected using a device called a “magic lantern,” basically a big version of the more modern 35mm slide projector. Lantern slides were made in a couple of different sizes. The ones I have measure 3 1/4 x 4 inches.

Most lantern slides are black and white but some were colored by professional colorists, using color washes applied before the slide was protected and sealed. In 1935 the modern 35mm slide projector was invented, quickly ending the production of lantern slides.

Below are the two images of the Baldwin Tunnel, the first from a 6 x 8 inch black and white print and the second is from the color washed lantern shown above.

Baldwin Tunnel, c. 1920, U. S. Forest Service.

This image was used in a 1923 newspaper article with this caption:

“A closeup view of the west end of the tunnel at Little Narrows  in the Cache la Poudre canon, showing a section of a typical Colorado national forest highway.”

West End of Tunnel at Little Narrows, c. 1920, U. S. Forest Service.

A large manufacture of lantern slides was the Keystone View Company. They got their start making stereoviews in 1892 and became a major distributor of stereographic images. The company’s images were popular entertainment in the early 1900s, but movies and then television cut into their sales. Keystone decided to shift from entertainment to education and developed lantern slide presentations for schools. Below are three images of “Harvesting Wheat Raised by the Dry Farming Method, Fort Collins, Colo.”

Keystone Stereoview of “Harvesting Wheat,” c. 1910.
Keystone Lantern Slide of “Harvesting Wheat,” c. 1925.
Keystone Lantern Slide of “Harvesting Wheat,” c. 1925. Image Only.

I only have a handful of lantern slides in my collection and, in truth, they are a little boring. Instead of showing them, I asked the Fort Collins Archive for permission to use a few of their lantern slides from a really great collection. They were nice enough to say “yes.”

I have worked with the Archives to find images for five or six books. When Barbara Fleming and I were working on our book, Images of America: The Poudre Canyon, I had the joy of searching through a collection of lantern slides called the “Colorado Mountain Club Collection (COMT),” which had probably been hidden away for decades.

COMT is a collection of 186 lantern slides produced by the Colorado Mountain Club. The images were meant to be used as a presentation, taking the viewer through the Poudre Canyon. The images date from 1910 to 1942. Some of the slides are black and white but many are hand colored. Our book used only black and white images so this is my chance to show a few of the beautiful color lantern slides from the collection. I hope you enjoy them and remember to thank the Fort Collins Archives for sharing them with us.

Automobile in Big Narrows Canyon, c. 1923. Fort Collins Archive (COMT1-35).
Camping Near the Narrows, c. 1925. Fort Collins Archive (COMT1-38).
Cooking Fish, c. 1925, Fort Collins Archive (COMT1-48).

I am going to take a one-week break from posting but I will be back to post again on March 26, showing early images of two side-by-side CSU buildings – the Mechanical Engineering Building and Guggenheim Hall.


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