This is the 50th post in Fort Collins Images. I was going to celebrate by posting five images that I think are pretty special. But, as I worked on the post, it became clear that the covering five subjects at one time would be too long and too complicated. Instead, I’m going to post the five images over the next two or three weeks.
I think these images will be new to most viewers. They are all early images, from 1874 to 1911, and I’ll show them in chronological order. I hope you enjoy them, starting with this image of Palmer’s Ranch.
Joseph Collier was born in Scotland and immigrated to Central City, Colorado in June 1871. His cousin, D. C. Collier, owned the Daily Central City Register newspaper and invited Joseph and his family to join him. Collier’s first studio was in the back room of the newspaper.
Starting in 1871, Collier began making photographic trips through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. By the time he was done, The Rocky Mountain News proclaimed that Collier’s stereoviews “covered nearly every section of the Territory.”
One place Collier visited was the Poudre Canyon. He made a series of photographs that he entitled the “Cache a la Poudre Series.” The April 22, 1874, Fort Collins Standard reported:
“We have received from Mr. D. C. Collier . . . some very fine stereoscoptic views of Cache-a-la-Poudre scenery, taken by Mr. J. Collier. These views are unsurpassed in grandeur by any we have ever seen. . . . They are executed in the highest style of art. We shall take pleasure in showing these views to any wishing to see them.”
This image, entitled “Palmer’s Ranch,” was probably taken during this trip. The back of the stereoview carries this printed caption:
“No. 79. Cache a la Poudre Series – Palmer’s Ranch. It is situated about two miles north of the river. There is now a good hotel near this spot and good accommodations for tourists and sportsman.”
Precisely where Palmer’s Ranch was located isn’t known. Two short newspaper articles indicate that the ranch was owned by John Palmer and was located near the point where the Dry Creek Ditch leaves the Poudre River, “about a mile and a quarter above La Porte.” So it seems that the ranch was close to Laporte, Colorado.
Not much is known about John Palmer either. Lesley Struc, the Fort Collins Archivist, found that John Palmer married Margaret Janise (Janis), the daughter of Antoine Janis. Here is Lesley’s summary of the family.
“In 1867, Antoine Janis received the first land patent in Larimer County for 160 acres. Antoine and his Oglala Lakota wife, Mary Featherman (niece or half-sister to Red Cloud) remained in Colona [the original name for Laporte] until 1878. Other names for his wife include First Elk Woman and Mary Elk Woman. Together they raised a large family of 16 children, one of whom was Margaret Janise (Janis) who married John Palmer (or Palmier).
“In 1878 the U.S. government forced the Lakota to relocate to the Red Cloud Agency in South Dakota, later renamed the Pine Ridge Reservation. Janis was given a choice: remain on his land—without his family—or go to South Dakota with them. He chose to leave with his family. Descendants of Janis and First Elk Woman still live on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and Lakota still come to the Bingham Hill Cemetery in Laporte to visit the graves of their ancestors.”
A newspaper announcement in June 1899 tells us that John Palmer and his family also left for the Pine Ridge Reservation. Whether Palmer and his family were forced to the reservation or if they just went because his wife’s family was there is unknown to me. The article called him “one of the earliest settlers of the Poudre Valley.”
Here is a closer view of the men and the cabin.
There are seven men in the photograph, each with a rifle. The man, seated in the foreground, appears to have a rifle with a long scope similar to the rifles used by sharpshooters in the Civil War. Notice the guitar between the two men on the right side.
One of these men is probably John Palmer. Which one it is will probably never be known.
I have a half dozen of Collier’s Poudre Canyon photographs in my collection. While they are old, they really aren’t very exciting. Here are two of them with their captions.
“No. 95. Cache-La-Poudre Series, – In Glen Doe. Glen Doe is the most charming portion of the valley of the Cache-la-Poudre. It is located 50 miles back from the plains and consists of a beautiful grass valley through which the river flows, enclosed by abrupt mountains running from one to two thousand feet high. It’s elevation at its upper end is 7,611 feet”
I couldn’t find any modern reference to a “Glen Doe” along the Poudre River but the second image can put us in its neighborhood.
“No. 85. The Falls are five miles above Glen Doe, and consist of three cascades making an aggregate fall of forty feet. The water dashes through a narrow chasm of not more than three or four feet in width, while above and below the stream is so rapid, deep and wide as to make it difficult to ford.”
Probably Collier has photographed Poudre Falls, about 50 miles from Ted’s place, at milepost 75. Glen Doe then would be around milepost 80.
A particular point of interest is that in 1873, Collier presented a set of his Colorado stereoviews to First Lady Julia Grant, who accompanied President Grant during his visit to Colorado and Central City.
In 1877, Collier moved to Denver, opening a studio on Larimer Street. His trips to the mountains became less frequent and, by the turn of the century, his failing health forced him to abandon photography. Joseph Collier died on December 23, 1910.
In the second of five posts, we’ll move forward in time by about six years to a new restaurant that just opened in Fort Collins, the Cornucopia.