Cowboys in Fort Collins, Colorado c. 1891

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.

01 cowboys orig scan b680
Scan of Cowboys in Fort Collins, Colorado c. 1891.

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.

02 Cowboy CU Boudoir Card c1890 B680
Cowboys in Fort Collins, Colorado c. 1891.
03 Billie and Building B680
Cowboys in Fort Collins, Colorado c. 1891, Right-side Close-up.

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.

04 Cowboy Boudoir Card c1890 Label B680
Photographer’s 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.

05 Stephen H Seckner Hist Lar Cty Watrous B420
Stephen H. Seckner. Image from Ansel Watrous’ History of Larimer County.

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




A Christmas Post

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.

01 Christmas Greetings Shillouttes 107 B680
Miller Family Silhouettes Christmas Card
02 Family Christmas Photo B680
Miller Family Christmas Photograph
03 Miller Christmas Card House B680
Miller Home in the Snow

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.


04 Tree Full B440
Rudolph Booraem Family Christmas Tree, 1901.

This image also celebrates his daughter’s first Christmas. Here is a close-up of Elsa.

05 Closeup Baby B680
Elsa Booraem’s First Christmas, 1901.

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.

Mac McNeill

Poudre Canyon: Arrowhead Lodge and Profile Rock

My last Poudre Canyon post covered Glen Echo. In this post, we’ll continue west two or three miles, stopping briefly at Profile Rock and then spending a good deal of time at the only Poudre Canyon resort on the National Register of Historic Places, Arrowhead Lodge.

Barbara Fleming and I have written about Arrowhead Lodge several times. Some of the information, in this post, comes from our previous books and articles. Much of that information came from Stanley Case’s, The Poudre: A Photo History. The rest of the information comes from the 40+ page application used to get Arrowhead Lodge listed on the National Register.

00 Profile rock p1943 Miller B680
Profile Rock, Poudre Canyon, Postmarked 1943. Photograph by Mark Miller.

Profile Rock, around milepost 89, is probably the most recognized rock formation in the Poudre Canyon, used for years as a navigation point in the canyon. Before taking its current name, the whole rock formation was called Arrowhead Point. The lodge may have taken its name from this rock formation, just to its east.

As the automobile gained in popularity, travelers flooded into the Poudre Canyon. More and more resorts and stores began to open to serve the auto-travelers. Arrowhead Lodge was one of them. Arrowhead was built between 1933 and 1935 by Carl Brafford and Brye Gladstone. Brafford had a successful Fort Collins dry cleaning business and supplied the money. Gladstone, a builder by trade, had already opened the Sportsman’s Lodge farther up the canyon, and with his son, built Arrowhead.

According to Stanley Case, the lodge, along with five cabins, opened in 1936.

01 arrowhead lodge c1947 Swanson B680
Arrowhead Lodge, Poudre Canyon, c. 1947. Photograph by Swanson.

A number of additions to the lodge make dating early images pretty easy. Here is a list of the easily seen additions, with their approximate dates.

1936    Original lodge opens with five cabins

1940    Water fountain added near entrance drive

1943    West game room addition added

1948    East dining room addition added

In this image, you can see the water fountain, with the west addition barely visible behind it, so we know it was taken after 1943. Since the east addition isn’t present, it was taken before 1948. I have earlier images of the lodge but none of them have the great 1947 Pontiac Woody in the photograph.

02 Arrow Head Pontiac Woody c1947 B680
1947 Pontiac Woody Resort Car at Arrowhead Lodge, c. 1947. Photograph by Swanson.

Arrowhead must have used this automobile to move guests and supplies around. Though you may not be able to see it in this image, it has an “Arrowhead Lodge” sign on the side and, I believe, a sign on the back that reads “Arrowhead Lodge on Colorado’s Trout Route.”

Melvin Swanson was a Fort Collins photographer who made a series of numbered images of Fort Collins and the surrounding area in the late 1940s. This is image number 88. I’ll probably do a post on his work in the future.

03 Arrowhead Lodge c1951 B680
Arrowhead Lodge, Poudre Canyon, c. 1950. Photograph by Miller.

The logs used for the lodge were local logs cut at the sawmill at Chambers Lake.

This image of the lodge clearly shows the two additions, the c. 1943 game room addition on the left and the c. 1948 dining room addition on the right. The fountain is probably turned off and is hidden by the tree in the right foreground. The fountain, built around 1940, was made from local stones and was originally served by a natural spring. Rainbow trout made their home in the circular depression around the fountain.

The sitting room of the lodge shows up on a lot of postcards, many by Mark Miller. Here is an early image of the room, before the c. 1943 game room was added.

04 Arrowhead Lodge Room b4 Door B680
Arrowhead Lodge Main Room, Poudre Canyon, c. 1942. Photograph by Mark Miller.

The lodge was furnished with handmade furniture and, according to the National Register document, museum quality western artifacts and animal heads. You can see that there are windows on both sides of the fireplace. After the west addition was added, the right window was replaced with a door to the game room.

05 West Fireplace Details c1945 Miller Sharper B680
Arrowhead Lodge, Fireplace Close-up, before 1943. Photograph by Mark Miller.

Here is a closer look at the fireplace. The arrowhead inserted in rocks above the mantle was carved by Stanley Case out of white alabaster, for the original owners. Stanley Case helped with some of the lodge construction and in 1946 Case and his wife, Lola, bought the lodge from the Bradford’s.

06 arrowhead Interior Charles Cur B680
Arrowhead Lodge, Poudre Canyon, Main Room, c. 1960. Photograph by Charles Curs.

This is another image of the main lodge room. You can see the door to the game room addition on the right side of the fireplace. By the way, the mammoth fireplace was built using local rocks and was initially the only source of heat in the lodge building. The dining room, which you will see in the next image, added a second fireplace on the east side of the lodge.

I decided to use this color image to show the knotty pine used on the walls and the red oak flooring. Charles Curs was a Fort Collins photographer, with a studio on East Mulberry Street between 1960 and 1970.

07 Arrowhead Dining Room pm 1953 B680
Arrowhead Lodge Dining Room, Poudre Canyon, postmarked 1953. Photograph by Mark Miller.

Until the dining room addition was added in 1948, the guests either cooked their own food or had sandwiches and pie at the small tables in the lodge. The new addition, on the east side of the lodge, added the dining room, a kitchen, and a walk-in cooler. The red and white floor tile was added in a checkerboard pattern.

Guests stayed in cabins that were arranged in a semi-circle around the lodge. Below is a diagram from the National Register application showing the layout of the 13 cabins.

08 Arrowhead Layout Natl Reg B680
Layout of Arrowhead Lodge, Cabins, and Other Buildings.

The first five cabins were built before the lodge opened in 1936. Each cabin used an Indian related name, apparently to tie to the arrowhead theme. The first five cabins were Wigwam, cabin 9 on the layout; Thunderbird, cabin 10; Navajo, Cabin 11; Hopi, Cabin 12; and Zuni, cabin 13. The size of the cabins varied between 200 and 400 square feet and initially rented for $2.50 per night.

Twelve of the thirteen cabins were completed before Case bought the lodge in 1946. The last cabin, Pawnee, was built by Case in May 1946. It is shown below.

09 Pawnee Cabin c1945 Miller B680
Arrowhead Lodge, Pawnee Cabin, Poudre Canyon, c. 1950. Photograph by Mark Miller.

The Cases were able to make a paying proposition of the resort, which during their tenure was a community gathering place as well as a popular tourist stop.  Some guests returned year after year.  When there, they might be invited to join a community pancake supper, a square dance, a Halloween party, a pie social or a talent show. The lodge room hosted church services as well as films.  Now and then there would be a “shivaree” for newlyweds who had come to the resort for their honeymoon.

When it came time for the Cases to retire after 39 years, they sold the property to the US Forest Service. Although the Cases had initially understood that the Forest Service would keep the buildings and use them for official purposes, personnel changes and budget constraints caused a change in direction and the USFS decided to demolish the resort. Dismayed, a citizens’ coalition led by long-time canyon resident Elyse Bliss eventually achieved a National Historic Site designation for the lodge and it was saved, although the cabins are being allowed to deteriorate.  Now a summer visitors’ center, Arrowhead Lodge is a friendly stopping place for information, coffee and homemade cookies, and picnicking.

The Johnstown, Colorado Tornado of 1928

We know our area can have blizzards and floods and certainly hailstorms but we forget that Weld County has more tornadoes than any other county in the United States. One reason is its size; Weld County is four times as big as the national average. More land area equates to more opportunity to see a tornado but there is also a geological reason. Weld county sits in a bowl, making it part of a “cyclone convergence zone.”

Fortunately, though, Weld County tornadoes tend to be small tornadoes, F0 or F1 on a scale that goes to F5. But, occasionally, Weld County does see stronger tornadoes, some of which have caused deaths.

On May 22, 2008, one of Weld County’s most destructive tornadoes, an F3, struck the town of Windsor, which sits in both Weld and Larimer counties, killing one person and injuring 78 others. The town was declared both a local and national disaster area; it sustained nearly $125 million in damages. Thankfully, tornado deaths are very unusual in Weld County and even in Colorado. Since 1950, only three tornado related deaths have occurred in Colorado.

Earlier tornado records are hard to come by but a tornado researcher has found ten Colorado tornados that have resulted in death prior to 1950. One of the ten serious tornadoes was the Johnstown tornado of 1928. Johnstown is another town shared by Larimer and Weld counties. Two women died and 50 others were injured when a tornado passed just west of Johnstown on June 29, 1928, around 11:45 a.m.

JT First House 1 B680
Johnstown Tornado Damage, House 1 Wide View, June 30, 1928.

The event was covered in detail by the Fort Collins Express – Courier. Tornado sirens were a long ways in the future and the tornado struck without warning. One man, who the newspaper called a “modern Paul Revere,” drove his motorcycle to farm after farm screaming for the residents to hide or drive away. Though they didn’t know his name, the newspaper credited the man for saving a number of lives that day.

JT First House 2 B680
Johnstown Tornado Damage, House 1, June 30, 1928.

The tornado hit mostly farm country, sparing the Johnstown downtown area. A number of farm houses, like those shown in these photographs, were destroyed. The Fujita scale of tornado intensity wasn’t introduced until the 1970s but the newspaper had its own measure. “The regulation tornado aspect of the storm is verified by the fact that chickens in the storm stretch were stripped of their feathers.” A horse was also picked up and jammed into the cellar door of one house.

JT First House 1 Car Detail B680
Auto Stood on End by Johnstown Tornado, June 30, 1928.

The Express – Courier carrier this story about a man and his automobile.

“A Ford Automobile, stripped as not even highway vultures would strip a stolen car, was left leaning upward against a tree, one end off the ground, according to Ken Brown, city fireman, who was one of the visitors to the Johnstown district.”

Here are two more images of a second (I think) destroyed home.

JT Second House 1 B680
Johnstown Tornado Damage, House 2 Wide View, June 30, 1928.
JT Second House 2 B680
Johnstown Tornado Damage, House 2, June 30, 1928.

While only two people were killed, many were injured. Doctors rushed into the area from Loveland and from a meeting of the Larimer County Medical Association that was coincidently taking place in Fort Collins.

Though small in comparison to the storms of tornado alley, in the middle of the country, the Johnstown Tornado of 1928 remains on the list of the most deadly tornados of Colorado.

Motels of South College Avenue, 1929 – 1971

01 White Cottage Court from Phamplet Image B680

While motels were opening on North College Avenue, cottage camps, tourist courts, and motor lodges were also springing up on the south side of town. You can see the north side motels on these two posts – “Motels of North College Avenue, 1929 – 1950,” and “Motels of North College Avenue, 1952 – 1960.” For the south side of town, I’m going to try to cover all the motels in one post, though I will spend more words on the two earliest south side facilities.

Searching the city directories and telephone books, I found 23 different named South College motels, at 11 different addresses. Only one south side motel is still open, the University Inn at 914 South College Avenue. At its peak in the late 1950s, eight South College motels were serving the traveling public. Only two of them opened before WWII was over. Fortunately, I can show you what both of them looked like.

02 Early South Motels List B680

According to the city directories, White Cottage Court opened in 1929, the same year that All States Cottage Camp opened on the north side of town. Its address was 1601 South College, which is the southwest corner of Prospect Road and South College Avenue. It was open for 30 years, under two slightly different names.

While I don’t have a postcard of the White Cottage Court or the White Motor Court, Lesley Struc, at the Fort Collins Archive, was able to find an image of the White Motor Court as an early 1950s advertisement in The Fort Collins Guide Published for Out-of-Town Visitors and Newcomers. The archive kindly allowed me to share the advertisement with you.

03 White Motor Court from Phamplet B680
White Motor Court “Strictly Modern,” c. 1952. Courtesy of the Fort Collins Archive.

A few years later, in 1933, Davey’s Motor Court opened at 1700 or 1702 South College (the exact address changed from listing to listing.). Below is an early image of the lodging.

04 Daveys Motor Court c1935 Miller B680
Davey’s Motor Court, c. 1941, Photograph by Mark Miller.

Notice the rounded (mission style?) faces on the cabins. Also notice the covered parking spots for automobiles, a feature of many of the earliest travel lodgings. This postcard had a review of the facility on the back, dated July 14, 1941. “We had a double cabin. $5 or $6. Mr. and Mrs. Davey are very gracious to their tourist trade. We felt we were one of the family – not just tourists.”

The facility went through three names changes. Below are images of the final two of the iterations.

05 PVML c1953 B680
Poudre Valley Motor Lodge, c. 1953.

I think, by this time, the lodge had been expanded to form an “L” shape. The back of the postcard advertised “Twenty-two modern units, some with kitchenettes.” It also bragged that the facility was recommended by Duncan Hines, one of the pioneers of reviews and ratings for travelers.

06 El Rancho Motel c1958 B680
El Rancho Motel, c. 1958.

Notice that at the same time the facility takes a Spanish sounding name, it removes the Spanish looking fronts on the original structure. Seems a little strange. A few years later, a different postcard advertises televisions, telephones, and room service, as well as a gift shop and beauty shop. It also mentions that they have housekeeping apartments for rent. As tourist travel through downtown Fort Collins feel off, many of the motels converted to apartments to stay open.

World War II, and the rationing that came with it, caused a gap in motel construction. But by 1946, the war was over and motels were being built again. The first post-WWII facility on South College was the South Side Motel at 1734 South College Avenue, which opened in 1946. As far as I can find, this is the first Fort Collins lodging facility to use the word “Motel” in its name. It wasn’t until 1954 that the city directories began to use “Motel” as a classification, rather than the older “Tourist Camp.”

Here is a list of the post-WWII South College motels in chronological order. Below the list are postcard views of many of them.

07 Later South Motels List B680

08 La Siesta p1961 B680
La Siesta Motel. Postmarked 1961.
09 X-X c1955 B680
X – X Motel, 1800 South College, c. 1955.
10 X Bar X c 1960 B680
X Bar X Motel, c. 1960.
11 Lariet Motel c1960 B680
Lariat Motel, c. 1960.
12 Town House Motel c 1965 B680
Town House Motel, c. 1965.

The Town House Motel opened in 1962 at 914 South College Avenue. From its inception, it advertised its location “Across from Colorado State University.” Around 1971 it changed its name to the University Motor Inn and, eventually, to the University Inn. As the University Inn, it is still open serving and serving visitors and students. Here is a photograph of it today.

12a University Inn 112717 B680
Best Western’s University Inn, December 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill.
13 Thunderbird p1966 B680
Thunderbird Motel, c. 1966.
14 Travelers c1970 B680
Traveler’s Motel, c. 1971.

The last of the South College motels to open, Traveler’s was at 4420 South College Avenue, almost to Harmony Road.

Let me end with a chart that combines all the motels on North and South College, showing how many were open for tourist by year. The chart encapsulates the history of mom-and-pop motels in Fort Collins and in many western towns.

15 College Ave Models by Year B680

As autos got cheaper and roads got better, tourists began to flood the west. They were looking for inexpensive lodging with convenient parking, two things that weren’t true of downtown hotels. Tourist camps began to spring up. Their growth was slowed by WWII but took off in the late 1940s and the 1950s. Then came the interstate highway system.

While the new interstate highways, and the chain motels that came with them, hurt the small mom and pop motels in nearly all towns, it devastated the tourist business in Fort Collins. Until I-25 opened, College Avenue, highway 287, was the main north-south highway. In 1963, I-25 reached Fort Collins and by 1968 it was past Wellington and into Wyoming. You can see the impact of the loss of traffic on College Avenue on the chart. From a peak of 17 motels, we quickly slide down to the five motels that are still in business today.

Lesley Struc, at the Fort Collins Archive, is coordinating an effort to put together an exhibit of Fort Collins motel images along with a document that captures all we know of them. If you have images or postcards of our early motels, please consider letting Lesley scan your images for possible use in the exhibit. Also, if you have stories about our early motels that you’d like to share, please email them to Lesley at the archive or to me at


The Loveland, Colorado Sugar Beet Factory

01 Loveland Topping SB B680
Topping Sugar Beets near Loveland, Colo., c. 1910

Since my long range plan is to donate my image collection to the Fort Collins Archive, I mostly buy images that fall within the scope of their collection. The one place I go off-base is with sugar beet images. I love the early images of the sugar beet industry, from families working sugar beet fields, as in the above image, to sugar beet dumps, to the factories. Instead of limiting my sugar beet purchases to Larimer County locations, I collect images from all 13 of the sugar beet factories that once operated in Northern Colorado. Over the next few months, I’ll share those images with you starting with this post of the Loveland sugar beet factory, the first one to open in Northern Colorado.

In 1900, a group of investors approached Loveland with a proposal to build a sugar beet factory. They placed conditions on their offer, including 1,500 acres adjacent to the plant that could be planted in sugar beets, and guarantees from local farmers for an additional 3,500 acres of sugar beets that could be processed in the new factory. Loveland met the demands and in 1901 the first real industrial plant opened in Northern Colorado. Below are a few early images of the Loveland factory.


02 Building Loveland SBF c1899 B680
Building the Loveland Sugar Beet Plant, c. 1900.
03 Loveland SBF c1921 B680
Beet Sugar Factory, Loveland, Colo., dated 1921.
04 Loveland SBF Townley c1910 B680
Sugar Factory, Loveland, c. 1910. Photograph by Townley.
05 Loveland SBF Rky Mtn News c1920 B680
Loveland Sugar Beet Factory and Field, c. 1910.
06 Loveland SBF Esther c1910 B680
Great Western Sugar Factory, Loveland, c. 1920.

In 1905, the investors incorporated as the Great Western Sugar Company and began buying or building other sugar beet factories in Northern Colorado, including the factory they would build in Fort Collins in 1904. You can see my post on the Fort Collins factory by clicking here.

Just visible on the left side of the last image is a beet piler, unloading beets into the large piles that built up at the sugar factories during the harvest season. Below is a beet piler at work at the Loveland factory. I used this image previously in “The Sugar Beet Pilers” but it is too great an image not to repeat.

07 Loveland SBF Piler B680
Sugar Beet Piler, Loveland Sugar Beet Plant, c. 1945.

Finally, here are two recent images of the Loveland factory as it looks today. It is on Madison Avenue just south of East Eisenhower Blvd. Though the buildings are in disrepair, it is worth the trip to get an idea of the scale of these sugar beet plants. For their time, they were big production facilities.

08 Loveland SBF Now 2 B680
Loveland Sugar Beet Factory, November 23, 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill.
09 Loveland SBF Now 1 B680
Loveland Sugar Beet Factory, November 23, 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill.

Obviously, someone got tired of assuring visitors that this was the sugar factory.

You can see all my sugar beet posts by selecting the Sugar Beets category.

Motels of North College Avenue, 1952 – 1960

In this post, I’m going to continue our trip along North College as motels began to expand to the north. The first post in this series introduced the Motels of North College Avenue, 1929 – 1950. This post covers the motels that opened in the next 10 years or so on North College, seven locations with 13 different names. I’ll list all the names but I’ve only been able to find images for four of the motels. Below are the three locations without images.

Motel                                      Address                       Open   Close

Casa Linda Motor Court        1750 North College    1952    1956

Sweet Dreams                         1804 North College    1951    1963

Golden Horse Shoe Motel      1908 North College    1960    1979

One of the most interesting motels opened in 1952 under the name Rustic Rail Cottage Camp at 1513 North College Avenue. Over the years it has had six different names, still operating today as the Budget Host Inn. Here are the names and the approximate dates I have been able to find.

Motel                                      Address                       Open   Close

Rustic Rail Cottage Camp      1513 North College    1952    1953

K – Bar – D                             1513 North College    1953    1974

Town & Country Motel          1513 North College    1974    1993

Budget Town & Country        1513 North College    1994    2005

Chang & Inn                           1513 North College    2006    2009

Budget Host Inn                      1513 North College    2010    Open

101 Town & Country Sign B680
Town & Country Motel Sign, c. 1975. Fort Collins Archive (T02976b)


Even with this many names and a long working life, images are very scarce. I don’t have any historic images of the motel in my collection and the Fort Collins Archive had only one, an image of their sign when they were the Town & Country Motel. Here it is.



Operating as the Budget Host Inn, the motel is one of four motels still operating along North College Avenue.





102 Budget Host Inn CU 111117 B680

Budget Host Inn, November 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill.

The next motel to open was the Plainsman Motel. It opened around 1955, with a great sign.

Motel                                      Address                       Open   Close

Plainsman Motel                   1310 North College    1955    1997

103 Plainsman 1 B680
Plainsman Motel, c. 1955.

This image of the Plainsman probably accompanied its opening. The advertising blurb on the back declares, “New, Ultra-modern, Clean, Comfortable, Restful. Home of Colorado A & M College, Near Estes Park and the Mountains.” Below is a second image of the Plainsman taken a few years later. The Plainsman closed around 1997 and, I think, the property now has a pool supply store. I’d love to know what happen to the great sign.

104 Plainsman 2 B680
 Plainsman Motel, c. 1960.

The next motel to open was the Montclair Lodge.

Motel                                      Address                       Open   Close

Montclair Lodge                    1405 North College    1960    Open

Below are three images of the motel, which is still in operation today and still using the Montclair name.

105 Montclair 1 B680
Montclair Lodge, c. 1962.
106 Montclair 2 B680
Montclair Lodge, Postmarked 1962.
107 Montclair 1980 B680
Montclair Lodge, Dated 1980.

The 1980 postcard included a review of the hotel on the reverse side. Here it is:

“Fair place – 1 bed, 2 easy chairs, desk, air conditioning, plenty of lamps, towels, etc. Bad faucets, hard to turn. Shower nothing to brag about, but plenty of hot water. Here for two nights.”

Finally, the last motel to open on North College Avenue was the Lamplighter Motel, which opened in 1961 or 1962 and is still operating today but as the America’s Best Value Inn.

Motel                                      Address                       Open   Close

Lamplighter Motel                1809 North College    1961    2008

America’s Best Value Inn      1809 North College    2009    Open

108 Lamplighter B680
Lamplighter Motel, c. 1965.
109 Americas Best Value 2 102617 B680
America’s Best Value Inn, October 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill.

In a few weeks, I’ll share postcards of the motels that opened along South College Avenue in the same period.

Motels of North College Avenue, 1929 – 1950

As automobiles got cheaper and more reliable, and as improved roads were built, tourists flooded into the West. Many of the tourists were looking for low-cost lodging. Western towns, including Fort Collins, responded by opening municipal campgrounds and then tourist cabins, which I cover in an earlier post entitled “City Park Campgrounds and Tourist’s Cabins.” Businessmen also responded opening lodgings for tourists that used many names – cottage camps, courts, and lodges. The name “motel” came along later, blending the two words “motor” and “hotel.” Since it is the name we use today, I’m going to call all of the facilities motels.

The new motels sprang up along the main travel roads; College Avenue in the case of Fort Collins. They opened to the north and south of the town, where cheaper land was available. In this post and the next, I’m going to cover the motels that appeared on North College Avenue. In a later post, I’ll cover the South College Avenue businesses.

As far as I can find, there were 21 named motels along North College. Four still remain as motels. The 21 named motels were at 13 different addresses. Some of the motels changed names. One motel had six different names. I’ll share images of nine of the 21 named motels, though I’ll mention more of them. I’m going to go chronologically, starting with the earliest motel, and I’ll break the post into two parts by when they opened, 1929 – 1950 and 1952 – 1960. Because of the gaps in city directories, the opening and closing dates are approximate.

Motel                                      Address                  Open   Close

All States Cottage Court        1023 North College    1929    1951

Cozy Court                             1023 North College    1951    1983

The earliest motel on the north side of town (and, I think, the earliest motel in the entire town) first appeared in the 1929 Fort Collins city directory. It was called All States Cottage Camp and was located at 1023 North College Avenue. Here is an early postcard of the camp.

01a All States 1 c1930 B680
All States Cottage Camp, c. 1930. Photograph by Sanborn.

The design is similar to the design of the first municipal tourist cabins that were built a year earlier in City Park, small cottages that were separated by covered spaces where automobiles could park. You cans see the small store and gas station on the right side of the image. Here is a close-up of the store and station.

01b All States 1 Closeup c1930 B680
All States Cottage Camp Close-up, Colo. C. 1930.

The sign above the store advertises “Tourist Cabins.” The automobile has been identified by the Antique Automobile Club of America as possibly a 1929 Nash and it is getting gas from a Gilbert & Barker gas pump. This was a visible gas pump with the glass cylinder marked in gallons similar to a large science beaker. It not only showed you how many gallons you had pumped but let you see the clarity of the gas at a time when impurities were a significant issue.

Here is another image of All States a few years later:

02 All States 3 c1938 B680
 All States Cottage Camp, Fort Collins, c. 1938.

As you can see, there have been some major changes in just a few years. The cottages are gone and a building that looks more like motel can now be seen. Also, the store has been enlarged and electric gas pumps have been installed. The sign on the far left, probably impossible for you to read, says “All States Camp.”

Around 1951 or 1952, All States was sold and changed names to “Cozy Court.”

03 Cozy Court c1955 B680
Cozy Court, Highway 287, Fort Collins, c. 1955.

The gas pumps are gone and the store now looks more like a home than a commercial building but the rental rooms look pretty much the same.

Cozy Court closed sometime in 1983 or 1984. Today, Advance Auto Parts is in its place.

Motel                                      Address                  Open   Close

Riverside Cottage Camp        620 North College      1933    1957

Gaston’s Cottage Court          1303 North College    1940    1950

Stonecrest Court                     1303 North College    1950    1987

The second motel on North College Avenue was the Riverside College Camp that was open by 1933 at 620 North College Avenue. I don’t have an image of it but I do have postcards from the next motel. There was a seven year gap until Gaston’s Cottage Court opened at 1303 North College. In 1950, it changed hands and became the Stonecrest Court. Here is an early postcard of it, after the name change.

05 Stonecrest B680
Stonecrest Court, c. 1950

The short advertising blurb on the back of the card reads, “Steam heat – cool in summer – kitchenettes. Accommodations from two to six persons, Telephone 2151.”

As near as I can tell, the Stonecrest operated as a motel until around 1987 and then must have begun renting out its units as apartments or small businesses. It still exists today under the name Stonecrest Rentals. Below is a photograph of it taken yesterday.

05a Stonecrest111117 B680
Stonecrest Rentals, November 11, 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill

The two foreground buildings remain but the motel units in the back seem to have been replaced by a trailer park.

Motel                                      Address                  Open   Close

Mountain View Court                        740 North College      1939    1972

06 Mountain View 2 B680
Mountain View Court, c. 1943.

Mountain View Court is the last of the group of motels that opened on North College before World War II. This postcard exemplifies the problem with motel names, at this time. The front of the card uses “Mountain View Court,” the sign (which you probably can’t read) uses “Mountain View Cabins,” and the reverse side calls it “Mountain View Cottages.”  They have most of the variations covered.

The design is similar to the design of the first municipal tourist cabins and the earliest cabins at All States, with small cabins separated by covered spaces for automobiles.

Below is a scatter diagram displaying the North College Avenue motels by opening year, on the x-axis, and street address, on the y-axis.

06a scatter plot North College Motels B680

You can see the gap between the first two motels and the second pair of motels and the larger gap to the next group of motels, mostly explained by World War II. You can also see how the motels opened farther north as the years went by.

Motel                                      Address                  Open   Close

Shady Lane Trailer Camp      North of Fort Collins  1946    1949

Shady Lane is an interesting entry. It open and closed between city directories, which weren’t printed during WWII. It did show up in the 1940s telephone books but without a street address, just “North of Fort Collins.” I assume it was on North College Avenue, but I haven’t been able to confirm the location.

The end of WWII kicked off another major tourist boom for the west and new motels started to spring up again. The first of this group was considered the city’s most luxurious motor lodge, offering a swimming pool and a popular dining room.

Motel                               Address                  Open   Close

El Palomino Lodge     1220 North College    1949

07 El Palomino 1 B680
El Palomino Lodge, postmarked 1952.
08 El Palomino 2 B680
El Palomino Motel & Restaurant, c. 1960

It is interesting to compare the two postcards, made eight to ten years apart. In the first postcard, the Palomino is a “Lodge,” in the second it has been renamed a “Motel.” Unfortunately, the great “Lodge” sign is gone in the 1960s version. The descriptions on the back of the cards probably tell us what was important to hotel guests in the two periods.

Here is the 1950s description:

“Northern Colorado’s newest and finest unit motor lodge and café located in the cool shadow of the Rockies. . . . Gateway to the beautiful Poudre Canon, Colorado’s Trout Route.”

And here is the 1960s version:

“42 units designed for the complete comfort of our guests, with the ultimate in comfortable furnishings – excellent dining room and snack bar – heated swimming pool and sun deck – free 21” television in all rooms – refrigeration air conditioning – thermostatically controlled heat.”

Though I don’t know for sure, I’d guess that the swimming pool wasn’t part of the original lodge. If it was, certainly the early image and description would have included the upscale feature.

Palomino is the first of the early motels still serving guests. Below is a recent photograph of it.

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El Palomino, October 26, 2017. Photograph by M. E. McNeill

Next week I’ll finish our trip up North College Avenue, sharing images of the more recent motels.

Barbara Fleming’s Hidden History of Fort Collins

Barbara Fleming’ newest local history book was released this week. Entitled Hidden History of Fort Collins, it covers some of the lesser known stories and images of Fort Collins. It uses a number of images from my collection, including the five shown below that are paired with Barbara’s stories. I hope you enjoy both the photographs and the stories.

01 Points B420
Folsom Man Weapon Points from Lindenmier Site North of Fort Collins, c. 1935


Long before the Wild West emerged in the 19th century, other people inhabited these lands. In 1927, A. Lynn Coffin and his father, Judge Roy Coffin, unearthed artifacts that established the presence of Paleo-Indian tribes about 11,000 years ago, as evidenced by these Folsom points. In the 1930s the Smithsonian Institute excavated the site. Today it is part of the Fort Collins Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, where a buffalo herd thrives.

See my post on the Coffins and the Lindenmier site by clicking here.





02 Bike Shop B680
Folsom Man Weapon Points from Lindenmier Site North of Fort Collins, c. 1935

Women loved the bicycle, which necessitated wearing split skirts or pantaloons and offered them freedom they had never had before. They quickly formed riding clubs. Along with this new mode of transportation came bicycle repair shops like this one, photographed in 1908 somewhere downtown.  No doubt it was one of several scattered around the town. The first bicycle, called penny-farthings, had a very high front wheel and small back wheel, making them a challenge to ride, but people did.


03 Dad Morton B420
Dad Morton, Timnath, CO. c. 1932

A local blacksmith, recalled only as “Dad” Morton and pictured here in 1932, plied his trade during the daytime and played his fiddle at night. During the Great Depression, many farmers still used horses to plow their fields because tractors were too expensive, so his skills remained in demand, as were his nimble fingers to accompany square-dance callers. For a good many years square dancing, born in barns across the frontier in the 19th century, dominated social life in rural America.




04 Byron Whites House B680
Byron White’s Wellington Home, c. 1982.

John F. Kennedy and Byron White met in England in 1939. White, whose childhood home is shown here, served in the Navy during World War II, was valedictorian of his college class and played professional football before being named to the Supreme Court in 1962, after his friend John Kennedy became president in 1961. A moderate, White served for three decades.

05 Tolliver Kinney B680
 Toliver-Kinney Building, c. 1945

Not many people have lived here long enough to remember Toliver’s Hardware Store, which began in the 1920s as a gas station and hay merchant and expanded to hardware. In the 1940s the company was still selling gas, as the photograph shows. After being on the northwest corner of College Avenue and Mason Street for several decades the store moved around the corner into a Mason Street storefront, discontinuing gasoline sales. Long-timers perhaps recall going into the store, with its creaky floors and knowledgeable clerks, who could meet any hardware request, no matter how unusual.

Barbara’s book is for sale at many book outlets, including Old Firehouse Books, Barnes & Noble, Walgreens, Jax Outdoor, and Al’s News Stand.

City Park Campgrounds and Tourist’s Cabins

As automobiles got cheaper and more reliable, and as improved roads were built, tourists flooded into the West. Many of the tourists were looking for low-cost lodging. Western towns, including Fort Collins, responded by opening municipal campgrounds like this one, located in City Park and photographed in the 1920s.

01 Municipal Campround 1 c1925 B680
City Park Municipal Campground, c. 1925.

According to Carol Tunner’s, “An Overview of the Fort Collins Park System,” which was the source of my information for this post, the campground opened in 1919 in what was an old tree nursery. Initially, 26 lots or campsites were laid out for tents, the lots averaging 30 x 60 feet. A few water faucets, seven fireplaces with free wood, and a sanitary toilet provided the services for the campers. For their part, the campers were expected to burn their own trash, keep the area clean, and not damage the trees. Here’s a second image of the campground, probably from the 1930s.

02 Municipal Campround 2 c1930 B680
City Park Municipal Campground, c. 1930.

Initially, the use of the campground was free but in 1924 a fee of 50 cents per night was established.

In 1923, the Fort Collins contracted with the park concessionaire, Robert W. Lampton, to build a two-story community house. The lower floor would provide services to the tourists – an assembly room, dining room, gas plates for cooking, a laundry room, and a small selection of groceries. Lampton would use the second floor as his residence. A few years later, a combined toilet and tool house was built next door to the community house. Below is a photograph of the two buildings, probably taken sometime in the 1930s.

03 Community House c1935 B680
Community House, c. 1935

Towards the end of the 1920s, towns were beginning to offer small cabins for tourists wanting lodging a little more upscale than a campground, but still economical. In 1927, Lampton approached the city with the idea of building 16 tourist cabins. In the fall of 1928, two mirrored buildings, with eight connected cottages each were built at 1544 W. Oak Street. The cabins were called the Paramount Cottage Camp. Here is a photograph of the facility, circa 1930, along with a close-up of one side.

04 Paramount Camp c1935 B680
Paramount Cottage Camp, c. 1930
05 Paramount Camp Closeup c1935 B680
Paramount Cottage Camp, West Side, c. 1930

By 1930, Lampton was also listed as the proprietor of the service station on the left side of the image, facing Bryan Street.

When Paramount stopped being used as a tourist camp is unknown, but by 1954, the units were being listed as apartments for permanent residents. In 2009, the owners of the property, Maureen Plotnicki and Stephen Weber, filed an application to get a Fort Collins Landmark designation for the property. It was approved in 2009 and the owners worked to bring Paramount back to its historical look. As you can see in the photograph I took this past week, they have done a great job.

06 Paramount 102717 B680
Paramount Cottage Camp, October 27, 2017, Photograph by M. E. McNeill.

Even before the Paramount Cottage Camp was complete, Lampton petitioned the City Council for permission to build 16 more cabins, this time in City Park. The Council agreed and decided there should be eight two-unit cabins. Like the Paramount, the two structures would mirror each other, four units on a side, under unbroken roofs with covered spaces between them where cars could be parked. Below is a postcard showing the cabins shortly after their construction in 1928. I’ve also included a close-up of the left-side cabins.

07 Municipal Tourist Cabins 1 c1927 B680
City Park Tourist’s Cabins, 1928.
08 Municipal Tourist Cabins 1 Closeup c1927 B680
City Park Tourist’s Cabins, Close-up, 1928.

You can see a building at the end of the left line of cabins. I believe it is the shower and toilet building for the 16 cabins. The cabins were officially named the Municipal Cottage Camp.

Demand for the tourist’s cabins was great and immediately Lampton and the city decided to add five more two-unit cabins with open garages, with one of the cabins to be used as a laundry. Below is another postcard image after the expansion.

09 Municipal Tourist Cabins 2 pm1939 B680
Municipal Cottage Camp, Ft. Collins, Colo, c. 1935. Photograph by Sanborn.

My postcard has this message on the back, postmarked June 17, 1939:

“Municipal Cottage Camp, Cabin #16. Reached here last night after a nice trip and visit at Rapid City. Rode up a nice road into the mountains this pm. We are at the foot of the Rockies – Beautiful!”

Unfortunately, the Depression was already affecting business. Lampton and the City reduced cabin rates in 1932, from $1.25 to $1.00 per day, hoping to keep the cabins filled but business continued to drop. By 1933, revenues from the campground and cabins wasn’t covering the costs. By the end of 1935, Lampton gave up the City Park concessions. The City tried to keep the facilities running but it seems like they gave up in 1940.

The cabins were used as low-income housing for awhile but eventually the City Park cabins were removed. A few were moved up to the Fort Collins water treatment plant in the Poudre Canyon. Others just disappeared, with no record of a new use.

An interesting era in City Park was over but a new commercial era was starting; motels were springing up along College Avenue. I’ll cover the motels in two future posts.