Zimmerman’s Keystone Hotel, a Stanley Steamer, and a Mountain Lion

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.

01 Keystone Front View B680
Keystone Hotel, Front View, Postmarked 1915.

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.

02 Keystone Wide View pm1908 B680
Wide View of the Keystone Hotel Area, Postmarked 1908.
03 Keystone Wide View closeup B680
 Close-up of Previous Image Showing the Main Building.

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.

04 Keystone From Bridge pm1908 B680
Bridge to Keystone Hotel, Postmarked 1908.

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.

06 Stanley Steamer c1910 B680
1909 Stanley Steamer Model Z on Bridge to Keystone Resort, c. 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.

07 Lion c1907 B680
Mountain Lion, “Terror of the Rockies,” Photograph by Eda Zimmerman, 1907.

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.

08 Trout Ponds Miller B680
Trout Ponds, Poudre Canyon, c. 1940. Photograph by Mark Miller.

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.

Lone Pine Inn, Poudre Canyon

A few months ago, I bought a real photo postcard on eBay. It’s a picture of a tent near a river with a handwritten caption, “Lone Pine Inn, Poudre Canon” and the word “Webster.” Here it is:

Lone Pine Inn mcneill B680
Lone Pine Inn, Poudre Canon, c. 1925.

I’ve written a lot about the Poudre Canyon and its historic resorts but I had never heard of the Lone Pine Inn. I checked my copy of Stanley Case’s The Poudre: A Photo History. It had a few lines in it on the Lone Pine Inn, but not very much. So I sent a scan of my image to Jan Gueswel. Jan, a Poudre Canyon resident and the editor of a monthly newsletter for lower Poudre Canyon residents, has become my go-to person on Poudre Canyon questions.

It turns out that Jan had a similar experience with a much better Lone Pine Inn image and had written about it in her newsletter. Here is Jan’s image and her story. (You can see the tent in my image just left of center in Jan’s image.)

lone pine inn Jan image B680
Lone Pine Inn, Poudre Canyon. Courtesy Jan Gueswel.

Finding facts about Poudre Canyon is like looking for needles in a haystack. The fun part about it is that you find these things in the most unexpected places. 

Recently I was looking through old post cards and found one labeled “Lone Pine Inn, Poudre Canyon”.  I think I know the canyon pretty well but this was a new one on me. I looked at the picture – no bells went off immediately and then I noticed that someone had written the elevation on the card also, 5,700 foot altitude. (That is Poudre Park.)

The second clue was on the back of the postcard. Handwritten on the back was, “Mrs. Mace E. Webster, Bellvue, CO Transcontinental Highway link Fort Collins to Salt Lake.” More Clues!  The Webster’s lived in Poudre Park.

The mountain behind my house is called Mount Webster. Now I look at the photo again and realized I do know where this is.  The house is where the Dimmicks lived for many years before they built the current structure now on the property at 10326 Poudre Canyon. What I recognized was Hewlett Gulch from the highway.

Upon further research Bruce Dimmick told me that indeed it was an Inn, with a couple of lean to bedrooms where people could stay.  His parents bought the cabin, remodeled and then tore it down and built the home they lived in for many years.

Interestingly enough, the name Webster has ties to the mountain and some suggest that the mountain was named for this family.

After the Webster’s left, a family named Porter owned the property.  Louie and Helen Gueswel remember that in the 1940’s they had a small snack shack in front of the house where you could stop and buy candy and pop when you went fishing in the Poudre.

The other interesting thing was the note about this being the “transcontinental link between Fort Collins and Salt Lake City.”  This is puzzling since the road was closed from late October until early May each year from snow.  It could only have been used about half the year.

If you know more details about this please let me know.

Having the transcontinental highway cross Colorado along the Poudre Canyon was a dream of the early movers and shakers in Northern Colorado. Obviously, it never happened and southern Wyoming became the location for the highway.

In this coming week, time permitting, I will do two posts. First, Barbara Fleming has an article on CSU’s Braiden Hall coming out in the Coloradoan on Monday. I hope to post some pictures of the building on Wednesday or Thursday. Then on Sunday, I’ll do the first of two posts on the Armstrong Hotel, one of the great Fort Collins’ landmarks.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page can click the “Poudre Canyon” category to see the rest of my Poudre posts.

Souvenir Images of Fort Collins: Part 1

In the last part of the 1800s, a new printing technique known as halftone reproduction was invented. It used dots to simulate the continuous tones of black-and-white photographs by varying the size and spacing of the dots. The first commercial use was a crude halftone image of a hotel in the December 2, 1873 issue of the New York Daily Graphic’s newspaper.

By the turn of the 20th century, halftone reproduction had improved in quality and gone down in price. Halftone reproduction made souvenir books of images a common tourist commodity and Fort Collins wasn’t left behind.

Below is the earliest souvenir book of Fort Collins in my collection.

01 Souvenir Fort Collins Killgore Bookstore B680
Souvenir Book of Fort Collins, Col., 1904. 7” x 5 ¼” Published by John Latimer, Proprietor of the Killgore Bookstore.

Traveling agents from a publishing company, in this case the Albertype Co., of Brooklyn, N.Y., visited bookstores, stationers, and other merchants in small towns and cities. They were trying to commission a series of 10 to 15 local views. If the agent was successful, the images would be selected, halftone printed, and bound in a simple booklet. This example has three punched holes and was apparently bound with red ribbon, though very little of the ribbon remains on my copy.

The souvenir books were cheaply printed and sold for around ten cents per copy. This book was published by John Latimer, who owned the Killgore Bookstore, 105 South College Avenue. According to the local newspapers, Latimer bought the book store in July 1903 and sold it in 1905. In mid to late 1904, Latimer was advertising “Dainty souvenir books and postal card views of Fort Collins.” He was probably advertising this book.

My book has 15 images in it, though, because they are unbound, it is hard to know if I have a full set. All images are of Fort Collins or the college. The most interesting image is a tri-fold street scene of College Avenue and Linden Street.

02 Sov of FC Killgore Trifold B680
Fort Collins, Col., with handwritten caption “College Ave. Linden St,” c. 1904.

Unfolded, the image measures just over 12 inches long, too long for the bed of my scanner. It is 3 1/4 inches wide. The photograph appears to have been taken from the top of the First National Bank, shooting towards the northwest, though I could be wrong.

Below is another image from the book.

03 Sov of FC Killgore High School B680
High School, c. 1903.

This image measures approximately 5 ¼ x 4 inches. Looking at the trees, it seems like the image must have been taken shortly after the high school was built in 1903, on Meldrum Street where the present Lincoln Center stands.

The souvenir book was replaced quickly by the post card folder. Post card sized images were attached accordion fashion to each other and folded into a printed cover. The entire folder was designed so that it could be sealed and mailed as one piece. The postage was very reasonable, one cent or 1 ½ cent stamps were very common.

I have three accordion style postcard folders. Below are scans of the covers and one or two of the images from each of them that I especially liked.

04 Souv Folding Post Card Wood B680
Souvenir Folding Post Card, Fort Collins Series No. 58. Published by Jesse R. Wood, Fort Collins, Colo. 5 ¾” x 4”. C. 1910.

Series No. 58? Can it mean that Jesse R. Wood published 58 different postcard folders of Fort Collins? I think, if true, I would have seen more of them over the years. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information Wood.

Assuming my set is complete, the folder consists of eight Fort Collins postcards printed only on one side. As you’ll see, many publishers printed images on both sides of the paper. Wood didn’t take the photographs. A number of them, including the YMCA image below, still carry the original photographer’s name – Stephen Seckner, a long time Fort Collins photographer.

05 Souv Folding Post Card Wood YMCA B680
Y. M. C. A. Building, Fort Collins, Colo. Seckner Photos. C. 1910.

I chose this image because I just did a post on the YMCA building and because I love the big dial in front of the car on East Oak Street. The YMCA must have been running a fund raiser and were using this dial to track their progress.

The YMCA opened in 1908 and had electricity service a year or two later. I barely can see the electrical wires on the original image.

Seckner started his photography business around 1880 and was out of the business sometime in 1911. 1910 seems like a close guess for the date the original photograph was taken.

06 FC CO So Folder B680
Fort Collins, Colorado Souvenir Folder.  6” x 4 ¼”.  C.1915.

Here is the second accordion style postcard folder. Unfortunately, there isn’t any information on the publisher or printing company. On the other hand, it has 20 great images of Fort Collins, the college, and the Poudre Canyon. They are printed back to back and are a very nice quality. Notice that the whole package only cost one cent to mail.

I’ve chosen two images to share with you.

07 FC CO So Folder Ammons B680
Ammons Hall, The Woman’s Bldg, C. A. C., Fort Collins, Colo. C. 1925

Ammons Hall at the college has to be one of the schools most photogenic buildings. Someday I’ll do a post on it, using some wonderful interior and exterior images I have in my collection. I’m sure I have nicer images of the building than this but none of them show the in-ground sprinklers.

Originally called the Woman’s Building, it was completed in 1921. It was named Ammons Hall in 1925, so this image (and this set) must have been published after 1925.

08 FC CO So Folder Poudre B680
Scene in Poudre Canyon, near fort Collins, Colo. C. 1913.

I decided to show this image of the Poudre Canyon because I have an original photograph of it. My photograph was used in a newspaper article and is dated August 24, 1913. The image shows how narrow the Poudre Canyon Road was in those early days.

The caption used with the photograph is affixed to my copy but it is incomplete. What I can read says, “The Cache La Poudre Canon on the proposed northern link of the transcontinental highway. [Missing words] character of scenery through which the road passes and the kind of work performed by Colorado convicts.” Of course, the transcontinental highway never passed through the Poudre Canyon.

Here my third accordion folder:

09 FC and PC Souv Folder Sanborn B680
Souvenir Folder of Fort Collins and Poudre Canon, Colo. 6” x 4 ¼”.  Sanborn Souvenir Co., Denver, Colo. C. 1935.
10 FC and PC Souv Folder Sanborn PO B400
Post Office and Sugar Factory, Fort Collins, Colo. C. 1930. Photographs by Sanborn.

The Sanborn Souvenir Co. opened sometime in the 1920s, giving Harold Sanborn, a commercial photographer from Denver, another outlet for the images he made of Colorado and Wyoming. My copy of this souvenir folder has only 10 images in it, printed back to back accordion style. I think it is too few postcards to be a complete set. Three of the ten postcards have two images on them as shown below:


These two images are really hard to date. I think they could have been taken around 1930.

Below is a strange postcard from the same set.





11 FC and PC Souv Folder Sanborn Street B680

View of the Business Section, College Avenue, Ft. Collins, Colo. C. 1930. Original photograph by Sanborn.

The image doesn’t look real. The cars almost look like model cars. Then I remembered seeing a printed colored version of this image in my collection. So here it is:

12 sanborn color street scene
View of the Business Section, College Avenue, Ft. Collins, Colo. Published by Sanborn Souvenir Co. Denver, Colo. C. 1930.

The image in the folder was obviously made from this printed color version of the photograph. Photographs were often simplified when they were made into four-color postcards. You’ll see the simplifications when you look at the original real photo postcard that is shown below.

13 College Ave Sanborn n263 B680
College Avenue Business District, N 263. C. 1930. Photograph by Sanborn.

As you can see, flags, a person, and some signs on the buildings have been removed, probably to make the colorizing process easier. Why Sanborn didn’t use this image as the basis for the image in the souvenir folder is unknown.

Next Sunday, I’ll complete the souvenir folder collection with images from four more folders. I think you’ll enjoy the unusual photographs.

Lantern Slides

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.

The Lower Poudre Canyon: Waterworks Through the Pine Vu Resort

I’ve shared Poudre Canyon images in two earlier posts. I started where every canyon trip starts, at Ted’s Place, and then continued up the lower canyon, with images of Stearley’s Cabins and Picnic Rock. The links to the two earlier posts are shown below:

This post will take us up the lower canyon a little farther, starting at the waterworks, now Gateway Park, and then visiting three more lower canyon resorts.

Waterwork’s Hill. Photo by Mark Miller, Postmarked 1937.

In 1903, Fork Collins residents voted to extend the water supply pipes up the Poudre Canyon to a point just upstream from the junction with the North Fork, making the Poudre Canyon Waterworks Plant an early fixture in the lower canyon. This image, circa 1937, shows the entrance to the plant located at MP 116.0. Look east as you turn into the park entrance to see the scene shown here. The hill was called Waterwork’s Hill.

This photograph was taken by Mark Miller, a long time Fort Collins’ photographer. He loved the Poudre Canyon and probably took more photographs of it than all the other 20th century photographers combined. He turned them into real photo postcards and sold them through the canyon resorts. When Barbara Fleming and I wrote Fort Collins: The Miller Photographs, we had a chance to interview two of his children, John and Beth, about their childhood and their trips up the canyon with their father.

When John and Beth started going up the canyon with their father on photo trips, it was in an overloaded Model T Ford. Dirt and gravel, the one-lane canyon road was narrow and steep, with no guard rails. (Paving was not completed throughout the canyon until the 1950s.) Coming to a particularly sharp grade, perhaps the one at Waterworks Hill, Miller would first attempt to persuade the vehicle upward. When it balked, as if often did, everyone got out, and Miller turned the car around and backed up the hill.

Two earlier posts sharing images from the Miller family photo album. They were called Mark Miller: Images from the Photographers’ Family Album – Part  1 and Part 2.

Waterworks Plant. c. 1955.

Completed in the spring of 1904, the system was expected to supply the city with four million gallons of water a day, enough, according to a local newspaper article, to provide “a great plenty for sprinkling lawns at all hours of the day.” Over time, facilities and equipment were added to ensure cleaner and safer water to the city. This photograph shows how the plant had expanded by the mid-1950s. Now Gateway Park, offers hiking, picnicking, and a launching point for rafts and kayaks.

Yauger’s Resort and Suspension Bridge. Photograph by Sanborn, c. 1925.
Yauger’s Resort. Photograph by Miller, c. 1925.

Alvi and Louis Yauger were early homesteaders along the Cache la Poudre River. Sometime around 1917, they opened Yauger’s Resort, consisting of a store and some cabins. The resort, gone now, was located near Milepost113. With the lower Poudre Canyon road completed past this point, local residents drove to the resort for ice cream and to watch Louis whistle in fish from the suspension bridge shown in this image.

Obviously, Yauger’s was a busy place. In the second photograph, I count ten cars parked around the resort.

The next resort, as you want up the canyon, was Columbine Camp. Below are two images of the camp, from different time periods.

Columbine Camp. Photograph by Miller, Postmarked 1937.
Columbine Camp Trail Ride. Photograph by Miller, Postmarked 1944.

This resort, at Milepost 112.0, began as Columbine Camp in the late 1920s, with a grocery store, five cabins, a campground, and a pony ring. It was started by Archie Jordan, a Fort Collins grocer, and has had a long string of owners over the years.

[Image Removed. See Lower Poudre Canyon Correction.]

Columbine is still in business but now under the name Columbine Lodge and Rusty Buffalo Campground.

Woman in Poudre Canyon, September 1910. Photographer is Unknown.

Here is a short break from resorts and buildings, a young lady relaxing in the Poudre Canyon in September 1910. There isn’t any more information on the postcard – not her name or where she is in the canyon. I believe she is somewhere in the lower canyon, since in 1910, even a round trip from Fort Collins to the lower canyon, in either a wagon or an early automobile, would have taken the better part of a day.

Certainly, hiking fashions were different in 1910. Men often wore ties and, as you can see, women wore dresses and, apparently, spectacular hats. I’ve emailed this image to CSU’s Avenir Museum of Design to see what they can tell us about the young lady’s clothing. I’ll pass on any information from them in a future update.

But now, one more resort – Pine Vu Lodge.

Pine Vu Lodge. Photograph by Miller, c. 1950.
Pine Vu Lodge and Cabins. Photograph by Miller, c. 1950.
Pine Vu Lodge Dining Room. Photograph by Miller, c. 1950.


Located very close to Columbine, Rainbow Ridge (not pictured), a resort with cabins and a store, opened in the early 1940s under the management of Pete and Mary Townsend, but road rebuilding in 1947 sliced off one edge of the property, so the Townsends gave up their resort. That same year, Gordon and Idella McMillan bought the land and built Pine Vu Lodge (originally spelled Pine View). These three images by Mark Miller show the Lodge, its dining room, and the rental cabins, all taken around 1950.

On September 24, 1991, Pine Vu’s main building burned down and the resort never reopened.

When I come back to the Poudre Canyon on a future post, I’ll start with the Thompson Resort, better known to us today as Mishawaka, but next Sunday I’ll share some early images from Windsor, Colorado.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page can click the “Poudre Canyon” category to see the rest of my Poudre posts.

Mark Miller: Images from the Photographers’ Family Album – Part 2

In Sunday’s Mark Miller: Images from the Photographers’ Family Album – Part 1, I introduced Mark Miller, a premier photographer in Fort Collins from 1914 through 1970, gave a little background on how I came to have the use of the Miller Family Album, and shared a dozen or so of the family images. Part 1 used images of Miller’s studios, his marriage to Effie Hall and their early years together, and introduced their four children. Part 2 is going to focus on what the family did for fun, starting with this composite image of his young children and their simple toys.

The Miller Children and Their Toys, 1920 – 1925

On the left is John, with the light hair, playing with his best friend’s pedal car. John said the photograph was taken around 1929, when John was about six-years old. The middle image is also John but at around two-years old playing with his blocks. Somehow little sister Beth got her two big brothers Warner (left) and Keith to take part in her tea party in this image from 1920. Beth would have been one or two-years old.

But children’s events could also become a very big deal as shown below in this photograph of a very large Tom Thumb wedding.

Tom Thumb Wedding, c. 1922

In 1863, General Tom Thumb (born Charles Stratton) and Lavinia Warren, both little people, were married. Circus entrepreneur P. T. Barnum promoted and managed Tom Thumb and made Tom Thumb weddings a popular American fad in the 1920s, though they continued for awhile as fundraisers for school or churches.

Traditionally, children, usually under 10-years old, dressed up and played all the parts in the ceremony. Probably this was a school or church sponsored Tom Thumb wedding, since I count around 60 children in the photograph. According to a handwritten caption in the Miller Family Album, Warner took the role of Grandpa Thumb, Keith was the best man, and Beth was the ring bearer.

Children weren’t the only ones to play dress-up at this time. Adults also liked costume parties. Below is an image of what the Miller’s called a Kid’s Party, with the adults all dressed up as youngsters.

Kid’s Party, c. 1921

I think Mark Miller is sitting on the floor on the left side of the image and Effie is standing, in the polka dot dress on the right side. Their album contains a number of costume events. Costume events must have been very popular in the 1920s.

Camping at Chamber’s Lake, 1924

The Millers also spent a good deal of time in the Poudre Canyon, where Mark could mix work with a family vacation. Beth Miller told us about their trips up the canyon. By the time they piled all the photography equipment and supplies, and all the camping gear into the car, there was barely room for her parents and the four children. She also said that the car was so overloaded and underpowered that they often had to pile out, turn the car around, and go up the steeper hills in reverse.

Miller took photographs of the resorts and the resorts sold them from racks in their stores. The sold for a nickel each, with Miller getting two cents. As the children got older, it was their job to restock the racks in exchange for an ice cream. Beth said it was a good deal.

Warner and Mark Ready to Fish, 1924

Above is a photograph of the family site at Chamber’s Lake in 1924 and to the right is a photograph of Warner and Mark getting ready to try their fishing luck.











The Miller children told us that they spent so much time in the canyon that their father finally decided to buy a summer cabin for them. Below is a photograph of the cabin, c. 1925.

Miller Family Cabin, c. 1925

Mark and Effie are on the left side but the couple on the right is unknown. The cabin was located near Indian Meadows, milepost 93, still a favorite fishing location in the Poudre Canyon.

Cultural activities were also popular. Here are two examples from the Miller Family Album. The first one was taken at a Chautauqua held locally in 1923.

Chautauqua Group Photograph, c. 1920

Chautauquas provided education combined with entertainment in the form of lectures, concerts, and plays, which were modeled after activities at the Chautauqua Institution of western New York. Theodore Roosevelt called Chautauquas “the most American thing in America.”

This may be a photograph taken when a Chautauqua visited locally in July 1920. Entertainment was provided by bagpipers, singers, and a comedian, while a presentation on the secrets of science provided an educational opportunity. The Chautauqua was headlined by “Gatling Gun Fogleman,” a master salesman and orator, with a rapid fire delivery style.

Gustaf L. Carlson Painting Class, 1925

In August 1925, several aspiring artists, including Effie Miller (standing, left), took part in a class taught by landscape painter Gustaf L. Carlson (standing, center). The local newspaper called Carlson an Arizona landscape painter and a friend of Western writer Zane Grey. The class was painting the scenery along the Poudre River near Bellvue, a town northwest of Fort Collins. The three women seated at easels are (left to right) Mrs. Morrish, Mrs. Plaz, and Miss Hardinger. The woman standing at the far right side is unidentified.

A crop of this image was chosen by Arcadia Publishing for the cover of Fort Collins: The Miller Photographs.

One thing the Millers did for a number of years was to make their own Christmas cards. One year it was a simple family photo printed with a holiday greeting. Another time it was individual silhouettes of the family members. But my favorite is the one shown below, a photograph of their home, with each card sent individually hand colored by Effie Miller.

Hand Colored Christmas Card, 1927

I hope you enjoyed this look at one family in Fort Collins in the early part of the 20th century.

Sunday’s post will cover the Pioneer Museum in Fort Collins.

Poudre River Camp: A Stereoview by A. E. Dickerson

A. E. Dickerson was an Ohio photographer who became well known for his western stereoviews. Carl Mautz, in his book Biographies of Western Photographers, says Dickerson “made views of Colorado, Idaho, and Utah, c. 1890,” but I have some Dickerson stereoviews of this area that are marked “series 1907.” So sometime, probably between 1890 and 1907, Dickerson was in the Fort Collins area and, like many other western photographers, he decided to take a photograph in the Poudre Canyon. Below is his fascinating image.

“Looking up the Pouder canon” by A. E. Dickerson
Right Side of Dickerson’s Stereoview

The caption on the stereoview doesn’t tell us much. The caption is “Looking up the Pouder canon,” and it sports number 159. (Dickerson stereoviews have been found with numbers as high as 700.) The only inference we can draw from the caption is that we are looking west, up the Poudre Canyon.

The photograph must have been taken either in early spring or late fall, since there seems to be some snow or ice on the river but not on the ground. On the right side of the image there appears to be a road under construction. In between the river and the road bed is a campsite, a pretty big campsite for the late 1890s or early 1900s. Here’s a close-up of the camp.

The Campsite

This camp has nine canvas or canvas-covered structures, a wooden outhouse, which is somewhat hidden on the bottom left of the image, and a covered wagon. The six tents in the center of the camp appear to have chimneys. This is a big camp for a significant group of people. The wooden outhouse implies some permanence. You probably don’t set up an outhouse if you are only staying for a day or two.

But there are many more questions than answers. Where are we in the canyon? Is this a camp for a road building crew? Is the date of the photograph closer to 1890 or 1907? And, why is the one canvas structure (tent?), at the top of the close-up, set off by itself?

Please share your thoughts or speculation by using the comment section below this post.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post and click the “Poudre Canyon” category to see all of my Poudre posts.

What Will You See on Fort Collins Images?

I’m Mac McNeill and I’ve collected images of Fort Collins and the surrounding area for a dozen years or more, around 1,500 images so far. Someday I’ll donate the entire collection to the Local History Archive at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery but, for now, I’ll share them with you. (See the “About Me” tab for more information on me and my collection.)

Street Scene College Looking Up Linden 1922
Fort Collins, Colorado 1922

The heart of the collection, around 40 percent, is images of Fort Collins. You’ll see street scenes like this one, looking up Linden Street from College Avenue, which we can date from the sign on the trolley to September 2, 1922, but you’ll also see photographs of people, places, businesses, and events. At times I’ll do a “then and now” pair, and at times I’ll post an image that I don’t understand, hoping that someone out there does.


Sheep on CAC Campus Aug 4 1940
Sheep at Colorado A&M 1940

The college has always been a big part of the Fort Collins community and it is a big part of my collection, around 20 percent of my images. You’ll see that I love the buildings around the oval, but I also like the Quonset huts that were there just after World War II and the things students did, from protesting to seeing how many of them can fit in a car, and this image of sheep on the campus in 1940, with, I think, the Weber Building on the right side of the image. The Weber, or math building, is located on the west side of the oval.

Arrowhead Lodge c1950
Arrowhead Lodge Exterior, Poudre Canyon c. 1950



Arrowhead Lodge Interior c1950
Arrowhead Lodge Interior, Poudre Canyon c. 1950

The Poudre Canyon is Fort Collins’ playground and a destination for photographers since the 1880s. These two images of Arrowhead Lodge, taken circa 1950, are by Mark Miller, a longtime Fort Collins’ photographer and the subject of the first book I wrote with Barbara Fleming, Fort Collins: The Miller Photographers. You’ll see I like Miller’s work but you’ll also see I love the images by iconic early photographers like G. T. Wilkins, Stephen Seckner, Edward Bunn, and H. C. Brady. Images of the canyon are about 15 percent of my collection.

Johnstown CO Beet Wagons on Street Bigger
Johnstown, Colorado c. 1909

I try to match the images I collect with the collecting interests of the Fort Collins archive. The archive is interested in much of Larimer County, but they don’t want to duplicate work going on in Loveland and Estes Park, for example. So I collect images of the smaller towns around Fort Collins, including Livermore, Red Feather Lakes, Timnath and Wellington, and some of the towns that have disappeared, like Log Cabin and Manhattan. You’ll see images like this one of Johnstown, Colorado, with beet wagons in the street, between the blacksmith shop and the saloon, postmarked January 1909. You’ll also see that I like images that tell the stories of the early industries, especially the sugar beet industry and the oil and gas exploration of the 1920s.

Let me end this first post with one more image.

Tank on Car April 1948 Bigger
Sherman Tank Crushing Car 1948

That’s a 36-ton Sherman tank that accidently drove onto a parked sedan, on the south end of the Colorado A & M campus, during a parade on August 28, 1948. The Coloradoan commented, “No contest – something had to give and it definitely wasn’t the tank.”

I showed this image to my son, who lives here in Fort Collins, and he said, “You need to get some of these images online.” Well, here’s the start. I hope you’ll stay with me through the process.

Comment publically by using “Leave a Reply” at the end of this post or contact me privately by using this email address: fortcollinsimages@comcast.net.