Archive for the 'Local History Archive' Category



From the Archive: Remembering the Lazy “B”

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

I was feeling a little nostalgic last week after browsing through a wonderful vacation booklet from 1966 called Larimer County Panorama. Brought to my attention by one of our fantastic Local History Archive volunteers, this tourist publication features ads, articles, and photos describing all the wonderful things to see and do in Larimer County 45 years ago.

As I was flipping the pages of this book, an advertisement for the Lazy “B” Guest Ranch in Estes Park caught my eye. I remember visiting this ranch in the mid 1980s and again in the early 1990s during family vacations, but I had no idea that the ranch had been around since the 1960s.

I fondly remember the western songs sung by the Lazy “B” Wranglers as well as the tasty chuckwagon supper. All the food was served buffet-style on metal dishes; prior to getting in line to dish up the chow, the Wranglers advised us to hold our plates under the spiced peaches so our hands wouldn’t get burned by the piping hot barbequed beef, potatoes, and pinto beans.

Sadly, it seems the Lazy B closed down in 2005 after over 4 decades of business. I wish I could have had one last sourdough biscuit under the rafters while drifting along with the tumblin’ tumbleweeds…

Do have any memories to share about the Lazy B?

From the Archive: Strike a Pose!

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

The Mark Miller photograph collection is truly a treasure trove at the Fort Collins Local History Archive. This collection of photographs taken by local photographer Mark Miller spans nearly six decades, beginning in 1912 when he started his photography business, and contains of over 77,000 prints and negatives of local scenery, buildings, events, and portraits of Fort Collins residents.

The portraits are a lot of fun to view since the collection often has images of multiple poses from a single sitting. You can almost hear Mark Miller telling the subject, “Now, let’s try it with you hat on….now take your hat off….now smile!”

Here’s a triptych of Edmond L. Boulter from his studio session in 1938. Which one is your favorite?

I also really like Miller’s logo stamped on the backs of these photos. “Photographs Live Forever.”

If you’d like to learn more about Mark Miller’s amazing and prolific career in Fort Collins, be sure to attend the Fort Collins Historical Society program on Tuesday, March 1st. Authors Barbara Fleming and Mac McNeill will be discussing their 2009 book Fort Collins: The Miller Photographs.

The program begins at 7:00 pm and takes place at the Webster House, located at 301 East Olive Street, right across the street from the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center. See you there!

From the Archive AND Science Wednesday: “Like a Monster from a Lost World”

by Jane Hansen, Research Assistant, Local History Archive, Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive, and Katie Bowell, Curator of Interpretation

Recently, Local History Archive Research Assistant extraordinaire Jayne Hansen came across this fantastic (and highly editorialized) article from a September 1935 edition of a Fort Collins newspaper:

The big question: What kind of spider did Duane Wetzler find?

There are a few options. In such a sensational case as this, some sort of extraterrestrial creepy crawly is always a possibility, but we can probably rule out an alien-arachnid in this case. Why? Most spiders from space have at least five “evil pair of jaws.” Let’s look at the spider species a little closer to home.

When trying to identify Fort Collins spiders, CSU’s Extension resource “Spiders in the Home” is a great first stop. However, since it was written in 2008, I can understand why it wasn’t used as an original reference. Looking through “Spiders in the Home,” an obvious candidate for Weltzer’s spider of terror emerges: The “Catface” Spider.

Araneus gemmoides

All the clues are there.

  • Diamond-shaped body? Check!
  • Long, furry legs? Check!
  • “Cat’s face” markings on the back (abdomen)? Check!
  • Evil pair of jaws? Well, we won’t call them evil, but…Check!
  • Broad as the diameter of a five cent piece? Since female Catface spiders can be over 1/4″ in diameter, Check!

While perhaps not the prettiest of spiders (Katie’s vote for that category goes to the Mabel Orchard Spider), the catface spider (Araneus gemmoides) is harmless and not nearly the “monster from a lost world” the newspaper post made it out to be.

But you have to wonder, what do you think the paper would have written about the tarantulas that live in the southern part of the state?

Let’s stick with the catface spiders, shall we?

From the Archive: Valentines Now Arriving at the Depot!

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archives

Please accept these warm Valentine’s Day wishes from the pupils of Thunderbird Cottage School. The students of this school, once located at 2812 Harvard Avenue in Fort Collins, worked on this LOVE-ly railroad back in 1966. I believe that even after 45 years, it still makes Cupid proud!

Do you have any fond memories of Valentine’s Day crafts you made in school?

From the Archive: Vertical Files Online!

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

Did you know that one of the treasure troves in the Fort Collins Local History Archive is the collection of over 3,800 vertical files available to folks like you who are curious about local history?  These many file folders have been assembled over a long period of time and are continually expanded by Archive staff and volunteers. They cover a wide range of topics and are some of the most requested items by researchers interested in local history.

Check out our “Miles O’ Files”

The Subject Files are handy packets of information containing newspaper clippings, student papers, government reports, and more. They are a great place to start researching local topics like the sugar beet industry or neighborhood schools.

The Biographical Files contain clippings and reports on individuals and families from Fort Collins history. Some files include family histories created by researchers and donated to the Archive.

The Ephemera Files are organized by subject and surnames and include fragile primary source materials like calling cards, original advertising, pamphlets, receipts, and building abstracts.

In the past, the contents of these files were only available for perusal by visiting the Local History Archive in person, but Archive volunteers have embarked on a scanning project to put the key contents of some of the most popular vertical files online. Please note that these online resources are for educational use only and may not be duplicated or re-published.

Check out our first foray into virtual vertical files with the “Auntie” Elizabeth Stone Collection.

More files are being scanned for research purposes, including information on the Fort Collins Trolley, Annie the Railroad Dog, and the Virginia Dale Stage Station. Stay tuned for more online resources to make your journey into Fort Collins history easier than ever!

And be sure to visit the Fort Collins History Connection to explore the research collections and exhibits already online.

From the Archive: Benzene Ring and Active Atoms

by Tiffani Righero, Research Assistant, Local History Archive

Back in December, we wrote about yearbooks and featured the 1948 Fort Collins High Lambkin (see the Ski Club here). This time, we’d like to look at a few other clubs from the same year of the Lambkin: the Chemistry Clubs.  Both clubs, Benzene Ring and Active Atoms, drew in quite a few members (including some who also participated in the ski club and still had their sweaters for club picture day). You’ll notice from the poems included on each club’s page; the girls were excited to get their own club after being “rejected” by the boys’ club.

The poems read as follows:

The Benzine Ring

Organized and active, we have Benzene Ring once more,

Who hold planned and interesting meetings that never are a bore.

Experiments and lectures to educate and explain,

Are presented to the members who never do complain.

These chemistry-loving lads are eager to learn

Little things like knowing that hydrogen will burn.

The Active Atoms

Forced to organize by the Senior boys, are these lovers of chemistry;

Rejected as officers in Benzene Rig, now work independently.

To the water-works and sugar factory these gals have taken trips,

They like chemistry and in this bunch you’ll find no drips.

So here’s a cheer for these senior girls, defending women’s rights,

Who got themselves a separate club, avoiding with boys any fights.

From the Archive: Looking at the Past Through…Yellow-Colored Glasses?

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

Have you ever opened an old family album only to find that the vibrant hues from your color photos have turned a sickly yellow and orange? Well, you’re not alone. Many historic color photographs, especially those from the early days of snapshot photography when color film was first widely available for personal use, have faded due to unstable color dyes, photo papers, and/or processing techniques. Exposure to years of light if the photos have been on display often exacerbates discoloration and fading of color pictures.

While I was looking through some historic photos of Loveland last week, I came across a group of lemon-yellow photographs. Here are two examples:

Loveland High School
Lake in Loveland

The backs of the photos indicated that they were processed in 1951 on Kodacolor film. I decided to do a little research on Kodacolor using my trusty copy of The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs by Henry Wilhelm.

Wilhelm has no affection for Kodacolor film. In a section of the book entitled “The Totally Lost Kodacolor Era of 1942-1953” he states that he “does not know of a single Kodacolor print taken from 1943 until 1953…that survives today in reasonable condition; all have faded and developed an ugly, overall orange or yellow stain regardless of whether they were exposed to light on display or kept in the dark in albums…These hundreds of millions – or perhaps billions – of Kodacolor prints and negatives represent the first great era of color photography to be totally lost.”

Wilhelm cites unstable magenta dye-forming color couplers that remained in the prints after processing as the chief culprit in the yellowing effect. Conversely, most images made from the famous Kodachrome film seemed to have fared far better than their Kodacolor counterparts.

Do you have any Kodacolor prints in your family albums? How about Kodachrome slides? How have they held up over time?


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