Archive for March, 2011

From the Archive: Scanned Maps

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

Did you know the Fort Collins Local History Archive has nearly 50 historical maps that are scanned and available for viewing online at the Fort Collins History Connection website?

1881 Map of Fort Collins

If you search for “scanned maps” on the History Connection website, you’ll be able to explore maps dating from the 1880s to the 1980s that depict Colorado and Larimer County. You can also view a scanned aerial photograph of Fort Collins in 1977. Any guesses as to what and where this is?

One of my favorite scanned maps in the collection is entitled “Map of the Irrigated Farms of Northern Colorado, 1915.”

This map measures nearly 27 square feet and shows detailed property ownership for  parts of Larimer, Weld, and Boulder County, and speaks to how critical farmland irrigation was and continues to be in our semi-arid climate. You can view this map, scanned in four pieces and indexed by owner name, right here!


Friday Quick Links

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Interpretation

The remains of an exploded White Dwarf star

King Philip IV of Spain makes a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He’s looking good for a 400 year old monarch!

Have you checked out the Smithsonian’s fantastic website and videos of Women in Science?

How NASA creates those amazing Hubble photographs.

Facebook helps scientists identify nearly 5,000 species of fish!

Dung beetles have favorite flavors of poop!

A fun (I know, whoda thunk it?) and complete chart on different levels of radiation in the world.

The New York Times strongly criticized The Brooklyn Museum’s exhibit, “Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains,” and The Brooklyn Museum responds.

A gorgeous photo and explanation of an exploding star.

NASA’s looking for smart high school students. One could be you!

Hans Rosling argues that the greatest invention of the industrial revolution is the washing machine, because it sparked a revolution of literacy. A fantastic video.

From the Collection: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911

by Linda Moore, Curator of Collections

March 25, 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of an important historical event known by the name of a turn of a 20th century garment that appears in most historical clothing collections, including the one at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center: the shirtwaist.

A shirtwaist is a woman’s button-down blouse modeled on a man’s tailored shirt, a distinctly un-fussy garment compared to the general wardrobe maintained by 19th century woman. As the 20th century opened the shirtwaist was implicated in women’s growing professional freedoms, as well as in their continued workplace oppression.


Worn with a skirt and jacket, the shirtwaist offered the women who were starting to enter the workplace a garment choice more akin to the professional man’s suit than anything available before it. These liberating garments, however, were produced in factories that epitomized the dangerous, exploitive working conditions endured by early 20th century industrial workers before effective labor and safety legislation; workers who were overwhelmingly young, female, and recently immigrated.

Women at sewing stations in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, in which workers found themselves trapped in a rapidly burning building without usable exits, fire escapes or elevators; far out of reach of the firefighters’ tallest ladders, resulted in the deaths of 146 women. This tragedy is said to have shocked the American public into recognition of the inhuman conditions of factory workers, and to have contributed directly to a revolution in labor conditions and workplace safety regulations.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory after the fire


The 100th anniversary of this tragic event is being marked with many events, educational programs, and exhibits throughout the country. To learn more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, see:

From the Archive: University Plaza Mall

Here’s another little treat from the Larimer County Panorama tourist booklet (also featured in last week’s post) that features a growing phenomenon in the mid-1960s: indoor malls! University Plaza was located at 2229 South College Avenue in Fort Collins, and had an array of new destinations for Fort Collins shoppers.

All this and air conditioning too!

I like the hanging ivy.

Montgomery Ward was one of the anchors.

You could get some banking done at the mall as well.

Does anyone know when this mall closed? Bonus points if you can tell me what is there today!

Friday Quick Links

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Interpretation

"Home of Mrs. American Horse" by John C.H. Grahill

The Sonic hedgehog gene is responsible for polydactylism in Hemingway cats. Obviously.

America’s oldest known wild bird is a new mama!

John C.H. Grabill’s beautiful and poignant photographs of the American West are now available to the public.

Think you can write a hexapod (6-legged animal) haiku? You have until March 20th to submit you entry to NC State University’s Insect Museum!

New archaeological sites being found using Google Earth.

I wish this Carl Sagan Astronom O’s cereal was real.

A new henge has been found next to Stonehenge.

A beautiful article on the origins of animals.

It turns out, a child couldn’t have painted that.

A 10,000 year-old human skull and mastodon remains were found in an underwater cave.

Excavating a giant anthill.

The harvester ant colonies we have in Colorado look pretty impressive, too.

The physics of prune-y fingers.

What if you could live in a museum?

Science Wednesday – Elk Spotting

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Interpretation

Last weekend, while taking a walk along one of Loveland’s bike trails, I came across eleven large, fuzzy butts. A rare surprise, indeed, but what was even a nicer surprise was who the butts belonged to.


I kept my distance from the animals,* but was able to capture some beautiful shots.

I’ll admit to being initially surprised to see the elk (Cervus canadensis) where I did. Because of their presence and popularity in mountain communities like Estes Park, I associate elk with the Rocky Mountains, not the 7-11 across the street.

But, historically, these elk are right where they’re supposed to be. Like bison, deer and pronghorn, elk are traditional herbivores of the prairies. It wasn’t until the 1800s, as Europeans settled the American west and turned prairie into communities and farmland, that elk and other large grazers were pushed out of their historic range and up into the foothills and mountains.

Today, movement corridors like the Laramie Foothills-Mountains to Plains Project patchwork together public and private land to create pathways for elk and other animals to move between the mountains and the high plains. Communities like Loveland, nestled at the base of the foothills, are located within those corridors.

I was also surprised to see this many males together. Because I’m used to seeing elk during the fall mating season, when one male will guard a harem of females, all these males together seemed odd. But it’s not.

For most of the year, elk segregate themselves into single-sex groups. These young males (you can tell they’re male because they have antlers, and you can tell they’re young because the antlers are a little puny by elk-standards) will stick together until it’s mating time in the fall, and then they’ll compete with one another (and with males MUCH bigger than they are) for the available females.

A successful male will end up with a harem of often over 20 females, and unsuccessful males will hang around the edges of the harems, trying to sneak some elk-lovin’ when the dominant male isn’t looking. And they’ll urinate all over themselves, because apparently that’s a smell that keeps the ladies coming back.

But, seriously, with tushes like those, what lady wouldn’t want to join one of their harems?

*And why was I so careful to keep my distance?

The best rule to remember is this: leave wild animals alone. Especially the eau d’ urine scented ones.

Have any of you spotted elk out and about in town? What about other wildlife in your area that you didn’t expect to see?


Happy Pi Day!

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Interpretation

Happy Pi Day! Take a minute to appreciate the infinite decimal that shows up everywhere from geometry to trigonometry to calculus to physics to statistics to chaos theory, and maybe eat some pie while you’re at it.

In celebration of Pi Day (March 14th = 3.14), here’s a clever little film in which pi and e (the base of the natural logarithm) go on a blind date.

Is your birthday found in pi? Go here to find out!

Looking for more ways to celebrate? Check out some of our suggestions from last year.

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?

CSU’s Wurlitzer Organ’s Final Performance

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Friday, March 11th, is your last chance to hear CSU’s Wurlitzer Organ in action. The 84 year-old organ, originally designed to provide the sound of a 40-piece orchestra for silent films, has been at the university since 1983.

Visit CSU’s Calendar of Events for full details.

Friday Quick Links

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Interpretation

Out of Context pulls out single sentences from scientific papers.

When they come across a dead fish, they snuggle their sinewy bodies down into its cavities and stay there, writhing blissfully.

Is the world entering a new geologic epoch? Perhaps. Some scientists are arguing that the era we live in now should be called the Anthropocene, due to the extreme influence of human actions on the environment and climate.

This mosaic of the biodiversity of Mo’orea really is infinite. Start clicking and see how deep you can get.

Do you look like the most typical person in the world? What about one of the average faces of women in 40 different countries?

Think that oysters are the only mollusks that make pearls? It looks like nautaloids may have been making them 400 million years ago.

Half a dodo was found in a museum drawer. It makes you wonder what might still be hiding in our own museum collection…

Artists reconstruct a new picture of Otzi, the Iceman, based on new genetic information of humans 5,000 years ago.

And The History Teachers sing about Otzi to the tune of The Beatles “Taxman.”

Some of the nicest ten minutes you can spend – listening to David Attenborough’s Life Stories podcasts.

March 2011

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