Archive for the 'Local History Archive' Category

From the Archive: Larimer County’s First Newspaper

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

We’ve been working on scanning the number one issue of the Larimer County Express newspaper, published in Fort Collins on Saturday, April 26, 1873.

Newspaper founder Joseph S. McClelland

This fragile paper consists of four pages full of interesting tidbits and advertisements that shed light on life in Fort Collins only a few short months after the town was officially incorporated. It’s a real treat to read!

Jefferson Street in 1874

Fort Collins historian Ansel Watrous wrote in the newspaper history section of his 1911 History of Larimer County that the Larimer County Express first newspaper printed and published in Larimer County, and sure enough, column 2 of page 3 of this 1873 paper supports this assertion:

 Several prominent in this gentlemen have spoken for the first copy printed of this issue,–being the first paper ever printed in Larimer county. We shall be unable to furnish more than about fifty ‘first’ copies! Applications should be made without delay!

We’ll have the entire newspaper available for viewing on the Fort Collins History Connection website soon; for now, enjoy perusing the first page of the paper below!

Larimer County Express, Page 1

From the Archive: Ellen Michaud Remembers

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

The Fort Collins Local History Archive has hundreds of interesting oral histories in the collection, the bulk of which were recorded in the mid to late 1970s by community volunteers eager to capture the stories of many of Fort Collins citizens who had witnessed the many changes in the city from the turn of the 20th century on up to the nation’s bicentennial.

One especially compelling oral history was recorded by Jill Boice in the summer of 1974 when she listened to the many fascinating stories told by Ellen Michaud, a retired nurse who had come to Fort Collins at the age of 14 in 1909.

Ellen Michaud in 1979

Some of Ms. Michaud’s more humorous memories involve early driving habits in Fort Collins:

“Well, my father owned a car in 1916, a Ford. And that’s when I learned to drive a car…I taught myself. I just simply went out. And first I tried backing it up, and driving it up, backing it up, and driving it up. And then I got real brave and I drove it around the block…

A lot of people thought [cars] were useless…for a long, long number of years there was horses and buggies and cars…and people just drove wherever they wanted to. You drove up, well on College Avenue, you just drove, that’s all. And streetcars run down the middle of it—and you usually would drive on the right hand side. And then you could go to the corner or you could turn around in the middle of the street; it didn’t make a bit of difference…there wasn’t so much traffic then. And you could just come and go as you please.”

This photograph of Wellington in 1915 shows several modes of transportation

Do you remember your first driving experiences?

From the Archive: Student Hijinx!

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

The Fort Collins Local History Archive recently received a donation of scrapbook pages belonging to a student at Colorado A&M College (present-day Colorado State University) who was also a member of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon in the early 1950s. The pages offer a fun glimpse into some of the shenanigans carried out by the students at this time. For instance, these two fraternity brothers show their loyalty in a hair-raising fashion:

The scrapbook pages also chronicle a unique stunt pulled off by the members of the Aggie Livestock Club to publicize their Little National Western Stockshow. The students broke city ordinances by leading two sheep and a steer down College Avenue, and were subsequently “arrested” by city police. The whole lot was sent to jail where they were later “pardoned” by Colorado Governor Daniel Thornton. It helps to have friends in high places!

From the Collection: Dinner at the Tedmon House

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archives

I’m a big fan of the Tedmon House Hotel, which once stood at the northwest corner of Linden and Jefferson Streets in Fort Collins, Colorado. Featured in previous posts, the Tedmon House was an icon in Fort Collins from its grand opening in 1880 until it was demolished in 1910. Luckily, many unique items remain in the collections at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center.

One such item is this menu for Sunday dinner from October 29, 1883.

The menu also has an extensive wine list on the back; there are more than just wines featured.

Sign me up for the haunch of elk with cranberry sauce, and just some Apollinaris mineral water, please! I’ll pass on absinthe.

From the Archive: Opening the Door to Laporte

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archives

A short while back, the Fort Collins Local History Archive received a donation of 17 scrapbooks dating from the mid 1930s to the 1950s that contain hundreds of newspaper articles pertaining to the history of Laporte, Colorado. These scrapbooks were created by local resident Ruth Hereim, who was the Laporte correspondent for the Fort Collins Express-Courier newspaper (later to become the Fort Collins Coloradoan). Most of the articles pasted in the scrapbooks’ pages were written by Ms. Hereim and provide a detailed look at a quarter-century of the goings-on in Laporte.

Ruth Hereim

A 1956 article about Mrs. Hereim featured in the Fort Collins Coloradoan mentions the scrapbooks:

“Some time a history of Laporte could be written from her scrapbooks, which included every local newspaper article relating to Laporte since 1934.

Like many older scrapbooks, this collection is in fragile condition and must be handled carefully to avoid chipping the pages or loosening the glued newspaper clippings. For this reason, along with the unique nature of the scrapbooks’ contents, the staff and volunteers of the Local History Archive plan on scanning each of the scrapbooks and placing them on the Fort Collins History Connection website. You can view the scanned 1958-1959 scrapbook and virtually “flip” through pages of Laporte history. More to come!

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!

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!

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?


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