WWII POWs in Colorado

Did you know that during WWII German prisoners-of-war were held at a camp just west of Greeley on Highway 34? POWs from Camp 202 were dispatched to farms in Larimer (and Weld) counties, often to bring in the sugar beets. The camp housed about 3,000 prisoners (about 2,500 were held in the camp in Trinidad; 12,000 in Colorado Springs).

 

 

The Archive has a booklet called World War II German Prisoners of War in Larimer & Weld Counties (published by the Pioneer Association in 2011; cover photo above), which includes recollections of local area residents of their interactions with the POWs. Below is my favorite story from this booklet, titled “Remembering Mr. Helmke,” by Ruth Wagner Haake (trust me, you’ll be glad you read it to the end).

 

If you’d like to learn more about WWII POWs in northern Colorado, you can:

  • Read Janet Worrall’s lecture (a Fort Collins Historical Society Program from 1995)
  • Visit the Camp 202 website which includes pictures of the site as it looks today
  • Learn about the preservation of the Camp 202 site at Colorado Preservation, Inc
  • Flip through the vertical files “LC – Military – POW Camps” and “CO – Military” at FCMoD’s Local History Archive
  • See the original (1944) beet field manifests from this camp at the Local History Archive

And for personal recollections about WWII in general, check out this page – our World War II Oral History Excerpts, on the History Connection website.

 

Post by Jenny Hannifin

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Pictures at an Exhibition

Visiting a new exhibit at a museum can be a moment of perfection. Freshly painted walls, meticulously hung pieces, descriptive text, and targeted lighting all combine to create an experience that takes the viewer to a new place and offers a fresh perspective on the world.

But believe us when we say that getting there is quite a journey!

Here are a few pictures of the assembly process going on right now at FCMoD for the upcoming exhibit Earth from Space, opening November 18.

Exhibit panels freshly printed and laid out to dry.

This exhibit – part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) – features spectacular satellite imagery collected over the past 30 years which allows us to observe oceans, mountains, land surfaces, and human activity with a unique perspective. Rare views of events such as dust storms, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes are accompanied by text that explains how satellite imagery is gathered and utilized. Included in the exhibit is a digital video globe that displays global processes such as ocean temperature and weather patterns.

Museum staff install a vinyl image in one of the exhibit’s window alcoves.

Come see Earth from Space, at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, opening November 18.

Museum staff prep an exhibit component for installation.
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Thank you Comet Chicken!

We’re so delighted to be Comet Chicken’s Tip Jar recipient for the month of October! You can enjoy some delicious food and support FCMoD at the same time!

We thought it would be fun to comb through some of our local historical resources here at the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery to uncover some of the history of Comet Chicken’s location at 126 West Mountain Avenue.

By checking the 1886 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, we can see that the location (in blue) was a grocery, flour, and feed store, and jutted up next to a roller skating rink!

By 1918, the block has filled in with more buildings, and 126 West Mountain was a grocery store alongside a notions and wallpaper shop.

Here’s a nifty view of the area from the 1920s. Note the trolley tracks running down the center of Mountain Avenue.

By 1955, the building was home to the Bea & Beryl Shop, a children’s clothing store owned by Beatrice Shoberg and Beryl Hess.

A Larimer County tax assessor card from 1969 shows that the address had become the Household Finance Corp, a loan company managed by J.W. Giles. The façade of the building had changed quite a bit to be more “mod.”

After hosting a copying company and other office-oriented businesses through the 1980s and 1990s, the location was outfitted as a restaurant about 16 years ago. Today, we welcome Comet Chicken to this historic location, and thank them for their support of FCMoD!

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LaserDome: Lady Gaga – Recap

Did you make it to the LaserDome: Lady Gaga show in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater last weekend? Couldn’t make it, but still want to enjoy our curated playlist of Lady Gaga tunes? Well, we’ve got you covered! Check out the Spotify playlist below to re-live it or experience it for the first time! Every LaserDome playlist is carefully curated and arranged by our music-loving staff members here at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, so we are sure you’ll enjoy this playlist as much as we do!

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Great War Blog Series:   Battery A: Training for War     

By Doug Ernest

 

“Ever since our arrival at Camp Baldwin we have all contended that whatever anybody else could do, Battery A could do a little better.”
– John Hurdle, letter published in The Weekly Courier, March 22, 1918

 

FCMoD’s Great War blog series is highlighting the scrapbook album compiled by Fort Collins native John Hurdle, who served with Battery A in the 148th Field Artillery Regiment of the 66th Field Artillery Brigade, and fought on the Western Front. Hurdle created a detailed album of his experience, which is housed at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Local History Archive.

 

In July 1917, Battery A was quartered in Camp Baldwin, Denver, under the command of Captain Roy G. Coffin. Battery A soldiers completed basic training with Battery B (from Denver) and Battery C (from Colorado Springs). Soldiers were taught basic drill orders, command structure, and military discipline. They were also tested to gauge their physical and mental fitness, as well as their proficiency with weapons.

 

This scrapbook page gives a glimpse of what it was like at Camp Baldwin. Images show the Battery A office, a man doing a handstand, the Battery C jazz band, and (presumably) a medical building (with the caption “Now Cough,” upper left-hand corner):

 

 

In September of 1917, Batteries A, B and C departed Denver for Camp Greene, North Carolina, arriving on October 2. Battery A traveled by train through Kansas to Memphis, where it paused long enough for the men to swim at the YMCA.  Their train must have stopped briefly at Ellis, Kansas, because a photograph of that town appears in Hurdle’s album.

 

About Camp Greene, Battery C noted that Charlotte “girls were not a bit bashful and if a fellow didn’t get acquainted it was his own fault.”

 

Battery A’s Cliff Robertson gave this report of Camp Greene, which was published in the Loveland Reporter on October 15, 1917.

 

And here’s a look at Camp Greene from the FortWiki series.

 

In October 1917, the soldiers transferred to Camp Mills, New York. In the opinion of Battery C, Camp Mills was “dilapidated and forlorn,” and a “disgrace” to the US government. A problem with drainage caused the camp to be covered with as much as 6 inches of water after a stout rainfall. The water flooded the tents, extinguished stoves, and caused pipes to freeze. Bathing was limited to sponge baths.

This page from Hurdle’s scrapbook shows Battery Street in Camp Mills, with tents erected, or being erected, and a mysterious image upper right (is that a hat? a bird? an airplane?):

 

Here’s a link to the FortWiki description of Camp Mills.

 

Soldiers sent letters and telegrams home, which were often published in local newspapers along with other news articles about the war. Just a few references are included at the end of this post.

 

Battery A would see one more stateside location (Camp Merritt, New Jersey; here’s Camp Merritt’s FortWiki description) before heading to the front. Our next Great War blog will delve into Battery A’s journey across the Atlantic in January 1918 aboard the steamship S.S. Baltic.

 

 

A few mentions of Battery A published in local newspapers in 1917:

  • “Cliff Robertson Tells of Life at Camp Greene,” Loveland Reporter, October 15, 1917, page 2.
  • “Battery A Ranks, Regiment and Men Enjoy the Smokes,” The Weekly Courier, October 12, 1917, page 3.
  • “Battery A Enjoys Stop at Memphis, Tennessee,” The Weekly Courier, October 5, 1917, page 4.
  • “Battery A is OK, at Camp Greene, North Carolina, Coffin Going Up,” The Weekly Courier, October 12, 1917, page 7.

 

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LaserDome: Pretty Lights – Recap

Did you make it to the LaserDome: Pretty Lights show in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater last weekend? Couldn’t make it, but still want to enjoy our curated playlist of Pretty Lights tunes? Well, we’ve got you covered! Check out the Spotify playlist below to re-live it or experience it for the first time! Every LaserDome playlist is carefully curated and arranged by our music-loving staff members here at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, so we are sure you’ll enjoy this playlist as much as we do!

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A Pioneer Banquet

How do three different kinds of cake (chocolate, white, and spiced) served along “Pine Apple Sorbet” sound to you? Yummy!

Well, it probably tasted great to the 150 members of the Fort Collins Pioneer Association who attended the 3rd annual banquet of the association on February 4, 1909.

We have the program from that event here at the Local History Archive, pictured below:

  

The menu sounds as intriguing as the lecture  program, which featured tales by Mrs. John Coy, Charles Ramer, and other early residents of Fort Collins. The event was summed up a few days later in the February 10, 1909 edition of the Fort Collins Weekly Courier:

“…they had laughed with each other till the tears came over the jokes and witticisms of the speakers and had absorbed with breathless interest the graphically told stories of early day adventures, dangers and privations met with and endured when the Cache la Poudre valley was a howling wilderness.”

Read the entire article here!

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Bowling in Fort Collins

According to Evadene Swanson, “Lindenmeier’s ‘Board of Trade’ on College near the Opera House had a bowling alley in 1880” (Fort Collins Yesterdays, page 136).  Does that surprise you? It surprised me! By the late 1800s, prosperous cities in the USA were installing regulation-size bowling lanes, often subsidized by churches, YMCAs, firehouses, and fraternal organizations. I dug up a few Fort Collins bowling photos to share with you – none are from the 1880s, but I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.

Though undated, this shot is clearly from an era when bowlers had serious sartorial standards: Behold the Bowling League Champs – BPOE Elks Fraternal Organization, Fort Collins.

This shot from circa 1928 shows the 100 block of North College Avenue (looking south).  In addition to the Collins Cafe, Sugar Bowl, and Marshall Cafeteria, the Bowling sign is clearly visible in the photo.

This 1950s-ish image of the Hutchison Pharmacy ladies bowling team (Fort Collins) highlights the pharmacy’s advertising as well as the women’s splendid hairstyles.

The Colorado State Bowling Tournament in 1960 was held in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Identified here are, left to right: Ray Carpenter, D. Weigand, Doc Carroll, Floyd Headlee, and taller-than-average-fella “unknown.”

And last but not least, here are two cool cats from 1969.

Here’s the caption from the May 12, 1969 Coloradoan:  “State Doubles Champs: Jack Hall, 16, of 1030 Akin Street and Margee Deering, 14, of 120 Tedmon Drive teamed together to knock down 1,278 pins and win the 1969 Colorado Junior Mixed Doubles championship. The two were among more than 100 Fort Collins junior bowlers honored Sunday night during the annual Youth Bowling Association awards banquet.”

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First Spirituous Drink in 20th Century Fort Collins

Did you know that it wasn’t legal to sell hard liquor in Fort Collins for two-thirds of the 20th century? The town now known for its brewing industry was dry of spirituous drink until 1969 (legally, that is).

Drawing inspiration from eastern anti-saloon leagues and temperance societies, many of the leading citizens in Fort Collins began to target saloons and liquor as primary causes of the budding town’s problems. Citizens eventually achieved complete prohibition of alcohol in Fort Collins in 1896, creating an ordinance that would surprisingly stay in the books for 73 years, long outlasting national prohibition.

Fort Collins remained a ‘dry town’ until the then highly-amended liquor ordinance was repealed in 1969 by popular outcry. Up to that time, prohibition in Fort Collins had survived the rise and fall of national prohibition, though beer joints peddling malt beverages with only 3.2% liquor content were permitted to a limited extent in Fort Collins by 1935.

And just about the same time, liquor vendors began to pop up just outside the city limits. In 1961, Lloyd Ladd became the first post-prohibition proprietor to be granted a county license to serve alcohol by the drink. His restaurant, Ladd’s Covered Wagon had been letting patrons bring in their own booze, and Ladd would sell them a setup of ice and soda.

   

In 1969, hard liquor became legal in Fort Collins when Red Ferrell, Larimer County’s liquor inspector, allowed the opening of Campus West Liquors. According to the Coloradoan, “The first legal drink of spirituous liquor sold in Ft. Collins since 1896 was served about 5:00 p.m. August 8.”  (8-10-1969).

The first liquor license went to Les Ware of The Top Restaurant, located in the Rocky Mountain Bank Building.

Here are two images captured at that occasion:

  

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Remembering the 1997 Spring Creek Flood

July 28, 2017 marks 20 years since Fort Collins experienced the one of the biggest natural disasters in its history.

A slow moving storm cell on July 27-28, 1997 stalled over Fort Collins and dumped 14.5 inches of rain in 31 hours creating flash flooding that wreaked havoc on parts of Fort Collins. One of the hardest hit places was the Spring Creek area west of College Avenue. Debris clogged a railroad underpass which caused water to back up into a Johnson Mobile Home Park where 5 people were killed.

Flood waters also damaged numerous buildings on the campus of CSU including the basement and first floor of the library. In the aftermath of the disaster the City of Fort Collins implemented extensive flood mitigation planning that has shaped the landscape of Fort Collins. This work resulted in Fort Collins avoiding the extensive damage that ravaged much of northern Colorado during the 2013 floods.

Spring Creek Flood Resources

  • The Follow the Flood Event and Remembrance Ceremony is taking place on July 28th at Creekside Park beginning at 6:30 pm. Flood Education Day is July 29 at Spring Park. Learn more about both events here.
  • You can also learn more about the flood at the Fort Collins History Connection.
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