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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Fort Collins and The War to End All Wars


In the spring of 1917, the United States entered the war raging in Europe. Here’s a description from the National World War I Museum and Memorial:

“The day after an overwhelming majority in the Senate votes for war, President Wilson signs the declaration. The United States quickly puts the entire country on the road to war.  Going from a standing army of 133,000 men with almost no heavy artillery pieces, millions of men were inducted into the armed forces over the next two years and given basic combat training.”

One hundred years later, the changes wrought on the world as a result of World War I – the Great War – are still being studied, discussed, and debated. You’ve probably seen a presentation or two yourself. But you might not know the part Fort Collins played.   

Battery A – originally a National Guard unit formed at Colorado Agricultural College, later part of a regiment of the US Army – included Fort Collins men, and would train in Camps Baldwin (Denver), Greene (North Carolina), Mills (New York), and Merritt (New Jersey) before landing in Europe. The Archive houses a scrapbook that captures one soldier’s experience of the war, Mr. John Hurdle.

The first date that appears in Hurdle’s scrapbook is from July, 100 years ago. The scrapbook is filled with photographs and handwritten notes that track Battery A’s route through the fields of war, and includes many images of Fort Collins citizens. A few pages are featured below.

During the remainder of this year, and through the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice, we will share with you details of the war as experienced by the citizens of Fort Collins (including those at home and those who never made it home). You can expect excerpts of letters, pictures from the Front, first-hand accounts of the Second Battle of the Marne, and much more.

*Stay tuned for more research on WWI and the Hurdle scrapbook from Jenny Hannifin and Doug Ernest.


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Fun with Fruit

As I was processing a collection of agricultural yearbooks (1902-1998), I didn’t expect much in the way of beauty.

But amidst the descriptions of foot-and-mouth disease, insect infestation, and state-by-state parameters for “a bushel,” I found these delightful color plates.

Enjoy the fruits of my labor – all from The Yearbook of Agriculture: 1902 (published by the US Department of Agriculture).

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Growing “up” – Fort Collins’ first skyscrapers

These days, a drive around Fort Collins always includes orange traffic cones, route deviations, and a horizon line crossed with a building crane. We are growing, aren’t we? Fort Collins residents of the 1960s felt the pressure of growth as well:

“City planners were hard pressed to keep up with the city’s growth, especially in the rapidly developing suburbs. Fort Collins’ population almost tripled between 1950 and 1970. New industries, such as Kodak and Aqua Tec, were locating in the area, attracting more people. The Chamber of Commerce reported that industrial employment rose from 1,068 in 1960 to 3,411 in 1969. Builders tried to keep pace with the growth as all-time records were set for private construction. A consequence of these efforts was the building of Fort Collins’ first skyscrapers. The twelve-story First National Bank Tower and the eleven-story Home Federal Savings Building (now Norwest) were built in 1968.”  (From “Timeline 1960”,  )

Plans for First National Bank’s twelve-story “condominium” office building at 205 West Oak were publicly announced on November 19, 1967; less than two years later, Fort Collins residents celebrated its completion.  According to the Denver Post, “An estimated 12,000 persons attended the recent one week long celebration opening the First National Bank’s 12 story building” (7-6-1969 4/5).

Here’s a shot of the “new” building from June 16, 1969:   

Here’s a ribbon-cutting picture taken at the opening, also from June 16, 1969:  


This aerial shot shows the cityscape northeast of the new tower:   


Building is a messy process.  To actualize this (a rendering of the “new” courthouse, circa 1969): 


You gotta go through a lot of this:        and



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Art as Science: Early Botanical Artists

RARE II – at FCMoD from May 6 to August 6 – is an exhibit of contemporary botanical illustrations depicting globally imperiled plants found in Colorado. Members of the Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists created these works of art using the Master List of Rare Plants (produced by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program). I hope you have a chance to see this rare combination of scientific accuracy, aesthetic appeal, and technical mastery.

Which brings me to my subject today:  a glimpse at the role botanical illustration played in the early history of science.

Surgeons traveling with the Roman army – including Greeks Dioscorides (circa 40-90 AD) and Galen (131-200 AD) – compiled herbals (text + drawings) that remained the primary materia medica texts for centuries (by some accounts, at least 1500 years). Herbalism traditions were preserved through the middle ages in the monasteries of Britain and Europe, where monks copied and translated works of  Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Galen, and non-Western scientists like Ibn Sina (aka Avicenna). The advent of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century created unprecedented access to mass-produced books, some of which included botanical illustration. (Details in this paragraph drawn from the University of Virginia’s Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, ).

So, Printing press + Woodcut illustrations (later lithographs) = Beautiful botanical books of both scientific and aesthetic value.

For more details about the background of botanical illustration, check out these folks:

  • 16th century, Leonhart Fuchs
  • 17th century, Maria Sibylla Merian
  • 18th century, Pierre-Joseph Redouté
  • 19th century, Pieter de Pannemaeker (Ghent) and Emily Stackhouse (Cornwall)

And enjoy the Rare II exhibit!

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