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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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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The NEW Fort Collins History Connection is LIVE!

We’re pleased to announce that the newly-redesigned Fort Collins History Connection website is now LIVE and ready for you to explore! This website is collaboration between the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and the Poudre River Public Library, representing thousands of hours of effort by staff and volunteers to make local history accessible and fun for everyone! It’s the Archive that’s open 24 hours a day.

Some cool new features of the site include:

  • Responsive design that looks sharp on your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone

 

  • Easy download of scanned images (up to 1000×1000 pixels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start exploring the new site here. We hope you discovery something new *and* old!

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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”, www.history.fcgov.com  )

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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