Archive for September, 2008

I think any parent of a modern adolescent finds those pictures of child laborers in the early 20th century intriguing horrifying.

Just horrifying.  

Henry, 14 years old

Henry, 14 years old

Yet, we marvel at what a 12-year-old could do if he had to. He could walk 8 blocks. He could stay off the couch most of the day. He could work a hoe in the garden. He could load the dishwasher just once.

In October, 1915, Lewis Wickes Hine, a sociologist turned photographer, came to Fort Collins to document child labor abuses in the beet industry.

Wickes Hine found the schools with more students absent than present, as children worked the harvest. Those who made it to school were often years behind…like Henry who was in 4th grade when this photo was taken.

The history of Fort Collins sugar beet industry here is well documented. So, I’ll just share two more photos:

This orderly scene is from the Fort Collins local history archives. Not sure the source, but similar in tone to most references to the factory: “Strolling down Vine Street by the Fort Collins, Colorado, Sugar Beet factory.”

And here is Lewis Hine’s take from the other side (factory in background). They called it the Jungle then, but I think this is the beginnings of Buckingham:

"The Jungle"

Called "the Jungle" in 1915. Worker housing behind factory.

About a dozen more of Hine’s Fort Collins photos are stashed at the Library of Congress. I can’t link directly to it, so go to the National Child Labor Committee page and search on Fort Collins.

Share them with the children.

Read Full Post »

Lost Fort Collins was just supposed to be a blog about vanishing historic Fort Collins. Yet, the Quonset huts keep coming up. 

If you’re interested in Q-huts, you know they’re ubiquitous. So, what makes one even worth driving to see? 

Well, Norm and I have spent a significant amount of time in front of the Northern discussing just that topic. Here’s the answer:

1. It’s got to be old–vintage 1940s or 50s.

2. It’s got to be used for something besides storage. Extra points if someone lives in it.

3. Paint gets you points too.


A perfect find. Congratulations to Susan!

A perfect find. Congratulations to Susan!

Of course, these are all just guidelines. LostOregon posted a picture of a Qunoset hut that only met criterion #2, but was nonetheless spectacular. 


Read Full Post »

Fort Collins is kind of uncool. 

I don’t mean like bitter, mean, no fun uncool. I mean like we don’t have any cool googie architecture –that 50s/60s atomic boomerang look. We have a little bit, and we used to have a little bit more:


Butterfly roofline on old dairy building, LaPorte and Meldrum.

Butterfly roofline on old dairy building, LaPorte and Meldrum.

Michael's Drive through, with zig zag roof

But we don’t have any googie in all the places you would expect to find it–bowling alleys, old diners and motels.  Okay, you might consider the old Safeway with its Marina roof googie.

I’m going to keep looking.

Meanwhile, you know what mid-century architecture we do have a lot of? MANSARD!!!!! So, my next post is going to have to be about Mansard roofs in Fort Collins. You revile them now, we all do. But someday you’ll love them. Just wait.

Read Full Post »

I love the Swetsville zoo and everything it stands for. Mr. Swets deserves all the recognition in the world. And I hope the city’s “lease” plan makes a good contribution to his retirement. But most of all, I hope this (from today’s Coloradoan) works out well. It makes me a little nervous. 

The widening of Harmony Road east of I-25 and reconstruction of a bridge over the Poudre River will take a portion of Swets’ property and require moving some of his statues, said Kyle Boyd, the town’s public information officer.

The town plans to lease up to 75 sculptures and place them in prominent places around town, including parks and other public areas.

Many are expected to go into a park that will be built on the north side of Harmony Road in conjunction with the development of a Walmart Supercenter, Boyd said. A portion of the realigned I-25 frontage road will be renamed Swetsville Zoo Road.

I think I’ll go over this weekend for one more quiet picnic at the zoo before it becomes part of the Supercenter.

Read Full Post »

 In 1984, Fort Collins paid local artist, Richard Scorpio, $2000 to transform a dead tree in front of City Hall into a contemporary statue. Dance formation was here to “demonstrate the concept of art in public places.”  Ceremonies followed.

20 years later, however, the piece moved into a patch of weeds at Martinez Park. I don’t think there was a ceremony.

At first, I thought, this could be a great opportunity for Lost Fort Collins to make recommendations for other statues we might like to see relocated …

Relocated running man

Then, I changed my mind.

When I visited to take pictures, something happened. I decided that as it decays, Danceformation is the most moving piece of public art I have ever seen.

These doomed partners aren’t going to be with us for long, and it’s like they know it.

You can visit them between the bike trail and the playground at Martinez Park. I recommend you get up close. 

 Danceformation at Martinez Park 


TWO city departments mobilized so I could write this post. Local Archives dug through all their Fort Collins history materials looking for a younger picture of Danceformation. We never could find one.

The City Clerk retrieved all of the City’s official correspondence about the statue, made me copies, and never even asked why I wanted them!

Then there was a guy named Chris, sitting with the codgers in front of the Northern, who first suggested that Dancefomration was a carved cottonwood. That’s not the first time I’ve drawn from the collective memory of the Northern Hotel crowd.

Fort Collins rocks!

Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Build a website with WordPress.com